Africa

Boom time in Nigeria?

  • 31 January 2012
  • From the section Africa
  • comments
femi kuti

"There is no boom here," said Nigerian musician and activist Femi Kuti, putting his trumpet down on the sofa and tuning the television to live coverage of the Nigerian parliament's discussions about corruption in the oil industry.

"It's like a big joke. The politicians are stealing billions - corruption is an incurable cancer," he declared.

As for Nigeria's economic growth - likely to be around 7% this year - "it's just a big propaganda by multinationals, the British government and African governments… to pretend that Africa is doing well," said Mr Kuti, pointing to the endemic poverty that surrounds his home in one of the distant suburbs of Lagos.

Like his famous father, Femi Kuti is a Nigerian icon who has woven his music and political activism into a powerful, compelling brand. He and his band played to the crowds who gathered earlier this month in protest against the lifting of Nigeria's controversial fuel subsidy. "We're kind of scared [to protest] - nobody wants to die here, but if people see my band then many people - and many middle class people… would be encouraged to come out," he said.

The government eventually bowed to public pressure and reinstated part of the subsidy. "I'm still very disappointed," said Mr Kuti, arguing that the protesters "shouldn't have backed down" until the price of fuel was lowered to its original price.

If you feel Mr Kuti is being too harsh on Nigeria, do take a look at the film we put together about Nigeria's "boom," which includes several other perspectives.

Sadly I didn't get a chance to see Femi Kuti perform at the Shrine - the famous Lagos club where his band plays twice a week. He's been nominated for a Grammy again this year, but says isn't planning to attend the ceremony. I left him at the gate of his comfortable, but fairly modest house, where he was waiting for his youngest children to return from school.

More on this story

Around the BBC