Fresh Outta Lagos

In late 2010 I took the opportunity to go to the MTV Africa music awards which were being held in the same Lagos hotel I was living in at the time. Afterwards I made the following remark:

Clearly everyone who was anyone in Lagos’ media industry was attending this event, and they’d all donned their most fashionable clothes for the occasion…this was an event of some importance to the kool kats of Lagos.  At 7,000 Naira ($46) per ticket for the standing area, and 15,000 Naira for the seats, those in attendance were drawn from the lucky few of the city’s 15m (or whatever) inhabitants.  The minimum wage in Nigeria is 18,000 Naira per month.

The highlight of the night was a chap called Chuck D, former front man of Public Enemy, who came on to perform.  Unfortunately, he is 50 and looked like somebody’s dad.  But he turned out a reasonable performance which made sense to seemingly everyone but me right up to and including where he urged everyone in the place to “fight the power”.  There is something highly ironic about an American rapper urging a concert crowd made up entirely of Nigeria’s wealthy elite to fight the power.

I was reminded of this when I heard that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who is worth three million quid – addressed the crowd at Glastonbury, tickets for which cost £238 plus a £5 booking fee. In his speech, Corbyn said (emphasis mine):

Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only a street to sleep on? Is it right that so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of what happened at Grenfell Tower? Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society surrounded by such riches?

I want to see a world where there is real opportunity for everybody in our society. That means sharing the wealth out in every part of our country, and looking to global policies that actually share the wealth, not glory in the levels of justice and inequality, where the rich seem to get inexorably richer and the vast majority continually lose out. The desperately poor live on the margins of society which is basically known as the fourth world. Surely we can, as intelligent human beings, do things differently and do things better. And when we’re here today in Glastonbury, we’re doing things differently, we’re doing things better and we’re seeing that inspiration.

The Glastonbury crowd responded to these words with rapturous applause, same as the Nigerian elites did when Chuck D told them to stick it to the man.

I suppose Nigeria and the UK are not the only countries where the wealthy and privileged get together and pretend they’re on the side of the downtrodden masses, but I am nevertheless surprised at how universal such delusions are. At least the Nigerians laid on cheap beer.


15 thoughts on “Fresh Outta Lagos

  1. “including where he urged everyone in the place to “fight the power”

    Yeah, words are cheap. Unlike tickets for music festivals.

    “we’re doing things differently, we’re doing things better and we’re seeing that inspiration.”

    Sorry, Jez. How is going to an annual popapaloosa, which is there every year (give or take the odd recovery season) doing things differently? It may be for an old man like him who’s never had a real job in leaving leafy Islington, but that’s about it.

  2. I know the claims of him being wealthy are tongue in cheek but it would be interesting to know if he had any real wealth at all.

  3. Surprise! Hypocrite flatters other hypocites and gets a smattering of applause. If they were serious and not braindead bone idle they would have put him in a Sedan chair and carried him all the way to the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square.

    To be fair to the Glasto crowd (not my taste, no knowledge) I imagine that they shelled out hundreds for the music, not to hear grandad spout some Trot BS.

  4. There are presumably several hells: one is sitting in a field listening to pop music. Or folk music, come to that.

  5. @james not my scene either, the most complaint thing I done was go to Live Aid but at least I waited until they threw the gates open for whatever you could give, before contributing. I considered doing that climbing in over the wall bit that they used to do at Wembley but bottled out, that was a seriously dangerous way of sneaking into somewhere for free in my books.

  6. There are presumably several hells: one is sitting in a field listening to pop music. Or folk music, come to that.

    Not bluegrass, though. I’d cross the Atlantic to sit in a field listening to that for a few days.

  7. Corbyn, Glastonbury and hipsters go very well together.

    The whole thing with hipsters is that they are always co-opting the identity of rough masculine males. They aren’t very masculine themselves, but they seek to project it. They seek the “honesty” of working class men. The celtic knot tattoo aims to suggest masculine tribal identity, while belonging to no real tribe. No-one is going to pick a fight with someone with a celtic knot tattoo like someone with an England flag. “Craft beer” is a nancy boy version of beer, throwing all sorts of hideous crap in there to make it more palatable. I imagine lumberjacks still wear lumberjack shirts, but more are sold in Camden.

    Glastonbury is the same. Glastonbury used to be a bit of a a rough festival. Going to Glastonbury in the late 80s meant you were not a pussy. You didn’t get pairs of girls going to Glastonbury. Lots of theft, fights, drugs, people invading the area. The reason they ended up having to tighten the whole thing up in the early 90s was because they were told they wouldn’t get a license without better security. At this point, the softer people started going. It was safer. Many just for the music, but was still seen as a bit dangerous. Then the hipsters got into it. They could pretend to be risk takers without taking any real risks.

    This is part of Corbyn’s appeal. Corbyn talks about Labour and socialism, and this is what hipsters want. They want to be associated with grim estates and physical working men. But in reality, Corbyn’s policies are about middle-class people. Cancelling student loans and raising public sector pay. It’s as working class as a craft ale produced by an accountant who set up a microbrewery during his midlife crisis.

    Eventually, this all goes the way of football, where Nick Hornby-reading hipsters drop it because everyone recognizes that it’s a lifetime ago that it was the stuff of tough working class men.

  8. BiW,

    Thanks for that, particularly the history and changing nature of Glastonbury. I suspect you’re exactly right on its appeal to hipsters, trying to associate themselves with the roughness of what it used to be.

    In the US you have a similar thing with Burning Man: apparently it used to be for real renegades and there was even a drive-by shooting range. Now it’s attended mostly by trustafarians, New York corporate types, and Brooklyn’s lily-white middle classes trying desperately to portray themselves as wild and rebellious.

  9. BiW

    Lol. One and only time I went to Glastonbury was in 1981 (I think, Crass were headlining). Worst weekend of my life. My friend was hospitalised with a drug overdose. Turned out not to be an overdose, rather she had been sold some speed cut with rat poison. Went back to the festival looking for the dealer who was with these Hell’s Angels who had an ACTUAL BAZOOKA so I had to leg it and ended up hitch hiking back to Manchester in the rain wearing only a T-shirt and jeans. Shithole now a corporate shithole.

  10. Went back to the festival looking for the dealer who was with these Hell’s Angels who had an ACTUAL BAZOOKA so I had to leg it and ended up hitch hiking back to Manchester in the rain wearing only a T-shirt and jeans.


  11. On the comrades at glast. I was not at all surprised that not one hopelessly middle class middle-aged beeboid burst out laughing at the ‘build bridges not walls’ schtik. Written on the multimillion pound double skin dog patrolled security barrier. Of course the hundreds of beeboids where there for the blood soaked race war between the bristol yardIes and the convoy.

  12. Somewhat disagree with methodology of Corbyn’s net worth – this is just a sum over time of his salary, not his net worth at all.

    Arguably the pension pot is fair enough, but the rest is bunk. Just for the record…

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