So I got this job offer to handle certain media aspects of Harrysong’s KINGMAKER concert.
“Where be the venue?” I asked my man, KC, who got me the job.
“Warri Stadium” he replied in his usually scruffy voice.
“Confirm,” I replied, extremely delighted that I will be going to the famous city of Warri I have always heard about since I was a child.
The days kept dragging and April 29th seemed an eternity away.
After almost 208 years of waiting, it was finally time for me to head to Warri for the concert.
I happily packed my bags and headed for the airport.
After about 30-45 minutes, I was finally in the city of Warri. I got to the hotel where some members of the concert crew were lodged, Legacy Suite, located around Water Resources.
I got there, dropped my bag and soon enough, I was at the stadium. This is where the drama began; first, we had to clean up the stadium and hired manual laborers to get the job done. As they were about starting, we saw a group of 5 young men heading in our direction. The following discussion ensued between them and KC.
“Howfar bros, wetin dey sup for here?”
“We just wan clean up the stadium make e for neat so the concert go make”
“Who you tell before you start?”
“So you no settle community before you begin do cleanup?”
“Settle?” KC asked with a suppressed giggle.
“You dey laugh? Una feel say na cruise we come here come catch abi?” the one who looked like their leader asked.
A phone call later and more people had come out. According to my unconfirmed findings, these people, numbering about 40, made up the crux of what they called “COMMUNITY”
Before we could say “Buhari please leave”, they had seized the tools to be used by the manual laborers and in a matter of seconds, we found ourselves bargaining how much would be used to settle community. I kid you not, in the end, Seventy Thousand Naira (N70000) was paid to the community before we were allowed to clean the stadium, cut grasses and arrange the seats. Don’t get it twisted the cash payment does not concern the wages paid to the laborers who did the actual work.
Meanwhile, all the aforementioned sanitary activities were well supervised by the members of the community.
If you think the drama for that day was over, think again and brace yourself for more.
Soon enough, KC asked for directions to the toilet. When we got to the place… (Insert the most disgusting thing you’ve ever seen in your life) we ran out and sought those who would do the job. They came aplenty and we reached an agreement on how much they would be paid. Lo and Behold! COMMUNITY appeared and said we have to pay to “pack their shit!!!”
“No pack our shit”
“Leave our shit for us”
“Who you tell say you wan pack our shit?”
“So you’o just waka from Lagos say you wan pack pipo shit for Warri?”
“Oya swear say no be jazz you wan carry am take run?”
“We dey see the news for internet say some of una dey chop shit take get money”
“Okay, una wan pack plenty shit go keep for fridge, so you’o fit dey chop am on soft”
At this point I was torn between laughing hysterically and feigning toughness in the face of certain intimidation. My better judgment obviously chose the latter.
After another bout of back-and-forth, we settled on N40,000.
THAT’S A WHOLE N110,000 JUST TO CLEAN A FLIPPING STADIUM!!!
Fast forward to D-day, I had been moved to a more convenient luxury hotel, PEEMOS, which is located around GRA; I woke up early, freshened up and did quick interviews with celebrities at the hotel before heading to the stadium. I got to the stadium and waited for the event proper. By 12 noon, people had started coming in little groups and in 2 hours, the stadium was bubbly and vibrant.
Showtime and the performances from upcoming acts began. Less than an hour later, the first proper drama started. On one side of the stadium, people began stoning each other with cans of HERO beer, one of the sponsors of the concert. In a split second, that side of the stadium had split into 2 groups with one motive: Throwing cans at the other group. This madness went on for about 7 to 10 minutes before a joint team of mobile policemen and soldiers started heading there to quell the craze. As soon as the officers were close enough, the fighting camps settled their rift, started waving white handkerchiefs and screaming: “ONE LOVE”, “WE NO DEY FIGHT AGAIN”. This was the most confusing crisis management technique I had seen in my whole life.
Time for the show proper and the throwing of cans had become a standard norm. Doing a rough estimate, if the concert went on for 6 hours, the MC and host spent about two hours begging the people of Warri to stop throwing cans: They would calm down for a few minutes and then resume with the very same intensity. The MCs had to periodically remind the people that the event was live on Hip TV just to bring them to a level of consciousness.
When Harrysong got on stage, they started throwing cans at him – OUT OF HAPPINESS!!! I asked myself… how the hell do people injure someone they love out of happiness? I’m still befuddled!!!
As the show progressed, the people of Warri continued to exhibit signs of depravity in various degrees. When ace comedian, I Go Dye – a Warri boy himself – got on stage to perform, he threw his jacket towards the place I was standing… this to me was the opening of black hole filled with demons – about 7 guys began a titanic tug of war for who would claim the jacket. This is not a matter of exaggeration; this epic battle went on for at least 30 minutes. Once in a while, one of the warriors in this royal rumble would lose steam and drop out, only for him to be replaced by another!!! Even the tearing of the jacket did not deter the fighters… they kept dragging the now-useless jacket. Why they kept on going still beats me! There was this particular fighter who had to be beaten and dragged away from the battleground by his sisters, only for him to come back stronger a few seconds later… It was really embarrassing to watch able bodied young men act like this. After they were done, I mumbled quietly, “wetin been come happen to the people wey stand where I Go Dye troway hin gold chain?”
My job entails that I attend a lot of events and I see moments of overzealous fandom when a fan climbs the stage to dance or grab the performing artiste, but in Warri, the climbing to dance happened at least every 10 minutes, while the climbing to hug varied, depending on the artiste.
Erigga, another Warri breed was the maddest, pardon my French. While he performed, at least 20 people joined him from the crowd… NO KIDDING. If Warri was a state in Nigeria, Erigga would easily win any gubernatorial election. Check this out: Whenever the crowd became restless, the DJ would play ANY Erigga song and the crowd went wild – at least the good wild – miming every song word-for-word.
So D’Banj got on stage and started doing his usual, energetic routine, halfway through his performance, a young man leaped onto the stage and attempted to snatch his sunshades. Unfortunately, all the succeeded in doing was break it, prompting D’Banj to give him the other half.
While I was contemplating whether to head back to the hotel because I could not ascertain my safety and that of the two laptops in my possession, I saw a bouncer pushing back a crowd of red-eyed fans. After he was done and returned to his duty post, he noticed that his phone was missing!!! I thought loudly: WHO DOES THAT? WHO PICKS A BOUNCER’S POCKET?
When I knew I had to leave the venue was when I saw a mobile policeman complain about something I knew nothing about… I heard him say: “Na we go scatter here. Make I hear say dem stop to throw can. We go break everybody head for here. Una come dey do anyhow for Warri. We go scatter here!”
After this, I packed my bag, paid a thug N1000 and he guarded me out of the stadium with a large stick. I was very glad when I got to the hotel in one piece.
The very next day, I ran away… but not before eating Banga Rice.
I always hear the phrase: WARRI NO DEY CARRY LAST, but on this occasion, they did! Maybe I was exposed to too much Warri in about 72 hours, maybe I should have been given smaller doses of Warri. Whatever the case may be, the people of Warri need to behave better!