Nigeria’s self styled “waka queen”, Salawa Abeni, performed at the 11th annual London African Music Festival on Thursday 19th September 2013 with the Yoruba Women Choir at the London Southbank centre and gave her audience an unforgettable experience.
The concert was to show the world that Christians and Muslims in Nigeria live in harmony with one another with songs arranged by Salawa Abeni and Funmi Olawunmi. Guitarist Wale Thompson of “sunle, sunle” (lalale Friday) fame was the guest artist.
Salawa’s rich velvety tone pierced the auditorium before she made her appearance on stage as she belted out one of her well known acappella numbers. At 53 Salawa Abeni didn’t look a day older than most 40 year olds.
The Waka queen’s dance moves would put most 20yr olds to shame as she shuffled and gyrated up and down the stage to the delight of her audience, mostly Europeans who had probably never seen her perform live before.
Queen Salawa Abeni is dignified ‘old school’ and not intimidated by her audience. She knows they love her and she’s not afraid to step into the audience or get them to participate. She stepped off the stage and took matters into her hands by placing her mic in people’s hands to get them involved in a sing-along. She didn’t need beefy minders like the younger and less experienced so called celebrities.
As if having the “Waka queen” walking along the aisles in the auditorium wasn’t a rich enough experience, Salawa invited members of the audience up to the stage to sing and dance with her. If a collection bowl had been passed around for members of the audience to donate more money on top of the gate fees for the experience that night they would have, gladly.
After about an hour and a half of quality performance Salawa took a well deserved break but not before introducing Wale Thompson who performed his most recognisable hit, “sunle, sunle.”
After Wale Thompson’s performance the “queen” came out for her final performance of the night, a melodious acappella, which earned her a standing ovation from the audience.
The only thing that can be said to any Nigerian who was in London on Thursday night and wasn’t at the event is this, “you missed, big time”!