Several dozen lawyers unexpectedly walked out of the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) annual general convention in Abuja. So why is that? The announcement that Portable, a well-known street-hop musician, will be performing at the event.
In the wee hours of Thursday, August 31st, an unexpected turn derailed the otherwise well-organized meeting. The MKO Abiola Stadium in the FCT hosted the program, suitably titled “Unbarred,” on the velodrome. Lawyers and guests awaited the performance with bated breath, since the event poster had teased a surprise performance. Many were surprised, however, when the controversial artist Portable was named as the evening’s special guest act.
Portable, who is commonly known as the “Zazu singer,” was selected, which caused some in the legal world to raise an eyebrow. Many others thought it was inappropriate to feature such an act at a serious legal conference. This was made clear when a large group of attorneys left the stadium to show their disgust. Some others left in their cars, while others walked away. These events were captured on video and shared widely across social media, adding gasoline to the fire of the online debate.
It wasn’t simply the musician selection, though, that was controversial. The very success of Portable generated discussion. It was widely criticized after videos emerged of the shirtless singer climbing stadium equipment. There was clearly a split of opinion among the lawyers, as some left to voice their disapproval and others stayed to enjoy the spectacle.
After a short remark from NBA President Yakubu Maikyau, the crowd was entertained by a DJ. The night’s highlight (or lowlight, depending on your perspective) was undoubtedly Portable’s sudden presence.
Social media users responded quickly and in a wide variety of ways. Critics of the NBA’s choice of entertainment were met with support from those who believe every artist deserves to be heard and seen. Aisha Yesufu, among other notables, weighed in on the discussion by discussing her thoughts on the occurrence.
In a more formal context, this event prompts questions about how to strike a balance between tradition and modernity. Should conventional kinds of entertainment be strictly enforced at professional events, or is there room for more cutting-edge, if divisive, acts? The latest events in the NBA are reflective of this societal discourse.