The first thing Davido says down the line when NME gets through to him in the Nigerian capital Abuja is: “It’s a crazy time for everyone.”
He’s not wrong. It’s mid-October and Nigeria’s #ENDSARS protests are reaching a fever pitch. Just days after we speak, the army will open fire on peaceful protestors in Lagos, killing at least 12 people. Davido has travelled to Abuja to join the protests against the police’s violent Special Anti-Robbery Squad and to add his voice to the campaign wherever he thinks it can be useful. Case in point: he’s just managed to use his influence to arrange a meeting with the country’s Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, but he’s quick to point out that he’s not trying to cast himself as the movement’s leader.
“I just see it like I have the opportunity to be able to get to him,” says the 27 year-old Afrobeats star. “I went there to convey the message of the people. I’m not here to act as a leader, I’m just like everyone else that wants a change.”
Rather than leading protests, Davido is much happier soundtracking them. His single ‘FEM’, released in September, has taken on a new meaning because its title roughly translates from Yoruba as: ‘Shut up!’ That’s made it perfect for playing loud on marches and singing in the faces of politicians like Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, whose speech was disrupted by vocal protestors. “I didn’t plan it!” says Davido with a laugh. “I dropped the song a month and-a-bit ago, and it’s been crazy to see how it’s grown to be used as a tool. It’s amazing to see.”