Nigerian Afro-pop artist D’Banj has a Kanye West-like confidence. Just without the arrogance.
When I meet the multiple award-winning star he is flanked – not by a bevy of beauties – but by an entourage that makes P. Diddy’s posse look like amateur body builders. All of them wear huge smiles, even on the night of what was supposed to be the Tongolo star’s one-night only performance in Jozi.
The West African Tour that was to have taken place at Carfax in Newtown, featuring Bongo Maffin and MXO, well, didn’t.
What else would you expect from a gig that charges an entrance fee of R500 for general admission and R700 for VIP? This, of course, then begs the question: Who does D’Banj think he is?
“I’m an entertainer,” he begins before launching into a helluva long introduction. “I’m D’Banj or SkiBanj, like my Jamaican friends call me, or Mensa like my Ghanaian friends call me, or Khapela like my South African friends call me. Feel it, don’t touch that, I shall entertain you.”
Huh? What? Khapela? Isn’t that the reserved old man on Generations who used to be Tau’s butler? Why would D’Banj’s South African friends name him after a seemingly old-school person?
It’s all YFM’s DJ Sbu’s fault, I’m afraid. He explains: “Last year I hosted the Channel O Awards alongside my very good friend, DJ Sbu,” he pauses for a chuckle then, “he gave me that name in front of everyone in South Africa and with over 80-million people watching.
He said, ‘From today your name is now Khapela’, then everyone in the audience laughed.”
D’Banj caresses his gold-rimmed Prada shades and says: “I don’t know the meaning of Khapela, so I hope he’s not insulting me. If he is, it’s too late, because I’ve already taken the name.”
Speaking of the Channel O awards, the Why Me singer does not stop chatting about this.
“Hosting the awards was very interesting. I’ve hosted a lot of awards shows, but this was different – I was scared. I can host in Nigeria, talk in my dialect and they’ll understand. When I came here I had to learn some things and it was a mind-blowing experience.”
D’Banj seems to have forgotten what a catastrophe last year’s awards were, but he is thrilled to be nominated this year. In addition to being an MTV Europe Music Award-winner and with endorsement deals totalling over $2-million, D’Banj is a United Nations Youth Ambassador for Peace, with a charity organisation called the Kokofoundation.
What is the “koko” you may wonder. D’Banj is mum about that, but tells me a kokolette is “a well-defined woman. Beautiful. Good front and back and must have sound intellectual property.”
And, he insists that he is a kokomaster and that “the kokomaster has to show the kokolette how the koko is loading.”
And we thought Kanye personified confidence!
This article appeared in Tonight on 3 September 2008.