Burna Boy Does Not Want You to Forget ‘20.10.20’


Iyke Bede

On Saturday, October 20, 2020, the world’s gaze was fixed on Nigeria. This global attention resulted from the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki tollgate, the epicentre of the protest calling an end to the scrapped police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) for police brutality.

Aware of the power of their celebrity, public figures addressed the unabashed disregard for lives by the Nigerian government, more specifically, focusing on the presidency.

On Burna Boy’s part, he chose to do his address in just 3:33 minutes on ‘20.10.20’, a track that dissects the events of the Lekki shootings, revealing the decay that plagued all levels of government in the country. The track was initially teased on Friday, October 23, three days after the atrocious event took place. He also was vocal during the early days of the protest.

Officially released on October 30, ‘20.10.20’ amidst addressing serious issues, is a head-bopping tune reminiscent of works from ‘African Giant’ and his most recent body of work, ‘Twice as Tall’. It also alludes to the activism that marked tracks like ‘Monsters You Made’, and ‘Collateral Damage’; with the former addressing the negative colonial influences, and the latter citing the product brought about by this indirect colonial influence.

On ‘20.10.20’, Burna calls out people in power to come to terms with their blatant show of impunity. He continuously inquired who gave the orders to open fire at the Lekki tollgate, and left the scene without consequences on the track.

Asides the vivid message, Burna manages to enunciate the song’s theme by including a voice note excerpt from the shootings at the tail end of the song. Thus, helping listeners relive the moment for posterity.

If anything, the purpose of the track is to serve as a memorial for the Lekki shooting. It was not a day to be forgotten. Indeed, he has learned the trick of the trade from the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, whose song serves as annals for wrongdoings and corruption carried out by the autocratic regimes of the late ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.

With the youth uprising the nation has experienced in recent times, it is no doubt that other creatives in the music industry will follow in the footsteps of Burna. ‘20.10.20’ might just be the spark that sets off a new cultural consciousness in Nigerians.