With his recent album, Timeless, making waves, Nigerian Afrobeats star Davido’s much-anticipated performance at the Forbes Under 30 Summit Africa in Botswana did not disappoint. The internationally-acclaimed singer, songwriter and producer also sat down with FORBES AFRICA to talk music and life.
“To see Africans relate with other business pioneers is just great. There has been a lot of recognition of Africans.”
The last time he stepped on a stage in Botswana, his album A Good Time was at the top of the charts with over one billion streams across various digital platforms.
Returning to Gaborone in Botswana’s capital from April 23-26 with his first new album in over three years, David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, walked off the stage, smiling gratefully as the crowd continued to sing the hit song Unavailable from his new album Timeless – which incidentally also features 2022 FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list-maker Musa Keys (Musa Makamu).
“I’m unavailable (unavailable). Dem no dem see me (dem no dey see)…” the attendees at the Forbes Under 30 Africa Summit continue to chorus long after the award-winning artist has made his way to his VIP tent around 11PM on a beautiful Botswana night.
The superstar Nigerian Afrobeats singer attended the four-day summit in Gaborone this week, participating in an on-stage interview on day two of the event and signing off the ‘Bushfire Party’ on the final day with an electrifying performance.
“This is one of my first performances of the year,” Davido says to FORBES AFRICA backstage after leaving his fans wanting more at the Waterstone Events and Conferencing venue in Gaborone.
“It was really about me getting back to doing my job. The thing I love most about being an artist is being on tour. I love it. So the fact that I could not perform, I felt very [cloistered].”
This is in reference to the fact that for six months, Davido halted his performances and public appearances after the tragic loss of his son last year.
“God put a full stop to everything I was doing,” he said during his on-stage interview at the summit.
“I never thought I would be able to perform or sit here again. I never thought I would be the same… I had a lot of time to reflect and make changes.”
So the 2023 Forbes summit has been special.
“I mean the fans will always scream,” Davido laughs.
“It was fun to be on stage but being able to sit and listen to people’s visions and their businesses has really been amazing. To see Africans relate with other business pioneers is just great. There has been a lot of recognition of Africans,” he says of the summit sessions that brought together young entrepreneurs.
Davido was a surprise adjudicator for the ‘Pitch Battle’ which had aspiring entrepreneurs selling their ideas to some of the continent’s top venture capitalists in a small group setting on the grass at the Waterstone venue.
“I am just happy that [Forbes] have been recognizing young Africans,” Davido tells FORBES AFRICA. “To put young Africans and creatives together has been amazing to see.”
Although Davido is primarily an Afrobeats artist, for his ‘Bush Party’ performance, the singer/songwriter showed “love” for Amapiano artists like Lethabo Sebetso, professionally known as Focalistic, who made the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list this year.
Who is his favorite Amapiano artist, we ask.
“Oh no, that is a hard one,” Davido says. “Amapiano has so many great artists but if I had to choose just one, right now it would need to be Musa Keys [Musa Makamu]. But can I just say I have always loved music from South Africa like Mafizola and Askido.”
Collaborating with more South African or southern African artists, he admits he will be “dropping an EP in September”.
His recent new album, Timeless, which he calls “his miracle album”, debuted with 3.61 million streams, more than the previous record on Spotify for first-day streams (4.91 million).
“I would be lying to you if I told you I knew the business-end of music early on in my career,” he laughs. “But it is something I had to learn over time. I don’t think it is something that you already know when you get into the industry but I think it is something you really do need to take seriously, that is very important,” says the star on his early days in Africa’s burgeoning music industry.