LAS LAS, BURNA BOY RISKS CLASS ACTION FOR LATENESS AT LAGOS CONCERT

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, popularly known as Burna Boy, risks class action by fans and guests for his late appearance on stage at the Lagos Concert on New Year day. The concert which was organized by WonderX, held at the Eko Energy City in Victoria Island, Lagos. The show was tagged, ‘Lagos Loves Damini’, but his appearance on stage at 3am threatens that love immensely.

The idea of commencing a legal action against an artiste and the organisers of a concert for lateness is nothing new. A couple of years ago, the Queen of Pop (Madonna), was the subject of a class action filed by a Florida man, Nate Hollander, in federal court in Miami-Dade County. The famous singer was two hours late to the show. In the suit, she was also accused of having a “long history of arriving and starting her concerts late”. Hollander sued for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation and claimed damages.

From the reports, Burna Boy claimed to have arrived at the venue at 9pm, hours before he eventually came on stage at about past 3am, the next day. The arrival of an artiste at the venue of the event, and showing up on stage are two different things, especially from the standpoint of the fans and guests. For them, the most relevant time is the time the artiste appears on stage. This is understandable because the artiste’s appearance heralds his or her much expected performance. Meanwhile, between the artsite and the organisers of the event or the artiste hirers, the artiste’s time of arrival is vital.

Why are artistes late at concerts?

In Nigeria, there is what is commonly known as ‘African Time’. It means that the stipulated time for an event is never to be taken seriously. If an event is slated to commence at 4pm, expect it to commence any time from 8pm or even 10pm! Thus, those who intend to keep to time make conscious efforts to announce that there will be no African Time.

A few reasons account for why artistes are often late at concerts. First, there may be travel issues such as flight delays and unexpected traffic within the city. Second, poor planning and lack of adequate communication between the organisers and the artiste are also factors. But chief among these reasons is the idea that it is fashionable to keep the crowd in high anticipation for the arrival of the artiste. This has a way of preparing the crowd for an electrifying show that is expected to follow. Admittedly, keeping the crowd in an anticipation mood is cool provided the artiste lives up to expectation and the wait doesn’t have to run into plenty of hours as witnessed at the Burna Boy’s New Year concert. 

The concert was billed to run from 7pm till 11pm on New Year day. But Burna Boy only appeared at 3am, the next day. The Grammy Award Winner has clarified that his late appearance on stage was neither as a result of travel issues nor the desire to create an atmosphere for great anticipation which will climax into a mind-blowing performance. Rather, he accused the organisers of poor planning as his team had to battle with the show organizers over the quality of the sound facilities. This explanation came after over 7 hours of waiting. 

However, Burna Boy’s apology and explanations seem to have been ridiculed by the report that the Afrobeat star appeared to have taunted the crowd when he claimed that he would have abandoned the show entirely if not for Seyi Vibes who had held him back. Hear him in Pidgin:

If no be Seyi Vibes, I for just don dey go house. But I dey here with una after una don talk say I kill person for Cubana, after una don talk say my mama dance for Fela…

The above seems to suggest that making the fans wait for long hours might have been some form of punishment for the accusations he claimed to have suffered.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, one of the consequences of an extremely late outing by an artiste is that it is capable of affecting the schedule and routines of ticket holders who might have other planned engagements for the next day. In order to avoid this, they might have to leave. Others may be compelled to stay back in order not to waste the money paid for the tickets. These and other reasons are likely to support a valid case. Will disgruntled fans sue Burna Boy for his lateness to the concert? Time will tell.



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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