2023 has been a rollercoaster of thrilling triumphs and inspiring milestones for Nigeria’s dynamic fashion, entertainment, sports, and lifestyle sectors. We have experienced groundbreaking achievements and influential social movements, etching unforgettable memories in the hearts and minds of our people. It’s been a year filled with moments where the unexpected became the norm, and the extraordinary became our everyday. It’s not just about the rise of new stars; it’s about how these stars have illuminated the global stage, bringing Nigerian talent, passion, and spirit to the forefront.
As we highlight these moments, let’s celebrate the essence of Nigeria—a nation bursting with talent, energy, and a relentless drive to redefine the limits of possibility.
Breakthrough in International Collaborations
In 2023, the Nigerian music scene reached new heights with unprecedented international collaborations. These partnerships with global superstars elevated the industry’s profile and introduced diverse sounds and storytelling to a broader global audience. A prime example is “Unavailable” by Davido, featuring South African music producer/DJ Musa Keys.
Another standout collaboration was Victony’s remix of his 2022 hit “Soweto,” featuring American rapper Don Toliver and global sensation Rema. Let’s not forget the sultry R&B/Afropop track “Sensational” by American singer Chris Brown, featuring Nigerian artists Davido and Lojay. These collaborations not only garnered commercial success but also reached the top 10 on various charts, solidifying Nigeria’s place on the global music stage.
Revolution in Film Production Quality
Nollywood, Nigeria’s renowned film industry, witnessed a revolution in production quality in 2023. Substantial investments in cutting-edge technology and training resulted in visually stunning movies that rivalled international productions, redefining African cinema. Also, several films released in 2023 set new records in Nollywood’s history that had never been achieved.
One notable filmmaker who made a significant impact in 2023 was Femi Adebayo, who reaffirmed his status as one of Nigeria’s finest directors. His movie “Jagun Jagun” held sway for weeks and months after its Netflix release in August. Within 48 hours, it began trending in the United Kingdom and 17 other countries. Similarly, Funke’s latest movie, “A Tribe Called Judah,” grossed a remarkable N400 million within just 12 days of its release, leaving industry observers eagerly anticipating its earnings by the first week of January 2024. “Gangs of Lagos,” another 2023 release, had an epic effect on the industry when it premiered.
Record-Breaking Streaming Numbers
The digital landscape in 2023 witnessed several Nigerian songs and albums shattering streaming records on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. This accomplishment highlighted the genre’s growing global appeal and translated into more lucrative deals for Nigerian artists.
One historic milestone was Ayra Starr becoming the first female Nigerian singer to surpass 100 million streams on Spotify. Additionally, Davido’s “Unavailable,” featuring Musa Keys, emerged as the most streamed Afrobeats song on Spotify, dominating the music scene and social media platforms alike. Apple Music revealed the most-streamed song in Nigeria for 2023, Omah Lay’s chart-topping hit “Soso” from his debut album “Boy Alone.”
Major Awards and Recognitions
2023 marked a year of global recognition for Nigerian entertainers, as they received prestigious international awards. These accolades celebrated the rich and diverse talent emanating from the country, reaffirming Nigeria’s position as a powerhouse in the entertainment world.
One standout achievement was Hilda Baci’s record-breaking cook-a-thon on May 11, 2023. After six years of preparation, Hilda embarked on a four-day journey that broke the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by an individual and inspired thousands of Nigerians to pursue their own record-breaking endeavours. Another remarkable moment was Tems’s Grammy Award for “Best Melodic Rap Performance” and an Oscar nomination for “Best Original Song,” which further solidified her place in the global music landscape.
In the world of football, Victor Osimhen was crowned the 2023 African Men’s Footballer of the Year for his outstanding performances for the Super Eagles and Napoli, while Asisat Oshoala won the African Women’s Footballer of the Year prize for a record-extending sixth time.
Social Media as a Launchpad
2023 witnessed the ascent of social media platforms as significant launchpads for new talent in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Viral videos propelled unknown artists to stardom, democratising fame and reshaping the industry’s landscape. One must recognise the transformative role of platforms like TikTok and Instagram in catapulting these emerging talents to the forefront of the entertainment scene. These platforms provided a level playing field where artists could showcase their skills and connect with a global audience, regardless of their background. As a result, aspiring artists found themselves thrust into the spotlight, their talents recognised and celebrated by fans worldwide.
Entertainment and Social Impact
Many entertainers harnessed their platforms for social advocacy, shining a spotlight on critical issues such as mental health and social justice. This newfound social consciousness brought a deeper sense of purpose to the industry, emphasising its role in addressing societal challenges.
Falz, the multi-talented entertainer, chose to use his music as a powerful tool to confront corruption, corrupt politicians, bad governance, police brutality, prostitution, social injustice, and internet fraud. Iyabo Ojo actively sought justice for the late singer Mohbad, whose controversial death raised questions about how local labels treat young artists trapped in parasitic contracts. Her efforts ignited a crucial conversation about the treatment of emerging talent in the music industry.
Closure of Several Small Tech Startups
While 2023 brought tremendous success to many sectors of the Nigerian entertainment industry, it also witnessed the unfortunate closure of several small tech startups. This sobering reality underscored the challenges faced by emerging businesses in a fiercely competitive market. Amid dwindling funding, nine Nigerian startups shuttered their operations, taking with them over $70 million in investor funds raised in the past two years. The fate of these innovative companies raised concerns about the broader ecosystem of young startups looking to secure funding in the years to come.
Standalone Fashion Shows
Nigeria experienced a resurgence in standalone fashion shows in 2023, departing from conglomerate events. These intimate showcases placed individual designers in the spotlight and fostered a deeper connection with audiences.
Leading the pack was the brand Atafo, whose “Sartorial Reverie” Spring/Summer ’24 collection left an indelible mark on the fashion world. Held at the prestigious Eko Hotel Convention Centre, the event captivated all 800 attendees with a staggering display of 87 pieces. Banke Kuku, known for her innovative use of textiles and bold designs, embraced the offsite trend enthusiastically. Her showcase, blending art and fashion in a garden setting, provided the perfect backdrop for her “Eden” collection. Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Imad Eduso, and Tzar were among the other notable names that embraced offsite venues, each carefully selecting locations that resonated with their brand aesthetics. This shift emphasised that fashion is not just about clothing; it’s a storytelling art form deeply intertwined with atmosphere.
The Rise of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion took centre stage in Nigeria in 2023, with local brands adopting rapid production methods to cater to the surging demand for trendy and affordable fashion. This shift mirrored global industry trends and made stylish clothing more accessible to a broader audience. These fast fashion brands not only produced at lightning speed but also offered their products at highly affordable prices, allowing fashion enthusiasts to indulge in their favourite styles without breaking the bank.
Sustainability is in the Spotlight
In 2023, sustainability emerged as a buzzword among Nigerian designers, who increasingly embraced eco-friendly practices. This shift towards sustainable fashion reflected a growing global awareness of the fashion industry’s environmental impact. Nigerian fashion brands passionately pursued various sustainable objectives, ranging from downsizing production to using locally sourced raw materials and engaging in the innovative art of upcycling used garments to craft eco-friendly pieces.