Nneka makes US label debut 

With three albums released overseas, the U.S. debut of Nigerian-German protest singer Nneka Egbuna has been a long time coming. The artist’s Epic debut “Concrete Jungle” explodes with political anthems like “Kangpe,” “Africans” and “The Uncomfortable Truth” — all set to a lazy R&B-reggae-hip-hop backbeat. Born in the Nigerian town of Warri but educated in Hamburg, the singer — who performs sans surname — maintains homes in both cities. She kicks off her American tour in San Francisco on Wednesday.

So the Nigerian tribe you come from is the Igbo? Yes. And they are located in the Southeast of Nigeria, and — along with the Fula and the Yorubas — they’re one of the three main tribes. But they’ve been going through a lot of struggle, and there’s an oil issue, because basically most of the natural resources — including the oil — are found in my region, where the Igbo people live.

What struggles have you seen? The Igbos have been fighting for independence, and fighting just to be allowed into the government, the parliament of Nigeria. But they’ve always been deprived of it, because the Fulani and the Yorubas are the dominant groups, and they keep oppressing the Igbo people.

Don’t the Igbo people have many indigenous instruments? Yes. And they’re all quite similar — they just have different names. But Warri is not really an Igbo town, so we hardly heard any of those instruments there. And because the Yoruba people are the people of Warri, I speak Yoruba. I can hear Igbo, I can understand Igbo, but I cannot speak it fluently, like I should.

“Kangpe” addresses how poorly Nigerian women are treated. How bad is it there? It’s not just about women — it’s more about the evil and good that dwells within each of us. In the “Kangpe” video, the pastor goes to church, takes the money from the collection plate, puts it in his pocket and uses it to buy a prostitute. And at home, he beats his wife because she hasn’t prepared his food properly. All of these things? I have seen them in Nigeria. There is so much corruption. Even the witch doctors, the babalawos, don’t practice the way of our ancestors — they misuse it for profit.

Have you been to a witch doctor? It’s not for me. Everybody has his own talent, and I can see some things that you cannot see.

Are you psychic? I cannot tell you that. A real babalawo would not tell you what he can do.


Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tickets: $10 to $12
Contact: www.ticketweb.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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