What a night it was forth night ago at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos! The high and mighty who thronged the venue for intellectual fireworks got more than they bargained for in entertainment as the organisers gleaned the Airtel Night of Influence that featured Dr Fareed Zakaria with an unforgettable show put up by Lagbaja, who invoked nostalgia among eminent guests.
It was a surprise galore as Lagbaja drew thunderous applause from the elated audience as he emerged mysteriously to mount the stage.
With his presence, the audience were full of expectations, and trust the masked one; he meandered from table to table “shaking hands” with dignitaries and their ‘mistresses.’ This masterful stagecraft got guests including former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, chairman of Airtel Nigeria, Oba Otudeko, guest speaker, Zakaria and Rajan Swaroop, Managing Director/CEO, Airtel Nigeria beaming with smiles.
A teaser of sorts, Lagbaja’s first appearance on the night was brief, leaving the audience who appeared to have missed him since his sojourn in the United States, joyfully joining Lagbaja in his lyrics; a move that filled the hall with melody. This only set the stage for Zakaria to mount the podium. Lagbaja and the organisers were not done yet, they had only wet the appetite of the audience.
Zakaria rode on the joyful atmosphere created by Lagbaja with his outstanding performance that put the audience in a relaxed mood for the night to deliver his paper. Zakaria held the audience spellbound,while speaking on “Africa’s Political Economy: The Challenge of Leadership.”
As soon as Zakaria was done, Lagbaja got back on stage with his trademark dance-steps. This time, Lagbaja connected with the audience from the stage making many drop their cutleries to sing-along with the world-class entertainer.
His performance was a scholarly exposition of African roots music and jazz as the world famous artist performed for a distinguished audience, leaving many without doubt that he rehearsed specially for the great audience he was presented with knowing that such opportunities do not often present themselves.
Other prominent guests who graced the evening included, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), former Africa Director of the World Bank and director of Bharti Airtel Oby Ezekwesili, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akinolu, Prof Pat Utomi and his wife.
Interestingly, Lagbaja who has relocated to Manhattan, New York, USA, flew into the county that evening. His music over the years has evinced strong social consciousness and concern for the issues of the day, one of the strong points that might have influenced his being chosen to perform at the occasion.