Fashion, Football and Music: The Heart of Nigerian Youth Culture
Nigerian youth culture is largely built on the tenets of rebellion, ingenuity, and unapologetic displays of individuality.
Clarence Mac Ebong
●17th January 2023
Nigeria’s faux-conservative nature influences how creative exploits are seen in the country. Growing up, a lot of us were taught how to live but only in relation to how other people see us and how the effects of our actions could affect our social standing. The truth about social relations does not overwrite the need for the inward growth of personality and a sense of self. This means that Nigerian youth culture is largely built on the tenets of rebellion, ingenuity, and unapologetic displays of individuality.
Escaping from conservatism’s clutches has led to an exaggerated sense of self and hyper-independence amongst Generation Z and the youth at large. The fire of the youth only burns uncontrolled because we were not taught how to properly cultivate it. Despite this, the potential seen and felt when you step into spaces populated by this demographic is undiluted. At once, you understand that these people are not the leaders of tomorrow; they’re the risk-takers of now, and this reinforces that the new generations need a new lens through which to see life.
The internet age has armed young people with the power to do it themselves. In a world where you’re only a Youtube video and hours of practice away from mastering a new skill, the creative space serves as an escape from the nation’s harsh reality, and also a legitimate route to chase the lives we really want. Music, as it is part and parcel of Nigerian culture as a whole, is most ventured into. DIY distribution through the likes of OneRPM and Distrokid has cut the need for record labels and traditional A&R. Artists like BNXN, Victony and Fave have benefitted from this freedom from traditional record labels, and even though they do possess distribution deals, they have full control over their creative process.
On the fashion scene, there are burgeoning talents that look to make an impact on Nigeria’s new-gen scene. From Vangei to Poserboy and Studio Bonnitta, there is a new take on what classifies as stylish. There are also new avenues through which these unique pieces can be showcased. Where major fashion labels have fashion weeks, the youth have Street Souk — a streetwear convention dedicated to showcasing emerging talents and brands in fashion, as well as other aspects of cloth and textile craftsmanship.
The most recent edition of Street Souk marked the 5th year since its inception. This edition coincided with the final of the 2022 World Cup, which gave it a new feeling compared to what we have grown accustomed to. A watch party was organized in a designated area of Harbour Point, the venue for the day. The combination of these factors heightened the feeling of the event on the day, and it turned out to be a celebration of Nigerian youth culture as a whole.
Harbour Point was teeming with life upon stepping through the gate. Although some artists were in the building, the premises were filled with people aged 18-24 clad in their favorite national and international brands as they made their way between different parts of the location. The main hall housed the World Cup watch party, and for a little while nothing else mattered to those in the room. The emotions came to a head when Kylian Mbappé completed his hattrick in the second half of extra time, scoring the penalty that brought the game level at 3-3. As Argentina won the competition and Messi lifted the trophy, his supporters and fans almost tore the roof off the main hall in a euphoria that can only be understood if you experienced it.
The other parts of the event were equally engaging. Apart from the multitude of brands on display, there was also a silent disco hosted by the Vogue Boys, known for their parties at Easter. To craft an experience within the euphoric confines of Street Souk was nice to witness, and several others joined in the fun that was filled with music, dancing, and an unending flow of Quacktails.
Even though the venue emptied quickly as we lost sunlight, the effects of the day lingered on. It became evident that the dying embers of Nigeria can only be reignited by the burning passion of the youth. Through creative exploits we’re able to recenter ourselves with what it truly means to be Nigerian, seeing life through a lens untainted by social constructs. All we need to come to life is a noble cause.