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Afro Nation Portugal was the Celebration of the Summer

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Afro Nation Portugal was the Celebration of the Summer

Afro Nation Portugal featured megastars like Burna Boy, WizKid, Arya Starr, and Asake, as well as a stage dedicated specifically to the sounds of amapiano. Here’s what went down.

It’s a music lover’s dream – a three-day music festival set on the luscious beaches of Portimao, Portugal featuring the hottest African artists. A fairytale of 20-somethings came to life last weekend at the 2023 Afro Nation music festival.

The roster of talent included megastars Burna BoyWizKidArya StarrAya Nakamura50 Cent and Davido. This year, featured a new stage dedicated specifically to the sounds of Amapiano artists and fans with vigorous energy deemed the “Piano People Stage.” For any appetite across the landscape of African music, guests could have their musical palate satiated with each set, deep bass thump and swoon of the beautiful voices of African crooners.


The festival began with a magical performance by Portuguese-Cape Verdean artist Soraia Ramos, who set the stage ablaze donned in shimmering purple while delivering sweet-sounding Portuguese lyrics met with crowd-pleasing participation. Soraia was later joined by soulful Cape Verdean singer Lisandro Cuxi and the duo set the temperature for the third instalment of Afro Nation Portugal – filled with enormous talent and even bigger fandom.

As the momentum rose, fans were soon met with silence on the Main Stage as the technical team worked to troubleshoot sound issues that were likely compounded by the blazing temperatures creating a sweltering environment – including the hottest temperatures of the three-day festival. As the schedule lagged, interludes and artist introductions faded and Golden Circle ticket holders — whose access boasted front-row views to the Main Stage, a private VIP bar and bathrooms and limited food options — were sent elsewhere to explore while tech issues and artist setups took place.


Photo Credit: ritasxs for Afro Nation.

Many guests carried their excitement to the Piano People stage, which provided nonstop vibes throughout the festival surrounded by a variety of food options from some of Portugal’s favorites. And – if you opted for the VIP experience – you could trudge through the deep, white sand to get lined up in the Afro Cuts booth or dolled up in the Afro Spa. The entire venue, which spanned the length of Praia da Rocha beach, was designed to keep festivalgoers drinking, dancing, and feasting.

Later in the day, Nigerian singer Nissi, took audiences to new heights with new single “Higher.” With this performance, she stepped out of the shadow of her superstar brother Burna Boy. Shortly after, Ayra Starr came out and performed her deeply personal single “Toxic” and hit singles like “Bloody Samaritan” and “People.”

And then the main show came. With no introduction needed, Burna Boy appeared leaving fans clamouring to grab the closest spot near the stage. The crowd rocked to his newest single, “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” followed by Dave’s “Location,” “Last Last” and a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Ye.” It’s impossible to truly appreciate an artist as massive as Burna Boy without seeing him perform live. His smooth voice and commanding posture held audiences captive.


The second day began with the same fanfare without delays and “as many” technical issues. Artists Caminoh and The Compozers, who didn’t make their expected performance from Day One, were added to the lineup.

Ms. Banks kicked off the day with her edgy style reminiscent of American artist Meg Thee Stallion followed by Victony, who stopped several times mid-performance to complain about ill-performing microphones and even made a full stop to chastise organizers for providing faulty equipment and for not allowing artists to do a sound check. The show proceeded with Ghanaian artist Black Sherif reenergizing the crowd, performing hits including “Second Sermon.” Nigerian star Asake brought a renewed vigour as he hyped up the crowd with an ambitious, attempted crowd surf that created a viral moment for the fest but left fans bewildered and concerned for the artist.

As the Main Stage heated up, the Piano People Stage continued the never-ending party when singer and dancing sensation Tyla took the party to a new level. A noticeably different vibe from the contained Main Stage — DJ Charisse C, Sir Trill, Moonchild Sanelly and many more kept the temperature elevated and bodies moving nonstop.

Photo Credit: ritasxs for Afro Nation.

Wizkid concluded the day by taking his time to deliver hit after hit, including “Ginger,” “Essence,” and Drake’s “One Dance.” He began centre-stage on a massive platform and came closer to the audience with each song, which was met with uncontainable excitement. As things heated up, “Big Wiz” tossed his jacket into the crowd and briefly stopped his performance to convince a male fan to give the jacket to the ladies as intended. Moments later the show was again interrupted by an overzealous fan who Wiz had to instruct to climb down from the camera tower with the threat of concluding the show early.


The next day, festivalgoers slowly filled the beach to party through the conclusion of Afro Nation Portugal. The Main Stage was buzzing shortly after the gates opened with Rotterdam, The Netherlands’s artist “Mr. Magic” Nelson Freitas. Next, the Kenyan band Sauti Sol brought their eccentric, vibrant fashion and smooth sounds which set the vibes nicely for South East London singer/songwriter Gabzy who left the audience smitten. Next, when French singer Vegedream began performing his resounding voice could be heard throughout the festival. One by one, festivalgoers were drawn to the Main Stage where they remained for Nigerian Afropop singer Fireboy DML and his intoxicating tracks “Peru,” “Vibration,” and “Sere.” Shortly after, French artist Booba shifted the mood with a bottle of Hennessy, auto-tune and relentless swag – getting the crowd ready for global entertainment icon 50 Cent to take over the show.

Photo Credit: ritasxs for Afro Nation.

With much anticipation, crowds lingered near the Main Stage until hearing the blaring voice of none other than Tony Yayo introducing the “Candy Shop” rapper. As he performed hit after hit, 50 stopped several times to admire the Afro Nation crowd. With thousands of 20-somethings rocking to early 2000s classics, 50 had a moment of clarity. He was now admittedly an “old school” artist. Despite his declaration, the crowd was thrilled to rock with the legendary artist and encouraged him to continue to dig into the crates to celebrate his impact on Hip Hop.

As his performance concluded, fans swarmed to the Piano People Stage to catch South African DJ Uncle Waffles ahead of the festival’s concluding headliner Davido.

As Davido joined the fest for the final performance, it wasn’t lost on him or fans what transpired in these iconic three days. His smooth, inspiring set concluded a festival so important to the artists-providing a global platform to amplify their music and to once again cement the position Afrobeats and its variations have in the music industry. The unique power of African artists to galvanize music lovers from across the diaspora – from more than 120 countries in the case of Afro Nation – substantiates this fast-growing genre as a powerful force. For festivalgoers – Afro Nation delivered a cultural experience devoid of division based on nationality or language with the sole purpose of unifying people from across the African diaspora through one common interest – the universal appeal of African music.

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