Can you feel

My heart is beating?

Many times she sang those words, wrapping up the pain and endurance of Niger Deltans, for years she shook the wall of indifference around her, and finally, we were moved.

On 1st October, NNEKA was awarded this years’ MOBO (Music of Black Origin) prize for best African Artist. NNEKA is an artist of rare achievement, whose outspoken views about the exploitation of the oil-rich Niger Delta burns deep into her lyrics. Her music has lifted the Niger Delta struggle into powerful songs,  charging the airwaves of the BBC and the UK Top 40 with her politics.

Her story begins far away from the media spotlight in the oil-city of Warri, in the Niger Delta. A few years after she arrived on the European music scene she is now clocking up +1.5 million hits on her new music video, ‘Heartbeat’. NNEKA’s success has heightened her awareness of the development denied to her people in the Delta, in spite of the oil wealth extracted from the region.

A long-time supporter of the Niger Delta cause, and a headline artist at remember saro-wiwa events, NNEKA takes every opportunity to remind the West of the heavy cost of Nigerian oil, heaping criticism on the destructive impact of companies like Shell, Chevron and the Nigerian government.

As the BBC reports:

The singer says her influences include Nigeria’s iconic Afro-beat performer Fela Kuti as well more contemporary acts like a US rapper Mos Def.

She also cites Nigeria writer and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa as an inspiration. Mr Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Sani Abacha government in 1995 for his efforts to campaign against corruption in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

“Stand up against; corruption, against injustice, against bribery and hypocrisy…….RAISE UR VOICES,” she says on her MySpace page.