Nigerians celebrate ‘Detty December’ despite Covid-19

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LETTER FROM LAGOS

Getting around Lagos on a December evening is often a feat as the traffic is dense on the main axes of the city. Vehicles advance bumper to bumper amid the clamor of street vendors and the sirens of security escorts. In this season, the cultural and economic heart of Nigeria and its approximately 20 million inhabitants are seized with an even more intense frenzy than usual. Every evening, the many bars, restaurants and nightclubs are crowded with revelers. It’s “Detty December », a formula derived from English « Dirty December ”, literally“ dirty December ”in French.

“It evokes sweat and dancing. If you go to a club and have lots of fun, you’ll come out dirty ”, explains Mayowa Balogun, who works in events between Lagos and Toronto. Schooled in North America from high school, the 28-year-old has always returned to spend his end-of-year vacation in Nigeria, as others return to the village. “It’s easier to land here and fit in with this period, since everyone is there and everyone is free! “, rejoices this specialist of the Nigerian music scene.

A poster advertising Wizkid's concert on Landmark Beach in Lagos on December 23, 2021.

Diaspora and afrobeats

At the end of the year, the artists are also back in the country. Every night the biggest names inafrobeats play at home, solo or as part of one of the many festivals organized from mid-December in Lagos and Abuja. Even though the price of tickets is rather high for the local market, it is possible to see all the stars of Nigerian afropop perform in the space of a few days, from Wizkid to Davido to the giant Burna Boy – from passage to Lagos between two international dates.

In 2020, the tradition had been undermined by the global health crisis, but this year, Detty December has picked up again despite the explosion in Covid-19 cases. On Tuesday, December 21, the country recorded its highest rate of contamination since the start of the pandemic (2,123 new cases). But these figures – largely underestimated because of the difficulty of access to screening tests – are far from discouraging revelers. “I was still afraid until the last minute that my plane tickets would be canceled”, says Bolu Adeyeye, who works in digital marketing in Birmingham. “Last year it was all so complicated I gave it up, but this time I was way too homesick. “

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Nigerians celebrate ‘Detty December’ despite Covid-19

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