Richard Akuson: Tinie Tempah Reinforces Western Perception of Africa on Instagram

Tinie Tempah in Lagos I was just minding my business (well, not exactly) when I started going through someone’s Instagram page.  The person had pictures of herself and Nigerian international act Tinie Tempah. It was then I realized that he was in Abuja. My Abuja! And I heard no word of it. I quickly ran to his page to see what he was up to while in the city, and to say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly.

Tinie Tempah decided to further prove the West’s African-Jungle-Safari stereotype right with the kinds of pictures he posted, instead of at least showing another side of Nigeria (or Africa as he puts it) that they’ve never seen or heard of.

Tinie Tempah must have travelled out of Abuja’s metropolis to get all the pictures he posted. Maybe to some remote village in Niger state or Nasarawa State. The pictures showed women hawking and carrying things on their heads, while the rest were taken in brown soiled villages with bare footed children playing football. A perfect set up for all those Aid for Africa campaigns. Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.12.44In other shots he had children filed behind him; in another one he was photographed addressing a village council and guess what he captioned it? “I roll with the chiefs back in Africa”Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.12.22

So, my question to Tinie is: Didn’t you see any Instagram worthy thing about Abuja? (besides the two armed police guards you snapped with) Why did you decide to ignore the good things about Nigeria and instead saw the need to reinforce what the West assumes of Nigeria and Africa as a vast land filled with nothing but thatch houses and barefooted hungry children. You could have at least taken a photo of your hotel room so your 600k + followers don’t assume you slept in an open field or in a cave with Lions and Tigers crying at night.

Maybe I find this disturbing because it is coming from a Nigerian. Karrueche Tran was here in Abuja and she not only Instagrammed the orphanage and IDP camps she visited, but also shared images of her partying and posing in front of the Abuja Hilton. She gave her millions of followers a true idea of what life is like down here. A co-existence of the rich, not so rich and the poor – where development and underdevelopment both interface.

That was what I expected of Tinie.

That would have been the one good thing that you’d have done for your “motherland” as you aptly described it on your Instagram.

Photo Credit: Instagram/Tiniegram

63 Comments on Richard Akuson: Tinie Tempah Reinforces Western Perception of Africa on Instagram
  • Karashika January 20, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    lol @ “I roll with the chiefs back in Africa” loool Chukwuemeka u r in nigeria not africa.. i tire for this people

    • Ngozi January 20, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      I agree with the writer. In order to depict a state in its entirety, you have to give a true balanced picture. You can’t put out just the bad but the good also. On the other hand, you can’t just put out the good only but the bad also.That is what we call true, balanced and whole picture. All you need to do is visit at least 4 nice churches in Abuja and you will shocked. The children look like they have never eaten Apu, amaka or garri.

    • ak January 20, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      To be fair, his IG shows 3 OK pictures of Lagos… out of 20ish pics.

      Seems he wanted to highlight the less privileged areas on his IG.

      At the end of his day, it is his IG and his cup of tea

    • Jade January 20, 2016 at 10:55 pm


      Showing massive houses, posing in front of a car or hotel, is not representation of a developed country. If you have these things yet majority of Nigerians are suffering, basic necessities is lacking, it doesn’t make any difference. The funny part is, the West are very aware of how rich Nigerians live. They are targeting the average Nigerians that’s the reason the whole Africa is still deemed as poor.

      What we Africans need to prove to show our development, advancement is that we are capable to govern ourselves.

      • Karashika January 21, 2016 at 12:43 am

        ehh? who send u?

      • Marc Francis of Chelsea January 21, 2016 at 3:43 am

        How many homeless men/disadvantaged kids did you pose with on your last trip to America?

    • Caligula January 21, 2016 at 1:04 am

      The author of this article has MAJOR INSECURITIES about himself & his heritage. Although now in my life, I live comfortably; I actually love and appreciate the nitty gritty state of Nigeria better than the flashy, fronting & bring extra BS that most of us do. Heck I miss it. He is showing Nigeria in all its real ness.

  • Honeycrown January 20, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Richard, I think Tinie is simply trying to depict the TRUE condition of the MAJORITY in Nigeria. Das all. Noring to be ashamed of! No need to sugar coat kolanut

    • nene January 20, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      which majority?

      • ElessarisElendil January 21, 2016 at 2:39 am

        I’m going to guess the 70% leaving on less than $1 a day.

    • Davis & Davis January 20, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Tinie tempah is a coon and sell out!
      He doesn’t even date black women or claim his
      Nigerian heritage. He is only here ‘kissing ‘ arse because his career is dead and he’s using wizkid to gain some relevance now he see Nigerian music has blown.
      He is a white mans dream, a sell out who thinks white is right! He is a fool, he came all the way to Nigeria to show poverty which we all know exists but why not show all parts of abuja?
      He should go back to London and beg for another front row seat at the next Burberry fashion show!

      • bruno January 20, 2016 at 9:21 pm

        are u well at all

        ” He doesn’t even date black women or
        claim his
        Nigerian heritage.”

        pls kindly shut up. I remember back in 2011 when his song written in the stars was a huge hit in america. I was listening to rick dees on saturday and rick called tinie on the phone and tinie stated he was nigerian. he said his full name patrick chukwuemeka. I was shocked. I didnt even know he was nigerian. the way he pronounced the “chukwuemeka” I screamed in laughter. he even told rick dees to pronounce it, rick was like all the alphabets are in his name.

        and pls his career is not dead. he just had a number 1 single on the uk charts with jess glyne (not letting go)
        so pls keep shut.

      • hezekina pollutina January 21, 2016 at 1:25 am

        according to you he is a coon and sell out. its not enough that he made a success of his young life and has been repping naijas positively out there. guy, he has made it already! he doesn’t need to piggy back off naija music scene. the naija music scene is just beginning to hit some strides so do not get so pompous yet. that would be myopic and naive. and there is not only one way to be black-positive and nigeria-positive. but you can continue to box yourself in a corner if u want. tinie tempah is hot, young, outer national and nigerian, deal with it! he will be coming and going cuz this his home, mmkay?

      • Chic January 21, 2016 at 9:47 am

        I.don’t want to know who he’s kissing. We should stop pretending like all is well in Nigeria bcos ALL IS NOT WELL!!!! u rich ones can enter the big places in the country to show off but it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a higher population of poor pple in Nigeria. Yes. we need external aids, bcos u rich ones have refused to play ur role, rather u steal from the poor to add to urs. Just wait until there’s no more place for u to hide. Why are we ashamed to admit our plight??? PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING IN NIGERIA!!!!!

      • FinchleysFinest January 21, 2016 at 10:39 am

        He is only here ‘kissing ‘ arse because his career is dead and he’s using wizkid to gain some relevance now he see Nigerian music has blown.????

        Bros Davis & Davis YOU NEED JESUS……..

        Its so strange nowadays that people just say TRASH FOR SAYING TRASH’s sakes….

        lol……NigeriaN mUSIC & Tinie Tempah??? Some people just like be available for the devils use…

  • Krasavitsa January 20, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    See the problem with most Nigerians? They want people to see Nigeria as a place where things aren’t so bad. It’s not that Tinie didn’t see Abuja as a lovely place (well, compared to other countries, Abj is just ok) – it’s the fact that Abuja is just a tiny part of Nigeria. Abuja doesn’t in the slightest way represent Nigeria at large not to mention Africa. Of course it’s sad to know that the west sees Africa as a primitive place. But let’s be real, can we blame them? In the Abuja metropolis you talk about, people still hawk, still live on less than a dollar a day, still go hungry etc, etc. Until we all come together to eliminate those parts of our country that bring embarrassment to us when viewed by the west, until we say no to corruption, until we hold our leaders accountable for their actions, until Nigeria grows to the point that everywhere is like Abuja, until then, can we get angry when the west tries to portray us as jungle people. Also, saying the rich and poor co-exist is just laughable. Besides the photo shoot is for a UNICEF project. Did you honestly expect him to snap at Sheraton or Caribbean???

  • hezekina pollutina January 20, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    oga you are being defensive. so what if he is not showing posh locals, mansions and high rises. is that all that is impressive about naija? maybe all he showed is what he experience when he was in abuja and environs…maybe he didn’t do anything glamorous. maybe going to transcorp hotel is not that impressive to someone who has met the queen of england. maybe he is doing a project involving idps and will reveal it later. point i am trying to make is: outside people want to experience an authentic naija. they may want to eat amala at a booka. or akara at the side of the road. they may wanna ride kekenapep. hell, carrying their own bucket of water to take a bath may have its charm even to some visitors or returnees. people wanna have some real nigerian cultural experience and bask in the realness and appreciate it. when it comes to modernization, running water, electricity and good roads would be nice. but if thats not on offer, then real charming naija people will suffice. a posh party here and there in a modern environ is nice but thats not what would be that impressive to someone who already has travelled the world. its the realness that he will take away with him, not superficial things. doubt he is trying to make a bad impression about naija. it is what it is. and there is charm in the realness, posh or not.

  • Chi January 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Well it’s not photoshop. This is the real Nigeria. We need to address it instead of expecting him to ignore it because we ve been living in denial.

  • Shagga January 20, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Love this article. Artists need to do better when they visit our country.

  • sharon January 20, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Dear Richard, he was here for a UNICEF project. But I also understand where you’re coming from. Nigeria is bad, hell it’s worse than bad, but painting it like we live in a jungle with no internet or technology is wrong. And referring to nigeria as Africa? I can’t even.

  • Delta geh January 20, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I don’t see anything wrong with what the writer wrote. The problem with western media/ people is that they portray African countries to only be about the poverty and village traditions when in fact there are other sides to Africa. I believe in a balanced picture. Show the good and bad sides don’t focus on the bad sides only. For example did Tinie Tempah sleep in the same building as the village elders? America has its bad sides but the good sides are mostly glorified. Whey should the case be different for African countries? We need balanced reporting!

  • Middle Girl January 20, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Beautiful photography. But then, it’s TY Bello. She never disappoints

  • Ef January 20, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I must confess that there was a time when I probably subscribed to the thinking of this writer. The older I get, the folly i realise.
    Yes, people in the West have a view of Africa that is not too flattering but the truth that is the reality of Africa for most Africans. Tinie Tempah didn’t fabricate the picture, this was all there and all he had to do was take a picture of it. I think what this writer should be annoyed about is that there are still places and conditions like this rather than have a gripe at someone that was probably attempting to give back to the society. I am personally more comfortable with someone sharing unflattering pictures of Africa while attempting to do something about it than these gross display of wealth of the mostly ill gotten gains of the less than 1%

  • Ehiwarior January 20, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Dear Richard,

    Tinie is kind, if I were him , I will take the pictures in Makoko, Bariga, Shomolu, Mushin. Okokomaiko and Aba, the dirtiest city in Nigeria.
    Your people live in worst conditions than he depicted, I know it is hard to believe, but that’s the truth,
    Your schools are empty of books, chairs and desk, your hospitals are empty of drugs.
    Your people thought the new government will bring succor, but they are wrong.

    Richard, there is hunger, unemployment and poverty, The resumes in my inbox can wreck a ship.

    It is almost a hopeless situation, I hope we overcome someday.

    Thank you.

    • Jennelle January 20, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      Can I add mine???????

    • Mz Titilitious January 21, 2016 at 8:39 am

      your, your, your aren’t u a Nigerian?

  • nene January 20, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    ppl always talk about how nigerians only show the good side. how many times dyou see international news showing the bad sides of first world countries? even almighty LA, the type of ppl u see there will make u scared by the time u cross over to the other side of LA. i am in support of showing the glamorous side of nigeria and africa.

    • Chi-e-z January 21, 2016 at 2:02 am

      Thank u oh nene. When I say I live in the ghetto ppl be like u in U. S. I’m like shoot ain’t no dang difference between pako nd whr I dey oh. I see kids going out almost butt a$$ naked (whr I was going to church @) ain’t eaten nothing but coca cola thankfully we started cooking least make thm get something chop. B4 I come this america I neva know say pako dey.

    • ElessarisElendil January 21, 2016 at 2:46 am

      Ehm the shootings, the drug problems, the stabbings, the riots, the stupidity where students are demanding statutes be taken down. Just off the top of my head.

  • woohaa January 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I’m sorry but he’s depicting the truth about the majority of Nigerians and Africans.

  • Ada January 20, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Oga writer, but that is the reality for 95% of Nigerians!!! You and other deluded Nigerians have to accept it and live with it or do something about the poverty level. Nigeria is not only Lagos and Abuja. Even in the so called mega city Lagos, the majority of the residents are unbelievably poor and can’t even afford a meal a day.

  • Miss B January 20, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Funny, Mr Tinie hardly referenced his African history/identity while blowing up in London. Noticed over the past year he has suddenly connected back , when the hits are not coming any more. PR always helps. I wonder if London showed pictures of people queuing to collect welfare everyday, that people would still see London as the ultimate land of honey.

    Policies and job creation are what contribute to development. Well done UNICEF. But we have plenty of Charities home grown making a difference. Tinie you could have connected with them. Or maybe film you’re next video in Nigeria, employ people and contribute to the country. Africa did not become a mess on her own. It may take us 200years but we will get there. Let us embrace the double edge coin. 🙂

    • ElessarisElendil January 21, 2016 at 2:48 am

      LMFAO 200 years!!! is not “getting there”. You realise in the west, China and even common India they’re sending ships to Mars, transplanting heads and regrowing limbs, don’t get me started on their military tech. If we don’t catch up in 50 years before the technological gap becomes too much, forget it!!!

      • Tee January 31, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        you are right we rather go to church 24/7 in the hope of miracles and wonders!

    • Mz Titilitious January 21, 2016 at 8:34 am


  • Cynical January 20, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    The truth of the matter is no matter the picture we try to paint of ‘Africa’ as our oyibo people call it,majority of them will always see us as savages wearing leaves and swinging from trees…..

  • Babe January 20, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Mr Richard, did u not see the picture he posted on his IG of himself and wiz kid posing in front of a G wagon or the picture of a beautiful vintage car he spotted on the streets of Lagos!

  • Ides of March January 20, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    We don’t need validation from the west. At the end of the day we are still Africans (with all that term connotes) as far as they’re concerned whether living in the bush or in a high rise pent house so why try to impress the world? It doesn’t give two fs.

    • ElessarisElendil January 21, 2016 at 2:50 am

      Don’t know about you but I’m Nigerian. I’m about as “African” as a Brazilian is American.

  • tolu January 20, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    What you blaming the guy for. He’s not the sell out. Go yell at all those nigerians queuing up for visa even getting on banana boats to escape the beautiful paradise called Nigeria. What the hell kind of PR do you expect Nigeria to get. The leaders of the country troupe out to foreign hospitals to treat headache!!!!!!!. When are you guys going to get it right. Besides the oyingbo you lot are dying to impress with pictures of your fathers skyscrapers in Abuja are more interested in seeing people in their natural habitat abi the skyscraper in Abuja is where you Na family resides. Those optics were artistic and unpretentious.

  • Afua January 20, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Just a quick question that piggybacks of this subject. Were any of you offended by the way Abuja was depicted, on the most recent episode of “Family Guy”?

    • ElessarisElendil January 21, 2016 at 2:53 am

      A. Abuja has parts like that.

      B. This is the same Family Guy why Jesus is a weed chugging record store owner and Brian once f8ked Lois right?

      Personally No. If it pains you that much you can always make a hit cartoon portraying Washington as a jungle, see if Americans will get offended.

  • Asgrl January 20, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    I keep wanting to write something but I’m tired. I think articles like this are the reason I’m slowly getting tired of Bellanaija. Please the people you see here are the 1%’ers of Nigeria. The reality for the remaining 99% of us is some of the reality Tinie showed. All of Lagos is not Ikoyi or Lekki.

    We complain about corruption, yet hail the people with expensive bags, cars, houses and extravagant parties, weddings, criminals, looters, deviants on bellanaija. How many people can afford that with the sweat of their hard work?

    Don’t worry your government officials are stealing solely to impress you with what you can never have in your life?

    How may of you even know Alimosho is the largest LG in Lagos? Not every lagosian is on the island. Not everyone in Abuja is in Maitama. And do you know why Boko Haram is so successful? Because are dirt poor and will pick up arms to kill in the name of religion because someone is actually feeding them..

    I’m just tired and don’t have the strength to go on an epic rant right now.

    • Anonymous January 21, 2016 at 5:51 am

      Thank you!!! And when we come here to say how we really feel about the high and mighty, BN will swallow our comments.

    • D January 21, 2016 at 8:01 am

      You’ve said it all. Sadly privileged people are completely out of touch with the extremely harsh realities of life for the average Nigerian.

    • Sisi January 21, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      YES this is it. Mind you I am sure one of the reasons he is out there is to do some work with unicef UK hence the pictures of the areas he was working in. Whilst the image of the fly infested starving African child was the selling point for western charity and aid programme campaigns in the 80s, the poverty/extreme income disparity/corruption/etc problems of Africa are still there and effect the MAJORITY. It’s just that now [much of] the MINORITY (who are actually enjoying life in Nigeria some through sheer hard work, others through at it’s most basic level theft) become out of touch and desensitized to the suffering of MAJORITY. If you want help in life you have to show the full extent of your circumstance, feel free to show the nice infrastructures in the select prime areas and show the foreign cars and accumulated wealth but let’s also stop deceving ourselves that average African is living well below the poverty line #rantover

  • Jerry January 20, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    I wasn’t offended, I actually found it pretty funny. Seth Mcfarlane is a funny guy and most of the jokes on his shows are blatantly politically incorrect but that’s what makes it hilarious

  • MyTwoCents January 20, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I think the writers insecurity is showing. It reminds me of going to a posh secondary school in Nigeria and not wanting my friends to know that my house was in a rough neighbourhood. Thank God for growth and maturity. I should have been proud of my background and my parents determination and sacrifice. The little they had they spent on my education.

    We should be change the way we view our country. There is nothing glamorous about poverty. And yes our government lets us down. But people work bloody hard. There is so much to admire in the tenacity of my people. The photos reflect the truth about Nigeria. How boring would the photos be if he took pictures in banana island or wherever else rich people hang out.

  • anonymous January 20, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    The pictures aren’t bad in my opinion.Those are not barefoot hungry children but children who look very well and happy. The fact that he went to a village isn’t portraying Nigeria in a bad light. We need to acknowledge that most Nigerians do not live in cities and that state of life is not a bad thing.

  • Muna January 20, 2016 at 11:48 pm


  • Ik January 21, 2016 at 12:05 am

    I was going for someone’s neck till I read comments …no need then..the good heads have won…the dude showed our reality ooo…not some fake ass illusion like we see with most of our music and movies ….mcheeeew

  • Miss Anoni Moss January 21, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Totally agree with the writer, I love Tinie and I know he is proud of his heritage but this time he fall my hand big time. No body is saying he should not post village pictures but haba ALL the pictures he posted are portraying a bad image, Tinia cannot tell me that he did not take at least one picture in a nice place. Visuals are very very important, we tend to judge based on what we see that is why a typical Nigerian man wants to travel abroad because all their lives they watch western movies and therefore think it’s all a bed of roses out here, a typical white man only sees this type of photos, what they show on the news and the usual advert of a dying African child on tv asking for donations, that is why they are of the opinion that we live in jungles and use rhinos for uber ?

  • Kehinde January 21, 2016 at 2:40 am

    He has the right to do whatever pleases him abeg. Free world

  • oga no bi small ting January 21, 2016 at 4:12 am

    but you just did and it was great!!

  • Z January 21, 2016 at 4:30 am

    Richard, you’re not very smart (i can tell from reading your article). You’re clearly living in denial. People are living in harsh conditions and all you can care about is; “why didn’t he post better pictures”. You’re the true definition of a fool. You lack self awareness, we need to see these pictures so we can actually know how the less fortunate live, MUMU, keep worrying about Instagram pictures when our country is on fire.

  • teniola January 21, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I came back home with my friends for holiday we spent time in lekki then went to the villa. My friends couldn’t get enough of the greenery; red earth natural foods and fresh air. With all due respect Richard I think your write up has more to do with you being a Nigerian heavily influence by the desire for materialistic ideals and your insecurities in your ability to stand out and represent yourself as a dignified human. You are ashame of your African roots. I see so many nigerian students here before you even get to know them as persons they front their family wealth as if it’s a sort of insurance for their character. They also speak in stupid accents to prove they can speak English( as if speaking English with an alien accent is some sort of prerequisite for whstatever!!!!!!) I don’t see anything negative depicted in these pictures. The children look happy free. The people are free to gather and solve there problems without the influence of the west. The car showcase a productive nature. The west have villages too or didn’t you realise that. What the kind of journalist/ creative writer are you. I am not impressed Infact your write up is embarrassing to me as a Nigerian . I’ll be sharing these pics with my friends on social media and pray non of my foreign mates happen across your self serving and actually self depreciating write up warped mentality man. Not good.

  • ibi January 21, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Nigerians ehn hypocrites we won’t call out the big names in our industry that are “not sell out ” but go to SA , US all the time to shoot music video. dear writer I read somewhere he’s here on a unicef project pls ur Davido m wizkid will never do this so y criticise someone whether u accepting or not Nigeria is a “developing country “

  • Ibi January 21, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Nigerians ehn hypocrites we won’t call out the big names in our industry that are “not sell out ” but go to SA , US all the time to shoot music video. dear writer I read somewhere he’s here on a unicef project pls ur Davido m wizkid will never do this so y criticise someone whether u accept or not Nigeria is a “developing country “

  • Corolla January 21, 2016 at 10:48 am

    No comment to add, as this is an unintelligent article. Bella Naija needs to do better. Crappy content these days.

  • Uvo January 21, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I love the village pictures. The people are healthy, clean and free. Most of the comments here exaggerate the state of poverty in Nigeria. I come from the south-south and in my local government you hardly see mud houses. In the villages there are also quite a number of houses that would fit quite comfortably into any middle / upper class neighbourhood in Lagos. Many of them built by hardworking people not politicians. There is a good road network, water and electricity. The schools and health services could be much better, though. The government could also do more to provide access to business support services for farmers and business owners in the communities.

    I have also had the privilege of visiting a number of rural communities in the South. Nigerians (at least in the South) are not as desperately poor as a number of commenters here have tried to paint them. I cannot speak about the North though as I am not familiar with the environment and people there.

  • Ama January 21, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Z you really don’t need to insult the writer to make a point. it is just plain rude.

  • Tamera January 21, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    I don’t see any poverty in these pictures oh. The children look happy they do not appear gaunt . Is it Becsuse they are not obesed and wearing Ralph Lauren shirt Mtchewwww Richard you are suffering from poverty mentality. I am surprised you don’t see the beauty in these pictures yet you call yourself creative writer.

  • Casey January 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Well……but the picture is in Nigeria right…or do we now turn a blind eye that this part of Nigeria actually doesn’t exist. Are you leaving to artist like tinie tempah to improve the image of Nigeria? Or are the cities the only representation of Nigeria?

    This is totally idiotic. If this part of our reality bothers you so much on someone else’s instagram page then how about to make the effort to make the necessary actions needed to eradicate such parts of Nigeria.

    Instead you’re here pretending to yourself. smh

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