On October 14, 2008, the former US Secretary of State Colin Powell joined Nigerian singer Olu Maintain on stage at the Africa Rising Festival in London to dance to Yahooze, arguably the hottest record out of Nigeria at the time. The dance racked up headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

“He traded statecraft for stagecraft,” Foreign Policy’s David Kenner wrote. It was also a seminal moment for the burgeoning but mesmerising genre known as Afrobeats, long before its global domination today. 

It also highlighted the significant role London would play as an amplifier of the genre that grew from the streets of Lagos.

In doing the Yahozee dance, Powell, one of the most idolised Black men in the world even after his October 2021 death from COVID-19, had unwittingly given a stamp of approval to an ode to flamboyance underwritten by internet fraud. The irony was highlighted by The Guardian two days later.

“The Nigerian hit is a celebration of that country’s most infamous export, advance-fee email fraud (sometimes called 419 fraud, after the relevant section of the Nigerian penal code),” the article read.

“The perpetrators are known as “Yahoo Boys” after their email service provider of choice.”

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