49-99, The Meaning & Significance Behind The Tittle.

Tiwatope Savage, known widely as Tiwa Savage is a Nigerian born singer plus song writer who is also known for her afrobeat infused R&B sound. On the 5th of September 2019 the princess of afrobeat released a single titled “49-99“, at first I didn’t know the significance behind the title and cover photo and later started doing my research after seeing the music video for the first time on Monday, the 25th of November 2019.

49-99 simply means 49 sitting and 99 standing, it’s a phrase from the great late Fela Kuti’s “Shuffering and Shmilling” album. The phrase translates to the struggles and hardships Nigerians have encountered since the 1900’s. To break down the phrase more thoroughly, in Nigeria many people primarily used busses as their mode of transportation which would consist of 49 passengers sitting and 99 standing a double amount of the people sitting. This was caused not only by poverty, but by the economic issues Nigeria had at that time. The cover photo and the visuals were inspired by portraits of Students wearing blue and white school tunics at Protestant Secondary School in Mbandaka, Congo that were captured in 1972 by Eliot Elisofon.

One thing I have realized about many Nigerian artists is that they mostly compose songs that talk about hardships that thousands of Nigerians have went through, just like Tiwa on 49-99. Burna Boy is another Nigerian artist that centres much of his music around the history of Nigeria through his songs. “African Giant“, Burna’s fourth studio album has a hand full of songs that entail a lot regarding Nigerian people and it doesn’t end there, their music videos show a more vivid rendition of the songs. I did not only write this as just a form of acknowledgement to Nigerian musicians, but as a form of teaching South African about the Nigerian and a bit of Congolese history.

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