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48 Hours With Emmanuel Adebayor

48 hours spent in the company of Emmanuel Adebayor and Wizkid was always going to be special. But it was only when an articulated bus – fil...

48 hours spent in the company of Emmanuel Adebayor and Wizkid was always going to be special. But it was only when an articulated bus – filled with girls, boys, DJs and a sound system pumping out Afrobeat tunes – as well as a convoys of SUVs pulled up outside the dusty airport in Togo to greet the Nigerian superstar and his entourage, that we started to realise quite how mad it could be.

We were there to film the SEA Youth Festival, a two-night party where Wizkid and a host of other stars from the west coast music scene were going to perform at Stade Municipal in Togo’s capital Lomé. 
The Football Icon 

It had been organised by Ade as a celebration of the music scene that he loves so much but also as his chance to give back to young people in Togo. We were all there to shine a light on the incredible potential young people represent.

And given that 48% of Togo’s population is under the age of 18, that’s a hell of a lot of people and a hell of a lot of potential to celebrate. It was going to be a big party.

It was also a moment for Ade to get a bunch of his mates on stage and have a good time. But first he had work to attend to, and so did we. The festival was happening on the same weekend as the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Togo and Liberia. 
Ecstatic Fans Jostle To Meet The Icon 

We’d been invited to film it. We were just hoping, along with the whole of Togo, that Ade would score. Our team was from all corners; Dom, our creative director, and I had flown out with the video director Matt from London to Ghana. 

We were going to link up with our photographer Neil Massey who was flying in from Vietnam – you’ll see; he really is that good – and JP, Matt’s cousin who owns a creative agency in Accra. From there we’d drive to Lomé – buy a bling coffin from the roadside stalls on the way – and arrive in time to catch Wizkid arriving at the airport.

Wizkid’s arrival was nearly upstaged by Terence. Tee’s the guy who gets things done in the SEA team. He has no official title but is one of Ade’s most trusted friends. He pulled up to meet us on the three-wheel motorbike he drives around on – it’s a kind of bat mobile built for Lomé’s roads. 
Women Were Party Of The Team  

He spent the 48 hours attached to his phone, and several others, to coordinate Wizkid’s arrival, his tos and fros, and Adebayor’s schedule. The articulated bus was soon followed by several 4x4s. But the Lomé–Tokoin Airport is no Heathrow. 

The stars calmly walked straight out of the main exit. Lola Rae and her sister came out first with Wizkid’s manager Sunday. But it was when Wizkid and his girlfriend drove out via a side entrance in Ade’s Hummer, that the screaming really hit decibel levels that would make a dog flinch.

In a scene that became familiar over the weekend, the eager hordes descended on the vehicle. Wizkid acknowledged the attention with grace but he’s obviously well used to it. The Hummer drove off, convoy following, towards Ade’s house. In a Togo top and a du-rag cap, Ade welcomed us all.

Togolese hospitality is renowned and Ade never lets the side down.
Cars Formed Convoy To The Party 

Later that night, everyone reconvened at Marcello beach: dark, dust, sand everywhere. There were at least 500 kids there already to greet Wizkid as he rocked up in the Ade’s matt black and gold Rolls Royce Phantom. 

The lights of the Rolls lit up the people mobbing the car. Neil was in the middle of the crowd getting pictures, while Matt and JP manoeuvred the equipment out of the car to start shooting. The SEA team ended up reversing the Rolls Royce out because there were too many people, just so Wizkid could make a stage appearance. 

It was a semi-stampede. The crowd were massively hyped. And this was meant to be a warm up to the main event tomorrow. - True Africa 

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