African China has what it takes to become the next African Reggae superstar. An outspoken artiste who is not afraid to sing about social ills plaguing the country such as corruption, he has been dubbed “the voice of the Nigerian masses.”
He is a brilliant singer and an energetic live performer with breath-taking dance steps. Reggae from Nigeria is complete with its own distinct dances. If you thought Reggae could only come from Jamaica, think again. Already, his single hit, ‘Mr President,’ has taken his career to new heights internationally.
With his family of Imo State origin, African China was born in Orile, one of the rustic settlements in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. The community is just a stone’s throw to the equally sub-urban rustic Ajegunle.
African China is one of the most famous exponents of what’s known as the ‘Ajegunle which is a mix of reggae and dancehall with local African rhythms, which is somewhat related to styles like Congolese soukous.
Unlike much of what is going on in the Nigerian urban music scene, the Ajegunle sound is very distinct with its own language and references. The language is a local pidgin with typical ghetto slang that is hard to understand for anyone not coming from Ajegunle. Most songs also come complete with their own, often hilarious, dance routines and African China’s live shows are renowned for his energetic dances as well as those of his dancers.
The light-complexioned artiste confirmed how being born in AJ, as Ajegunle is fondly called, had helped to shape his career.
“I thank God I was born in AJ city as this has helped my career to a certain extent. It is rugged area that helps your reason and makes you somebody in life,” he told Midweek Showbiz.
Contrary to false assumptions, African China has no connection with China. His real name is Timothy Chinagorom Onuoha and he is from Nigeria’s Igbo tribe. His teacher, from the Yoruba tribe, he revealed, had to struggle to pronounce his name correctly while in school. So, for simplicity case, he started calling him ‘China.’ Later, when he began his music career and needed a stage name, ‘African’ was added.
He first got into music at the early age of 7 and after secondary school, he embraced it as his chosen profession. He won the ‘Best Reggae/ Ragga Artiste Award’ in 1999 and other numerous awards followed.
His debut album, ‘Crisis,’ was released in 2000. It was followed by ‘Mr President’ in 2005. The title track of the latter was one of the best-selling songs of 2005 in Nigeria and is still hugely popular.
The track is featured in the international compilation ‘Lagos Stori Plenti – Urban Sounds from Nigeria’ Part of this project was a tour of Germany and African China was chosen to participate alongside Ruggedman, Eedris Abdulkareem, Modenine and Bantu. African China has performed outside Nigeria on many other occasions.
He has done shows in the UK (where he lived for six months in 2006), Jamaica, Italy and France as well as in neighbouring African countries.
His latest work, London Fever, revealed his ordeal in the London where he was arrested and charged to court for allegedly raping a young girl; but the girl was later discharged and acquitted.
Life was cruel to the young man as he lost his mother when he was just three months old. His father also abandoned him when he was in primary school and was raised by neighbours and friends.
“I went through many difficulties while growing up, but I was determined to become successful in life,” he revealed.
As a young man determined to have stardom, he recalled that he went through several temptations that would have marred his career, but because he was bent on achieving his dream, he never looked back