Have you ever had one of those comforting flash backs when you think of one particular person [either alive or dead], and all the noise around just shuts down and all you are left with is lovely reflections and some sense of peace? Yes, that smile you have now says it all. Now meet “Nikki Spooner”, the American lady with a heart of gold who wouldn’t allow society tell her who to love. In one of the most sincere session from our many guests, hear what Nikki’s got to say about King Sunny Ade’s music and her love for Nigerians…
So who is Nikki Spooner? I am a 35 year old single mother of two beautiful children. I have a degree
in international business and in Music theory. I am a promoter of African cultural values and beliefs but I am also a friend and a humanitarian. I love human interaction and enjoy meeting new people. I’ve made loads of friends on my Facebook and lot more waiting to be accepted and I can honestly say I have to attend to every message myself. I was born in Winchester Ma, and raised in Florida where my mother and sister still reside. I moved back to Boston when I was just a teenager and have been living here ever since. I work well with others and believe I would be an asset to any project. I always try to honor all invitations given to me but pray people understand I am a very busy woman. It is my pleasure to sing and preform at any church or gospel event cause God is my rock. I am very interested in the Yoruba culture and heritage so please feel free to share.
What’s so fascinating about the Nigerian culture and why so much interest? I just smiled when I saw this question because I believe that everything America lacks Nigeria has. Talking about community values, respect for elders, family values, cultural values, when I went to 9ja for the first time I was so impressed by the out pouring of love and affection shown to me, the willingness of people to teach me how to cook Nigerian foods, teach me words in Yoruba and bring me to meet many people.
How long have you been doing this? I have been promoting Yoruba culture for the last three years and I have been singing in Yoruba for the last 5 years. I have been acting in Nigerian movies for the last 5 years and I have completed 5 movies one which is about to premiere called Village Idiot.
What’s your growing up like? I was born and raised in Winchester MA, I grew up in Florida but moved back to Boston in my teenage years. I grew up with my mother and 2 of my siblings and a step father. My mother and father divorced at a very very early age. My step father was in the military and we moved around a lot. I was in school and always singing. I went to all state competitions often and won.I always loved people and I was very very helpful. If someone told me then that I would be the way I am now I would not have believed it. But I thank God for my life! I am Blessed.
How did your folks react when you told them of your interest about Nigeria? Unfortunately my Father passed away a long time ago and I never got the chance to tell him. I hate to say it but My mother was a prejudice and didn’t like black people, I ran away when I was young and began creating a life for myself. I do Talk to my mother now and she has become less prejudice but hasn’t touched on the issue of my beliefs. But my brothers and sisters from my father’s side know and support me.
And how have you been received anytime you are in Nigeria? When I come to Nigeria I feel so free! In fact when I have to board the airplane to come back to USA I feel so sad. I always feel like I m on top of the world when I am there. I am always being hosted from Oba’s to government officials to friends and fans! I am always excited and interested in seeing Nigeria from Benin to Owerri and Kwara and Sango Ota as well as Ibadan and Ikeja, I enjoy Maryland and Victoria island as well as Lagos island. I have been down along the people and even riding in the yellow busses! I always enjoy exploring Nigeria. Yoruba people are very hospitable and accommodating.
What’s your thought about life? I believe that people should all take the time to know other peoples origin and culture so that racism can truly end! I am glad that I don’t look at people as a color but rather a person! Overall are you happy with your choice? My choice to celebrate African culture makes me so happy and proud. Often times I feel like I was mistakenly born in America with a heart for 9ja. Then I realize God doesn’t make mistakes, He needed me to promote cultural exchange from America to Nigeria and that is what I am proudly doing.
What’s your end goal with all this, what do you want people to take away from any of your project as regards Nigeria? My intentions and hope is to re-awaken the grassroots movement in Nigerians I was originally attracted to it when I first learned about the culture. So I act on the Promotion of Yoruba culture and values because I have seen the pride that Yoruba men and women have and I believe that in a lot of ways Nigerians come to western worlds and forget or neglect the traditions, cultures and languages that they themselves were raised on. I believe that Nigerian parents in western worlds don’t choose not to teach but don’t have the time to teach or the permission to do so in the African way due to laws that prohibit discipline.
Any new project in the coming days, months or Year? My good friend Yemi Solade live In Chicago where I will sing in Yoruba Live as he premieres his new movie Arigisegi on Sunday August 23rd. I will also b performing at Awori Day 2015 in New Jersey On September 5th. September 6th is my upcoming movie premier for “Village Idiot” then September 26th is the 3rd annual Yoruba cultural festival be held in Dallas Texas. This year’s event is going to be bigger and better than last year as the event is building momentum daily. We plan to have Cultural songs and dance based of Yoruba proverbs and also No less than 3 Oba’s, including Oba Adefunmi Adejuyigbe (Oyotunji South Carolina) who has the only Africa Village in North America it is just so amazing to see and it looks exactly like the village in Nigeria. I am so excited to see Yinka Rythmz Back for the second year as well. The amazing Adeniji Jemiriye will be gracing the stage again this year. Last year’s performance was amazing. Even the Lijadu Sisters are expected this year and so many more!
So what’s your perception of Nigeria before and after your first visit? Before I went to Nigeria I never knew it existed. I only heard what people were saying about Nigeria that I should watch out for scammers and kidnappers that people are desperate and needy! If you ask me I was deceived, in fact I can’t understand why people who live in mansions in Nigeria leave them to come to America and live in someone’s basement. After I left Nigeria I felt so empowered to come back and learn more and now there isn’t anyone who can stop me from coming over and over and over again!
Who did you enjoy working with the most in Nigeria? There are so many amazing people I have met and had the pleasure to have worked with that it is just so hard to choose who I enjoyed working with the most. But I will tell you that each experience I have has been special and unique and I enjoy every moment of it! But I have learned that I will be preforming with King Sunny Ade in the very near future and then I am sure I will come back and tell you that it was my most enjoyable icon to have worked with as he is the very reason I decided to learn Yoruba, I heard his song “Merciful God” and was like OMG I have to learn this language.
If you hadn’t been born in this century, when and where would you like to have lived? I think I would have loved to live in Nigeria. The Yoruba people are very accommodating in Nigeria and I love going to Nigeria because everyone is eager to teach me anything I am willing to learn, From Cooking Nigerian foods to learning about introductions and traditional marriages all I have met are eager to teach me further. So I believe that I would love to have lived here.
When was your most memorable day in Nigeria so far? I will reference a story about what happened in Nigeria. I was staying with an amazing family in a poor area of Nigeria because I was invited to stay and didn’t want to say no! However the rain came into the house as we slept and it flooded everywhere. As we jumped up the woman was so embarrassed and was asking me if she can take me to a hotel and I can remember vividly saying what are you talking about the house is flooding let’s get the kids and get out. As it flooded the car too was under water and we couldn’t drive it so we trekked about 2 miles to a family members house and I could hear the mother crying and pleading with her husband saying that I will be gone before the morning. She was right I left and went back to the flooded house very very early and started cleaning when she came back to the house she was in complete disbelief that I was there and she fell to her knees and said OMG where do you come from? I thought you were gone forever and I told her that friends don’t abandon each other in times of need. I will never ever forget this experience and I appreciate God for it.
Final word for your fans and prospects here? My final word for my friends, fans and loved ones in Nigeria and abroad is don’t close your mind to the possibilities of cultural exchange more and more Europeans and Americans are learning and studying your culture and heritage cause it’s just so fascinating.
See Nikki doing a song in Yoruba dialect :