Afagwu Benedict, popularly known as DJ Humility, is one of the prominent Disc Jockeys in Nigeria. He speaks to eelive.ng about how he started his career as a DJ and why he is proud of Nigerian music
What can you recall about when you started your Disk Jockey profession?
I was still in secondary school when I started the job. Initially, I was a rapper and a singer. I used to represent my school in other schools in Surulere. I had a friend who was a DJ staying in my area, his name is DJ Sontkson, I told him about working together and he agreed. So, I started moving with him. However, he was arrested by the Anti –Robbery Police on the same week as my club party. All hopes of getting him out to play for my school club because I had already paid him N 1,500 was abortive. It became very frustrating because my club members were all depending on me to get a DJ that will play for the event. When the complains became too much, I decided to go to DJ Sontkson’s house and his father gave me all his DJ equipment. After taking the equipment to school, I had difficulty connecting it; so, I went another DJ to help me out. The DJ followed me to school to set up the sound system for me. And while he was working, I was watching him and when he wasn’t watching, I did exactly the same thing he did. After the party, I started asking my classmates to start calling me DJ Humility but before then they called me the Able Humility because I was rapper.
Did you go for further training?
Yes I did. I trained under the DJ who helped me out in my school for a while. Then I meet DJ Samborella. He taught me the act of mixing songs. However, the person who made me a professional DJ was DJ Funky J.
Can you remember the first amount you were paid as a professional DJ?
I started playing for free for my classmate then. If anybody told me that their birthday was coming up, I would volunteer to play for them for free. I would borrow equipment from different DJs because I didn’t have equipment. I would play for free and after the party there will be nobody to help me with the equipment so my father will then use his police truck to carry all the equipment to their owners. I just did it for the love then. The first person that gave me a proper show was called Kola Baye, he is a veteran DJ. At that time, he was one of the biggest DJs in Nigeria. He is in the United States now. He gave me a party of N16,000 and that amount is like some millions of Naira today. When I took the money to Funky J, he almost fainted. He was so surprised.
What can you say about the industry compared to when you started?
When we started, we worked for the passion and for the love of the music industry. Nowadays, you will see a lot of young boys who call themselves DJs use lap tops to play songs. When we started there was nothing like mp3. We learnt from the scratch and we learnt all the fundamentals about the job. Everybody now wants to be a DJ because of the money and the razzmatazz they imagine around being DJ.
Do you feel threatened by these up-coming DJs?
I don’t feel threatened because I do more than them. There is no established DJ that can stand me when it comes to working with the equipment and I can beat my chest to that. If anyone can stand me, then, let’s have a N2million bet.
Being a DJ takes you to different countries. What is your assessment of our entertainment industry compared to other countries?
I have been to about 35 countries round the world and I am currently preparing for a tour in Zimbabwe. Nigerian music industry is huge. Nigeria is like the America of Africa because our music has put us on the world platform. Anywhere you go to you will hear our music in their clubs. I was invited to play in a club in Malaysia and when I got there, I saw a lot of white people dancing and I wasn’t too happy because I thought it was a club only for white people. However, not for long, the DJ started playing Nigerian songs and people were obviously enjoying themselves. So, I went to see if the DJ was a black person; I was surprised that the DJ was Chinese. At that moment, I was so proud of my country and it made me realise that our music is huge.
What do you feel about entertainers putting up their lifestyle on social media?
Social media is a place where people show off their elegant lifestyle; while some people also put up fake and doctored videos so that they will be seen. Some DJs even post a lot of videos of them playing and when you call them for shows, you will be hugely disappointed because they won’t be able to deliver what you paid them for.
You mentioned that your father helped you returned equipment back to the owners. What can you remember about him?
He almost killed me when I told him that I wanted to become a DJ but he started supporting me when I was interviewed and when he saw my picture on magazines, he was so happy. May his soul rest in peace.
How do you feel about his death?
It pains me so much because he didn’t die of old age. He died as a result of a national tragedy. He was killed by the Nigerian Army in 2005. It was very rough and painful for me because he didn’t stay to see me become successful or eat the fruit of his labour.
Was there anything like compensation or apology from the Federal Government?
There was nothing of such and I even took them to court but we know how it is in this country. I am just another victim who can’t win a case against the government.
What is your educational background?
I went to Stadium High School, Surulere and after my education I did a couple of professional DJ courses at the DJ Academy in New York.
How does your family support you?
They love my work and they are happy. My wife and children are my biggest fans.
Do you think any of your children might become a DJ?
I think they will become entertainers with the way they are going. They all love music and two of them are already picking an interest in producing.