#DettyDecember: An Analysis of Open-Source Nation Branding through Afrobeats as a Post-Colonial Soft Power Strategy in Ghana and Nigeria
Traditionally, soft power theory has focused on the nations of the West with more contemporary accounts turning to the East. Within this literature African nations have often been framed as recipients rather than wielders of soft power influence. Despite this, the region has demonstrated many emerging (soft)powerhouses. This research contributes to the growing body of soft power literature repositioning African nations as active wielders of soft power influence.
Using the festive period of Detty December as a case study, this study provides a critical analysis of Afrobeats as a soft power tool for the nations of Ghana and Nigeria. By situating soft power within postcolonial theory and outlining Afrobeats’ history as a facilitator of dialogue within the black Atlantic, the argument is constructed that open-source nation branding through the black diaspora presents a viable soft power strategy for African nations. A critical analysis of 100 TikTok videos tagged ‘#DettyDecember’ was conducted. The quantitative results highlight that while the Nigerian focused TikTok videos received an average 32.3% higher viewership, the Ghanaian TikTok videos received more user engagement in the form of likes and comments. Qualitative analysis of prominent themes within the TikTok videos and their comment sections revealed that both nations are being constructed as attractive party destinations for the black diaspora. However, Ghana has been established as a more accessible Detty December destination for non-Ghanaians, particularly for African American tourists looking to connect to the continent. In comparison Nigeria’s Detty December is being established as a luxury travel destination for diasporic tourists who have familial ties within the nation.
While further research is required, insights gained from this study indicate that third-party mediation through the black diaspora has been instrumental in reconstructing the nation brand of both Ghana and Nigeria. However, this success is jeopardized by tensions within diasporic relations and event mismanagement. Based on these findings, investment in Afrobeats and the wider creative industries, along with the incorporation of soft power within governmental strategies are needed to fully reap the social, economic and political benefits to be gained.
Figure 1 Afrobeats Godfather Fela Kuti (Image sourced from https://www.last.fm/music/Fela+Kuti)
Figure 2 American rappers Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper sponsoring trips to bring youths from Chicago to Accra, Ghana (Image sourced from https://www.blackenterprise.com/chance-the-rapper-vic-mensa-call-for-global-black-connectivity-with-new-festival-in-accra-
Figure 3 Afrobeats artist Burna Boy’s Lagos concert during the 2022/23 Detty December Festive Period (Image sourced from https://guardian.ng/life/burna-boy-presents-lagos-loves-damini-concert-on-january-1-2023/)