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Nneka – Straight out of Warri to Hamburg – curly Afro and all

The daughter of a Nigerian father and a German mother, Nneka Egbuna was born in Warri, Oil City in the Delta region of Nigeria at the height of its new found wealth in the mid 70s.

For nineteen years she soaked up the sounds and rhythms of one of the most musical nations on the planet, a country where expressing yourself through song is just a part of everyday life, a country that has music in its very DNA, where the influence of giants like Afrobeat revolutionary Fela Kuti is never far away.

But at the age of 19 this modest and hard-working young girl made the big decision to leave behind the African way of life. To further her education, she moved not just to Europe but to Northern Europe, to the industrial seaport of Hamburg in Germany. For the young Nneka, it was a dramatic change, and there remains an intangible quality in her voice that speaks of being a long, long way from home.

“The cultural differences between Germany and Nigeria were extreme,” she says. “The way they dress, the way they carry themselves, their religion. So many things that were important to me are not important to them. For two years I was overwhelmed.”

For all its innate musicality, Nigerian culture perhaps prizes education higher than any other achievement, and while Nneka was making her first demos and beginning to make waves as a performer, she was determined not to waste the stack of A-levels that she already had under her belt. Enrolled at Hamburg University, she continued to study for a degree in anthropology – no mean feat when you’re in demand at clubs and festivals from Paris to Lisbon, from Vienna to Madrid.

Read Nneka’s full biography on her website.

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