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How the dance became a global obsession

Shaku Shaku is the latest Nigerian dance craze that has taken the world by storm.

For Nigerian lovers of basketball, the new instalment of the gaming franchise NBA 2k19 should feel right at home.

As Nigeria’s pop culture soars high, the guys at EA Sports have tapped into the green-white-green-wave.

Osagie Alonge


Shaku Shaku featured as a dance move in the newly released .

Basketball players in 2K19 now have the option of doing the ‘Shaku Shaku’ as a celebratory dance in the game. From the streets of Agege, ‘Shaku Shaku’ has now gone global an is no longer a Nigerian street dance.

How did a catchy dance move that originated from the slum of Agege captivate the world?

Shaku Shaku

This dance made its first entrance into the wave of Nigerian mainstream circa 2017 with the Nigerian Street Hop sound, propagated by Agege boys like Mr. Real, Slimcase, Obadice and Dammy Krane.


While the dance became almost synonymous with Nigerian rapper, Olamide and his 2017 hit, ‘Wo‘, he did not create the routine.

Writing for Guardian Nigeria on January 27, 2018, veteran Nigerian journalist, Chiagoziem Onyekwena, described Shaku Shaku as “a dance performed by crossing your arms in front of each other and the wrists, widening your legs slightly and launching into a graceful half-gallop” before highlighting similarities to Psy’s 2012 hit, ‘Gangnam Style‘.

How Nigeria's Shaku Shaku dance became a global obsessionplayPsy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ is a bit similar to ‘Shaku Shaku’

(YouTube/Official Psy)

ALSO READ: 10 Nigerian songs to help you master ‘Shaku Shaku’

Onyekwena also noted that the dance had been bubbling under before launching in the mainstream around July 2017 and becoming viral later that year off acts like Idowest, Mr. Real, DJ Real, Slimcase, Zlatan Ibile, Cashwale, Reminisce and Obadice.

Finally, he attributed its homecoming to Olamide’s show Olamide Live In Concert 4 also know as OLIC 4 where it was performed and celebrated by near 10,000 and I agree.

Asides being simultaneously celebrated with the South African Gwara Gwara dance, synonymous with their Gqom sound, it has uniquely permeated through western ranks, towards global acceptance.

A cursory look through Nigerian videos will bring the reality of how well Shaku Shaku is a true Nigerian phenomenon, accepted and celebrated. However, it has been aided.

Success, aided by Nigeria at the forefront of the global affection for African culture

playPaul Pogba and Presnel Kimpembe dancing Shaku Shaku (Getty Images)

Alongside the ‘Gwara Gwara‘, Shaku Shaku has gone on wild global integration over the past 8 months. Stars like Paul Pogba and his French teammates have danced these routines to near perfection at the World Cup.

Let’s be clear, Shaku Shaku is not the first Nigerian contemporary dance. ‘Galala‘, ‘Swo‘, ‘Yahooze‘, ‘Alanta‘ or even ‘Shoki‘ are predecessors of Nigeria’s latest dance craze. ‘Shoki’ and ‘Yahooze’ are Nigerian dances who have gotten international acclaim.

In 2015, US rap star Missy Elliott danced the ‘Shoki’ in her music video ‘Where they from‘. In 2008, way before Nigerian hit songs clogged the Internet, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell danced the ‘Yahooze’ alongside Olu Maintain.

How Nigeria's Shaku Shaku dance became a global obsessionplayOlu Maintain on stage with Colin Powell doing the Yahooze


ALSO READ5 Nigerian artists who are keeping ‘Shaku Shaku’ alive

However, none of these dance steps have nothing on ‘Shaku Shaku’ in terms of global reach.

Nigerian music and culture have become increased subjects of global obsession. Our music, fashion styles and even our pidgin English have been borrowed by westerners and our artistes continue to enjoy western success in touring and recognition.

It only seems inevitable as asides K-pop, the various genres of African music were the only areas of music that the West had not put on blast.

Inevitably, Shaku Shaku looks to be reaping the benefits of the continued inquests or in some quarters, onslaught on Nigerian culture.

To some, it is sudden. To others, it seems an appropriation to refresh the stalling western dance music scene. Whatever it is, Nigerian and the wider African culture have been getting some overdue recognition.

In most ways, that is enough.

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