Di’ja is a down-to-earth Mavin queen, passionate about people, a fun free spirit and funny- especially when she switches to pidgin English. She’s so cool that it’s easy to understand her stardom and the fans who adore her.
I was at Yoghurberry with Di’ja. I like frozen yoghurt and I quite like her so it was perfect.
The attendants were super excited when they saw her and so she agreed to take photos with them and joyfully so. There was so much more that I could have asked her but I wanted to focus on her life right now and career as a young Northern Nigerian woman in the entertainment industry. I started with the obvious- her wedding!
Hi Di’ja! So I am gonna ask you the first question that comes to mind. We didn’t see you for a while and there were all these rumours about a wedding. No one knew about the wedding and your baby until afterwards. How did you pull it off?
Because we are in the social media era, when something happens and we don’t post it, it’s like it didn’t happen so I won’t necessarily say that I hid my wedding, it was just intimate. And then I had my son.. For me it was a spiritual moment. Pregnancy is very delicate so it was more of, I guess, the old wives’ tale.. “kar ka yi Magana sai abun ya kankare” (traditionally in Northern Nigeria, pregnancies are kept almost as a secret at least until they show) but it was more of a spiritual thing than me not wanting to say anything, more of enjoying the moment and being part of the whole process. I was about to be someone’s mom so I was just trying to connect with the whole situation and I was learning so much and also working. I’m also very private, it wasn’t even conscious and I was enjoying the moment.
You mentioned work, I think one of the most interesting people in entertainment in Nigeria is Don Jazzy, what’s it like working with him?
Hmmm (excitement)! He is interesting; Jazzy makes us laugh! The way you see him is the way he is, it’s not any other way. Kinda like Mavins too, we are just ourselves, kinda jonzing. We also have the pressures with the industry. Working with Jazzy, as fun as he is, I kinda give myself pressure too and I’m like “Oh my gosh, look at everything Jazzy has done, what am I creating?!”.. But you know it’s an opportunity and I feel very comfortable working with them because it’s family. It’s an honour and it’s fun. I am able to experiment working with Jazzy, when I have ideas.
That’s great! I’m gonna ask you about your style. You don’t dress like the typical celebrity, I saw a lot of Mademoiselle Aglaia in your last video and her stuff is very unique. What’s the influence for your style?
A lot of people don’t realize that I have just always been the same since.. Like… Kaduna, you know what I mean? It’s one thing to be in music and another to be in fashion. Fashion is growing and I always say it’s my son that’s making me more fashionable, I wanna be a cool mommy (laughs). It’s always the influence of my mom and so many people in Arewa and I love Tracy Chapman as well as Sade. I will go for comfort fist all the time, and I don’t consider myself a fashion icon because there are some things I wear and people are like “What’s wrong with this one, this one just dey do like sey she no dey inside this industry”. I’m just myself and that’s what I always portray. I like wearing things that fit my body type and me. If I wear what it SHOULD look like, it will just look like I am trying too hard. A long time ago, someone told me that fashion is about what looks good on you. I’m quirky so I like mixing my traditional things with my English things.
You mentioned Arewa as an influence on your style. If you ask me about Northern female singers, I can’t really think of anyone off the top of my head, and even if we have them, they’re not quite as famous as you are… What’s that like for you?
We have a lot of them! I’m such an infusion of so many different cultures but I was raised in Kaduna, in the North. I’m not the first person to do this but it’s just more acceptable now but we have some dope northern singers. Also we have this thing where people want to do things but they don’t want to be the first because of the backlash but if somebody else does it, they might get encouraged. I wasn’t the first to do it and I guess I just kinda blocked my ears to many things, I knew that I wasn’t doing something bad or trying to hurt anyone on purpose.
It was something that was inside that I just wanted to share. Having African parents, you know, you have to go to school first and finish everything. In the North, it’s a conservative culture and doing something like I am doing is very out there but I’m also very grateful for the way it has been accepted; it’s almost surprising. It didn’t really start with a lot of acceptance; I did it outside of my community and then came back. And I always say, once you enter this career, you can’t leave until you succeed because once you enter and it doesn’t really work, some people will be like, “eyeyen, shebi I talk am!” so you almost have to be in it until you succeed.
Everyone was looking at me like that girl from the north and not just someone who wanted to express herself. There’s so much happening in the North, it’s just that they need a platform; sometimes we are just afraid. It’s not like I am doing something remarkable but someone comes to me and is like “wow you’re doing this and I feel like I can do things without being like everyone else”, that’s the whole point. You are who you are and there’s no greater power than that. There is so much talent in the North that we have not seen yet, even as a woman- I see people being mad that women are doing this and that and I’m like women gave birth to you, where is the respect?
My niece turned one recently and someone said ‘oh it’s good o, na you get the boy and your brother get girl’. Why do people say things like that? I want healthy kids and it is not about boys or girls. And if we don’t get girls, how your son go get wife born pikin too, the wife wey you marry shey na you born am? Why are we back here again? It’s still a process, I am here to inspire because I am inspired. I have a lot to contribute and I am happy doing it.
So what should we expect from you?
I recently released a song called air and there is gonna be another one. I am hoping to release a project soon, because we are working on a lot of things and to work with artists here in the North. Morell and I have already worked on something, there are so many artists and I would really like to be involved with a lot of things here in Arewa because we have managed to start building a following and it would be nice to put some light on a lot of things. Even Sierra Leone, I would like to go because my dad is Sierra Leonean, I’d like to be there and do some stuff. Artists are like the new age politicians.
Are you a fan? What do you like about Di’ja? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail with your thoughts- firstname.lastname@example.org