Tiwa Savage. Picture: Kelechi Amadi-Obi

Cassper Nyovest. Sho Madjozi. D’Banj. Femi Kuti. Tiwa Savage. Wizkid. The African acts at the Global Citizen Festival that will take place at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on December 2 are ones to look forward to.

Now, I’m not sure if Wizkid will announce a visa issue last minute, but seeing he and Savage perform Ma Lo would be a treat.

That’s if you make it into a lucky draw to win a ticket after you’ve earned points by doing good deeds. At the festival’s press conference, it was wonderful to see Madjozi squeal with delight when Savage stepped onto the stage. She is, after all, a Nigerian superstar who has written for people like Chrisette Michele and sung with Mary J Blige.

Savage told me she was thrilled to be a part of the December fest that seeks to eradicate poverty and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birth. “The fact that it’s happening in South Africa is obviously incredible,” she told me.

“I’m African and I was asked by Chris Martin last year to be involved. When Chris Martin asks you to do something, you kind of don’t question it,” she laughed.

Savage says the life and legacy of Madiba had a profound effect on her: “His life and commitment to his people and what he believed in was incredible. His quotes are still being recited everywhere. I just think his legacy is going to live forever - he was just that powerful.”

Tiwa Savage. Picture: Obi Somto

Following R E D, Savage’s second full-length album, the singer decided to release the Sugarcane EP last year. It leaned a little towards Afrotrap. But she says there was a reason behind releasing a shorter body of work this time.

“In music in general now, people are not doing albums with 22 songs,” she said.

“The world is just so quick and social media allows you to just listen to and download a song and keep it if you like it. I had those songs and didn’t want them to go to waste.

“I wanted to put them on an EP as something short and sweet - which is why I called that EP Sugarcane.”

From that EP came a collaboration with Starboy himself that is still being played today: Ma Lo.

On the romantic ditty, she repeats: roboskehskeh roboskehskeh. So you know I had to ask: what in the world is she saying?

She laughs and says: “It’s just street slang. Nigerians have this way of coming up with something and making it mean something. It means anything, like swag or whatever. I think I’m making it up right now,” she laughs again.

This moment reminds me of a conversation I had with her years ago when Dorobucci was released. The cut was built on a word that the team made up and all the artists were at liberty to give it a meaning that made sense to them.

Savage has had those moments as part of a power circle led by Don Jazzy. She has also had her syrupy sweet R&B moments as evinced by her debut, Once Upon A Time. But now, with her 2018 single, Tiwa’s Vibe, she moves into a more carefree phase where girl power is perhaps even more important than romantic love.

“Those are my bad girls,” she smiled mischievously. “Once in a while, I think it’s important to show that bad-girl side.

“Tiwa’s Vibe is definitely that and we just shot the video with an all-female cast. It’s coming out in a couple of days and I wanted to make something where girls can be like: ‘that’s my jam!’ Where they know there’s nothing wrong with feeling sexy, feeling empowered, feeling successful and still being a mother, a wife, a girlfriend or whatever - especially for African women.”

And if you needed any indication of what you can expect from her performance at the Global Citizen Festival, then she just gave you the scoop.

Visit globalcitizen.org.za for more info.