Nicki Minaj's Controversial Show Goes On in Angola

Nicki Minaj photographed in 2015.
Howard Huang

Nicki Minaj photographed in 2015.

Nicki Minaj has performed a concert in Angola despite protests from a human rights group.

Minaj on Saturday headlined Show Unitel Boas Festas, a so-called “Christmas festival” held in Luanda, the capital of Angola. 

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) had earlier asked Minaj to not perform at the event by way of a strongly-worded statement.

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In a message posted late last week on its website under the headline, "Nicki Minaj Shouldn’t Be Performing for Dictators,” the HRF wrote: “Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ruled Angola since seizing power in the fall of 1979. A cunning tyrant, dos Santos survived a legacy of colonialism and devastating civil war to consolidate control over the presidency, military, and judicial system, all while crushing independent journalism and civil society,” HRF notes in a statement on its website. “He uses rigged elections to fake democratic credentials, and his suppression of dissent is ruthless. As part of a national wave of arrests his regime has put 17 activists on trial for reading books on nonviolent resistance. Earlier this year, his security officers carried out and covered up a massacre of hundreds of civilians.”

For 36 years, HRF noted, dos Santos has “exploited Angola’s vast natural resource wealth to build an enormous business empire, enriching his family and positioning them at the top of the country’s key industries.”  The concert’s sponsor Unitel is part-owned by the dos Santos family.

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Before hitting the stage, Minaj shared a photo of herself with the president’s daughter Isabel dos Santos along with the caption: "She's just the 8th richest woman in the world. (At least that's what I was told by someone b4 we took this photo) Lol. Yikes!!!!! GIRL POWER!!!!! This motivates me soooooooooo much!!!!"

HRF’s earlier note also accused the artist of “ignorance” and of “hostility to criticism” and noted “Minaj’s payday is all the more jarring given that she and her managers joined the chorus of the Black Lives Matter movement. It appears that when those black lives happen to be in Angola, their lives matter less than a paycheck from a dictator.”

Minaj isn’t the only artist to be targeted by the HRF. The organization has historically documented performances and visits from the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Nelly Furtado, Kanye West and Erykah Badu for “tyrants in Gabon, Turkmenistan, Chechnya, Kazakhstan, and Swaziland in exchange for seven-figure paychecks.”