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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Nigerian singer on hunger strike
Onyeka Onwenu, Nigerian singer
Her protest has won her admirers in the music industry
By Barnaby Phillips in Lagos

One of Nigeria's most famous singers has gone on hunger strike outside the gates of the National Television Authority in protest at what she says is its refusal to pay royalties on her songs.

Onyeka Onwenu's protest has attracted widespread support from other Nigerian musicians, who often complain that they do not receive royalties when their songs are broadcast on television and radio.

The pop singer Onyeka Onwenu has been sitting in a tent outside the gates of the Nigerian Television Authority in Lagos for the past three days.


I intend to stay on this hunger strike until this issue is resolved

Onyeka Onwenu

She says that during that time she's not eaten but that she has had some orange juice and a few vitamin pills.

Her lawyers say she is claiming the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid royalties and damages.

Other musicians are taking turns to sit with her in a show of solidarity.

'Show me the money'

Ms Onwenu appears to be in a determined frame of mind. "I intend to stay on this hunger strike until this issue is resolved because it is of enormous importance.

"We find that the entertainment industry is suffering. Many artists have no pension, they're dying of hunger.

"These are people who are renowned, people who have made great contributions to the growth of the industry in Nigeria and we feel that this has got to come to an end."

Peace offering

The government owned Nigerian Television Authority, or NTA, says it would like to settle the issue amicably and has emphatically denied Ms Onwenu's claim that she has been barred from appearing on its stations because of the row.

Whatever the result, Ms Onwenu has already won the battle to draw attention to this issue which musicians and other artists feel so strongly about.

They say that if royalties are not paid in a poor country like Nigeria, it will become impossible to attract new talent into the arts.

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