Miley Cyrus has Nigerian parents

Parody performers, the Naija Boyz, take on Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball." It is unclear what they're trying to say.

A still from "Wrecking Ball: African Remix!!"

It is very likely that Miley Cyrus will end up somewhere in a number of “best of 2013” lists, for reasons many still struggle to understand. Maybe for culturally appropriating ‘twerking’ and making it popular with white suburban kids in the US, and probably beyond. At least it was not the South African “pro” twerk team. Miley Cyrus even managed to inspire the American-based Naija Boyz, the Nigerian Weird Al Jankovic due. Basically, Naija Boyz do parody music videos of pop songs, like Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” The original “Black and Yellow” was a tribute to the sports teams of the American city Pittsburgh. In Naija Boyz’s hands it becomes a song about dating in Nigeria. Or what they did to Lil Wayne’s “Lollilop,” turned into a suggestive song about Nigerian food. Even Beyonce hasn’t been spared.

Now they’ve done their take on Miley’s “Wrecking Ball.” As Rolling Stone described the visuals at the time: It “… first shows Cyrus in an extreme close-up in front of a blindingly white background; she’s crying as the song begins, and the whole affair recalls Sinead O’Connor’s iconic “Nothing Compares 2 U” video. Later, she’s wearing a white crop top and matching bottoms, smoldering as she carries a massive hammer and walks toward the camera in slow motion.”

Music critics were shocked, to say the least. Rolling Stone again: “… the most shocking moment of the video comes about 75 seconds in, when a nude Cyrus is shown straddling a swinging wrecking ball and lip-synching along to the pop ballad. The 20-year-old smashes more walls and licks the aforementioned sledgehammer before eventually collapsing in the middle of the rubble.” A Guardian critic slammed her for “… exploring the iconography of porn” to break with her former innocent image. Despite these criticisms, the video and the song went viral.

In Naija Boyz’s hands, ‘Wrecking Ball – African Remix’, becomes something else. They sped up the beat and made a spoof that both mocks Miley and takes on a bunch of stereotypes of strict Nigerian parents beating their kids around because of their Miley-inspired behavior. You could read it as the Naija Boyz critically taking on American or western influence on Nigerian youth or critiquing the outmoded parenting methods of Nigerian parents. But the guys were probably just having lots of fun … and Miley happened to make people laugh and inspired them.

Watch it.

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.

Paradise forgotten

While there is much to mourn about the passing of legendary American singer and actor Harry Belafonte, we should hold a place for his bold statement-album against apartheid South Africa.