Half a million people have gathered in Lagos, Nigeria to praise God. British Gospel artist Muyiwa Olarewaju has been involved with The Experience since the beginning, and provides an insight into what makes the event so special 


I’ve been living with this thesis for a while now:

Black culture is at the heart of pop culture. And at the core of Black culture is the pulsating rhythm of Black music.  At the foundation of Black music, you’ll find Gospel music - a genre filled with soulful melodies and powerful messages.

The Experience in Lagos, Nigeria brings this logic to life. An incredible 500,000 people gathered to worship last weekend in Tafawa Balewa Square.

I hesitate to call the 18th annual The Experience an ‘event’. It is so much more than a nine hour concert. It’s a counterculture that intertwines faith and culture in a transformative way. 


Source: thesheet.ng

In the words of the convener Pastor Paul Adefarasin, “Beyond being a concert, The Experience has matured into a counterculture that aspires to bring heaven down to earth.” It serves as a beacon of hope in tumultuous times, drawing thousands into its embrace with the promise of uplifting melodies and messages of faith.

In a world where it’s often said that young people are leaving the church in their droves, this event paints a different picture. A glance at the audience reveals an ample representation of younger generations - more than 60% appear to be under 40.

This diverse attendance - from blue-collar workers to white-collar professionals, from judges to reformed criminals - speaks volumes about the unifying power of Gospel music. Multinationals such as Coca Cola and Spotify didn’t want to be left out, and in an historic move, sponsored this worship event. 

Significant figures who are shaping pop culture today were present. There were the writers behind some of the biggest Afrobeats songs we sing; those responsible for artists like WizKid, Burna Boy, Davido, Kiz Daniels and Iyanya to name a few, artists who are selling out arenas worldwide. They all came together to worship and find inspiration.

It was an embodiment of unity, faith and cultural shift. As Pastor Paul put it, it’s about transforming the very cultural soil from which our perspective stems. This year’s theme, ‘Jesus Our Way Maker,’ resonated deeply, reflecting the hope that fills hearts despite socio-economic hardship and insecurity.

The line-up of artists was as impressive as ever: Travis Greene, Naomi Raine (Maverick City) and Nathaniel Bassey. Sinach, whose megahit ‘Waymaker’ won Song of the Year at the 2020 Dove Awards (the first African Woman to ever have that honour) was there. Dunsin Oyekan, Donnie McClurkin, William McDowell among others. Every performance delivered moments of exhilarating praise and worship and the nine hour event has already been streamed online over 1.4 million times on YouTube.

When we praise and worship God correctly his glory is inevitable

Events like The Experience Lagos are vital for the health and growth of worship and Gospel music. They also serve as a testament to the enduring power and appeal of Gospel music in contemporary society. When we praise and worship God correctly his glory is inevitable, creativity flows, safety is assured, and community is strengthened. As I stood on that stage and led over 500,000 people in worship I can truly say it was a transformative moment.

I’ve been part of the event since the very first one 18 years ago. But The Experience Lagos is more than just an event; it’s a movement creating waves in pop culture and beyond. It’s an affirmation of the powerful role Gospel plays in shaping our society and bringing people closer to God. 

All photos (c) Damell Photography and Tife Clicks