From African Queens To Dongonyaro Babes
When Mr. Innocent Idibia notably known as 2Face released his song African Queen in 2004, it soon became a worldwide mega hit and was rereleased by EMI records in 2006. That song and the video elevated Nigerian and African music to the top strata of YouTube downloads. The skillful production of the African Queen music video made the African Diaspora and others appreciate the Nollywood entertainment industryall the more.
Nollywood motion pictures evolved out of the creativity of Nigerians who did not want the corrupt military governments and their civilian acolytes to determine their production and intake of entertainment. Ironically, in this civilian era we appear to be at a crossroads where politicians are co-opting our entertainment complexes.
The Story for the Godssong aka Dongonyaro by Olamide is a classic product of this era. But as usual Nigerians are more perturbed about the sexual depictions of the video than the systematic arena of unbridled corruption that have birthed this product and pivoted the entertainment industry. In Nigeria and Africa we are more prone to take our frustrations out on the roadside pickpockets/petty thieves thanto react against the greedy and shortsighted elites that rob us blind and steal the future of the entire continent. Rather than confront these good for nothing socio-economic bandits we allow them to use tribalism and religion to wage a clandestine and public war against us while entrenching their interests with immunity and impunity.
As a clear sign of our impotence, Nigerians and other Africans actually use tyres to lynch petty thieves with unrighteous indignation while political and military thugs are rewarded with traditional titles such as high chief and absolved of their sins by the Pastors and Imams who are rewarded with large sums of money. Some of us in the African Diaspora are more engaged by the 21st century lynching of people of African origins in America via the police and vigilantes than the prevalent norms on the continent. There are churches and so-called born-again preachers everywhere in Africa that embrace the rich corrupt elites whereas condemning the poor. Islamic sharia in Nigeria is now used in condemning the poor and chopping off limbs while the real criminals have special seats at the mosques.
However, it should be noted that in the African Queen era, there was a message that needed to be sent out to counteract the globalization forces of this century. The song African queen reawakened our consciousness to appreciate the beauty of black women. It probably slowed down the sale of bleaching creams by .05%, reduced the bitter competition for resources among us, and curtailed the tides of self-hate within our various communities. It should also be remembered that the same era ushered in the activist music of artists like Timaya. Then Timaya was more introspective and focused on the poverty and corruption within the Niger Delta area and Nigeria as a whole.
But our musical entertainment seems to have transitioned into a beehive of bum-bum shaking and/or breaking down the rhythmic qualities of big behinds. Our musicians use the name of Fela in vain and sing about the nyash (buttocks) as if we do not have any other pressing matter on the continent. Certainly, I for one do not have anything against having a good time and shaking your bum but there are other things we need to add into the equation. People were quick to lash out at Olamide on account of the story for the gods’ song and video instead of focusing on the real problems that bedevil us. We need to concentrate on our real problems instead of chasing phantoms.
Any wonder that we have some young dynamic individuals producing art in the Nollywood industries while our political situation remains at a standstill. How is it that in a land that has nearly 200million people and boost some of the smartest people on earth we have allowed two men to rule twicein different decades? Why are we content with thieves and criminals at the helms of most of our political, economic, and social institutions? We condone the men and women that steal from our country and the continent whereas condemn those that are forced to conform to societal pressures just to survive hardships. The real voice of the streets Mr. Fela showed us that we could shake our nyashes while disrupting the status quo. When will our generation assume the leadership for change?
Nnamdi F. Akwada LGSW, MSW is a Social Justice Activist