Tiwa Savage, Afrobeat And The Vandalization of Fela’s Legacy
The Nigerian Music Mogul, Don Jazzy, recently blamed youths across Nigeria for failing to fight for a better country and accepting the status quo. In a Twitter post, he lamented, “I believe my generation has been weak and almost equally at fault for the state Nigeria is in today… We have been too weak and cowardly to challenge our fathers at the age they built the courage and decided to fight theirs.”
This statement encapsulates the state of affair of Nigerians generally and youths in particular. Today, Nigerians are more concerned about the happenings in Reality TV shows than facing reality in Nigeria. Nigerians are more concerned about the eviction of an uncultured brat than the rescue of a saintly teenager, Leah Sharibu.
Nigeria is now a nation where cows have right of way in major highways. We are now a nation where kidnappers routinely collect ransoms and still kill and bury their victims in shallow graves. We are a nation where the vice president is a professor of law and the president cannot find his school leaving certificate and is dementing while still the commander in chief. The oddities in present-day Nigeria are ludicrous. And the situation is getting worse.
These days I console myself with the success of the young Nigerian musicians making the country proud like Rema who appeared on Barack Obama’s celebrated global music playlist. I also distract myself from Nigeria’s present realities with success stories like the rise of Tammy Oghenetega Anthony, the Chelsea Football Club’s new goalscoring prodigy.
The former new kids on the block like Davido, Wizkid, and Patoranking who are now almost veteran have also made us proud. Davido is presently touring with Chris Brown in sold-out concert where he is representing Nigeria befittingly, side by side the American. The super talented gospel musician Frank Edwards is presently also touring the United State with rave reviews.
Tiwa Savage, one of Nigeria’s most consistent artiste continue to thrill us musically and otherwise. She is arguably the best Nigerian musician in the last 10 years. She has so dominated the scene that you could say the female music landscape is constituted by Tiwa Savage and others. Old, new and upcoming male acts want to collaborate and possibly do other things with her. She has remarkably remained sultrily attractive, ageless and hitmaking. I doff my hat for her professionalism.
Her recent single 49-99 got my body moving involuntarily. The video expertly portrayed her as the sex symbol she wants to remain. I was enjoying it all until I listened carefully to the lyrics and married it with the title and her comments about the inspiration for the song. She has remarked that the song was inspired by Fela Anikulapo’s songs describing the situation in Lagos buses where 49 passengers are sitting and 99 are standing.
I was taken aback by this juxtaposition. I was amazed by the fact that a song celebrating her sexual symbolism was inspired by the narrative of one of Nigeria’s most renowned freedom fighters. My amazement reminded me of Don Jazzy’s remark about the cowardice of Nigerian youths.
Almost all musical hits and their accompanying videos celebrate the male sex organ and commodify the female sex. The movie industry is not very different. The irony of this situation is that the biggest names in the music and movie industry got their biggest hits from saner narrations. African Queen and Only Me are Tuface Idibia’s biggest hits to date, yet both have great lyrics and accompanying videos. Wizkid’s Ojuelegba that inspired a collaboration with the multi-platinum Grammy Award winner Drake has great lyrics and video too. The list goes on and on.
There is overwhelming evidence that great content gives entertainers more mileage, yet the Nigerian entertainment industry is presently awash with lewd and shallow content that debase our already debased existence. No entertainer is bold enough to confront the worst government yet in the history of Nigeria. At a time where the world is increasingly being receptive to our sights and sound, entertainers must emulate Fela’s activism.
>> Ata Ukuta – editor, www.towncryyers.com
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