By Russell Bluejack
How can I forget those concerts staged in the 80s by Paul Simon, Maria Makeba, Hughes Masekela (arguably the best trumpeter in the world) and several others! O yes, how can I forget the evergreen superb hit by Brenda Fasie of blessed memory titled, “The Black President!” I have even lost count of Lucky Dube’s tracks on freedom, oppression, and apartheid. One thing bound these songs together – freedom. Yes, these were the kinds of crusade that took place outside the four walls of Nelson Mandela’s prison. The young man had no inkling that the pressure being mounted outside was that strong. These musicians, superb and globally-recognised as they were, did not wait for anybody to spur them on. Apologies to everyone for my failure to mention the great Yvonne Chaka Chaka and numerous Nigerian artistes, such as Otobong, Oritz Wiliki, Mandators, Majek Fashek etc, all of whom used their songs to promote the demise of apartheid in South Africa.
Everyone knows that Nigeria played a very significant role in the release of Nelson Mandela, yet our music, print, audio-visual, audio, and print media have all gone into compulsory hibernation in the face of disturbing killings of unarmed agitators for self-determinism. I think it is high time I used my whip on the butts of the likes of Timaya, the Okoyes (Psquare), Flavour (who has turned sour in this struggle), Run Town, our own Port Harcourt boy, Duncan Mighty, Phyno and many others too numerous to mention. These musicians constitute a bunch of failures. Timaya’s “Dem Papa” reflected what happened in Odi Community, a period when a supposed civilian President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, sicced the Army at a community in Bayelsa State. Timaya’s response, I dare say, was a belated one, since that track was released several years after the disaster; yet, it struck a cord, for it reminded us all of those inky days. Where is Timaya now? Has he lost both his eyes and his voice in the face of arguably the most gruesome killing of innocents? As for Psquare, these gory days do not call for dancing and making money: it is time for lyrical crusade against oppression.
Duncan Mighty, our own Port Harcourt First Son, has lost his title. Yes, that title has gone because the “First Son of Port Harcourt” was as tacit as the morgue when gun-totting security men chased and killed over 11 unarmed IPOB members in Port Harcourt, for no other reason other than that they were celebrating Donald Trump’s victory. Duncan Mighty, if he were a true musician, would have made an album out of that ugly and avoidable incident. When will these crop of hustlers in the music arena learn to emulate the likes of Otobong, Andy Sure Man, Majek Fashek, Oritz Wiliki, Mike Okri, Funmi Adams of blessed memory, Ras Kimono, Edna, Emma Oghosi, etc. The difference between them and these bunch of noisemakers is clear. They were musicians, evangelists, protesters etc. What we have before us are artistes that are in the trade for money and money alone, the reason their songs are always about their own achievements. Thanks a million to the duo of Idris Abdulkarim and the phenomenal Femi Kuti for being exceptionally responsive to the prevalent socio-economic and political situations of their time. I cannot forget what the Baboon called Obasanjo did to Idris because of his “Nigeria Jaga Jaga” soundtrack. These former and present mismanagers of Nigeria hate the truth. Femi Kuti’s “Wonder” and “Sorry Sorry Oh” painted the true picture of the socio-economic decadence that had become second nature to Nigeria. Femi Kuti is one person I still refer to as a true musician.
Ladies and gentlemen, lovers of truth, it is so disheartening that these men and women that we call musicians are far from it. Music is a lyrical way of disseminating messages that have strong effect on hearers. Do you even know that it is a serious abberation to have musicians that are divorced from happenings in the society they live in? Very shameful, to say the least! The Game, a US-based rapper, a breakaway from G-Unit, was always taking President W. Bush, POTUS, on. His tracks were always against the misdeeds of his president. Tracy Chapman, as talented and cerebral as she is in music, has not bagged any Grammy. Those that know her always ask: “Why not?” Well, some of us are not surprised. First, she is black, and you know the role racism plays in pop music. Next, she is always against governments the world over. Tracy Chapman is a lyrical activist per excellence. Grammy or no Grammy, she is fabulously rich and loved by all and sundry. I have every album she has released, but I do not have a single Nigerian mixed tape. Music should soothe the pains that I feel. What Nigerians sing (if I can even call it that) can send the sick to early grave. God forbid!
I am not surprised that the lyrical environment is as quiet as a graveyard in the face of disturbances that could instigate numerous songs. It simply shows our so-called musicians are not talented. It also divulges a very painful fact, to wit: that our musicians are not in touch with happenings in our society. The Nkpor killings, the Port Harcourt incident, the Python Dance II that killed numerous unarmed IPOB members in both Isi Alangwa and Ama Afaraukwu, and that attempted to kill Director Nnamdi Kanu have all gone unnoticed. What then is their music about, if it cannot reflect on happenings? Beloved Biafrans, it is high time we started avoiding their shows. They are a bunch of idiots. Do you know that those that condone evil are as guilty as its perpetrators? These musicians are as guilty as those that have killed our unarmed and peaceful agitators. Shame on all of them! Shame on Flavour! Shame on Psquare! Shame on Timaya and Duncan Mighty! Shame on that idiot that raps, but that has failed to rap about the gruesome death of innocents. I think we should start boycotting their shows. Nonsense! Music is supposed to be a very effective lyrical protest. These bunch of hustlers think money is all that matters. May the spirits of these innocent victims of oppression begin to visit both the perpetrators of evil and their accomplices. Iseeeee! Thanks to Cyril Emetoh for having this discussion with me.
Russell Idatoru Bluejack is a thinker, a revolutionary writer, a university tutor, and a socio-economic and political analyst that writes from the coastal part of Biafra.