Bad Governance And The Imperativeness Of Resurrecting Fela

By Ikenga Chronicles January 16, 2017

Bad Governance And The Imperativeness Of Resurrecting Fela

There is nothing that scares dictators as much as words do. This was why a long time ago, people came up with the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword”. The efficacy of words lies in the fact that nothing galvanises people to action more than the shaping of reality, by recounting experiences, and their end results. Also, words are lighted matchsticks that when dropped on the diesel of our pains, light up, and burn away the inhibiting chains restricting the bogged down masses.

The story of Nigeria’s match to independence does not tell of violent engagements with the colonial masters, it tells of how through “recounting”, our people were awoken and through series of engagements, were finally able to bring about our independence. Thus it followed that after independence, brave Nigerians continued to stand up to injustice through words that spurred the people to action.

We had the Achebes, the Fawehinmis, Awolowos, and of course Wole Soyinka. But most importantly, we had the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

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It was Fela, critiquing the dictatorial administrations of Obasanjo and Buhari in undying songs that first drew my attention to the important role music and musicians can play today in challenging the many ills of our society. Music as it is, is the one medium of expression in Nigeria, which reaches millions of Nigerians all at once. Then I imagined that we had Fela in this age and time! Imagine if an artiste can arise in Nigeria today, with the fearlessness of Fela, who in scathing lyrics, takes on the government, and addresses its many excesses. How quickly would the government be jolted into making amends, seeing as millions of Nigerians through that singular artiste are being woken up to the reality of their situation? For a government that depends on people’s votes, especially from an increasingly aware electorates, the efforts of this one artiste would have gone a very long way in positively affecting the lives of his or her countrymen by engendering accountability and good governance. But where is our modern day Fela?

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Alas, what we have in Nigeria today, are artistes who would rather sing about women and riches, while neglecting the more poignant role that their craft can play in making their society better. Why hasn’t anyone risen in the mould of the incomparable Fela Anikulapo Kuti? Fear? Lack of artistic power? Concern for personal aggrandizement?

A few years ago, one had hoped that Jesse Jagz would have been that lone voice, championing the cause of the masses, critiquing social ills, and leading his society out of the many social ills bedevilling it. But that does not seem to be the case now.

It seems though that hope may yet set anchor on the multi-talented Falz the Bahd Guy. With a style that is exclusively his, and one that both the high and low in Nigeria can relate with, Falz is beginning to shape up as a social crusader. His verses in “Boosit” and the recent “Weh Done Sir” show a marked commitment to addressing socials issues like domestic violence, fraud by politicians, exploitation by religious leaders, and more.

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Yet Falz has not completely metamorphosed into the voice that will directly champion Nigeria’s crusade against bad leadership. To do that, he needs to be more explicit, and mostly direct, like Fela was.

Art’s relationship with society has always been a symbiotic one—society provides the raw materials with which artistes create their works, while in turn, artistes press their craft into service for society. So when artistes derive their raw materials from society and fail to also use their craft in service of society, then a debt goes unpaid. Of course one may point out that the entertainment provided for the audience is in itself a service, but we have to be careful to ensure that the service does not become an opium that temporary masks the pains of the society.

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Real art should be able to kick up dusts, ask questions, and force change. In Nigeria, the medium of artistic expression that has the potentiality to reach the widest range of people is music, and it is high time that artiste-activists fully committed to the cause arise and save Nigeria from her imminent death.

                                                      

  • Photo Credit: Travel Start Nigeria
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