Why is the Nigerian Music Industry Successful?

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nigerian musicians

I m tempted to start this blog post with “We the best!!!!! who?!!! we!!!!” but that’s not what this post is about. As a child of the 90s, born in the late 80s and came to adulthood in the 2000s I grew up mostly loving foreign/american music. When I was a kid, I was a big fan of Michael Jackson, had a few VCRs recordings of his music videos and concerts. I used to practice the moves and would bust a move at parties I was invited to as a kid. Then at some point in the 90s I think it was 94’ I fell in love with hip-hop and my younger self really really was a fan of Tupac. I believed in the West Coast part of that beef, finger signs and all. At some point after Tupac and Biggie were killed I moved on to being a Nas and then a Jay-Z fan. Sided with Nas in that beef but that doesn’t matter now. Basically my point is that, although there was Nigerian music being made around this time I don’t think it was as popular. From the top of my head, I remember Ras Kimono, Daniel Wilson, Blacky, Junior and Pretty, Oliver De Coque, Eddy Remedy, Maintain, Plantashun boiz, Tony Tetuila eventually ( Trivia: What Nigerian musicians do you remember from the 90s and early 2000s?). Of course there were outliers like Fela who were popular even then.
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The Long Road to Excretion

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At this moment in time he really wished time would stand still. Here he was standing on a moving bus and he had just shit in his pants. Oh how sweet it would be if the ground opened up and swallowed him up. He could feel the moist slurry move slowly down the inside of his pants or trousers as some folks call it.

What had caused the young man to shit all over himself, was he unduly startled by something? Did Freddy Kreuger suddenly appear in the bus and disembowel one of his fellow travelers? Nope not at all. The young man was a victim of the Nigerian Road Trip.

That day started like any other. Well any other day in August, it had just rained and the young man and his merry band had decided to partake in a long arduous trip from the northern part of the country to the deep south. The fabled lands of the militants in all it associated exoticism. An 8 hour journey or so they had been told by the commercial bus driver. They had packed a breakfast gotten from one of the eateries around.

On embarking on the trip, about an hour in to be precise they decided to share the breakfast package. The young man in question opened the package and saw a piece of gizzard, spring roll, meatpie and a juice pack. He gobbled down the make shift break with much alacrity unaware of the purge to follow for he had decided against eating anything that morning at home.

They reached the scheduled bathroom stop. The chemical reactions in the young man’s stomach had yet to become a nuclear and tectonic catastrophe and so the young man did not take opportunity of the bathroom stop.

As drove on, they got to a section of the road that was full of potholes. So full of potholes that you would think that the country had just come out of a war and the road network had been bombarded by the enemy’s forces. The potholes served as a catalyst to the reaction in his stomach.

At first he tried to stifle the urge to poop. He shifted left and right uncomfortably in his seat and would occasionally release a puff of gas and the cramped bus would be saturated by the pungent smell of what the other occupants were sure to mistake for a chemical or perhaps biological attack. Of course in true sociopath fashion the culprit would join the masses and point an accusing finger at another fellow, the slightly pudgy young man who consumed 4 boiled eggs at the bathroom stop and was sweating profusely.

Shortly after wronging accusing another fellow of farting, destiny or maybe karma intervened and they encountered yet another deep pothole on the road and the instantaneous shock of it made the young man release a little excrement and as they say once the flood gates are open it is hard to close them back up. He clenched his butt cheeks to no avail. Noticing the semisolid moistness, the young man rushed to driver and pleaded with him to stop.

The driver of course decided to waste time by saying it wasn’t company policy to stop apart from the scheduled stop and that he had to call his bosses to ask permission to stop the bus. Tsk tsk. Poor young man couldn’t wait for the confirmation and of course his system had reached critical mass, his sphincter failed woefully and he let it rip down his jeans. When the smell became evident, the driver had to stop his silly phone call and let the young man out to complete the business.

The young man rushed out bent over on the side of the road and let it rip. Morale of the story, sh*t happens…

Democracy Day and Democrazy in Nigeria: Celebrating Pharisees and Poor Performance

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John the Baptist

So tomorrow May 29th is Democracy Day here in Nigeria, a day created by our former President, Olusegun Obasanjo to celebrate democracy or more accurately celebrate his ascension to the throne of the Nigeria nation because in essence that is what the democratic experience in Nigeria has become, a monarchial system with the president at the head. It is a system whereby a strong willed president can get his way most of the time. This is not to discredit the role of the opposition in the Nigerian democratic experiment or the role of the people. The legislature for the most part has remained a rubber stamp for executive policies. It is perhaps of recent that I have seen some semblance of a sign that the legislature is making an attempt to do its job (third term dismissal, subsidy scam probe, pension scam probe, etc). With that said, I sat down yesterday and watched the church service in commemoration of democracy day.

It was an event filled to the brim with who is who in the current administration; it had the president and his entourage in attendance, senators, some governors, representatives, generals and chiefs of the armed forces and paramilitary services. Not to be counted out of the festivities was the acclaimed godfather or our president, Chief Edwin Clarke. I spotted him dancing and jiving with a mien of self-satisfaction that his boy is at the helm of affairs albeit a dilapidated state of affairs. I am sure the billions in his account might be a more accurate reason for his satisfaction. Ole/Thief/Barawo knows no ethnic group or tribe, for all have chopped in our nation and come short of the glory of God. Perhaps that is just conjecture. There was the unmistakable presence of a group of Christian clergymen from several branches of the Christian family. From what I gathered, these were the group of pastors and men of God who had the president’s ear. Of course they had every right to be there after all, this was a church service.

The clergy men went on and I was amazed to see that it seemed that they were in a competition to see who could pray the most and for those who were able to give a sermon, we witnessed the cushioning of criticism of the government and the state of affairs in Nigeria today. This is not to say they did not lament the state of affairs in Nigeria today. I remember the prelate of the Methodist church I believe couching some criticism in his over an hour long sermon! Yes you read that right, ol’ boy was speaking for more than hour. It was almost like each clergyman that came on was being paid by the hour or minute and hence proceeded to give the type of long, wordy and boisterous prayers. This reminded me of what Jesus said about the Pharisees and Sadducees in the bible,

“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with verses of scripture inside and they wear extra-long tassels on their robes. And how they love to sit at the head of the table in banquets and in the most prominent seats in the synagogue!” – Matthew 23:5-7

“Two men went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed the prayer, ‘I thank you God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit adultery, I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income. But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even life his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.” – Luke 18:10-14

I am not a fan of the president but I do feel like he is surrounded by sycophants who don’t tell the poor man some hard truths and I feel that there is nowhere where this is more evident than in his relationship with the clergy. Our president was acclaimed to be God’s choice for Nigeria by many of our pastors who showed religious bigotry in the last election, some with subtlety. Basically, they implanted a sense that voting for Buhari was akin to voting for the Devil’s choice. How true that is, I raise my hands in ambivalence. Some of these clergymen surrounded themselves around the president after his election and proceeded to reap the fruits of their labor. This labor however is not labor in the lord’s vineyard; it is labor in an earthly vineyard, yielding wines of power, prestige and wealth in some cases. Based on hearsay, people even give contracts to some of these clergymen to give to the president. He listens to their advice more than some of his ministers. Ladies and Gentlemen, which way Nigeria? They pray with the president every Wednesday and Thursday yet we are not seeing any results. Are these men praying to God or to Mammon?

Before you label me antichrist, I am not against prayer in the corridor of power. I was just a little annoyed and disgusted by what I see as the president’s need to press upon the Nigerian populace that he is a religious man. He puts together these showy services every democracy day, Independence Day and so forth. He has it televised and broadcast for all to see. I riddle him this, kai Mr Azikwe (any self-respecting Nigerian will demand our president remove Azikwe from his name, we no gree!) when are you going to televise your governance. In fact we should have cameras follow you everywhere like Big Brother so that you won’t be able to engage in corruption. If anything going by the current state of affairs in Nigeria and insecurity, the president should engage in prayers asking for God to have mercy on this nation for indeed a lot of things are going to shit. Mr President, we don’t need to see you on tv engaging in prayer, pray in private and deliver results because if I were to go by the correlation between the amount of prayers we see from you and the progress in this country, I will give up on faith and become an atheist. Yes, I was that offended by the service.

Democracy they say is a government of the people by the people for the people. This was what I was taught in primary school. Out of the 51 years since independence, Nigeria has experienced 23 years and counting of democracy. So in reality, that is almost half! We are no longer a nascent democracy. We should demand from our government good governance, transparency and performance in all areas of endeavor. I am not Ezekiel, so I won’t bore you with the litany of problems present in the country. If you live here or read the news, you know it. This is not lamentations. Our government should listen to the truth and stop all this perambulating like headless chickens. It is a government and party that is afraid of the truth that will engage in exchange of insults with Buhari who basically said using a hausa proverb that rigging won’t be tolerated in 2015. Mr President focus on the present, let 2015 be. If we are truly in a democracy, the people will decide if they want you to stay longer. Shikena. Heck, if you perform a miracle turnaround of Nigeria in the next 2 or 3 years, I will campaign for you. I swear by all that is good in this world. As for the legislature, when a former president calls you armed robbers he knows what he is talking about. You accepted bribes in the past to pass his executive policies so of course he has the guts to confidently say what he did. Your dignity is already soiled in the minds and hearts of the Nigerian people, there is nothing you can say that can convince us otherwise. Through your actions, win back the Nigerian people.

Forgive my rant, it is my style. Democracy in Nigeria today for me means high handed people in power who fail to listen to the people until it is too late. Democracy is power to those who can afford to have a voice. It is not power to the people, the people are busy trying to survive and make it while the dividends of democracy have been insecurity, higher cost of living and poverty. It should never be the case in a country that the cost of dying is cheaper than living. Dear clergymen who surround our president, do not obfuscate the truth. Speak the truth and it shall set you free. Dare to be that lone voice in the wilderness much like John the Baptist crying, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” I truly believe that this democracy is heading to hell in a hand basket unless we all stop lying to ourselves and speak the truth and demand service from our rulers. For in our democracy today we have rulers and kings not public servants.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the reading public, what does democracy mean to you? What should our democracy be like? Is the force feeding of the Godliness of the president not a subtle way of suggesting his infallibility?

A Nigerian Murder Mystery…Na who kill am!

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action film

Not poor not privileged
Dour and disadvantaged
A working class oppressed
Oppressed yet not distressed
Men I m hard-pressed
To find the right words to express
The feeling of distress
The masses are really stressed

Today, I want to report a murder to the police station of the Internets. The crime was a crime of passion. The crime started when the assailant married the victim about 51 years ago. The marriage like all marriages had so much promise in the beginning. There were some initial skirmishes but the marriage held its ground. Unfortunately over time, the marriage turned into a hostage situation. The assailant tortured the victim for years and has now killed the victim in Cold blood. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the assassination of the Nigerian Middle Class.

I know that some will argue that the country doesn’t have a middle class or that the middle class is a very small proportion of the population. I m not here to argue that. I do think we could argue that once upon a time somewhere between independence and today there was a middle class. Whether or not there is a middle class by international standards, there is a working class. A group of people who have jobs or own businesses and are able to feed themselves. These group of people are under threat. I m not going to be a prophet of doom and say more today than ever. I would rather say, it has been a geometric progression of torture targeted at the hard working people of this nation. Assaulted from all sides, whether its by sickness, rising prices of commodities, falling value of their currency, road accidents, corruption, crime, poor power supply, insecurity and all round lawlessness.

One might even argue that there is a serious conspiracy to to kill off the middle class. The middle and working class are the people who are literate, who have some form of education. They are the ones who are the backbone of bureaucracy both in the private and public spheres of business. These are the people who are struggling to make the best of the education system before them. They have school fees to pay, mothers and fathers in the village to take care of, extended families who keep bothering them for money because they live in the city. These are the people that are in traffic with you everyday in the city. These are people who if they collectively decide to rebel against the system can topple any government of the day. They are the educated people that lead the masses to revolution. The learned Lenin in a sea of poor disgruntled masses who guide the anger of the masses to start a revolution. This is why there might be conspiracy to keep these people down. Wreck the hope of a Nigerian dream, I say Nigerian dream because the dream of any country can only be viewed through the eyes of its middle class. The Nigerian dream seems to be to make the middle class impoverished and watch as they struggle amongst themselves and rush to the upper class and government big wigs for contracts and patronage thereby helping to keep these people in power.

I m not going to argue the pros/cons of removing fuel subsidy but as an avid conspiracy theorist especially on Nigerian matters I will say this, the money from subsidy will most likely go to fund the behemoth and colossus known as the PDP. A group of people that have shown themselves bereft of any human sympathy in formulating policies. People are dying from violence and you think of prostitution bill so that you Mr Big Senator with the big pot belly will continue to drive around the streets of Abuja and steal young men’s girlfriends brazenly in the daytime (not that this doesn’t already happen).

Granted, I hear removing subsidy makes some form of economic sense but is not there a way to cushion the effect on the people. If austerity is the way to go, I would like to see some leaders give up sizable chunks of their allowances and security votes to make this happen. This coupled with a currency that is going to hell makes it almost a certainty that the prices of commodities shall rise and of course I doubt that the salaries or earning power of the people will rise commensurately to the rise in price making the average Nigerian poorer for it. In the midst of this, the extra money from the removal of fuel subsidies will be secretly funneled to people’s account and of course we wont hear about it until years later. Have you ever wondered if when someone is caught with stolen money in Nigeria, EFCC doesn’t calculate the interest the money accrued in the account? Because if you stole a billion naira and over the years it accrued an interest of 100 million, the Nigerian people want the interest too.

If you think I m overreacting listen to my layman’s reasoning, lets look at agriculture. A lot of food is grown up north and transported to southern cities such as Lagos by road. Increase fuel prices and transport costs go up, People who distribute food stuff will be forced to increase food prices and in an unregulated market it might even rise to as high as 50 percent above what it was previously. The Nigerian economy runs on fuel, increase fuel prices and the cost of business will skyrocket because the businessmen and women must buy fuel for the generators. In fact eh, like Chris Rock once joked people will start sleeping with each other for fuel.

I m sure many people have talked the death out of this issue and I m late cos I started this but was so busy and couldn’t finish for the past 2 weeks. Seriously, the little middle class that Nigeria has is about to go up in smoke. Mr President and leaders, do something about this. This is not the fresh air you promised us. In fact, you are prime suspect in this murder investigation. Maybe if you give me a little bribe I will blame this on colonialism. This one don pass my power o, This might be a job for Sherlock Holmes (babalawao/spiritual konji version).

Is there hope for the middle class? Is this end? Or is it? Will the Middle Class make it? Is there any solution in sight? Will there be more churches and mosques and fighting once the middle class become poorer? Stay tuned for part 2 (In the next 50 years…)

because half the stuff Fela sang about are still happening and…

2010 don pass o and light still no dey. We don almost add 2011 on top sef.

The Layman’s Guide to being an Stool/Armchair Revolutionary in Nigeria

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Baba Fela

This post came about while I was having a Nas marathon on my laptop while tweeting and reading blogs, I was playing Road to Zion by Damian Marley featuring Nas. There was a line that went thus,

“So save me your sorries, I’m raising an army
Revolutionary warfare with Damian Marley”

Somewhere in the midst of this, it hit me that whatever revolutionary zeal I had for change had been drained out of me. I d say being a news fiend since I ve been back has made me temper what little idealism I had about Nigeria. Its now more cautious idealism. I am now an entrenched armchair revolutionary. Since we don’t really mess with that many armchairs in the Naij, so I figured I must be a stool revolutionary.

What is a stool revolutionary? Basically if you spew all the deep and profound rhetoric about freeing the people and ending poverty while cruising around in your benz and not doing shit to alleviate the suffering of your fellow human being directly then yes you are a Stool Revolutionary. Its not necessarily a bad thing, sometime you inspire the real revolutionaries to do some real ish to free the people! Also since Uncle Bob Marley said we should emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, you are probably helping the people with the mental slavery bit. Cos you all metaphysical and deep like that. Mumu.

So you probably have a pen and paper and wanna take notes on how to become a stool revolutionary, here we go

Own a twitter account and say really deep shit – Share as many deep and philosophical quotes as you can on twitter and facebook. Uplift the people with your meaningful words, quotes, poems and government criticisms because real freedom will start from twitter and facebook.

Own a blog and constantly criticize the government, never suggest solutions or make attempt to get solutions to the right channels

Read all the newspapers and publications and be a walking encyclopedia of Nigerian politics and policy

Sit around with your friends and when you are drinking beer shout while talking about politics

Complain about everything in the country – This is when a waiter working in Mr Biggs didn’t properly warm your rice; you go off about how everything is bad in Nigeria. When someone drives recklessly on the streets of mushin, you say bloody Nigerians forgetting you are a Nigerian.

Think everything is better abroad – You think even the air is better abroad. The oyibo shit smells like lavender. Nah dude, it smells like poo poo by Calvin Klein.

When an opportunity to protest is available, you sit in your house and support the protest “in the spirit” – Peep the video below

When you organize event, invite enough celebrity who only care about your cause to increase their popularity and lose focus of the issue at hand by partying hard.

Combine your revolutionary rhetoric with a distrust of certain tribes and or religion – In reality this makes you less of a revolutionary but a passionate bigot. A true revolutionary is interested in the freedom of all oppressed people

Make sure all your forums/conferences about “freeing” the country only have people from your section of the country, the rest of us are “illiterates”

Anyone who doesnt agree with your views exactly is an idiot

If in a place of work where corruption is rife, either take part in it or shut up and be complacent about it, never protest or stand up for truth or honesty.

Take back your words when your words put you under real threat – If you get arrested by SSS, you stop talking and speaking the truth. All it takes to shut you up is a bunch of rent-a-cops, not even real police.

You only criticize the government, you never want to criticize other institutions – You see the government as an entity that is the root of all problems in Nigeria. Of course we the people have no fault, the people in government must not be people.

When all is said an done, if offered a juicy position in government you take it and stop your criticism.

I m sure my list is definitely not exhaustive, Bet you can think up some guidelines to Stool Revolution (That sounds like a bad case of diarrhea, Stool Revolution, lol)

I leave you with Soul is Heavy by Nneka (This lady speaks truth)

Somehow Nigeria turned to n*, and shit got ugly

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Just got me Revolutions per minute, A Talib Kweli and Hi Tek album. I m yet to fully listen to it but this one track, “Ballad of the black gold” stands out to me. I simply just heart the following verse,

“Nigeria is celebrating 50 years of independence
They still feel the colonial effects of Great Britain’s presence
Dictators quick to imitate the West
Got in bed with oil companies and now the place a mess
Take a guess, which ones came and violated
They oiled up the soil, the Ogoni people was almost annihilated
Still they never stayed silent
There was activism, poets using non-violent tactics
That was catalyst for soldiers to break into they crib
Take it from the kids and try to break em like a twig
And make examples of the leaders
Executed Saro-Wiwa
Threw Fela’s mom out the window right after they beat her
In an effort to defeat hope
Now the people feed soap to [noir]
So they youth is doing drive-bys through speed boats
They kidnap the workers
They blowing up the pipelines
You see the fires glowing in the nighttime”

Does he summarize Nigeria’s issue well? I m gonna take a stab and say hell yes! I have visited the Niger Delta and boy it is not pretty. Heck the whole country is in crisis, something needs to be done.

Talib has always impressed me with the lyrics and all round conciousness. Damn this guy can be deep. He is also a good performer, Saw him last year at Columbia, I m not the concert addict but dude was definitely hype and lively. Anyway enough of my yappering, Listen to the song for yourself below.