“See music heals your body,
Heals your soul, it heals your spirit
It makes you whole, it heals…..
So get in the music”
“Whether you fat or whether you thin
E no matter the color wey you get for your skin, just dey move…
And get in the music”
As I listened to these words one night at school, letting Omawumi’s powerful voice caress my ears, a lady walked up to me and asked who I was listening to. I indulged her, glad that someone else appreciated good music,real music. Music that spoke to the soul, music that sought to do more than just entertain aesthetically.
However, this feeling was short-lived. Because I realized then, how sad it was, that this song, which I expected would resonate with people throughout the world and appeal to their inner activist, had floated through its era almost completely unrecognized. Perhaps you’d say the world is too large, then what about Africa or just Nigeria. Hadn’t we noticed the authority in her voice that I could only liken to that of a feminine deity like Ani, the earth goddess of the Igbo (mind you, I have never heard the voice of Ani or any feminine deity).
Many times on the media, I’ve come across statements from Nigerians, criticising the music industry, complaining that our musical content has lost relevance. This behavior is similar to our attitude to politics. A high percentage of the youth have grown politically apathetic and seldom vote during elections but complain about bad governance. We wish for change but refuse to play an active role in initiating it.
Omawumi became famous after she emerged as runner up of The West African Idols in 2007. Her song “In the Music” preaches acceptance through rhythm. Fat or thin, black or white she says, “let’s get in the music.”
Another person in the industry that I believe has not received due attention for his work is Folarin Falana a.k.a Falz The Badh Guy. Falz began to address the Nigerian situation after he made waves with a music video he released in 2018 titled “This is Nigeria,” a cover of Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” The energetic video briefed a lot of Nigeria’s problems. Although the video was later banned by The Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, Falz followed it up by releasing an album early this year titled “Moral Instruction.” This album was powerful and nostalgic with the Fela samples embedded in some of the tracks. Using his lyrical prowess, Falz tackled various issues ferociously. But once again, it seems as if we have let the flames of this work go out just like that.
Art stays relevant if you support and pay attention to it. I’m not saying music can solve all our problems. I’m saying change has to start somewhere, Martin Luther King Jr once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Let’s take the first step.
Let’s get in the music.
This article was written by Chijindu Terence James-Ibe; connect with him on IG here