Friday, 10 February 2017

Lo, this 'Jungle Don Mature' By Louis Odion, FNGE

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Tuface Idibia...The Man who chickened out of his own project at the very last minute

It would sound a perfect ad lib to his most overly political song yet, "E be like say". With a single Instagram anti-establishment post a fortnight ago, Nigerian pop star, Innocent Idibia (aka 2Face), stampeded the nation into what some, given the timing, began to fear might finally usher our own Arab Spring.
His lamentation on social media was arguably prosaic of the biting poetry of the old song, "E be like say", with this punchline:

"They think money gives them power
"But power is nothing if your people can't get quality education
"Power is nothing if your people keep dying of diseases and starvation
"Power is nothing if your people have no peace, no peace
"Power is nothing if your people can't live in unity."
Tuface Idibia....Good with the Music bad with the Protest
To say 2Face's Instagram jeremiad sensationally altered the lilt of public conversation on the national condition would be restating the obvious. Momentarily, he captured our imagination. It was now 2Face's project, even though the protest march was originally conceived by an advocacy group, EiE (Enough Is Enough). 
Not only the civil society became energized, even the authorities, for once, seemed in disarray. The police found themselves in an embarrassing situation having to issue a statement contradicting an earlier position in order to align themselves with the thoughtful and obviously progressive standpoint of both the presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that people's right to protest was inalienable. 
But just after the nation began to spin in a dizzying frenzy of expectation came 2Face's dramatic volte face that the historic march could no longer proceed out of new security concerns that hoodlums might hijack the procession.
IG Idris....The man who dazzled 'African Queens' before Tuface's eyeballs
Without him, the marchers still trooped out simultaneously in Lagos and Abuja with the likes of Charly Boy, Omoyele Sowore and Chidi Odinkalu venting public anger powerfully. 
By all standards, it was a successful outing. So, it would seem 2Face's fears were grossly exaggerated, if not utterly unfounded. On the contrary, to invert the title of another popular song of his, "Jungle Don Mature" for a national eruption.
Sahara Reporters founder, Omoyele Sowore cashed on the hype and made history
Predictably, that eleventh hour somersault has drawn on the crooner a rain of barbs in the public space. The Sun cartoonist (Albert Ohams) jabbed on Tuesday with a depiction of a towering Police Inspector General teasing a little 2Face that national protest "is not like making babies". His counterpart in The Punch joined more hilariously on Wednesday suggesting he softened probably after the IG plied him with some "African Queens". 
A long forgotten Charly Boy launched himself back into prominence with the aborted 'Tiface Protest'

We need not crucify 2Face for that. Those who expected him to stand up to the IG's intimidation would seem to equate him to the likes of immortal Fela. But the young man from Benue, on account of his pedigree, certainly lacks the depth and breadth - therefore, the political sophistication - to have acted differently. 
By barging into the protest jungle musically from his accustomed pleasure zone, he was obviously punching above his weight. It was all reflected in his wearied look in the video message on Instagram Saturday evening announcing his withdrawal. With cloudy eyes, caked lips and froths in the mouth-corners, it was evident the ordinarily happy-go-lucky minstrel had carried his ritual offering past the proverbial mosque's door post.
Louis Odion, the Author felt bad for Tuface even though he described the Hip-Hop Music Icon a good mannered individual
As he usually croons, "No be small thing o!".
Otherwise, it requires very little political astuteness these days to read the national mood correctly against the backcloth of the rising misery index. It was, therefore, the height of naivety on Idibia's part to assume that the clouds already loaded over the nation could, with a mere sleight of hand or a tepid Instagram post for that matter, be dispelled so casually from unleashing a downpour. 
Rather than ignite something he could not finish thereby bringing himself embarrassment, perhaps 2Face should have limited himself to his accustomed musical arena. He could, for instance, have composed a single speaking to the moment. Like his older colleague,
Lagbajaonce refused to take money given to him by PDP for a performance because he feels they killed his hero, Bola Ige
Daniel Wilson, whose recent "Never Again!" is a blistering put-down of Buhari. (I wager that will be the opposition anthem in the elections ahead.)
Also, the punches could have been delivered effectively by tweaking or adapting "E Be Like Say". Or, the opportunity of a mega concert dubbed "Eargasm" (ha!) billed for Lagos tomorrow (hopefully to be transmitted live on cable TV), for which he is listed as the star entertainer, could be parlayed to detonate a dynamite. 
Taken together, the key lesson of this episode should not be lost. The volcanic possibilities of two powers: social media and celebrity magic. While the former provided the platform to galvanize the youths ahead of the protest, there is no denying that more sparks came the moment 2Face entered the arena. 
This is why, regardless of his last-minute cold feet, I believe we still owe the singer some credit for the popularity the idea quickly assumed.
General Sani Abacha....His One Million Match of 1998 cost some Music Stars their fortune and glory till date
This was undoubtedly fueled by public appreciation of his past advocacy for non-violence in election with the "Vote Not Fight" initiative. In 2015 especially, he would earn further distinction by refusing, on principle, to partake of the naira bazaar political parties threw in the name of election campaign, unlike many of his colleagues who pocketed fat envelopes and became embedded on the train.
As an aside, I can also attest from my close observation while serving as Information Commissioner in Edo that 2Face carried himself with contentment and humility rare among his colleagues. On the few occasions he was invited to perform at open parties Comrade Adams Oshiomhole hosted for Edo youths during festive seasons, he always acted professionally and was never one of those to be found in Government House the day after still scavenging for more "stomach infrastructure" even after being paid the appearance fees. 
Moremi Ojudu....A new realist who made history on Tuface's aborted protest
Overall, perhaps the most enduring lesson is for the artistes to become conscious of the power of their arts. As icons of the pop culture, they should realize their voices - even silences - and public conduct carry much weight. To misuse that power or conduct yourself in a way that suggests otherwise is to commit a grave social sin. Those who, for love of money, had honored invitations to perform at Abacha's Million Man rally in 1998 soon learnt from the ensuing public outrage that, under certain circumstances, melodies become meaningless without social conscience. 
Another good example is saxophonist Lagbaja who took a bold stand in 2015 refusing mouth-watering offer to play at PDP presidential campaign unlike others. His reason: he could not reconcile himself to playing for a political party he strongly believes was complicit in the gruesome murder fourteen years earlier of his mentor, Bola Ige
Late Bola Ige....His unresolved assassination evokes a protest from Lagbaja
At the height of the Britain/Ireland Cold War, Sean O'Conor, the Irish songbird of "Nothing Compares To You" fame, once bluntly refused to mount the stage until a British symbol in the arena was removed. Only last month in the United States, a member of the iconic Mormon Tabernacle Choir would not be part of the band to play at Donald Trump's inauguration because, according to her, she was unable to see any consistency in the band's stated value and Trump's professed racism and misogyny. Fela perhaps put it most succinctly: "Music is a powerful weapon, if you toy with it, you die young".
How Ex-President Obasanjo felt about the Tuface drama?

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


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