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That feeling you have when you find your feet tapping to that song beat you’ve argued that you couldn’t be bothered with. Whether we ignore or observe trends, we are going to be bothered by our airwaves’ playlist. You can educate your mind or your children not to listen to them, but you will have to bite your tongue when the lyrics start echoing from your lips. Argue as much as you want, but the stirring or animating power of music entails emotional arousal. We turn to music because we need it; because of its ability to move us; to induce feelings and moods and states of mind. In Nigeria, our songs somehow ‘reflect’ or ‘represent’ the people, the era and the generation. Music as a bedrock for popular entertainment serves as a vehicle for national identity and nation building in a multicultural setting such as Nigeria. Ask any young adult on the streets about the President, he/she may be in a dilemma over the answer but interrogate about a street anthem and be amazed. I have met many two-three-year-olds who cannot recite the country’s anthem, however, they know the lyrics to songs. Some parents would ban their children from watching contents with secular music but forget that their children would interact with the society at one point or the other. Music is an important element in every society. It is a powerful language that can transcend certain barriers and bring people together. Lusensky (2010) attempts to explain the importance of this notion when he writes: Why is music such a social force, especially among the youth? Perhaps it’s because music is so closely tied to our sense of identity and self. Therefore, Music has substantial social benefits because it can display a person’s sense of self and uniqueness while also providing him or her common ground with others with similar musical tastes.

Here are several ways our society has been influenced by our secular musicians:

Last week, some youths took to social media to protest the rumoured ban of Olamide’s “WO” by the Federal Ministry of Health. The Ministry had banned the video for promoting smoking of tobacco which is alleged to cause millions of deaths. While the matter has been resolved, this drives the efficacy of music as a powerful message tool. Millions of young Nigerians smoke tobacco daily, there are even adverts of them, but a music video is what draws the attention of the Ministry of Health. Award winning musician Tuface Idibia known as 2baba cancelled his much publicized Feb 6 anti-government protest due to security reasons. This is after the momentum of the protest had skyrocketed to cause top influencers of decision making in the country to halt his actions. The announcement made by Falz about the musical content of our Nigerian artistes had a lot of tongues wagging in his direction. There were even backlashes from people in the sector, but the Nigerian audience’s attention was awakened to the point he raised. Many musicians carefully try to sing a narrative that would not earn them the condemnation of the audience they hope to connect with. Most Nigerian youths are influenced by their favourite celebrities’ dress sense. The musician’s appearances are cultivated by many who look up to them as models. Lil Kesh’s costumes for the music video of “NO FAKE LOVE” is popular in Nigerian colleges.  A mix of coloured face cap with a white t-shirt and the colour scheme for the shorts is a trendy fashion statement of all times.  Fashion trends range from the music scene or any of the popular celebrities. Every child or parent wants to go to the studio to sing, and produce “noise”, well, or good music. This shows that the Nigerian music industry is a step in the right direction with the popularity it gets beyond the shores. How great would it be if the musical scene promotes our cultural heritage, helps foster peace among its citizens? Through our music, rather than following trends and raves, we will do ourselves great justice if we developed lyrical content with powerful messages. For a better Nigeria, we need to attain better secular music that when the youths connect with, would be interested in nation building. No longer should we be silent and turn the other side. Although it is true that the audience wants upbeat, relatable songs that would take their minds off the problem of Nigeria, however, this escape from reality mechanism would only propel you back to the real issues you left if it’s not addressed. Let’s love and learn about our Nigeria through our musical lyrics! Since music is this powerful, let us promote music and teach our culture and increase our values. We have made a mistake ignoring the power of music. Children can learn more from music than the classroom.

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This article was first published on 30th August 2017


Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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