By Alex Enemanna
Entertainment as a cardinal role of the media is critical in offering the human mind a moment of relaxation to ease off stress and unwind after a long day at work. Usually encoded in electronic or print medium as drama, music, comedy, cartoon or puzzle, entertainment beyond stimulating the mood also is an avenue to communicate an important message to a target group or audience with the primary aim of engendering a move and action to foster a positive response.
Sadly, majority of music available for our consumption today are akin to what Shakespeare in Macbeth described as tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. They are lyrical nonsense with little or no value to add to the moral reorientation of the listener. This is irrespective of the popularity they gain in the market and the amount of Naira and Dollar the originators smile to the bank with. The market forces as currently programmed by the Western powers are only concerned with sound without any attention to the meaning.
The videos are not what any parent or guardian can sit in the comfort of his home and invite his children and wards for a family relaxation session. It reflects a total loss of self worth and advertises army of ladies ready to trade their pride for rabble-rousing and imaginary fame. The global entertainment industry, especially music industry, just like many other areas of human life has been grossly contaminated and altered with transcultural imposition from the West and readily received in the capsule seal of civilization by the peripheral nations including Nigeria.
These excessively provocative and overtly suggestive images are alien to our own culture as a people. They are in sharp contrast if not totally strange to what our society represents. The production pattern has been largely tailored to reflect the culture and general way of life of the core nations to the detriment of own norms, a perfect example of a people still engrossed in mental colonialism and a people whose culture is in the life support engine. They have taken after the likes of Snoop Doogs, Lady Gagas, Rihanas, Shakiras, Nicki Minajs and what have you in a desperate effort to Americanise the rest of us and bring us to civilization.
Paradoxically, at a time when our dear nation is in dire need of amplified campaign for a moral rebirth as a result of the public relations gaffe our image has been exposed to in the global arena especially in Italy, US, Saudi Arabia, even neighbouring Burkina Faso, Ghana and others, the music industry has not only failed to wield the magic wand at its disposal, but has added to our growing reasons for concern. What we see today in the name of music production is a direct response to the wannabe mentality stirred in our psyche by the superpower.
The aggressive promotion of sex, materialism, drug, violence et al in the media space has a subliminal effect on our corporate society. The young minds who have the tendency to repeat in action or words what they see over the television or hear overtime are the worse hit. They stand the risk of having their moral psyche fatally distorted and by manifestation, their behavioural output. Do you still wonder how our little ones manage to master these lyrics and rehearse.. them with mathematical accuracy just like the authors? Meet any child in your neighbourhood and ask him/her to sing Tiwa Savage’s or Teni’s latest song for you and receive the shock of your life. Do you still wonder why their dressing patterns tend to imitate the Olamides, Davidos, Flavours, Phynos, Burna Boys, Wizkids, Tekno and the rest of them?
The “money for body” rhythms blasting all over the speakers along the streets, filling stations, commercial vehicles and shopping complexes have a powerful effect on the thoughts and the behavioural pattern of our youths who usually see these music stars as role models. Wizkid’s Soco in which he promised to bless a certain ‘baby’ with money, cunning money, only money because Eledumare blessed her with body passes a strong message. It does not only commodify the ‘baby’ in question and make her an object of merchandise but implies that anywhere and anyhow money is gotten, through cunning and any other means is acceptable.
In an effort to instill some modicum of decorum in the industry, the electronic media regulatory body, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has had reasons to wield the big stick in the past and banned songs it perceived not to be airworthy in line with their core mandate. Olamide’s “Wo” and “Wavy Level”, Davido’s “Fall” and 9ice’s “Living Things” were among songs affected in this ban in 2017. The Tekno’s ‘you like my banana’ and Flavours ‘ukwu sara mbara’ depict the height of vulgarity, pruriency and a refined sense of moral decadence. What exactly are they really impacting on the young ones? Incidentally, this is happening at a time when legion of young men have taken to music career as safe haven to mitigate to impact of the labour market saturation, ‘hammer’ in not distant time, live in obscene opulence and debauchery with little or no thought about their vibe, talent and contribution to morality in the society.
The question that readily comes to mind is, what has happened to the era of Zenzile Miriam Makeba when music was used as instrument to advocate against apartheid and white-majority government in South Africa? What has happened to the era of the Afrobeat maestro, Fela Kuti when music was used to put those in government on their toes? Is it about the era of Prince Nico Mbarga when music was used to celebrate motherhood? What about the era of Onyeka Onwenu when music was used as instrument for national unity and peaceful co-existence? Who will not be pricked in the heart after listening to the songs of Sunny Okosun when music was used to awaken the national consciousness on the need to abhour the embers of violence?
The growing rate of sundry trans-border crimes especially internet fraud, drug and child trafficking, prostitution and piracy in an aggressive quest to “hit” has a symbiotic relationship with the lifestyle these music stars have introduced in the minds of our young ones through the media. In a recent confessional statement during an interrogation in Gombe, a suspected internet fraudster, Gabriel Michael said he was influenced by the lifestyle and songs of a Nigerian musician, Naira Marley, the “Am I a Yahoo Boy” crooner. Ponderously, millions of Gabriel Michael has been created across the country on the account of the lifestyle of our music industry players.
The visible paradigm shift that has struck the industry is heightened by quest for honour and recognition as those with superior lyrical insanity tend to lift the trophy during Grammy awards. When x-rayed in the light of value, some of the award winning songs will have a comfortable abode in the waste bin.
No doubt, a handful of artists, including Zaky Azzay, Tuface Idibia and few others have lent their voices towards the campaign for rancour free elections and the need for our youths to shun gangsterism and brigandage, this however is grossly inadequate. There is still a lot more work to be done in this regard.
Our entertainers especially musicians and filmmakers must as a matter of service to fatherland take it up as a challenge to provide a moral compass to millions of young men and women across the world who see them as role models. They must see themselves as leaders and learn to embed their songs with lyrics that will instill a sense of decency in the psyche of those they lead and bring about moral rebirth at this critical stage of our national history.
No thanks to the ravaging unemployment rate across board that has made the recruitment of these strippers just a whistle away. They are readily available to render services even at a cost little above mess of portage. This they do nearly unclad while their male counterparts are moderately dressed.
The NBC must resist intimidation from these moneybag entertainers and remain resolute to achieving their mandate of restoring decency in our airwaves for our generation next. Music as a communication tool can amass an overwhelming social change that will birth a new era in our national history. With easy access to music and home videos, made possible by advancement in technology, entertainment has an enormous role to play in rebuilding our chequered image both internally and externally.
Entertainment industry undeniably has also played a major role in boosting our GDP. There is however need to put appropriate measures in place as not to send a wrong signal in the minds of our young ones.
A national moral rebirth is a duty we must all champion for our overall good. There couldn’t be any better time to do this than now.
Enemanna is an Abuja-based journalist.