Saturday, 10 January 2009

At Forefronts.

Pepper Soup and since I didn't have yams, improvised with potatoes and with no palm oil, used ranch.

I'm listening to some Naija songs and I definitely love what I'm hearing. The fusion of sounds, beats is just crazy, and it's just so dance-inducing; you can't help but move your body, even the most stoic of us would probably bob his head. There are those who feel that Nigeria's current music industry is a caricature of America's hip hop. Perhaps the industry borrows so much, sometimes blindly from America's hip hop scene, regardless, I believe they've been able to own it and create of it, something with originality, such that anyone who listens to it, will point out that it is certainly different and Nigerian. And to me, this is the beauty of it, because so as the suburban American and British teenager sits in front of his T.V and watches the latest of hip hop, so as the Nigerian teenager. As such that, young people from both sides of the world, regardless of varying environments, absorb similar cultural influences. And this is not to say, that at this time in the world, both young people are exactly the same culturally, there are vast differences as there are striking similarities, and this accounts for why when people arrive in the west, they usually do not experience that much cultural shock. Though I admit that I might have excluded young people who grow up in rural areas, but still I don't think many people will be surprised going back to their villages and towns and seeing young people trying to outdo themselves in the latest hip hop trends and songs.

So this paradigm shift from basing music and art on what we consider indigenous to a more contemporary style, I think, puts today's Nigerian young people at forefronts of greatness. There was a documentary I saw back in Nigeria that praised legends in music history and Fela Anikulapo Kuti was one of them, and it was mentioned that Nigeria was the third in top music industries in the world, and this was when there were the genres of Apala, Afro-beat, Juju and so on. But I wasn't born in this time or wasn't raised knowing that such music was meant for me; it has always being music for my parents, of the older generation. And now, to expect of me to reproduce such music, or in my case to write in the ways of Chinua Achebe, Buchi Emecheta is to expect of me something inauthentic, as I'll be recreating what is not me (and by me, I mean how I've being externally influenced).I listen to Onyeka Onwenu (love Bia Nulu),Fela (he's such a social critic, at the same time he can be easily dismissed as being an idiot, but I like him for standing his ground and immersing himself in his cause), Haruna Ishola (sometimes I feel ashamed that I don't fully understand what he's saying, but there's something that makes him sound so much like a griot), but I don't expect of today's musicians to reproduce what the above-mentioned musicians have done. Finally, what I'm getting at is that modern western music and art and culture has through the west's imperialism come to be sort of a world language that the rest of the world understands and can speak, and for us young Nigerians who comprehend this language, we are placed at forefronts where we can achieve world greatness, only if we own, personalize this language and create of it something that the rest of the world will have to stop to listen and be awed by.


AKINLABI said...

yea,your hybridist consciousness.and the interesting thing is that the degree of crossroads sensibility being played out in public culture in nigeria is largely unstudied- i love the image of the street urchin in isale eko who dons a fake 'g-unit' t-shirt dancing to fuji music,probably unaware of what g-unit is.among nigerian artistes few have been able to remain dinstinctively nigerian why appropriating international cross over musical appeal as asha and 9ice.the world might not welcome haruna ishola's apala to the mandela party in london,but it sure rocked to 9ice's 'gongo aso', which is a not-so -distant descendant of the, Haruna ishola, with a lot of contemporary beats.ah, make the most of your inventive meal,'folabi.nice one

Afolabi said...

@ Akinlabi: Yes, it is largely understudied, I mean I was searching online like a month or so ago for anything on the hybrid phenomenon, but I didn't find anything, really. I think it's a really strong phenomenon right now, that after the whole colonialism, there is now a hyybrid culture and we should now start asking what we are going to make of it.

Ah, the food was good, except that the ranch kept overpowering the flavour of the pepper soup..

Brian Barker said...

I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

An interesting video can be seen at

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at

Afolabi said...

@ Brian Baker...When I write language, I do not mean English, Yoruba or Spanish, I mean the system or the way the world runs. I think, from my what I see, read, what I've heard others say, that the world system is dictated by the west. And so, it seems that today for one to be great or successful at whatever one chooses, one has to fit into (through eg. Formal education) the western-run world. And I think if one is able to personalize whatever one learns (western or not), it's likely that people around or the world would listen.

Isi said...


and happy new year to u!

AlooFar said...

Afolabi, spot on!

Really nice.

Afolabi said...

@ Isi- Hi, thanks and welcome to my blog. I'm glad you liked the post.

@ Aloofar-- One-liner though

Jaja said...

hear him! hear him!

Its you I want to see Afolabi. Its you I want to see at the fore front of the world.
Let your Journey be good, my dear brother

Afolabi said...

& Jaja--- My belly is sweetin me, with these words of yours, lol. Thank you, man. And I know, that one day, one day I'll see that book, with your name on it (or any pseudonym, you choose), and greatness, most importantly contentment that you've finished your work, will come out of it.

Buttercup said...

gosh, i dont like pepper soup..i really wish i did but i just cant stand pepper..

nigeria is 3rd in the top music industries?? wow..

u know, i never thought about it this way..u do have a point..

btw, u've been tagged, check my blog for details!

StandTall-The Activist said...

You forgot to mention Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Ayinla Omowura, Yusuf Olatunji and Haruna Ishola. These are/were great singers. No one knows how to do "oriki" like they do.

I am worried though about the content of some hip hop and other musics these days. So many of them have got no values they are communicating...

There is another blog called "see thru my eyes" do you know her?

And I left a comment for you on this blog/post


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