MUSIC- An Underrated Tool For Nation Building(Maga No Need Pay!)








     Having been in existence as early as Man’s awareness can permit,this form of artistic expression commands a universal appeal all over the world,with a presence irresistible,transcending language,skin colour, ethnicity, geography, religion and creed. It remains undeniable in allure. It is food for the soul. It is Music.
    Nigeria is no exception to this affirmation.Many reputable musicians of yesteryears achieved prominence through originality and the positive impact of their artistry on society(and,as a sidenote for quite a number,through praise-singing). The examples are inexhaustible- Dan Maraya Jos,Haruna Ishola,I.K. Dairo,Fatai Rolling Dollars,Oliver DeCoque,Osita Osadebe,Victor Olaiya,Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister,Victor Uwaifo,Orlando Julius,Orlando Owoh,Ayinla Omowura,Ebenezer Obey,Kollington Ayinla,Salawa Abeni,Comfort Omoge,never leaving out the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti,who alongside King Sunny Ade,was very cardinal to the recognition of West African music,as well as its adjoining culture on the worldstage. In contiguity followed another generation of the recent past- Onyeka Onwenu,Majek Fashek,Christy Essien Igbokwe,Ras Kimono,Mike Okri,Sir Shina Peters,to mention but a few.
      However,in spite of the nostalgia which the above-mentioned names evoke,there was a balance with creative works whose themes expressly stressed the importance of, and sparked a drive to achieve success, fame and fortune through hardwork and education,and emphasised the dignity of labour as well as espousing strong values in morality in contrast to what unfolds before our eyes nowadays.                     
     The Nigerian music industry is a fast-evolving terrain, having witnessed the emergence of artistes of repute and prominence across continental borders. There hardly exists any other epoch which has experienced a tremendously fast-paced burgeoning of musical ideas(with human representatives) in Nigeria than the last ten to fifteen years.Recent years have seen the emergence of musicians like Lagbaja spearheading mainstream contemporary African music,and other fine artistes like Asa. A direct effect of western culture on our society is the modern sound of Nigerian music,mainly afro hiphop(among other genres like RnB,Soul and pop),boldly represented by talented acts like Innocent(Tuface)Idibia,Dbanj,BankyW,Eldee,MI,Nice,Bez…..the list is inexhaustible.  As a result, the industry has, and is still attracting young people, many of whom are in the industry just for financial gains and fame and may not possess musical talents.
      The inherent potentials are literally inconceivable.Musical talent which has achieved celebrity status wields so much power to drive the society in whatever direction the gifted(usually the youth)contrives.Great and real is the influence of an entertainer over the youth of any modern society as to be able to drive culture,fashion and fads;everybody wanted to dress like Michael Jackson and dance like King Sunny Ade or Sir Shina Peters. It will be no surprise that youths prefer listening to a popular entertainer to granting audience to a governor or even the president(forgive my hyperbole). For both craftsman and audience alike,entertainment should function beyond being a tool for escapism,hedonism or poetic aesthetics,it should leave both better than it met them-stronger at handling a negative circumstance,strengthen a resolve to do what is right,express positive beliefs,goals and aspirations,let out bottled griefs,anguish or despair through non-destructive avenues. As a corollary,where this functionality is lacking,it will not be surprising to see a number of musicians place a lot of emphasis on the visuals(which are designed to appeal to or evoke pleasurable emotions or sexuality)of their music with the sole aim of distracting the listeners from the true state of their works-lack of depth and non-existent creativity. That is not to downplay the importance of good videos to the success(commercial or otherwise) of any piece of music.
     My mother and other middle-aged or elderly folks marvel at the content of many of the material churned out in our generation when matched against the values music held in educating society during their heydays. I try as much as possible to cite examples of present-day musicians and entertainers whose works are worthy of mention with respect to a positive impact on society. There is a need to examine the role music continues to play in our society. Does it even have a role today? Is our society influenced by the music of today? And if so, how? 
      Recording/performing artistes have a responsibility to the society,of which they remain a part, to try and get more “positive” messages across. Many are pulled under the pressure of the ‘perceived public preference’ and therefore emphasize hedonism and ephemeral pleasures over the dignity of labor,hardwork and other moral values which,in the long run,encourage and ultimately build patriotism in our youths and help develop a sustainable society.Freedom of speech does not mean it is okay to say whatever,regardless of the kind of impact it may have on someone. Our music,with their lyrical contents should do more than entertain. They should educate,strengthen,motivate,provoke sobriety as necessary & provide hope for those in turmoil and despair-the power to set the socio-economic and political clime. In order words,they should be morally,intellectually,economically and socio-politically relevant. And positively too.
      Many older-generation folks will admit they are not impressed with modern-day music except for a few surprises. A lot of the music is as lazy and tasteless as could possibly be and a reflection of the present environment. The music(which more often than not celebrates mediocrity)emphasizes lazy,low-quality inputs and delivery,and some of the themes promote felonious ideas(like a quick fix to poverty by swindling expatriates or hardworking locals(maga and the natural dynamics of yahoo-yahoo).These are the cries of a mentally inept youth population in our society. These positions are not to repudiate the prevalent styles or ideologies behind today’s music but to help see the need for the end to justify the means.While music generally holds the power to turn attention away from the harsh realities of life(anguish,pain and suffering),it presents a huge mine of potentials,the capability of which can be compared to that of the atom bomb.
      The future unfolds before our very eyes and,before your thoughts take you 15years forward in time,be not deceived it is continuous and occurs at your next eye blink. The fellow youths we influence with the power of our talents are the actors in the drama of life. They will be the officers in the governance of our society and won’t play outside the scope into which they’ve been conscripted from today. Let us drive the right values into them and let them know “Maga no need pay!”

  1. Dr B. says:

    Well said Dr Kay!!!

  2. …A beautiful write-up and thought provoking!

  3. Seun Fakuade says:

    Profound words. Hope you’ll push it till most people get the meaning. Expecting your music though!

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