She would pause briefly to dance to the song at intervals.
I smiled and was impressed, I thought she must have been humming to one of the songs she was taught in school or in the church, hence, I called her close and asked her what the humming was all about and to my amazement, she said she was humming to a song by one of Nigeria’s hip hop raves of the moment.
I sighed, the song of the African-American music legend, Louis Armstrong “What a wonderful world” immediately came to mind. What a wonderful world it is indeed. Here is a girl, who I felt should have poems, songs, arithmetic, sciences and other school assignments to contend with, having time to hum and sing a hip hop song, a song that connotes love making in all its glory! I thought at her age she should have loads and loads of (interesting?) poems to hum, recite and even dance to!
As I pondered, I looked at the television on the wall, and what did I see? Indeed I saw the video of the same music act my niece was humming to! I watched the video carefully and realized that the lyrics are not suitable for children but my niece was all into it. Of course, the innocent girl may not really understand the lyrics of the songs however, with time she will gradually consciously and unconsciously begin to live the lyrics especially going by the suggestive storyline of the video.
I thought about the negative influence this video and many others must have had on Nigerian children and I begin to wonder, where did we begin to digress from the moral uprightness we are known for as Africans and particularly as Nigerians?
A look back into the past, and not so far into the past, I mean in the 80s and 90s, the Nigerian music industry was bubbling but not with lewd lyrics or suggestive videos. We had pop stars like Alex Okoroigwe popularly known as Alex O who had the jerry curls, Alex Zitto, Daniel Wilson, Felix Lebarty, Kris Okotie among others.
These men at various times sang songs with love themes but indeed were never lewd, lyrics wise.
Is there a connection between today’s music and the decadence among the youths in today’s society?
While discussing with a colleague, he told me that he has barred his children who are just three and five from listening to such music or watching videos at home, although knowing that he may not have control over this at school where it is becoming a norm for children, especially the girls, to shake their bums mimicking popular music acts all in the name of choreography, acting etc.
Nigerian music has developed and indeed the quality of music videos in terms of picture and audio has improved and we pride ourselves as producing videos that can compare with any other from any part of the world.
The metamorphosis of the Nigerian music industry cannot be discussed without looking at what we are missing. Especially those who grew up in my time (yeah I mean my time) in the 1980s.
Nigerian acts like Mike Okri, Alex O, Alex Zitto, and reggae stars like Majek Fashek, Ras kimono, Orits Wiliki; Daniel Wilson among others thrilled the Nigerian audience and took their own share of the fortune which was made through record sales. Indeed, it was easy to be very popular then if you could just have your music on air on the few available radio and television stations. Nowadays, this is not the situation as the privatization of the broadcast industry has put on the Nigerian artistes the duty to improve on their product (music).
And the surprising thing is that these songs gain popularity like wild fire. It is enjoyed by the old, young and the innocent like my niece.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in its bid to rid the Nigerian airwaves of lewd lyrics, has banned some of these songs however, parties, schools, streets are other available outlets for these songs to still get into the consciousness of this generation, posing new challenges to national development. And to think that the youths are actually tomorrow’s leaders… What are we breeding for tomorrow?