23 November 2018

Nigeria: Davido, Banky W and How Nigerian Pop Music Engage Politics

When Davido wakes up in the morning and goes through his feed on social media, he definitely finds pockets of critics.

People who bear grudges in their heart against his involvement in the Osun State 2018 gubernatorial election. They don't attack him directly with the politics. They come right at him in little doses, hiding under criticisms of his music, his love life with Chioma, his choice of slang, and perhaps how he chooses to smile when he takes sick pictures. These people are relentless.

Newly-turned 26, David will also have to think back to the events of past weeks. When he cried out in alarm that he was being denied a venue for his proposed concert at Eko Atlantic, a planned city of Lagos State, Nigeria, being constructed on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. Due to how large his support is, Davido's fans run into tens of thousands in Lagos, alone.

Eko Atlantic, with its unending expanse of undeveloped sandy land, can be converted into the largest music venue in the city. But that dream was denied.

Eko Atlantic's management alleges that they asked for further documentation, which Davido failed to provide. Davido, armed with more information, has stated publicly that his politics was a huge reason.

Davido's family belongs to the opposition PDP party. Eko Atlantic is a property of their rival, the ruling APC government. His uncle, Senator Ademola Adeleke, lost a heated election to his PDP rival back home in Osun State, in an election they alleged, was influenced by excessive rigging, votre-buying, voter suppression and more. Davido was a prominent feature of the campaign trail. He put his celebrity and stardom on the table as an endorsement of his uncle. That was a noble move. Family is family. It's the strongest unit of the society. Politics can't fracture it, at least not in this case. So, if his allegations are true, he is being persecuted for being loyal to his family. For supporting his favourite uncle. For being a 'real one'.

Nigerian politics is dirty and petty. When there's a target on you, you can either be killed dirtily, or nibbled at by long corrupted teeth of influence and authority.

This happens until your faith wanes, and your resolve evaporated. You either crossover, or remain at their mercy, which is quite the debilitating experience. If Davido is to be believed, APC is fighting back.

Or perhaps they are punishing him for his loyalty. He was such a strong influence during the election season, pulling huge crowds in arenas, and street corners, where he gave them some level of performance.

In many cases, his appearance was enough. People love Davido and his music.

Back home, they take pride in his story; a son of the soil, born of their earth, now Africa's sucessful music giant. They want to vote for that. It's larger than life, and inspirational.

APC won the election with question marks and lawsuits flying from all angles. But Davido made his mark, and helped amplify his family's grievances. He is their pop culture mouthpiece, bringing in youthful attention to seemingly elderly politics.

How deep should Nigerian musicians be involved with politics? How much should they concern themselves with the workings of governance? How far are they willing to go, if they choose to engage such an evil force? Can they risk it all?

Olamide is currently being courted by the Lagos state government who need him to endorse them with his 'street' credibility and followership.

He is better as an ally, and they are willing to make him an offer that is too good to be rejected and refused.

Elsewhere, Singer, Businessman, Anchor and Actor, Banky W is flexing his muscles. He has thrown his hat into the ring for an elected position.

He's running under the platform of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP) for the Eti-Osa, Lagos seat in the House of Representatives in the 2019 general elections.

All three artists have one way or the other shown a level of commitment to governance, whether for selfish or altruistic motives, they are the few of our myriad superstars who have as much as given any indication that they exists in the same space and are to an extent, bound by the same conditions that affect their fans.

The rest exhibit ostrich behaviour; Stick their heads in the sand and act like the boogeyman won't see them.

The boogeymen sees them. He simply finds it more beneficial to his purpose if they are allies. The moment they become foes, the dance becomes a fight, and the fine music become battle cries.

Davido's battle cries are being heard. But he will be fine. Whatever venue he settles for, at least, he can be assured that it will be sold out.

Nigerian musicians ought to get involved more. If the argument about their moral responsibility to be the voice of the voiceless isn't isn't enough, then they should do it for professional and selfish reasons.

The music industry is unstructured and underachieving because of the lack of government support via improved copyright laws.

If that is fixed, they are bound to be the cornerstone for the building of an intrinsically profitable music industry.

That industry will be enough to support an entire ecosystem of writers, editors and more value-adding jobs.

Without that, we continue to bounce and bumble along, hoping that Jesus makes a second coming, or we magically become transformed to a structured market.

If they do this one thing, history will hail them as heroes, who ensured generations came and ate the right way.

Nigeria

Why Must It Be Buhari or Atiku?

I'M in London at the moment; and London is awash with chatty, feisty Nigerian guys who drive cabs (taxis) and don't… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 The Guardian. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.