Nigeria: The Future of Music in Nigeria

30 May 2020

Nigerians are going deaf by the minute. Shared speech which is the basis of friendship is limited. In public places, citizens shout to get the attention of an acquaintance because of the deafening music out of boom boxes. Before long Nigeria will witness an environmental Armageddon.

Nigeria's environment is tropically rich with music, but music of which kind? Teenagers do not read anymore, but they listen to music with headphones. Nothing excites a Nigerian youth more than to listen to music.

My mother Christiana Asmau Abah (nee Maha) woke me up in my teens to listen to Christy Essien Igbokwe's "Seun Rere," whenever the video was played on television in Sokoto State because she considered it good music for children. My father Audu Daniel Abah bought many turn-tables which he considered fitting for us all to enjoy as well. We children played many on our Conion Stereo player in his absence.

Today I still have emotional associations with many singers of my youthful days.

Children now are taught to be fashionable for all reasons, right and wrong by musicians. They are told that passions are different and should be simplified and that some values are old-school, never time-tested.

And to be an avid reader for nonphysical satisfaction should be discarded for the pursuit of the absurd. How is it that good students read hard and then listen to music afterwards but bad students listen to music first and read later, if they read at all?

Ask a youngster why he listens to music and you may be surprised to get a concrete answer. Music in Nigeria is for beats only and not message. Many a music listener hides under different radar to look for something that responds to their needs even when some of the needs aren't decent.

I listened to the music of a popular Nigerian songster. In the penthouse of a popular place, that day was the first time I heard it. I loved the singer without even knowing her and longed to know her. It is hard to be an artist but music should speak to the youthful generation and affect their lives deeply. Plato, Socrates, Rousseau, Nietzsche knew this a long time ago.

A youth's most difficult but important step in life is to take a critical look at the things he enjoys, to withdraw for the purpose of self-examination, to doubt what he loves so as to establish the real essence of love or otherwise. Unfortunately youths are fed with lies in music, the falsity of being and they buy it wholesale.

When you raise this up in public with some youths, you see looks of crossness, the easy way out of small minds that forever are wont to reorder their cosmos to defend what they love.

Plato advised that good music should feed the soul but Nigerian music is about rhythm and dance.

And so Nigeria cannot divorce herself from the music in its space. The music in a country's space determines the level of its soft power, China and her bitter rival India understand the place of culture but Nigeria doesn't appear to know.

Music enables a people to understand their higher purpose, to love self and humanity, to make man full and not empty. It makes man accepts responsibility and not only demand for rights. It erases the dark from the beautiful and makes all men beautiful to create beautiful things thanks to the cooperation of all beautiful people.

Music should wake people up from lassitude; good music makes listeners close their eyes when they listen to the messages in-built for it is enjoyable and noble. I hardly see people in public places close their eyes whilst listening, how can with too much noise. The listener enjoys a psychological health unadulterated by the ordinary, unmelodic, coarse sounds that tear apart the Nigerian air space.

I often wonder why the type of music that resonates with youngsters now is the type that promotes sex, a brand that legitimizes loose-living, and a music that doesn't call for youngsters to reason and think.

I often wonder why there isn't an intellectual confrontation to the garbage we hear as music, to the beat and rhythm of sex, worse than pornography.

I often wonder why the regulating agencies tolerate songs that make our youngsters sexually active encouraged by people that these agencies recognize as brand ambassadors and most of whom have become titled chiefs in native domains. Awards and commendations are given to these musicians by government and children watch these trails.

Why wouldn't children flout the rules of parents and become ambassadors campaigning for sexual insurrection?

The societal fulcrum now is to rebel, now you see why it is hard for Nigeria to develop. Sycophancy, hate and sex are common to all. Gone is the inspiring, decent, aesthetic, reflective and gentle.

Kids do homework today while wearing headphones. Their lives revolve around fakery and fantasy, with their inability to think of ends from the beginning. No thanks to many a pseudo musician with love for crassness feeding them with make-believe.

Simon Abah, Abuja

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