THIS IS NIGERIA, BUT… By Abdurrahman Bello Onifade
THIS IS NIGERIA, BUT…
“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.” – Ayn Rand
Folarin Falana a.k.a Falz on Friday 25 May 2018 shot a music video titled ‘This is Nigeria.’ The aim based on findings is to stimulate people’s conscience about a lot of social ills that pervade our nation. From official corruption to incessant killings by insurgents, herdsmen and SARS brutality to tithing in churches and the mysterious ways animals have been said to become money-swallowers, among others, the video brings to the fore the many realities conscious citizens are never oblivious of. Yet, the artiste goofed and betrayed reasoning with his dancers. To say the video is not provocative and insensitive to Islam as a religion is to say the least.
It is an open secret that many artistes, for fear or any other reasons known to them have often been evasive in addressing social ills with their activities. In actual fact, artistes – musicians and comedians, have often been vanguards in promoting social problems such as drug abuse, yahoo yahoo, promiscuity, to mention a few. Therefore, it could be seen that Falz wants to take a bold step in addressing these appalling issues but on a very slippery ground. His musical video ‘This is Nigeria’ which shows some ladies dancing on Hijab, whatever the dance may be called, is an assault on Islamic identity and a depiction of crassitude fueled by conscious oblivion.
Yes, this is Nigeria but the musical video brings to the fore, yet again, insensitivity and the enlightened ignorance some people have about Islamic identity. And “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,” opined Martin Luther King. It depicts many people like the artiste and his acolytes think Hijab is just any clothing that could be ridiculed while trying to address social vices. It reinforces the fact that our society still thrives through deliberate neglect of identifying our differences and respecting them; for us to foster mutual intelligibility and peaceful coexistence. I am yet to reconcile the rationale behind why those dancers had to wear hijab? What exactly was the message he wanted to pass with such show of vulgarity and impropriety?
Over the years, we have come to contend with a fact stated by Dr. Fola Ojo, that Nigeria is a country conceived in deception, birthed in confusion and nourished in corruption. In addressing social ills, however, there is need to be very cautious to avoid ethno-religious provocations. No religion or ethnic region has a monopoly of violence or corruption; while the insurgents and herdsmen (though there have been cases of core bandits having nothing to do with a herd of animals) ravage parts of the north, kidnappers and ritualists have never ceased to wreck havocs in the south. Therefore, it is a national problem which should not be portrayed with ethno-religious jingoism.
Importantly, the issues raised in the video are not new to us. Sadly, we have lived with these issues and yet to overcome many of them due to inept leadership and docile followership. Meanwhile, it is very vital to fight those issues in whatever we can, as citizens, without fanning more fire of enmity and discord. The onus lies on us to pursue an egalitarian society where symbolic issues that could worsen the precarious status quo are identified, deciphered and addressed without throwing caution to the wind. That Hijab was used as a dancing apparel in Falz’s video is a joke taken to far; it is grotesque and a betrayal to common sense.
Other issues raised such as how some churches collect tithes and build institutions that their congregation cannot attend, is one bone of contention that has flooded the media over the months; with Daddy Freeze being a leading voice in that regard. We have read many articles on this issue, but it concerns us less. It is good that Christians have been able to speak up and we hope one day, truth will prevail for them. At least for now, it is gladdening that millions of dollars can no longer be ferried to other countries in some religious leaders’ private jets. We pray never to go back to such days. Should we see Muslim leaders who hoodwink their congregation for ephemeral gains, we too would never stop to speak against it.
Likewise, the video portrays ‘everybody is a criminal,’ which is also a generic denigrating remark on Africa’s most populous nation. There are numerous Nigerians hustling out there and making their living without engaging in criminality. Perhaps, Falz may not be in the know that despite the pervasive beautified nonsense that pervades the Nigeria Police, there was a Nigerian police officer, Julius Adedeji, who has never collected ‘bribe’ and was rewarded for that by the BBC. Perhaps, he doesn’t know that from about 650 nominations, no less than eight young Nigerians made the list of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2018. He could be unaware that just some days back a young woman, Charity Bassey, while doing her job at the Muritala Muhammed Int’l Airport in Lagos found $6,000 and returned it to the management. She is not a criminal. Even among the corrupt politicians, there are a few honest persons. So, this is Nigeria, but everybody is not a criminal. Nigerians are good people; and this nation, is a great nation.
In conclusion, Falz and his handlers may not know or may be consciously oblivious that Hijab is a divine injunction for Muslims women. It is an act of worship that mature Muslims women are rewarded goodly for wearing and otherwise. Therefore, it is highly doleful to have portrayed a God-given right in such a ridiculous manner. Islam thrives on sound knowledge not ‘follow-follow’; hence, even if some Muslim artistes have bastardized its use, they are not models as their actions and inactions are hinged on ignorance. It will be no exaggeration that the video should be withdrawn or banned from airing as it is an assault to Islamic identity and could cause more harms than good. Lastly, while Muslims are enjoined to avoid any vituperations on the issue that could heat up the polity, Muslim leaders in the nation are besought to act swiftly in this regard.
Abdurrahman Bello Onifade
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