Just like we all expected, the itchy fingers at the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) have wielded the big stick. They have banned Olamide’s controversial record, ‘Science Student’, and declared it ‘not fit for broadcast.’
We saw this move from a mile away. The NBC have done what they know how to do best. They have risen to the calls of certain sections of the public to place a ban on the record that has made us all feel uncomfortable. I could picture Godwin Obaseki, the bald politician and parental voice of reason, who went viral by endangering the lives of other commuters while making a video about the record. He’s probably holed somewhere in Lagos, clinking glasses of champagne with other politicians, while Christian music plays in the background…” worthy is the lamb.”
And how about all of those social media warriors? Those de facto voices of reason, who made themselves God’s right hand and collectively accused Olamide of pushing an agenda supporting drug and substance abuse in the streets. The air feels better, brighter, cleaner, and holier in their world right now. As they took to the road on their way to their offices on Monday, they will probably perform inspired acts of charity, feed puff-puff to small goats, and picking plastic from the gutters to save the environment. They should be proud. They did something.
For me, I knew this was coming. I knew the NBC wouldn’t pass up this opportunity because it is what they do. They exist for days like this. They dream at night for an artist to drop a controversial record because it is the only way they get to the news and directly show the people that they are hovering over the record, as the layer of sanity for consumption of Nigerian creativity.
Well done NBC. You guys are true heroes.
Why did this record make us feel uncomfortable? Is it because it is so blatantly real? Is it because it strayed away from the usual tropes of happiness, aspirational living, and humorous escapism that we dearly love and patronise? Is it because it brought home the message that we are closer to our demons, and the vices that we love to relegate to the back of our minds have followed us into our sacred spaces of ‘turn up’ and enjoyment? How we would have loved that song if only he spoke about Shalewa’s waist, and the things he would do to her rolling backside. Or maybe he should have just named the damn record ‘Twerking Students’?
Our morality wouldn’t have surfaced then. We would have been comfortable with debauchery because it resonates with all of us. Our kids can deal with just ‘sexual immorality’ because we rationalise that it isn’t as bad as ‘drug abuse’. How convenient.
Music is a reflection of society as it should be. If Olamide chooses to start a conversation about our drug culture and the effects on our country’s youth, the outcry shouldn’t be limited to the song. It should be directed at the Government agencies who haven’t done enough to tackle the distribution and proliferation of those substances. It should be directed at the underlying causes and triggers that lead young people to indulge. It should be directed at people of power to push for changes in the welfare of our youth and the creation of jobs and opportunities to give meaning to the lives of young people.
We also should direct our anger towards our criminal education system that offers children an academic exercise, but ignore everything else crucial for their development. We should be outraged, but not at Olamide.
Because at the end of the day, his record is simply a means to communicate it. Tomorrow, we will wake up feeling like we did something. Then drive past the guy popping pills and drinking codeine at the street corners and look the other way. We wouldn’t give a helping hand because we aren’t outraged enough to show real care where it matters. Instead, we skip that and focus on the guy describing that guy that desperately needs our help. Banning ‘Science student’ doesn’t tackle the problem. Instead, it pushes back a crucial opportunity to have a conversation and push for change.
Shout out to you. Clap for yourself. You shot yourself in the foot. You are doing amazing sweetie.