All through the weekend, I watched as some people spent long hours writing stinkers on social media, calling for a mass boycott of Nickfest, because the organisers are inviting Davido, Yemi Alade, Mr. Eazi, and other artistes.
In their argument, they claim these artistes and not “child friendly”, and as such, parents need to speak up and make the producers of Nickfest, and their sponsors Maltina, drop them. Otherwise, they will protest, boycott, picket, what have you.
Whilst I understand the sentiments behind the thoughts, I can’t but imagine that these people have other motives beyond wanting Nigerian children to not be exposed to the so called ‘worldly music.’
Let’s break it down.
Our kids love the Nickelodeon Channel, they love anything Nick – merchandise, events, programmes, what have you. And they love Dora! I also love Nickelodeon. Our kids also love music. I’ve seen kids sing and dance to all sorts of Nigerian artistes, from Olamide to 2face, and Tiwa Savage.
In a country where there’s nothing much to be proud of about our politicians, where the only good ambassadors of our culture, the only good things many can point to, are happening in music, sports, Nollywood, fashion, and tech, It is not surprising that today’s role models are coming from these industries. If you ask many of today’s kids to mention their role models, or idols, don’t be surprised if many of them mention footballers, OAPs, DJs, musicians, or actors.
Globally, we are increasingly no longer being portrayed as the country of 419 and ‘yahoo yahoo’, thanks to the exploits of our footballers in Europe, the power of our films, and the music of the likes of 2face, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Davido, Tiwa Savage and many others.
Do I love every song they sing? Of course no. Do I approve of their lifestyles? Maybe not but who am I to judge? We are not about to position them in our homes to raise kids. Neither is Nickfest taking the kids to a nightclub to watch them perform. Nickfest is a family event and as expected, there will be performance of family friendly material for the kids who absolutely love them, and who will see them participate in many activities to raise funds for different causes.
At the mention of the name of any of these artistes, children get excited and want to meet with them. Nickelodeon isn’t responsible for this and NickFest isn’t here to support adult musical content for kids, far from that. The event is here to make the kids relate with these A-list artistes from the perspectives which the media isn’t showing while ensuring that the content remains safe for child-consumption.
It’s quite disturbing that the major highlight of the event where these celebrities will be made to participate in games to raise awareness and funds for the less privileged children is not being considered. Do you really think Nickelodeon, in its almost 40 years, of being number-one entertainment brand for kids, which has built a diverse, global business with a mission to give kids a place to be by putting kids first in everything it does will invite these artistes without a valid plan to censor their lyrics at the event?
I don’t see how this poses any problem to any child. What I see, on the contrary, is that attitude like those of these people shouting and weeping, is the reason Nigeria is still backwards. Only recently, Multichoice, a South African company operating in Nigeria, employing thousands, paying tax, and producing hundreds of shows here, decided to shoot its Big Brother in South Africa, where there’s better infrastructure, and opportunity to save cost.
People also went wild as if Multichoice/DSTV were the Nigerian government, or a compulsory service. These were the same people that screamed about the Shower Hour on the show, leading it to be banned. A programme on a channel you can choose to not watch, or even subscribe to? It just goes on to show the kind of things we dedicate our time to.
Nigeria has a growing drug epidemic; our educational system is in major crisis, same for every sector you can think of. Our children are being taught subject and skills they will not need when they graduate. Our leaders are stealing us blind and competing for who can misgovern most. I do not think musicians are in any way part of the problem we should be dying over. In fact, these musicians, I assure you, are one of the few hopes millions of Nigerian kids have to escape poverty and all sorts. And this is because most of them, kids from poor backgrounds, have had to fight against many odds to be where they are.
We know the story of Wizkid, of Yemi Alade, or 2face, even Mr. Eazi. These grass-to-grace stories are what makes us believe in Nigeria; what inspires us every day; what many can look at and believe they too can make it. And it didn’t just start today – it’s the story of King Sunny Ade, and many others from the 60s and 70s, who used music and performance to change their lives in so many ways.
KSA, for example, continues to be considered a family artiste, despite the many lewd, sexual, and controversial songs in his repertoire; the people criticizing Yemi Alade and Davido and Mr. Eazi because of their lifestyles, see nothing wrong with KSA, and Fela, and many other legends who bed multiple women, producing kids from dozens of partners; and achieving in that regard, plenty feats, Davido or Wizkid could never top.
We need to pick our battles with wisdom.
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