It seems to have happened so long ago not to be remembered as a big deal, but Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, did actually threaten Nigerian musicians who chose to create music videos outside the country.
He retracted, as he so deftly does when caught in the web of his words, stating rather that he wished not to give Nigeria’s revenue and the product of his labours to other countries.
There was no ban and artists have continued to take their cameras abroad where the air is better, the girls fitter, and where the police are paid enough to afford the use of Versace and Gucci to woo.
But just before that chapter finally closes, Olamide wishes to pass a message to the Honourable Minister; this he does with the new street hit ‘Wo!!’
Yours truly does not yet have a qualified snatch of Yoruba but the cultural and political memo contained in the video of the song does not require linguistic expertise. Shot in full colour by the talented ‘Unlimited L.A’ (whoever he/she is), the music video is a black-and-white capture of the Nigerian streets as Alhaji Mohammed should like to see it.
Olamide is probably the most Lagos-centric artist in the country today. He has a song that extols the virtues of the state, with special adulation for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. He praised Elegushi, Banana (not THAT one) and VGC, among other places, in the hit ‘Love Lagos’. The song’s role appeared targeted at commemorating the Lagos at 50 (does anyone still remember that?) events.
But in ‘Wo!!’, Olamide goes harder in the tempo of the beat but deliberately mellows on being obsequious to the state, its posh estates or its officials. This is for the streets, as has been reported by much of the analysis about the song, and in the faces and acts of those street people are the labours of Lagos and, by extension, Nigerians masked in survival gyration which Lai Mohammed and his bosses should be interested in seeing.
There is ‘mama’ in yellow with a bottle in her hand, grooving to the beat. She is the feature from the place of origin of the Governor, particularly the school and families at Igbonla that were without six of their students and children for more than 50 days. ‘Mama’ is the mother who drifted between enthusiasm – the yellow dress – and near despair – the bottle – concerning the return of her boy. ‘Wo!’ is her dance of joy in the midst of her street folk who pressed on the authorities till her bliss was returned.
Have you forgotten the man who kayaked along the flooded road around Silverbird? ‘Wo!!’ reminds you of that because if that well-to-do expatriate fella could pull it off, the local version of that form of leisure in the midst of chaos is to dance from a waste bin. It does not even count if there is already some dirt in there; the sea of plastics that blocked the road somewhere in Surulere after a downpour did not stop business from flowing. Heck, boys still gathered in the evening for a few bottles in the middle of a flood. We cannot come and not drink because Government would not manage the drains and would not let us build or repair either.
Were these intended to shade Government? That’s not what the man going up the NEPA pole to continue his dance is bothered about. Seriously though, that was a real health and safety risk taken there and we wonder if Lai Mohammed would be calling on the Minister of Environment’s Health and Safety Department to ban foreign-looking stunts in music videos. But that would be the wrong Minister to call. Former Lagos Governor, Raji Fashola, has complained about his big projects being replaced by boreholes; if there was any electric power in that and many other poles, would the people in his state dare to mount them without a safety harness?
Olamide did not set out to produce, by his standards, a brilliant song in ‘Wo!!’ Again, I don’t know much of what he says in it but I am convinced he has used better lyrics in previous numbers. Rather, what happens on set here is a collage of the chaos in motion picture, in which he sets aside allegiance to his “father figure” this once in order to resonate with the feelings of the hood in a come-one, come-all street conference. Thankfully, the security personnel present did not prevent the demonstration from holding.
Let’s just say this was Olamide’s little way of assuring Uncle Mohammed that he remains loyal to that “ideal” of music videos that advertise the state of Nigeria.
Feature image source: ‘Wo!!’ Music Video via Youtube (Screenshot) | YBNL