(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, February 16, 2023)
Let’s sail back in time on the waves of mythology to catch up with the folklorish dog and its fierce loyalty.
Once upon a time, goes a Yoruba tale, there was famine in the entire animal kingdom. The famine was so ferocious that animals died transfixed while walking, crawling, crouching, climbing and even yawning, leaving the kingdom with grotesque skeletons in shuddersome strangeness.
The famine climaxed at the predatory roundabout called matricide when young animals began to kill their mothers in
turn, salting and peppering their heads and limbs on barbecue grill for shared feasts.
Despite the sliminess of the frog, the
mightiness of the elephant, the ruthlessness of the lion and the trickery of the tortoise, no animal was left out of donating its mother into the cauldron to keep death by starvation at bay.
When it was the turn of the dog to
donate its mother, death ran into a cul-de-sac – the dog had secretly sent its mother to heaven for safekeeping when the famine broke out, but told the herd that its mother had died and had rotten.
Meanwhile, the killing and feasting on mothers continued among the animals until there was no mother to kill, and they turned on themselves, devouring flesh and cracking skulls in outright savagery, until there was no more life to take, until there was only one beast standing, broken, starving and awaiting the final hour of death.
The love and loyalty of the dog was
rewarded by a grateful mother. Anytime the dog was hungry, he tip-toes to the junction where the mother climbed a ladder to heaven, and sings: “Iya, iya ta’kun wale o, alijonjon ki jon. Gbogbo aye n pa yeye re je o, alijonjon ki jon, aja mu tire o d’orun…” And the mother would let down sumptuous dishes from heaven through a rope, to a loving and kind child. The dog survived with its
mother, but the herd perished.
The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy chronicles Earl Bertrand Russel as a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic, who lived between 1872 and 1970. In his ‘Unpopular Essays,’ Russel observes that, “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
George Smith Patton was a US General that rose to become the military Governor of Bavaria during the Allied forces’ occupation of Germany in World War II. Showy and controversial, Patton was an
exemplar of leading from the front philosophy and had a penchant for inspiring his troops. His reputation for independent thinking was distilled in these sublime words, “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Call it herd mentality, mob mentality, pack mentality, groupthink, or crowd psychology, Patton never jumped on the bandwagon for he had a mind of his own.
There’s a big quake in Nigeria’s House of Music. But it’s certainly not on the same scale of the earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023, which killed over 41,200 people, injured 114,926, displaced 2.4million, affected 24 million persons, destroyed 6,589 buildings and cost between $50bn and $85bn in property loss, according to Reuters.
Thank goodness that Nigeria isn’t
located in the seismic zone where earthquakes and volcanoes occur. It’s easy to imagine the Minister of disInformation and unCulture, Hadji Lie, give an excuse for government’s uselessness whenever there was an earthquake, saying, “Nigeria
cannot afford to waste money to develop infrastructure which would be destroyed by earthquakes. Let’s remain in caves and be close to nature; that’s how God
wants us to be.”
Nigeria’s music scene quaked few days ago when Peter Okoye of the P-Square hip-hop fame called out Afrobeat star, Seun Anikulapo-Kuti, over Seun’s criticism of Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, while Seun, in line with his family’s tradition of activism, bombarded the internet with videos justifying his criticism of Obi, whom he called an opportunist, hypocrite and tribal bigot.
Affirming his anti-establishment
posture, Seun lampooned the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Alhaji
Atiku Abubakar; and Obi, saying none of them was the messiah Nigeria needed to get to the Promised Land. Seun insisted that only Nigerians could rescue the
nation through constructive participation in the electoral process.
His words, “There’s no president that can save Nigeria. Only the people of Nigeria can save Nigeria. Even if Peter Obi, who is the internet favourite, wins – Peter Obi with all his noisemakers; let’s be factual on that because the issue of that is just the way Nigerian politics is – he hasn’t had the time because he started too late.
“You can’t tell me that just because you lost PDP primaries 18 months to the election, you suddenly start a movement, and you have a real plan for the country? No, that’s opportunism, and not an
opportunist will deliver Nigeria, it will be a dedicated individual that has
looked at this country, that has dedicated his life, the person would have gone to every local government, the person would have his own structure, not jumping
on Labour Party, Labour Party is a socialist structure, Peter Obi is a
capitalist – where are they going?”
Riding on the Achilles heels of herd
mentality, P-Square came after Seun who expressed a legitimate and personal opinion on a potential president of the country – Obi – calling out the legacy
of the Anikulapo-Kuti family by denigrating the Afrikan Shrine, and saying Seun was nothing without his family name.
I’ve been a patron of the Afrikan Shrine way back since when it was on Pepple Street, Ikeja. I’ve watched Seun, a multi-instrumental artist, play real music, and not synthesised noise that typifies Nigeria’s hip-hop. I also saw his video when he played in Oslo, Norway, for (the) Nobel prize award audience in 2008. Just in 2018, Seun’s song, Black Times, was nominated for the Grammys in the World Music Category. And you say such a fellow is living off his father’s name? Come on, Peter! Seun is a solo artist, you’re the one profiting from the expertise of your family members through musical collaboration.
Well, for me, there’s a difference
between a singer and a musician. Many can sing as P-Square are doing, but not many can play music, and lead the great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti band that consists
of even septuagenarians as Seun is doing. Seun began to lead his father’s band, Egypt 80, upon Fela’s death in 1997 when he was just 14.
King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Bongos Ikwue, Lagbaja, Asa, Femi Kuti, Jesse King, Cobhams Asuquo, Flavour, the late Victor Uwaifo, Osita Osadebe, Oliver de Coque, etc are my examples of musicians.
For me, the difference between a singer and a musician lies in the difference between acting on stage and acting before camera; one is natural, the other is cosmetic; one is spontaneous, the other is predetermined.
I love the fact that Seun, a graduate of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, resisted the herd mentality attack of Peter, avoided making unsubstantiated claims, and only unleashed cold facts to buttress his claims. Particularly, my respect for Seun deepened because he never, throughout his lengthy videos, boasted about being an Anikulapo-Kuti.
I submit, people shouldn’t come under attack because they raise critical questions about anyone seeking elective office. I can relate with Seun’s anger because I’ve personally been harassed and blackmailed by my former schoolmates at the Abia State University, Uturu, for saying that Obi, along with Tinubu and Atiku, isn’t a change agent.
Deliberately, I didn’t say a word about APC and PDP because my view of both parties as utterly corrupt, inept and leprous hasn’t changed. But P-Square and Obidients should allow Nigerians engage the supposed third force, Obi, intellectually, please.
These are few of the facts Seun stirred up: Obi was the first governor to deport people of other tribes from Anambra State, followed by Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State. P-Square played at Buhari’s inauguration in 2015. Obidients’ harassment of dissenting views is oppressive. Consistency is needed to liberate Nigeria.
If you’re in doubt, go and verify!
Facebook: @tunde odesola