When the world speaks of the revolutionary musical giants who once walked among us, Fela Kuti and Bob Marley come to mind, two men who influenced and intervened distinctively while raising black consciousness against cruelty and abuse.
Marley, Fela, among others, had a great influence on the worldwide music artist, Bukola Elemide, popularly known as Asa.
Asa, psychologically, used her protest voice in her progressive songs that called on the people, inspiring them to join themselves into a cohesive body to revitalize their weary spirit, turn their pain around, warn of injustice, and send a message of righteous anger to the occupiers of power now.
Asa, who was born to Nigerian parents in Paris, France, performed her song ‘Fire on the Mountain’ at the unveiling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The song ‘Fire on The Mountain’ was openly performed in front of President Muhammadu Buhari and other top officials in the Buhari circle. I wonder what was going through the mind of some of them as they listened to hard-hitting lyrics of denunciation against injustice, oppression, indifference, and unfairness.
Asa, dressed in all-black, sang the ‘Fire on the mountain’ with lyrics which include verses like “One day the river will overflow, and there’ll be no where for us to go, and we will run! run! Wishing we had put out the fire”.
“I wake up in the mornin’ Tell you what I see on my TV screen I see the blood of an innocent child and everybody’s watchin”.
“What did he say to make you so blind to your conscience and reason? Could it be love for your country? Or for the gun you use in killing?”
“One day the river will overflow and there’ll be no where for us to go and we will run, run wishing we had put out the fire, oh!!!”
Asa, in her second song before Buhari, sang the 2022 “IDG” lyrics, which stands for “‘I Don’t Go.” With verses which include “Wahala” “I don’t go where no love”. “Down Soweto”
As the President and his circle listened to the voice of Asa, there is no doubt some of the lyrics were infused with ominous feelings that reflect our current gloomy social and political times. Like Fela, gradual resistance is etched into her songs, marked by nationalist struggle and political protest.
Asa, like the average Nigerian, decried indifference and oppression by Nigeria’s authorities, Asa, in her message about love for a country, notes that where leadership indifference prevails, there is a need for a clarion call for liberation from oppression and nothing can stop it when the time comes.
While Buhari and his administration probably expected to hear soft melodies, Asa’s songs, which were partly unexpected, gave some hope to the people longing for drastic and dramatic social change. Asa’s 2007 ‘Fire on the mountain’ music still mirrors the reality of present-day Nigeria.
Asa, through her lyrics, reminded the current Nigerian regime, inadvertently, that the unwarranted violence from the police and military on #EndSARS nationwide protests in October 2020, that focused on government brutality, harassment, and extortion, will not work this time, and Asa used her songs to prick into the Buharian leadership consciousness regarding change.
How long can the people tolerate a national environment characterized by authoritarian leadership, the threat of violence, intolerance of the press, mass poverty, unending suffering, economic inequality, growing ethnic and religious polarization, a terrible state of governance, corruption, and human rights violations?
In President Buhari’s mind, the unveiling of the new Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, was supposed to be a landmark event.
Well, maybe it was, but with the whole world watching the Tuesday event, Asa voiced in a fearless, blunt way and used her music to articulate crucial issues and raise the people’s radical consciousness.
Who knows how far military and police officers will go to hug protesters, as a dramatic change can only occur when many people join the fight for democracy? For the last two decades, Nigeria’s type of leadership has been abnormal, cancerous and the biggest threat to democratic growth.
As if Asa was remembering the song, “I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will” by the great American singer Sam Cooke, Asa, who faced and sang before Buhari and his circle, through the messages in her songs, tells us all that the urgency for change with hope is here. This time, change is inevitable, just a matter of time.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, who was born in Uromi, Edo State in Nigeria to a father who served in the Nigeria police for 37 years, is an American based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult and child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional, and Career Development. He is a former Interim Associate Dean/Assistant Professor at Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African Settings In 2011, he introduced State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and Nasarawa State University, where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. He is currently a Virtual Behavioral Leadership Professor at ISCOM University, Republic of Benin. Founder of the proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien Open University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of Truth, Ethics, and Openness. Over forty academic publications and creations, at least 200 public opinion pieces on African issues, and various books have been written by him. He specializes in psycho-prescriptive writings regarding African institutional and governance issues.
Prof. Oshodi wrote in via [email protected]
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