by Onyeka Nwelue
So many people are ‘graduating’ this year. Many of them haven’t actually graduated. What they do is this: they finish their final year exams and come on Facebook and then scream, ‘I’m a graduate!’ Confirmed, you are a graduate! Congratulations. At least, they get a lot of comments, from people who can’t offer anything to their lives, but congratulatory messages. That is good, though.
Does it end there? No.
So many of these people who will graduate this year want us to believe they are musicians. Many of them have actually recorded songs in some backyard studios. What they do is this: they look around, they realize that the Labour Market (this sounds like a big market) has a lot of competition going on in there and they voice something, master it and upload it on 4shared.com. Then, share the link to their friends and persuading their friends to persuade their friends to persuade their friends again to share the link to the world. Confirmed, you are a singer! Congratulations! At least, they get a lot of comments, from people who can’t offer anything to their lives, but well-wishes. That is good, though.
Does it end there? No.
So many of these people who record songs in a backyard studio will start bothering people with their burden. Many of them are very confrontational when they do this. What they do is this: they tell you to your face that they need a sponsor. Confirmed, who doesn’t need a sponsor? Congratulations! At least, they strongly believe in themselves and also strongly believe that people should believe in them to want to put down their hard earned money for their career. That is good, though.
Now let’s hit the nail on the head: music, as music video director, Akin Alabi said to me a week ago, is the only hope for the Nigerian youth. Is there any truth in that? Yes, there is. This is why I think there is truth in it. Of recent, when I meet a group of young Nigerians, it is obvious that only one in the midst of 5 people is not doing music. Not like they know anything about music; they all can sing in the bathrooms, standing in front of the mirror like me. Does this sound harsh? Well, truth is that the problem comes from our educational system, those handling it and the students themselves. The lecturers are not ready to be innovative, the students are not ready to be rebellious and correct them (they are scared of being failed in their exams) and the parents are not ready to stop forcing their kids to become what they had failed to become for themselves.
Let me not digress.
In the music industry already, there is too much competition. There are the graduates, the undergraduates and the drop-outs! The drop-outs are looked down upon sometimes. They are seen as nuisance to the industry. The graduates even add lines about their Master’s (ask Naeto C) and the undergraduates like this particular line: “It’s your boy something something.” They are not sure they know what class they belong. Obviously, the industry clearly shows that university education is distinctly different from a musical talent. It can be harnessed on campus? No. Absolutely not. That is total deceit. So, with the serious competition happening in the industry, there is little passion exhibited. Those who fail to understand the business of the arts don’t join cliques and they end up defining what it means to be a failed artiste. They create the stereotypical artiste whose life is shrouded by poverty. Truth is that among the thousands of people sharing their songs on 4shared.com, only few are going to be heard.
Remember Mother said you should go to university so you can have something to fall back on if other things fail? Well, Father will kick you out of the house into the street if you keep asking him for money to record, always telling him that you are a musician. The best you can do for yourself now, is to sit in class, copy and paste whatever the lecturer has asked you to, never talk, never raise your hand in class, write his exams, pass them, get a First Class and Father is ready to put down more money for your Master’s. Go and get a Master’s. Find out, if Father is also ready to finance the PhD programme. Go and do it. Then, come home and walk round the city, you’ll find a job, created by who?
Forget music. Leave it for those who have the passion! It is not your calling, kid!
Onyeka Nwelue is author of The Abyssinian Boy.