Our celebrities are everything. They give us things to talk about, create trends for us to follow, and arguably, influence the decision of many of their fans. Being a celebrity comes with its perks as well as its downsides. For the most, Nigerian celebrities thrive on the support of their fans and take that away from them, you would be left with nothing but a person trying to stay relevant in their field of art.
On social media today, the impact of Grammy-nominee, Burna Boy is being debated over some tweets that challenged him to join a brewing protest against bad governance.
Hello @burnaboy, everywhere I turn people describe you as a revolutionary musician, the foreign media even celebrate you compare you to Fela Kuti, but I am yet to see you lead anyone to a police station carrying a coffin for head of state! Join #Oct1stProtest #RevolutionNow pic.twitter.com/LOYfQfRCyc
— Omoyele Sowore (@YeleSowore) September 29, 2020
Former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore had called out Burna Boy in line with the vivid local and international recognition he has gotten from his music. Sowore reiterated Burna’s achievement and the idea that he has branded himself as a revolutionary musician, the ‘Fela’ of his generation, requesting that he uses his voice and platform to join in the #RevolutionNow protest scheduled for October 1st.
Everybody is a Fela fan and supporter now that he is dead. Humans are so Funny, You politicians are ALL the same (especially in Nigeria) and Frankly I don’t trust none of you.@YeleSowore.
— Burna Boy (@burnaboy) September 29, 2020
Burna Boy, however, shared that he isn’t the only supporter of Fela and his distrust for Nigerian politicians does not exempt Sowore. As expected, the higgle between the two created a trend on social media with many taking sides.
The key argument: Over the years, Burna Boy has branded himself as the new Fela. Burna claims that Fela’s blood flows in his veins and he hates Nigerian politicians. We have heard him say so a million times, in interviews and in his songs. While that creates a certain identity for him, many have shared how troubling it is that Burna only takes on this identity for heavy playtime numbers on streaming services and for international recognition.
The counter-argument: Fela will continue to remain an icon for many Nigerians and a headache for many politicians. Many Nigerian youths praise the afro-music legend and share how much like him, they have grown to hate politicians. Everyone is a Fela fan. However, as much as there are a million and one Fela fans out there, branding one man (Burna Boy) to tap into the Fela spirit also becomes worrisome – if you consider that celebrities are also human beings and should be allowed to use their platform however they like.
Still baffled that anyone even thinks of Burna Boy as 'a revolutionary musician'.
The only thing he revolves is samples from classic songs.
— Ayo Sogunro – #Transformist (@ayosogunro) September 30, 2020
Burna Boy: Nigerian youths are cowards, scared to fight etc etc. (from his album)
Yele Sowore: Burna Boy, join us in a protest against the government.
Burna Boy: I don’t trust Nigerian politicians, they are all the same.
So you didn’t know this when you were calling us names?
— Man of Letters. (@Letter_to_Jack) September 30, 2020
Burna Boy alluded to Nigerians being cowards in a song when it comes to standing up for themselves & I guess his refusal to take a stand when called out by Sowore hit a nerve. He claims to walk in the footsteps of Fela but it’s only in songs we hear this.pic.twitter.com/81bT1Ktp0k
— ✨? DaddyMO?✨ (@therealdaddymo1) September 30, 2020
Burna boy doesn't owe anyone a protest. What he owes everyone is to spare us his righteous indignation that suggests he's more pressed about Nigeria's issues than the rest of us because he samples Fela. Fela could call us mumu cos he did the work, he was front and centre.
— Ẹ̀gbọ́n (@Olumuyiwa__) September 30, 2020
Is Burna Boy to blame?
Like many Nigerian celebrities, Burna Boy is a social media activist. The singer may have claimed to be like Fela, but it doesn’t go beyond his songs and certain performances where he strips down to his underwear. For the most, where he speaks against politicians and social injustices, nothing is done to follow up his lashing out. In a line from one of his songs, the singer lashed at Nigerian youths for being cowards and afraid to stand for their rights. On the question of joining a protest that seeks an end to injustice and calls for better governance, he has chosen to stay away – it’s a classic case of if the shoe fits.
Burna Boy may be the target today. But many Nigerian celebrities fall under this category of wildly speaking out but doing nothing – But then again, our celebrities are not under any law to use their platform and voice to fight for us. If for anything, we should all channel our individual energy and voices to call out bad governance.
Michael is a dynamic writer who is still exploring the nuances of life and being human. When I’m not writing, I’m out with friends or spending nice time alone watching movies or TV Shows.
Michael is available on Twitter and Instagram @TheMichaelFaya