by Roqeebah Olaoniye
Nigerians are suspicious. Naturally so. Rightly so too. We have been so cheated, so wronged, for so long by people in high places that we are now conditioned to take everything said by anyone that appears to have any sort of privileges with at least a grain of salt. Or a bunch of sharply critical tweets.
But in all our suspicions, we often miss the point. And that is what we think happened today with Tuface.
It all started with an article published by someone who admits that there are only two musicians who’ll secure his attendance at a protest march -Seun and Femi Kuti.
Which is fair enough. You know how it’s a democracy and everyone is entitled to what they think and how they’d rather act.
However, to say that Tuface’s having dined with people on the corridors of power disqualifies him from leading a protest march against an ineffective system (or that those other celebrities who have shown interest in the planned protest have also openly supported others in governance at some point) is simply counter-productive. So then, every one who supported anyone currently in power anywhere in Nigeria should not express their frustrations at how bad things are. Is that it? We should all sleep with lips-sealed emoji masks on because we once openly supported a man in power? That does not make sense, you see.
The way this works is that you call your elected servants to order once they start to underperform. That’s democracy – in fact, that is life as a responsible adult citizen – you are allowed to change your position.
Another thing that has soiled the face of the criticism is the outrage about Tuface’s personal life – his past promiscuity and his perceived illiteracy. This one was just absolutely unnecessary, and it served to take away from the critiques that had a little bit of merit to them. Cheap shots, statements like “let’s educate…”, “he couldn’t have written the open letter…” are absolutely unnecessary and any who allowed themselves to be tempted into using those points against the protest should be deeply ashamed, because the hallmark of literacy – the reason why parents invest so heavily in this education business is not only so that their kids can be rich, but also that they may become active and positively meaningful members of the society. Is that not what the singer is trying to be? Is that not what he has urged the Nigerian people to do? Agreeing to listen to and enjoy the music of a “promiscuous illiterate” but turning around to use the same thing against him when he chooses to speak to the sorry state of things is not the most educated nor woke stance to take in 2017.
Now, let us imagine it were true that Tuface’s protest was ill-motivated. Let’s say he’s allowed himself to be bribed into doing this. That would be extremely sad and shameful. If it turned out to be true.
But it still would not explain why a frustrated Nigerian would not take the platform that this protest offers, to express his/her frustrations.
Except the argument is that the protest he has called for is so ill-motivated that it is unnecessary, in which case we should all just go to sleep and ignore Tuface and his protest. Then, the reasonable thing would be to make it less about the man, and more about getting voices out using a platform that may guarantee the listening ears of those in power.