by Alexander O. Onukwue
On Sunday, June 11, singer and songwriter, Mike Abdul, was featured and quizzed on Wazobia TV on the state of Gospel music in Nigeria.
Abdul, a member of the famous MidNight Crew whose signature tune “Igwe” rocked the airwaves for a long time, aired his opinions and frustrations on the inequalities that exist in the Nigerian music industry. While acknowledging that Gospel artistes are making waves, he winced at the fact that they generally were restricted to the corner by radio stations. According to him, gospel songs have gone from being played on weekdays, to just Saturdays and Sundays, to now Sundays only. In fact, the restriction now binds their music to the morning hours of Sundays; after most persons return from Church – usually around noon – it is back to ‘Isakaba’ and ‘Iskelebete.’
In terms of solutions, Abdul noted that Gospel artistes would need to own their medium of spreading the message, but such media should not be the type with a limited audience. In other words, Gospel radio stations are good for a start, but it would not be that broad avenue to “reach those who we want our message to get to”, paraphrasing him.
Step forward, Nathaniel Bassey. Hello, #HallelujahChallenge.
Through the universal medium of Instagram, Nathaniel Bassey is showing Gospel artistes how to breach the limits of OAP choices and DJ biases to get through to the audience. It is not the ultimate solution, but the incredible success of the midnight Praise and Prayer meet shows the potential of leveraging on technology to preach the Gospel.
Over the past four years, Instagram has been the mill for upcoming comedians, who have continued to perfect the acts of self-production, switching between alter-egos in short drama skits. They have done this so well and the following after every video is of significant number. Nathaniel Bassey’s challenge, hosted from his room, has become arguably bigger, attracting huge numbers of live listeners that have multiplied in thousands with every passing day.
Perhaps other musicians, worth their craft and dedicated to their message, should take Bassey’s challenge as the new medium for their evangelisation. The emergence of new artistes from #HallelujahChallenge is proving this.