Tag Archives: NLC Protest

NLC Protest: Music Relevance

Two days ago (11th January 2012), the minister of labour said during an interview that the NLC protests (on fuel subsidy removal) lacks focus because they play songs that are irrelevant to the issue at hand by playing Fela’s songs from the 70s. This post aims to debunk this claim.

Tolstoy said that all successful economies have something in common while unsuccessful ones need not have anything in common. Well, oppressive and corrupt governments have something in common. This is evident in the timelessness and relevance of song lyrics that were played during the NLC protests in abuja this week. One only needs to be in the crowd to appreciate this point.

12th Jan 2012

Protesters forget that these songs were sang more than 20 years ago because of its resonance to the current situation. A particular part of a Fela song that got me was when Fela mentioned the (first) military Obasanjo regime then immediately talks about Yar’adua. For a moment I thought Fela was alive and probably in hiding (like Tupac is believed to), releasing new songs. I thought Fela was talking about the (democratic) Obasanjo regime and then the subsequent (Musa) Yar’adua regime. But Fela was actually talking about the military Obasanjo regime and (Shehu) Yar’adua who was then vice president.

Eedris Abdulkareem’s Nigeria Jagajaga, Fela’s Waka Waka Waka, African-China’s Mr President, Wande-Cole’s Say na like dis are among the favorite songs the crowd cheer and dance to. None of these songs was recorded for this sad situation we find ourselves in, but they feel very relevant to the situation. Surprisingly, P-Squared’s Danger was also a favorite.

Eedris Abdulkareem’s Nigeria Jagajaga was criticised when it came out, foremost by the then Mr President. Many others that liked the song liked it for its club-value; it is a banging song to dance to. But during this protest, this song couldn’t have been more accepted; its time is now (and hopefully not again in the future).

12th Jan 2012

The songs are relevant to the situation because the perception of corruption, oppression and callousness that resulted in the songs years ago are still perceived by the crowd in the protest. This government has indeed succeed in proving that corrupt and callous governments have something in common.


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NLC Protest through HipHop Eyes

On the first day of the NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) general strike, 9th January 2012, the protest started rather sluggishly. This is in spite of the heightened anticipation for this day. It was easy to tell who was member of the NLC and who was not. However, NLC had announced that this is a people’s protest and they were just heading it. But that remarkable morning, people were sceptical.

Hip hop saved the day. I don’t mean rap. I mean methods of controlling the masses (without deception). Hip hop control is achieved in two stages: proving that you deserve to take control; and controlling when you ve taken control. The NLC Leaders were in the rear of a truck equipped with loud sound systems.

Tradionally hiphop control-responsibility is achieved after proving yourself on the mic. Holding the mic means you have been given a chance. Rocking the crowd means you are doing it right and have become an official MC (Mass Controller).

The truck is like the mic, it puts NLC in a state of authority; they are given a chance to prove they can lead. At the heart of this mass-controlling is the DJ in the truck. The sluggish NLC members received a boost of energy when the speakers started pumping Eedris Abdulkareem’s Nigeria Jagajaga. Soon enough it was difficult to tell an NLC member from (non-NLC) people. Like the Pied piper, NLC protest kept sucking more people.

Another attribute of hiphop that keeps coming up in the protest is the crowd response. A speaker always start with something like “Great Nigerians!” and crowd say “Great!”. “I want to speak!”, crowd say “Speak!”, “I want to talk!”, “Talk!”, “I want to Yarn!”, “Yarn!”… Like any hiphop show, you have crowd favorites and those that actually control the crowd well.

Finally is the use of the environment by the artist. An opera singer insists on a theatre with the right accoustics. A symphony position their instrument-players to take advantage of the room’s acoustics. Yesterday’s Abuja NLC protest (like 2-days-ago) ended at Area-1’s under-the-bridge. Overhead bridge made the speakers much louder, clearer and good reverb.

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