“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
By ONYEDIKA AGBEDO
The last minute withdrawal of popular hip-hop artist, Innocent Ujah Idibia, popularly known as ‘2face’ or ‘2baba’ from last Monday’s nationwide protest against the Federal Government, shocked his fans, whose moods were already on the upswing to join him in presenting a ‘yellow card’ to the government over the level of hardship in the country. Before then, 2face had identified with the protest to the extent that his name became synonymous with it. He was the focus of everyone who was concerned about the protest — promoters, antagonists and security agencies. Even the original initiators of the march, Enough is Enough, took a back backstage at some point and it was 2baba all the way.
In a statement he issued on Tuesday, January 31, where modalities for the protest were outlined, the hip-hop star declared: “The people have hoped for a better Nigeria since 1999 but things are not getting any better for the majority. We are still where we are – poor and desperate. I will no longer be quiet.”
But he chose to remain quiet at the eleventh hour. Who then silenced him after such a firm declaration? And how? Was the simple, usual warning by the police “to employ every possible legal means for the maintenance of law and order; and for the protection of lives and property” against the protest enough to force the volunteer activist back to his shell? Well, the information he made available to the public was that the protest was “under serious threat of hijack” and as result, he and his partners decided to cancel it to avoid loss of lives. But his partners went ahead with the protest unhindered in Lagos and Abuja, and with no records of violence; giving credence to speculations that 2baba was only conscripted to give it a face.
Truth is that TuFace had no record of activism before now. His lyrics have mainly been about love and romance, from African Queen to Can’t Hear You, The Best I Can Be, Let Somebody Love You, Kiss Of Life, Hate What You Do To Me, True Love, If Love Is A Crime, My Love and My Rainbow, among others. Those songs have brought him a lot of wealth, fame, comfort and international acclaim. So, why venture out from the opulent comfort his love songs have earned him into the rough and thorny path of activism? After all, Ernest Hemingway in his Men Without Women did point out that “the most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.” Yes, 2face dislikes the sufferings Nigerians are passing through today but he chose to obey that mean advice by Hemingway, and cut short his romance with activism when the people most needed it. His action reminds of the life and times of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who used his music to speak against societal ills and champion the cause of the common man. If Fela were to be alive, and was involved, the protest would have served him an opportunity to release an instant ‘never-die’ lyric on the Nigeria of our times to the delight of his fans. But it was in him, simple!
Born in Jos, Plateau State, 2baba is one of the most decorated and successful Afro pop artists in Africa. He is from the Idoma ethnic group in the southern part of Benue State. He attended Saint Gabriela’s Secondary School in Makurdi, Benue State. He enrolled at Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu where he did his preliminary National Diploma course in Business Administration and Management. While at IMT, he started composing and singing jingles at the GB Fan Club at Enugu State Broadcasting Services (ESBS) in 1996. He performed at school-organised shows and parties, as well as other regional schools such as the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). He eventually dropped out to pursue his music career.
He later moved to Lagos and started performing with rapper Blackface Naija (Ahmedu Augustine Obiabo). With Blackface and Faze (Chibuzor Oji), he formed the band, Plantashun Boiz, and they released Body and Soul (2000) and Sold Out (2003). The group was disbanded in 2004 all band members pursued their separate musical careers. Since then, he has had a very successful musical career laced with many national and international awards.