By Ifesinachi Johnpaul Nwadike
WHEN recently, Tuface Idibia announced his intention to spearhead a protest march against bad governance in Nigeria, I received it with mixed feelings. Mixed feelings of apprehension and happiness. Apprehension in the sense that I know what he would be up against. I was also happy for I saw someone finally standing up to fill Fela’s gap which Eedrees Abdulkareem failed to do in the wake of “ Nigeria Jaga Jaga” because, apparently, he was silenced by the cabal.
The call of writers and artists is a nationalistic one that can’t be easily disregarded. One quickly remembers the days of Harlem Renaissance and the role of the emerging Black writers and artists as Olauda Equiano; W.E.B Du Bois; Richard Wright; Claude McKay; Langston Hughes; George Lamming; Samuel Selvon; Maya Angelou; Toni Morrison; Alice Walker; Michael Anthony; Bob Marley; Peter Tosh etc.
In the apartheid regime of South Africa, the outstanding role of writers and artists like Peter Abraham, Ezekiel Mphalele, Lewis Nkosi, Athol Fugard, Alex La Guma, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassi, Lucky Dube etc, were very resplendent.
The Mau Mau uprising of Kenya saw great writers like Ngugi Wa Thiong’O, Meja Mwangi, Micere Mugo, etc. Here in Nigeria, our nationalist writers and artists of independence are vast but Amos Tutuola, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, Wole Soyinka, JP Clark, Cyprian Ekwensi, Elechi Amadi, T.M. Aluko, Mabel Segun, Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Osita Osadebe, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Sunny Okosun, Ebenezer Obey, Oliver De Coque etc, were outstanding.
These writers and artists made notable impact in the societies they found themselves. Their arts were daggers in the hearts of oppressive powers, their songs made kings restless in cosy palaces, their engagements were nightmares to tyrants and despots who saw this earth as a sprawling throne.
But those were the glorious days. We’re in a generation of tattoos, cigarettes, earrings, dreadlocks, champagnes, clubs and other reckless lifestyles, and shamefully enough, our artists; our beacons of hope, our intercessors are caught pants down at the front bench of these despicable acts.
It, therefore, came as a relief when Tuface decided to step out of his numerous comfort zones to speak up at the risk of losing so much. This is even as recession currently has no bearing in his present existence. So big a sacrifice! Tuface became an instant Moses; drawing many artists out for this patriotic movement, including Olamide. He became our immediate Mahatma Gandhi, our upstart Martin Luther King Jnr, our Mandela, our Malcolm X, our Patrice Lumumba, our Nnamdi Kanu, etc. But that was only to the afflicted, who, by the way, are powerless.
But we forgot that he became an easy target to unlawful harassment and detention by men of the DSS, we forgot that his name must have been added to the blacklist of EFCC’s victims, we forgot that the cabal that swallowed Eedrees’ voice must have used so many things to threaten him into submission. He has a mother, siblings, and immediate family; those are the most usual and immediate targets by evil cabals in every nation.
I want to ask you traducers of Tuface: what have you done? Where were your voices when Jonathan was smoked out of Aso Rock? Where went your humanity when Nnamdi Kanu was unlawfully jailed? Where travelled your patriotism when El Zakzaky was incarcerated? Where did you hide your mouths when many youths were killed and would still be killed in the East during peaceful protests? Some of you even came out to openly berate Apostle Suleiman for speaking up against the killing of Christians in Southern Kaduna. Yet, all these anomalies affect us directly. All you want is someone who will take bullets for you or risk his life in the name of what I don’t know.
Tuface came out bravely, but regrettably to give us reasons why he thinks the protest cannot go on as planned and hell was let loose on his personality. Have you Pharisees taken time to find out what he must have been through or did you simply choose to ignore that he mentioned an “interest group, hijacking the protest?” The distress on his face, in that video, depicts the face of a man under life-threatening duress and honestly so, but we simply choose to ignore it.
Let’s assume he stubbornly went ahead to protest and eventually people were killed, will you still #standwithtuface or will you rush and quickly grab a wheelchair? The problem is that we all know the truth but prefer to ignore it and at our own peril.
We should be crying that an honest attempt by a harmless citizen was aborted before it was birthed. We should be crying that in Tuface and Jonathan, we have been shown the level of our powerlessness in this country where we are beaten to stupor and reprimanded for daring to cry. Are we not worried that a man as popular and loved as Tuface would become the subject of threats by our collective oppressors who would still dance to his songs in their victory parties?
As far as I’m concerned, Tuface has paid his dues, for trying to try. As far as I’m concerned, Tuface has shown that he truly loves Nigerians and that his usage of “my people” in his songs is not in vain. As far as I’m concerned, Tuface is better than those other celebrities who refused to identify with the cause, yet they are making money from our download of their songs and tickets to watch their shows and the purchase of their music albums and videos.
As far as I’m concerned, Tuface has protested by planning a protest. At least our leaders now know that someone like Tuface dislikes what they’re doing to the people. And for those calling him overnight activist, go and check that man’s background and see that he has been protesting in his songs, videos and comments but you chose not to know because he doesn’t do much of “shake your bum bum music”
Dear Tu Baba, I take the blame for your current ordeal because I forgot to tell you that in Nigeria, the poor masses love their oppressors more than their rescuers even to the point of death; the reason why Professor Niyi Osundare refer, to them as “slaves that adore their chains”. I forgot to tell you that our people need no heroes, rather they lionize their killers.
Nwadike writes from Owerri
I forgot to tell you that our nation needs no heroes, rather they lionize their killers. I forgot to tell you that you’re from a country where those who dare to put our problems in order are seen as the spoilers. I forgot to tell you that you’re from a country where the people know the truth but prefer bowl of insipid lies. I forgot to tell you that this democracy of ours is in the hands of despotic men who glorify in the oppression of their followers. I forgot to tell you that you’re from a nation that is not worth dying for.
I forgot to tell you that you’re from a continent where God has not finished creation. My little days as a varsity student/student leader thought me many things. I learnt that it is the same persons you’re trying to take the bullets for who will fire the trigger.
I learnt to choose what and who to fight and for what reason. But Baba, you should have known better. You should have known that it is the same people who shouted “Hossana for Christ” that killed him days later.
But let me not forget to tell you that you have written your name in the pages of history as one of those who tried. Posterity shall judge you right.
Nwadike writes from Owerri