Mugu don pay, shout halleluiah!!!, so goes the lines of one of the newest melodies on the Nigerian airwaves, a song by hitherto little known Kelly Handsome, a US based Nigerian youngster who has suddenly catapulted into the status of a celebrity following the dropping of his hit single Maga Don Pay.
Beyond the great production, wonderful sound mix and I dare say, intelligence that went into the packaging of the song, is a huge moral question-one that seems the biggest bane to the advancement my generation and by extension constitutes the greatest impediment to the eventual emancipation of our dear country by we the future leaders.
The song is a testimony to the fact that we now not only do fraud, we take pride in celebrating it.
It reminds one of Nkem Owoh’s I go chop your dollar and Olu Maintain’s Yahoozee both of which enjoyed great listenership among youths. In both cases as in this, the artists denied having a first line intension of promoting fraud, claiming they did what they did for the love of music and the arts. I am a great fan of Nigerian music and I appreciate creativity a lot, but I wish to disagree with the artists on this.
Music is a strong medium of communication which holds a strong influence on the people. From time immemorial, people have used music to pass a wide range of messages across, the more popular ones being messages against issues that affect the course of humanity negatively. For example Michael Jackson’s Earth song drew the world’s attention to the degradation and bastardization of the earth as a fall out of various human activities. Closer home, Fela’s many afro beat hits which remain ever fresh in our minds were a series of constructive criticism of bad leadership and a constant advocator for good governance.
When you listen and sing along to these songs, you find your self-beyond the movement of your body in a dance-reflecting on the wordings. Believe it or not what you hear has a huge influence on you. For example in the early 90’s, the explosion of American rap music in Nigeria and the orchestrating of the then Tu-pac Vs Notorious BIG rivalry contributed chiefly in the introduction of gangsterism among youths in Nigeria and a subsequent explosion of cultism on our campuses.
We appreciate the fact-shamefully though- that Nigeria is today known world over as a country of fraudsters, scammers, dupes and internet tricksters. It’s no more news that internet fraud has now become the major occupation of many youths. Daily, young men (and women) sit around in cyber cafe or even in the comfort of their bed rooms with the provision of internet service by most telecom operators, doing one thing- employing their intelligence and ingenuity in seeking ways to get other innocent internet users part with their money or materials.
Those who succeed go about living a life of luxury-one only obtainable from someone who didn’t sweat to make the money- and we see them around in our streets and on our campuses, driving expensive cars and playing their car CD so loud as if to announce to every one around that â€œhey a big boy is aroundâ€. The painful part is that we-the host of those who have either not made it or who do not even engage in it, hail them, discuss them, and by our reverence turn them into celebrities.
That is already bad enough. The EFCC may or may not be winning the fight against cyber crimes-we wish them well- but it becomes a different issue altogether when we become the vanguards of this despicable way of life by using Music to celebrate it.
What Kelly Handsome just did was to provide a song for our morally bankrupt internet tricksters popularly known as yahoo-yahoo boys to, in company of their kinds, wine dine and celebrate their evil activities. While this leaves him-Kelly Hanson- smiling to the bank, it leaves us more morally bankrupt and sinks us further in the murky waters of international disgrace and ridicule.
How does one even associate such an issue as fraud with a religious word like halleluiah? Mugu-a victim- don pay-has fallen prey-and you celebrate it by shouting halleluiah. Does this in any way suggest a heavenly acknowledgement of the success? Don’t we think we are reducing this special-spiritual- word to nothingness by associating it with such soiled and tainted exploits as internet fraud?
Wole Soyinka once acknowledged that his was a wasted Generation. It is painful to admit now that my own generation is not faring better. We are raising a people who have not only closely copied their leaders but are fast fashioning ways of even outdoing them. Carry out a poll of a hundred youths and 99.9% of them will admit-without shame- that when they get into power they will also steal.
My claim finds credence in our eagerness to cut corners and obtain things free and fraudulently. Two weeks ago, the whole country was thrown into frenzy as people went even into refuge dumps scavenging for used MTN recharge cards, in order to cash in on a technical problem MTN was experiencing. So many loaded free units and boasted about it gleefully. What does this say of us as a people?
While I don’t have any thing against Kelly Hanson, if anything, I think he is a pack of talents, I have everything against his song. I disagree with him on promoting fraud and celebrating internet scammers. I insist that there are many more issues to sing about and make money order than fraud. I hold very strongly that his song is a bad influence on our youths and if we want to turn this country around, we must have less of his type of music on the airwaves.
This call goes out not only to musicians; it also goes out to our nollywood directors and publishers of Society magazines. Stop celebrating affluence as if that is all there is to life. Stop promoting thievery of any form. Stop making it look as though we all have to do the same thing to succeed. Stop toying with the fleeting sensibilities of our extremely gullible youths. The effects of these are overwhelming and we all are victims of it.
Sylva Nze Ifedigbonzeifedigbo@yahoo.com