“Music is the weapon of the future”- Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Music has been one of the archives where humanity stores what is happening to her at a particular period. Going through songs that were recorded several years ago, one finds that particular songs refer to events that were ongoing at that particular time or even before the time of the composition. Ranging from Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights to Fela’s Beast of No Nations to Bob Marley’s Redemption Song to several other musicians who reigned in the past, one always finds that the musicians drew inspiration from their immediate environment and the conditions of that environment to make the music.
Folarin Falana aka Falz has shown just this sort of musical activism with several of his songs especially Child of the World which discusses sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS stigmatisation, This is Nigeria(which of course generated an invisible court action from Muslim Rights Concern agency MURIC) and the present rave of the moment- Talk.
Folarin lives up to his family tradition of activism by being a socially conscious activist whose songs discuss social ills and revoke memories of Fela’s daring. Talk seems like a follow-up to This is Nigeria. It is amazing how the combined length of both songs do not exceed 6 minutes and yet they have critically raised issues that have taken several pages of books from separate authors on the Nigerian topic.
In the 6 minutes of both works, Falz raises what it would take a journalist several opinion pieces to do same. It is the power of the musician to be able to do so much with so little time. Little wonder why Fela described music as the weapon of the future.
The song follows the talk-talk chorus style of Fela. “Anything I talk make you talk am again” is similar to how Fela used to request that the audience do a call-and-response repeating certain words to sing along to the song. This style strives towards participation and mass involvement in decrying the national condition.
At the start of the song, Falz continues from the controversy of religious pundits on his use of hijab to reflect the condition of ladies captured by Boko Haram. He throws the first ‘yab’ in the song at MURIC wondering why they did not make any court appearance despite so much threats and media noise.
He refers in the next line to the election and says “election don dey come dem go need your support“. The campaigns for the 2019 election are in full swing and one understands that this is a warning against electoral violence. Dem go need your support. (Would you offer it?) He introduces the electoral aspect of it very early because the rest of the complains in the song can be addressed by voting the right persons in elections.
Falz moves on to the issue of yahoo boys. Falz has been very vocal on the issue of internet fraud. He again refers to the recent arrest of suspected yahoo boys in a popular club in Lagos. “Since EFCC bust in, we no Dey see you for club/ And you get legit work Na wetin you talk”. The menace has become very rife of late with increased crime to go alongside it.
“4 year tenure, 3 year holiday” is an obvious reference to the medical tourism that has continued over Nigeria with several politicians flying out of the country to treat themselves and for other reasons that remain undisclosed. This menace was condemned in the song with this line.
“Our senator don dey fight Kung Fu again/Shey dem never tire dem wan continue the race? We buy your story but dem no give us change”. These lines reflect the degradation of Nigeria’a National Assembly into a fighting ground. It goes on to throw a subtle pass at the Presidency asking if at the present age, he is not tired to continue the race. “We buy your story but you no give us change” is a subtle pass at the APC which is the ruling party. Having received their mandate, the “change” slogan of their campaign is invisible.
“Month don end Oga pay salary/ In 2019, 19800 alawe/ Instead make you talk you dey find Alhaji”. He refers here to the minimum wage tussle and how workers have not gotten their payment in several states despite their work. For some, they still receive modulated salaries. He also lends his voice to the increment of the minimum wage and claims it is in appropriate for 2019. He decries commercial sex work among ladies too, an area where he has shown interest often in other songs like Child of the World.
“3 private jets you say you buy am for church/ but your congregation no Dey follow fly am of course/why your people still dey carry carry eye for someone/ shey I no be person cause no be your tribe I come from?”
Falana would not end the song without taking a swipe at Pastors at least having introduced the song with MURIC. He is just being fair. He decries the purchase of several private jets in the name of the church and other assets such as Univeristies and costly schools that the children of the poor cannot attend or even members of the congregation. It is wonder why church funds then provide services for corrupt people and a few that made the wealth through clean means.
He addresses tribalism too and pushes humanism instead of the tribal inclinations of Nigerians. He implies that being human is worthy of more consideration than belonging to any particular church.
“Small man thief for market we set fire for him Body/ big man thief money we dey hail am like dummy/ we dey suffer we dey smile, we dey fear to talk/ my people no get chop/ my people no get work/ these days we no know if authority Dey for office cus the yawa wey we see no be security wey you promise/ and the cup e don full/ we don tire for all the rubbish and the punishment/ Na me talk am o!”
Fela discusses the menace of setting fire on poor petty thieves in his song ITT and other interviews claiming that those who should be burnt are the thieves in power. Falz goes on to decry the fear of Nigerians and says we suffer and smile. An allusion to Fela’a Shuffering and Smiling. He decries the rate of unemployment too and finally laments on security.
At the tail end of the song, Falz makes a reference to revolution. He claims the cup is full which of course means the suffering of the people has come to a brim. He claims the people are tired of this condition. Then he owns up to the earlier lyrics which up till then had been “Na you talk am o/ no be me talk am o”.
He rounds it up by stating clearly.
Na me talk am o!
This is a song that will be relevant in several years to come.
Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa is a student of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University. He has a passion for activism and human rights. He is a frequent opinion writer with reputable print and online media. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.