Our story here echoes the noise that has trailed the release of Folarin Falana’s video This is Nigeria.
The story is told of the man who asked his friend to tell him the truth about his behavior and as soon as his friend begins to speak, he turns away and did not wait to listen.
One notices that those who have a problem with the central idea of the music video as it portrays the Nigerian condition in blunt terms have instead brought forth other issues to masquerade their real grudges. Some even claimed it is an intellectual copyright infringement work of Childish Gambino’s This is America until P. Diddy, a popular American artiste shared the video on his social media.
Having lost the facade of realistic arguments, the detractors of the video moved on to the statement “everybody be the criminal” and claimed everyone is not a criminal. Of course, we understand the statement means crime being extensive and contagious but the detractors have kept seeking rational arguments to cover up for their real issues with the video exposing the condition of Nigeria.
The statement of the Muslim Rights Concern released by its director,Professor Ishaq Akintola requires some cursory analysis as it is the latest in the list of attacks on the video. MURIC has raised the issue of the video showing girls in hijab dancing shaku shaku. I opine that this is a diversion from their real grudges as the video only seeks to exposed the rot in the nation and in the current administration. The action of the group is not a surprise as they have shown sentimental attachment towards the Buhari administration. We would recall that they supported the comments made by the President Nigerian earlier this year that Nigerian youths are lazy.
In lieu of this, one can posit that MURIC has an attachment to the government of Buhari and are masking it with the supposed use of hijab.
Folarin Falana has famously asked which law the use of girls dancing in hijab is against and we continue to await an answer from the group. We must note that Section 38 of the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, thought and conscience. As to whether the Music Video has acted in the violation of this, I answer in the negative.
Is it offensive to have girls dancing in hijab?
Falz is an artist and music and dance are his tools of expression. Although Pro Ishaq Akintola has argued that Chibok girls are not dancing and Falana Folarin cannot possibly be portraying Chibok girls, we can explain that the process of performing shaku shaku requires a form of bodily movement which denotes reckless abandon, a situation which is similar to the Nigeria of today. Our Nation and the Chibok girls have been recklessly abandoned by the government of the day.
One would expect MURIC to also challenge the similar portrayal of the Chibok girls in the popular blockbuster movie Black Panther. there failure to do this however alludes further to the fact that they only seek to protect the interests of the Nigerian government.
Art and by extension Music ought to be entertaining and didactic and a music video which draws attention to a particular menace by using symbolism and dances aimed at capturing the attention of its target audience for this purpose can be said to deserve some accolades. MURIC has failed to capture the essence of the message being passed by Falz and their arguments that Chibok girls are sad and cannot be dancing is fallible because dance is an art which may be interpreted or misinterpreted. The fact is that the artist owns the message and his interpretation would be taken more seriously by the courts.
The Hijab is a religious symbol but does Islam frown against dancing in hijab?
There is a controversy on this issue. Islamic scholars are divided. This division is all that is necessary as a sect of Islam cannot claim they are hurt when another section has no problem with dancing hijab ladies. A sect cannot act on behalf of the totality and if MURIC proceeds to court they cannot argue that they represent the interests of all Muslims and that Islam has been attacked in the video.
Conclusively, we must ask MURIC;
Is this not Nigeria? Were Folarin Falana and Femi Falana whose voices were heard at the beginning of the music video wrong in their statements? Are the herdsmen not on a national rampage? Do pastors not do what they were portrayed as doing? Are drug addicts not in the country? Do rich people not buy their children out of criminal cases and commit the crime of compounding?
Let us ask ourselves;
Is this not Nigeria?
Obafemi Awolowo University,
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