Guilty or not guilty?
I missed the games at the weekend. I was in transit and had unbearable difficulty live streaming them. So much for all the much hyped arrival of 4G networks. 4G network that does live streaming in super slow motion, is that one 4G? 4G network that cannot keep you posted as the goals rain in, is that one 4G? I just turned off the tab and tucked it somewhere in my backpack. I sure had had enough frustration for one day. My 1:45 p.m. flight rescheduled thrice already for ‘technical reasons’ was nowhere around. 4:29 p.m. on the clock only heaven knewif we would ever get airlifted.
Calling this place an airport is an insult to any airport in the world. A few worn-out seats for an overwhelming number of stranded passengers, electric fans that are powered by the winds and toilets that can make you lose your appetite for a pee or poo. Knowing the insanity, lawlessness and ridiculous traffic awaiting me in Lagos, surely the day’s worst was yet to come.
I made it to Lagos at 7:15p.m and boy, I grossly underestimated the ‘wahala’ and drama of Lagos. I handed the cab driver my destination address, beat down the exorbitant price he first quoted and off we went. Kept my bags in between my legs and never brought my phone out though it rang many times. I have heard stories about Lagos. I heard pedestrian thieves snatched phones and other valuables from passengers and just disappear into thin air. With the exchange rate shooting general price level up to the heavens, the last thing on my budget was replacing stolen items. The driver could not help but ask “Oga e be like say na your first time for Eko be this? “No”, I replied. It was my seventh visit, sixth if we fail to count the road trip I made to the Redemption camp a few years ago. To me it did not matter whether I was visiting Lagos for the hundredth time. This is Lagos and I could not bear to let my guard down.
Few minutes before the hour of eleven, I made it to the lovely apartment of my host, exhausted and relieved. They were kind enough to spare me a room for some nights despite only informing them of my visit two days earlier.
I exchanged good night pleasantries with my host and just as I turned to leave for my room, pointing at his laptop, printer and other ICT gadgets on the table adjacent the dinning, “feel free to use the Wi-Fi, you will find the password underneath and it ends with 7177”, he said, dragging himself up the stairs. Just when I thought things could not get better. This is what a 4G network really feels like, point and kill. There goes my sleep. With a network this good I was no longer just going to see the highlights but probably the entire games, before listening to a few country songs. Little did I know there was going to be another twist I did not see coming.
As the first result of my search popped up, it also threw up some unrelated suggestions. Mistakenly I clicked on one and Sunny Ade and Onyeka Onwenu started singing “if you love me you will wait for me”. One thing led to another I found Christiana Igbokwe, then Ras Kimono, then Sunny Okosun, then Victor Uwaifo, then Junior and Pretty, till I was neck deep in the river of music of yesteryears. Just listening to them I travelled back in time. Whether love songs or satires, reggae or blues, gospel or secular I could not help but notice the sanity and sense in their lyrics, the decorum in their dressing and modesty in their appearances, as well as passion and decency in their dances.
They sang then, neither for fortune nor fame, but because they were born to sing and had some positive messages for society. Then songs were for family listening and infants could sing along. Music videos were more comical and entertaining. Now songs are rated 13, 18 or PG(parental guidance). Who needs a pornographic website with the kind of music videos we have now that are bereft of any sensible lyrics? Decency was thrown to the dogs and nudity was enthroned in its place, erotic dances soon became the norm. Lewd and vulgar words turned the hottest selling points and if you did not join them, the train of fame would leave you behind.
The cold hard truth hit me, as I realised that music was not only dead but indeed died years back.
On our watch, music did not only die, one after the other, we stabbed it multiple times in the chest and ripped its heart out as a symbol of our vain victory. Its blood became the only wine our glasses longed for and its flesh the only meat the teeth hungered after. Society has invariably borne the brunt of a conspicuous crime we have conspired neither to notice nor investigate. The streets of Port Harcourt is littered with bastards whose fathers only wanted a one night stand from their mothers shouting “your waist, your waist, all I want is your waist”. Once they had the waists, in the morning after they were gone. An ever and dangerously increasing population of baby mamas is now trendy in Lagos and Abuja. The sight of men with three children of the same age, born of three different women no longer brews condemnation. Things that were hitherto considered aberrations slowly turned to tradition, and now are things of pride. Without their mothers who will teach them right from wrong? Certainly not fathers who only know waist, shayo and how to pop champagne on Friday nights.
Nothing mirrors the state of a society more than its kind of music. Today’s music reeks of nothing but lust, get rich quick or die trying to mentality. All they do is whine am well, display blingsblings, assorted designer wears and accessories. In the midst of their noise they say nothing at all, but we tap our feet and nod our heads in harmony. Confucius, the great Chinese teacher and philosopher had this to say about the reflective nature of music: “If one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well governed, if its morals are good or bad, the quality of its music will furnish the answer.” Parents worry about their sons playing with guns, and their daughters keeping bad company. Rightly concerned that they may tow a violent part or become morally bankrupt. In dealing with a small demon they have left a bigger one-profane music to dwell among them. Every time I hear the songs my three year-old neighbour sings, I worry more about the future than the present.
No one should wash his hands off this like Pontius Pilate and plead innocence. It was our inglorious and ill-advised shift in demand for good music that triggered the supply of gibberish, and consequently led us here. Rather than point fingers at others in the day for the declining population of butter flies, let us remember the caterpillars we killed the previous night and take responsibility. Let us not even by chance pretend to ignore the influence the songs we listen to have on us.
We must tell ourselves the truth, even though a lie seems more convenient for us to believe. Good music is dead and we all killed it. Let he that is without guilt be the first to point his fingers. The weighty burden of guilt did not allow me watch my highlights as planned. I spent the whole night asking myself “Ndinanake what have you done?” .Before the rays of the rising sun could pierce my window, announcing the dawn of a new day, the deafening sounds of car horns, screech of tyres and loud voices of people cruelly reminded me it was time to get out of bed, after all ‘This is Lagos’, it is not the sunrise that wakes people, people rise and wake the sun.
Udom is an accounting graduate of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.