Falz’s “This is Nigeria” music video is currently trending on YouTube and Twitter and raising dust in the country. It has snapshots of the days of Fela and the time of Eedris Abdukareem’s “Nigeria Jaga Jaga”. Released in late May, the video has hit more than four million views on YouTube in just over one week. Here are five facts we know. And want you to know.
1. “This is Nigeria” is inspired by Childish Gambino’s “This is America”.
Childish Gambino released the music video “This is America” in May. It took Falz less than three weeks to come up with his own version “This is Nigeria”. Gambino’s video is an indictment of the American society, knocking race and gun violence. The video has already surpassed more than a quarter of a billion views on YouTube in just a month after its release. Unlike the Nigerian version, this music has sparked conversations as music critics, the media, viewers, social commentators, professors, all, compete to explain the metaphors and symbolism in the viral video. “The central message is about guns and violence in America and the fact that we deal with them and consume them as part of entertainment on one hand, and on the other hand, it is a part of our national conversation,” Time reported Guthrie Ramsey, a professor of music history at the University of Pennsylvania as saying.
Nearly everything about the video is analysed including the button on the singer’s trousers. Writing for Yahoo, Ken Tucker comments that the fact that the artiste is shirtless in the video means that: “Glover [Childish Gambino] wants to remind us that violence is committed against black bodies like his with some regularity and with no heed to whether the body in question is that of a celebrity or an ordinary citizen.”
The song has become a subject of a lot of parodies including Fortnite’s “This is Fortnite”, Kermit’s “This is America”; there is also “This is Afganistan”, “This is England”, “This is Carribean” etc. So far, Black Panther’s “This is Wakanda” is the most popular parody with over three million views in just over one week on YouTube.
2. Muslim Rights are mad about the video
They are asking for the ban on the video. According to the statement released by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and signed by the director, Ishaq Akintola. The group described the video as “thoughtless, insensitive and provocative”. “The video manifests ethnic bias against the Fulanis,” the statement pointed out; “while it ignored the criminal activities of ethnic militia in the Middle Belt who have massacred Fulanis and rustled their cattle in the thousands.”
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“It is a hate video,” MURIC claims. “This video has the potential of causing religious violence of unprecedented dimension. It is an assault on the dignity of every Muslim. It is freedom of expression gone haywire.”
They demand an apology and a retraction of “This is Nigeria”. “We, therefore, demand its withdrawal and an apology to Nigerian Muslims within seven days or the authors and their agents will face legal action if they fail to comply.”
Don’t hold your breath. BahdGuy Records label needs no time to consider it. Femi Soro, Falz’s manager, when Premium Times reached out to him said, “We have nothing to say” before adding: “We are not withdrawing the video neither are we commenting on their claims. If they have any grievance they can head to court and we will meet them there.”
3. “Everybody be criminal”
Falz’s music video is laden with messages. Though the people at Muslim Rights Concern are painting it as anti-Islamic, the song touched on virtually every aspect of the Nigerian system. The video opened with Falz carrying a heavy radio set in what looks like an empty warehouse. Someone on radio was having an affair with grammar. The fellow dismissed Nigerian medical facilities as poor before talking about: “The predatory neo-colonial capitalist system which is founded on fraud and exploitation. Therefore you are bound to have corruption institutionalised.”
The video zoomed to a fellow dressed in Fulani regalia who interrupts his session with his traditional guitar, hurries forward, picks up a machete and slays a man whose head is hooded. Falz returns to the stage, staged over the body in what can be ascribed to the unconcerned attitude the Federal Government has largely displayed on the herdsmen terrorism. Behind Falz were four girls on hijab who join him to dance the popular “Shaku Shaku”. These girls symbolise the Chibok Girls, a group of schoolchildren whose kidnap by Boko Haram in 2014 has sparked international outrage and whose partial return and situation has continued to strongly divide opinions.
Philomena Chieshe the JAMB sales clerk who claims snake swallowed 36 million naira, broke guys who are vain, the corrupt unaccountable politicians, the inefficiency of the police force were issues he touched on. There is also a parody of Big Brother Naija with an inscription of Big Sister Naija. The church is not left behind in this societal critique. Falz sings about the pastor who “put his hand in the breast of his member/He’s pulling the demon out” and pastors who use offerings and tithes to build schools that their members cannot attend. Of course, Falz took a swipe on Buhari for calling Nigerian youths lazy. “Your people are still working multiple jobs/And dey talk say we lazy o”.
Falz equally waded in on the #EndSARS campaign. “SARS stop me for road any explanation/You go talk am for station o,” he sang. Noble Igwe and the Yahoo Yahoo issue also got a mention in the song. Poverty, lack of power and the transmission blunder of the Inspector General of Police Idris also made the video.
4. “This Is Nigeria” success surprised Falz
On the Democracy Day edition of Hello Nigeria, Falz was in the programme to talk about himself, his music and #ThisIsNigeria. “Initially surprised,” he said when asked about how he felt about the reception of the song. “Making the song, I didn’t foresee the viral response. It was initially surprising. But then I thought it was amazing because I felt like the purpose of the music has been sort of achieved.”
We are not surprised Falz is surprised. The video is breaking every record Falz has set. His well-received music video “Soldier” in which he featured Simi, for instance, has garnered just over three million views in more than two years, a feat “This is Nigeria” achieved within days. At this rate, “This is Nigeria” will top Yemi Alade’s “Johnny” and Psquare’s “Personally” on YouTube.
5. Social Media is in support of Falz efforts
Nearly every national issue usually divide Nigerians on social media in nearly equal proportions. Not this one. When the video came out, there were jeers in the normal Nigerian Twitter Mock-The-Failure syndrome. The music outgrew this as many cheered Falz for his effort. Dipo Awojide, a UK-based lecturer and personal development coach wrote on twitter: “Fals touched on corruption in government, corruption, in churches, looters contesting election, lack of electricity, Yahoo Yahoo and Noble Igwe, Fulani herdsmen killing, general insecurity, SARS brutality. Fantastic stuff. #ThisIsNigeria.”
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Joe Abah, the Director-General of Bureau of Public Service Reforms tweeted: “I’m pleased that we still have artists like @falzthebahdguy and @2faceofficial_ talking about governance issues. Since the death of Fela, not many musicians have used their voices for the public cause. @falzthebahdguy #ThisIsNigeria is brilliant!”
After Muslim Right Concern demanded a retraction and an apology for the video, Social Media stood behind the musician. A twitter user Ayobami (@dondekojo) wrote: “MURIC folks are so ignorant it’s doing my head in. The Hijab isn’t a symbol of Islam. It’s a cultural dress in the Middle East and Falz was depicting the Chibok/Dapchi girls. Do they even care about the victims.”
A user with the handle @Olajvde tweeted: “If Falz comot the video we go upload am back.”
A certain Taofeek Oseni (head_masta) wrote: “Somebody should tell FALZ not to remove that video. We Muslims that are not mad, we Muslims that believe only God knows those that worship him, we Muslims that know that the video is a wake-up call to our government so as to better our country are solidly behind you.”
Perhaps the most popular response was tweeted by J.J Omojuwa (@omojuwa): “Falz treated: Poverty, unemployment, insecurity, corruption (including in the church), vanity, collective national foolishness, inadequate infrastructure, the economy etc. But no, these are not important. Na wetin the dancers wear matter. Because #ThisIsNigeria.”