I love FUJI music, but sometimes I wonder whether my love for it is because of the genre or for the person of the OLUAYE of FUJI, KING WASIU AYINDE MARSHALL (THE FIRST) aka “K-1, THE ULTIMATE”, because
as far as I can remember the first of the genre I fell in love with was one of his songs from decades back, in what was the Fuji version of the American song- “We Playing Basketball” (not sure if that’s the title of the rap/song, but that surely was the chorus) even before I knew who it was that did the song. I have since then heard some others who had been doing Fuji long before him, even bigger than him, but whenever I hear his voice my feet melts under me (for lack of a better expression of what I feel), especially when he introduced the use of wind instruments like the Saxophone to Fuji. Interestingly, when younger artistes took it further to what will become “TUNGBA”, performing magic with the keyboard I still couldn’t buy into the modification enough to abandon the unique variant of Fuji that KWAM-1 still continued to modestly offer, and that is despite the fact that I live and grew up in a part of Lagos where almost every neighbourhood had it’s own Tungba-crooning group, and had I the Cojones to defy my mother when I was younger and skipped school a few times, I’d have been a Tungba crooner today, and probably be raking much more than my nine to five is availing me today.
I must return to the reason why I am qwertying this before I get carried away with my love for Fuji Music, especially as espoused by the King himself. This post has to do with one of the songs done by the maestro which appears to have been way ahead of its time, in relation to the situation in Nigeria today for which it has become very apt. The track I would like to draw your attention to is titled “KÙNKÙN ÒJÒ” which loosely translates from the Yorùbá to mean “IMPENDING RAINFALL” in KWAM-1’s 1999 “NIGERIA: THE NEW ERA” album. 1999 was the year civil rule was restored to Nigeria after a long hiatus occasioned by a coup led by senior military officers who installed General Muhammadu Buhari (who incidentally won the presidential election in April of this year to become Nigeria’s sitting president today) as Head Of State in 1983 after toppling the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Back in 1999, K-1 THE ULTIMATE (as he’s now known) was KWAM-1, much like the way “PRINCE” or “P-DIDDY” went by several modifications of their nomen over the years.
In this timeless piece of a song (a pure work of art if you asked me), KWAM-1 featured a narrative, that mirrored the national mood at the time (as now) using the daily routine and life of the average Nigerian, which is why I would try and set the context first before digging into the meat of the song, which he did in the Yoruba (spoken by most Nigerians from the Southwest) language and I will present it in English as best as I can.
Context: A large percentage of Nigerians have no access to pipe borne water, even in major cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja. Even where pipe borne water is available, it is usually not potable, as most Nigerians rely on “sachet” water to drink, sometimes even to cook. The wealthy and middle class make do with bottled water, while the water from the mains, when available, is used for washing , bathing and for other household chores that require water to accomplish. It isn’t out of place therefore to find Nigerians digging wells or boreholes in their homes to ensure for themselves constant water supply, while for the many who cannot afford such, the public taps at strategic places (where they are available in the cities and towns) will suffice. In more remote locations like villages, natural sources such as streams, rivers and the likes meet the water needs of the people. Finally, is the culture which is found in most parts of Nigeria regardless of location where there’s no easy access to water, and that is that which involves collecting or harvesting rain water. Some even channel rainwater from roofs of buildings into huge tanks, jars, drums or other containers, while many who cannot afford that simply put out their buckets and other containers at strategic parts of the house under the roof, where rain water collects fastest. Usually, water collected in buckets or in any container will naturally have sediments over time, especially if it had come from untreated sources like those aforementioned, requiring that in the event of the gathering of rain clouds, the people would simply wash these containers, often with the remaining water before setting them to collect rain water, and that is the context in which KWAM-1 sang his narrative.
He sang about a certain man, who because of the change in weather, occassioned by the gathering of rain clouds, rushed to the backyard and cleared all his buckets, water-drums and other containers of all the water, setting them in place to collect rain water from the roof, only for the same skies which moments ago was cloudy to become clear and deliver fair weather. In 1999, when KWAM-1 made that song, a lot was expected by Nigerians of the new civilian administration, after years of demoralization by successive military regimes. Unfortunately, sixteen years after, it appears the lot of Nigerians (except for a few who had brought the country to its knees by failing to utilize they rare privilege they were offered to better the lives of their country men/women) have hardly improved for the better. General Muhammadu Buhari represented hope for Nigerians who voted him into power on the mantra of CHANGE in April, the first time an opposition party presidential candidate will edge out an incumbent of the ruling party, and like the man in KWAM-1’s song, the majority of Nigerians in anticipation of this “RAIN”/wind of change have poured off what you may regard as the “baby and the bath water” of whatever the former government represented, it is however left to be seen whether Buhari will on this occasion act differently from what Nigerians are used to by raining the expected “water” in dividend of democracy that Nigerians earnestly yearn for, and not end up like the “Gra-Gra” that heralded President Olusegun Obasanjo’s election to the presidency in 1999, which ended up bearing little or no fruit at the end of his tenure in 2007 in tangible improvement in the quality of life of the average Nigerian; nor the “absolutely nothing happening” situation with his successor, the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, or the supposed “FRESH AIR” of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which is now being made out to be the stinkest of the lot.
Buhari will do well to leverage on the goodwill that he still enjoys to begin to proffer solutions to the myriad of challenges currently plaguing Nigerians in all aspects of their lives, besides just fighting corruption (which also is a step in the right direction), if he must avoid a situation where Nigerians who had cleared their containers in readiness for the rain are not to find that even the little water they had, they no longer have because the rain clouds (of CHANGE) have given way to clear skies (change that is more of the same). As for Nigerians, whatever gains we think we have now, either real or imagined, must be viewed only with cautious optimism, especially of many of these “change chanters” who are nothing but wolves in sheep’s clothing, if we are not to turn out at the end of the day shortchanged, by defending this hard won democracy, not by sycophantically praising all activity of government because it feels right and politically correct to so do, but by critically and rationally analysing the activities and policies of government to ensure that they are such that will guarantee the greater number of Nigerians the dignity that we have for long been robbed of by the ruling elite in times past. CARPE DIEM!