Burna Boy is as controversial as they come, in his personality and ideologies. He is unapologetic himself.
Burna Boy has always found himself as a target of constant trolling and dragging everytime he says something people don’t agree with or find offensive.
It’s like he has this unique ability of poking at people’s sore points, something that has oftentimes than not put him in more trouble than he can count.
In his 2019 song, “Collateral Damage” he sings “My People sef they fear too much, we fear the things we no see, One day all of go die”
This statement didn’t sit well with Nigerians who are now using this to haunt him.
Former Presidential Candidate and Human right activist, Omoyele Sowere on 29th of September called him out on his revolutionary artist status and invited him to join his planned October 1st ‘Revolution Now’ protest.
Just like a well laid trap, Burna Boy fell into the trap for another dragging.
In a deleted tweet, Burna Boy said that Fela was condemned by the same people he was fighting for. His mom’s family wasn’t spared due to their connection to Fela.
In another Tweet, he wrote, “Everybody is a Fela fan and supporter now that he is dead. Humans are so Funny, You politicians are ALL the same (especially in Nigeria) and Frankly I don’t trust none of you. @YeleSowore”
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. When Fela was alive, how many people supported his cause, how many people bought into his ideologies? The man became a legend when he died, he was never really appreciated when he was alive.
Humans are selfish in nature, we only do things when it’s beneficial to us. It’s also hard to appreciate it when the actions of someone might be detrimental to us in a way.
During Fela’s days, the Military were in control and typical of their nature, Democracy was a taboo in their dictionary which meant that freedom of speech was a fantasy.
Nobody wanted to get flogged or arrested for speaking out against the overnment which is why it’s understandable as to why people were skeptical of fighting the government like the way Fela did.
Burna Boy VS Ngerians
Why are Nigerians always on Burna Boy’s head? First, Burna Boy has what I termed a “Militancy nature”. His way of speaking has never sat well with some Nigerians. Typical example is in February when he said he was the best after Fela. He got dragged through the mud for that statement.
While his statements might seem outrageous, he wasn’t wrong in a way. It would be a lie if we don’t admit that Burna has contributed a lot to the Nigerian music industry but this shouldn’t take away the fact that some artists apart from Fela laid the foundation of what the current music industry is enjoying.
Burna Boy’s music is also one area Nigerians have also taken offense to. Burna sings what he believes, a double edged sword that is now being used to attack him.
In “Collateral Damage”, he sings “We always get reason to fear, Fight for your right o you go to fear, Police go slap you,you go to fear, Fight for your pikin dem no go to fear, You go to fear fear fear”
When the Accountant General’s office caught fire in April, Burna made a video saying that Nigerians deserve the kind of Leaders they have, this also got Nigerians irritated.
His nature of speaking is a blunt one, he is not diplomatic in any way which is why his music often comes off as being aggressive. Like he said during an interview, music is the only way he can speak his beliefs if not, he would get into trouble.
Burna Boy VS Sowore
I, for one don’t blame Burna for turning down Sowore, his response to the former presidential candidate was reasonable.
A friend would say, ‘Life is a chess game, no matter how hard, don’t be a pawn’. In Burna’s case, refusing to be a pawn in someone’s game is smart.
Sowore has been in a long battle with the Government, seizing every opportunity to call them out but can one safely say his intentions are pure.
Just like how Burna is being seen as the modern Fela, Sowore is being equated with Nelson Mandela by his followers.
While on the surface it looks like these two have the same goals, it’s hard to say if they both have the same intentions.
Burna never said he wasn’t going to protest but that he doesn’t trust Politicians of which Sowore is one. He also made it known that he doesn’t think it’s worth fighting for Nigerians.
In a sense, Burna is right, What exactly is Sowore’s intention for the protest. Causing chaos and expecting the Government to change in a day? Technically, that’s not possible.
However, looking at the issue from another perspective, Fela, who Burna sees as inspiration for his music was a politician and ran for Government at one point, so does this mean Fela couldn’t be trusted? This issue isn’t black and white but a complex one.
Then, given that Burna has always jabbed Nigerians for being cowards, him deflecting this invitation didn’t help him in any way.
Like Falz sings in “Hypocrite”, “Everybody getty fault for inside matter”, “See the spec in your eye no dey point finger”, Burna isn’t absolved of the same thing he accuses Nigerians of.
However, does that make him the bad person in this matter? Not necessarily so, maybe there were other ways he could have answered Sowere or probably ignored him totally.
Why should Burna head a protest just because he sings socially conscious music. Does joining a protest make him a saint or an activist? What impact will these protests have?
Why do we feel Artists should be activists in the first place? Why can’t they just be artists?
One has to be calculative and smart in situations like this. Even if he goes for the protest, what change would come out from this?
Remember, Fela protested and nothing much has changed from his time to present day. So maybe the solution isn’t protests but us. Note that the Government isn’t a group of aliens or foreigners but Nigerians also.
Nigeria’s issue is way deeper than Burna Boy, it’s a complex issue that protest won’t solve. He knows this, so why bother to go through a route that hasn’t been productive so far?
This lockdown has shown Nigerians that getting the Government to make changes doesn’t necessarily have to be through physical protests.
For example, the NIPOST tried to place an outrageous fine on Courier Companies but when Nigerians raised their voices against it on Twitter, the policy was suspended.
There are others instances that tell the same story, so maybe it’s high time we started looking at other alternatives to getting changes to happen.
And for Burna Boy, he isn’t the problem but just another victim of Nigeria’s many issues.
Activism in Nigeria
Activism in Nigeria is difficult. The government isn’t the only obstacle you have to worry about but the people itself.
No matter how great the cause you are fighting for, you will always get dragged by the same people you are even trying to help.
Many artists have fallen victim to these issues. Harrysong was threatened when he encouraged Nigerian youths to resist the government. He was told to face his music and leave politics alone.
Falz got dragged for his “Moral Instruction” album, not to forget, he was dragged by MURIC for his “This is Nigeria” video. This is why Burna said it was difficult to fight for Nigerians.
Being an activist and trying to build a brand at same time is difficult in Nigeria. While Burna deserves to be criticized, he doesn’t deserve to be dragged for his response to Sowore.
by: Agonsi Ezinne @Kweenkrystarz
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