Friday, November 28, 2008

Nigeria Bans Foreign Music On Radios And Airports!

Nigeria Bans Foreign Music On Radios And Airports!


Paul I. Adujie

New York, United States

Absorption! Self-absorption is singularly lacking among Nigerians and other Africans! France, conversely, spectacularly overflows with its sense of French cultural values! How else would anyone explain the events in France last week? As France banned the used of the English word, "e-mail", in all government ministries and documents, insisting on the use of the French equivalent "courrier electronique". Do not send e-mail! Send "courrier electronique" instead! Or as the French would say...Envoyez-nous s'il vous plaît par courrier électronique!

I have always complained that the French have not done right by Africans and people of African descent, ranging from politics to economics to culture. Whether 400 years ago or now, regardless of location, Cameroon, Haiti or Martinique! I have had this mental and literal attitude towards the French! What with the collective colonial experiences of Africans and people of African descent? What with the summary devaluation of the currencies of some African countries by the French some years ago? The devaluation of the CFA, the French African bench mark currency.

Recently, especially since the French drew a literal and metaphoric line in the sand with the Americans regarding the latter’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the "lets help Africa" grand standing that has been emanating from France, I have started to cut the French some slack; I have started to wonder, whether Nigerians/Africans can actually learn a thing or two from the French’s' attitude towards everything French?

Several years ago, the French parliament, with all audacities and effronteries that they could muster, passed a law, a law that banned the playing of less than 40% French music in French Radio stations! American commentators expectedly, sneered at it! Jeered and derided the French move, as arrogance or self-doubt and even uncivilized! But the Americans are very adept at exporting their cultures, including, but not limited to music, movies, Coke and McDonald’s fast foods etc!

Then, after the argument between the Americans and the French and the rest of the world over Iraq, the American Congress sought to re-name an American delicacy that has always inexplicably had a French name! French Fries became Freedom Fries! And too many Americans started to pretend that the French made the worst wines in the world! All of a sudden! It was at once hilarious and equally serious business or a measure of patriotism on both sides of the Atlantic! Talk about National fervors!

On the other extreme side of the economic, political and cultural spectrum are my people, the Africans! We seem to be literally out to lunch concerning these matters and their impact on our self-esteem, our economic development, political clout and the ascendancy of African culture in the world! A lot of this has to do with slavery and colonialism, that has effectively brainwashed, Africans and African descendants that anything and everything African is primitive, uncivilized and useless! As a child, I was taught to spell Mississippi in Nigeria instead of Damaturu, Ogbomosho or Abriba!

I was taught not to speak my language in class and during school hours, but to speak English! Scratch that! "Queens English" was the preferred way to say it then! I was taught that African religions would take me on a one-way trip to hell via concord jets and the only way to biblical heaven was through Christianity! I was taught so much about foreign cultures and foreign self-definitions but nothing on African self-definitions! Charity begins abroad? Western Europe?

The last time that I visited Nigeria, I was amazed and overwhelmed by how foreign Nigerians nay Africans act! Every radio station played foreign music! Every Disc Jockey in the radio stations played foreign music and actually prided themselves in excelling in the imitation of foreign accents! They used foreign accents ad nausea! I have lived in the US for about twenty years and I maintain my Nigerian accent, it is my culture, my culture is my essence, why would I assume any other? Why would anyone?

Radio stations in Nigeria are not alone in this foreign cultural assimilation and aping nonsense! At Nigerian Airports, you would not hear Bala Miller, Ebenezer Obey or Celestine Ukwu music, you are more than likely to hear or be compelled to listen to Rod Stewart, Elton John or Mick Jagger! Correspondingly, I have never heard Nigerian music of any kinds played at any foreign Airports in all my travels and I have traveled through America and most of Europe.

I have expressed my amazements and incredulities in the past, about the fact that some Nigerians would listen to any foreign music faster than they would listen to music from another ethnic group in Nigeria. They would similarly marry non-Nigerians faster than they would marry Nigerians from an ethnic group different from theirs. Some would even experiment eating non-Nigerian foods (that they do not even understand), faster than they would eat Nigerian foods from any other ethnic group in Nigeria! I, for one, have traveled America and Europe before traveling to neighboring Liberia!

Are we conscious of our actions? We must re-examine and quickly change our self-perceptions.

Fashion, African Fashion is another department! Nigerians and Africans have been tutored into American and European "sophistications" The false sense of sophistication and manners that are foreign to us, so that, the "civilized" African is the one who does not wear African clothes! The African who is Christian and embraces without question, everything American and European without discernments!

I believe in cultural exchanges, however it must be a two way street, a two way traffic! But so far in all the history of the world, Africans have received and accepted foreign cultures, almost unquestioningly! This has had a remarkable effect on our collective sense of self, and self-worth, it has had a dramatic effect on our African economies!

Africans should imagine for a moment, the trickle down effect on African economies, if all or most Africans start wearing African Fashions, made of African fabrics, derived from Kano cotton or Egyptian cotton and sown by African tailors, everyone on the "food-chain" or "fashion-chain" in Africa would benefit from the economic boom that would result. Every participant would be in a win-win situation.

African economies would benefit, the individual African’s cultural sense would be sharpened, a new sense of self-appreciation will dawn on Africans, we would start to remove the shackles and vestiges of slavery and colonialism, while lifting ourselves up, economically, politically and culturally all at once! As the French would say, "tous ensemble" , voila! All things are connected and related in life!

As Africans we should love ourselves, treasure our cultures and our systems, the rest of the world cannot help it, but love us, our culture and our systems!

July 2003

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