For starters, I do not support or endorse negativity in whatever form, especially as the subject matter has been erroneously captured or construed. So this piece only seek to put the trending issue in perspective, and attempt further clarity based on my understanding of the issue in discourse.
It has never been an easy feat to offer a dispassionate analysis when the person you revere clashes with the one you admire. It is indeed difficult, but professionalism requires exactly that, especially at times like this.
Very recently, our very own globally acclaimed and highly celebrated ‘African Giant’, Mr. Damini Ogulu, known by his stage name, Burna Boy was being condemned, and criticized by many Nigerians, and Africans around the world for claiming that Afro beat as a music genre lacks substance. According to the singer, 90 percent of Afrobeats songs is devoid of real-life experiences and only portray an amazing time which life isn’t all about. “There is no substance to it. Like nobody is talking about anything. It is just a great time. It is an amazing time. But at the end of the day, life is not an amazing time” he enthused.
The attacks came immediately in torrents, and yes, he was lampooned by all and sundry for that comment, without necessarily analyzing the depths of whatever he might have been trying to communicate to his interviewer or listeners.
Like every other Nigerian or African, veteran TV personality, and Nollywood Actor, Mr. Patrick Doyle, decided to share his personal thoughts and feelings on the trending controversy, and boom, all hell was let loose.
On August 30th, the veteran Actor took to his Facebook page, and shared his thoughts as captured below.
“The credit for the feats that appear to be puffing the likes of Burna Boy up have to be properly ascribed to the greats who cleared the thorny paths that have created pathways for his likes to walk through practically effortlessly.
Burna Boy has not by himself done anything that can be remotely described as great. He and his peers are recipients of the labors of heroes past. They need to be humble and respectful of their diligent and truly pioneering predecessors. Great artistes like Sunny Ade, Fela Anikulapo, Majek Fashek , I, k. Dairo and a galaxy of others who paved the way from the 60s, to the 2000s. Greatness and great feats don’t exist in a vacuum. Let us not contribute to the creation of an arrogant and obnoxious monster.”
Now, for all intent and purposes, both statements have been taken by almost everyone at surface value. Without taking a deeper dive to unravel whatever the two men were actually communicating at the time.
While this article will not be holding brief for Burna Boy, as he is still in his prime and cannot be easily understood, given the realities (including virtual) of the times we live in, it will however attempt to do that (unsolicited, and almost unnecessarily) for Mr. Doyle, for the simple fact that he is an accomplished, time-tested veteran, and has been there for decades, hence he is better and easily understood.
Another reason I wish to attempt this is because we now have in our hands a generation, that is ‘everly’ ready to throw away the baby and bath water at the slightest discomfort. A generation that has completely zero regard for the efforts, or greatness of yesterday, no matter how valuable or highly placed it was, the focus is always on the now.
From bloggers, to online gossip mills, to live online shows, Mr. Doyle’s comments have been visited with untold, and seemingly shallow criticism. From my understanding and basic research, Mr. Doyle was speaking to ‘Greatness’ as a highly abused notion by netizens, especially ‘gen Zs’, just like it’s extremely abused counterpart ‘Legend’. Also in all the glitz and blitz that has visited the Nigerian entertainment industry in recent years, little or zero mention is made of those pioneers who made this effort of today possible. Like Akon said, there was a time no American musician wants an African musician on their track, let alone their albums. It was strictly a no-go area.
Truth be told, in this era, everyone seems to be overly excited (positively or negatively) about something, thus every achievement is great and legendary without subjecting it to the test of time, yes time. The only phenomenon authorized to crown legends and greats.
While it can be argued that “OluwaBurna” The African Giant, has achieved feats that should be respected and applauded and that will find a place in the annals of global music history, it is still too early to ascribe “greatness” or “legendary” to his acts and achievements. He is still in his prime, and can still achieve far more than what we are getting carried away by at the moment, especially at a moment when Nigeria is blessed with numerous globally-acclaimed, and recognized A-listers, from Wizkid (my number one) to Davido, Rema, Asake and kizz Daniel.
Again, in this fast-paced world, where competition in the music industry is at an all-time high, with Africa, especially Nigeria churning out awesome musicians like “hell” churns out demons, we need to allow posterity award the crown of greatness to the man who stood the test of “time”. Time alone can wear the singer, or anyone else the crown of greatness.
This is what I strongly believe the respected veteran actor was trying to convey with his statement about the globally acclaimed, and most celebrated African Giant. I can so conclude because on April 8th 2023, following spurious attacks on the person of Prof. Wole Soyinka (A time tested legend) by some supporters of the labour party under the ‘Obedient movement’ for condemning the statements of the VP candidate of the party, Mr. Yusf Datti Baba-Ahmed on democracy. Mr. Patrick Doyle penned the below statement.
“We must learn to delay our conferment of hero status on seemingly ‘deserving’ individuals. The dearth of persons with integrity seems to have forced us to make heroes of persons with marginal or untested integrity. Heroism is verified over time and a variety of challenging scenarios; a single event should never be the parameter for conferring the status of hero on a person. In recent times we have been caught up in the exhilarating but premature euphoria of making heroes of untested individuals on the basis of one or two seemingly courageous acts. We then proceed to demystify our time-tested heroes who out of the abundance of caution delay their endorsement of the “new kids” on the block. The uncouth avalanche of sludge directed at our very own global icon and national treasure; Prof. Wole Soyinka is a case in point. To attempt to discredit a 50+ legacy of heroism in a bid to promote a yet-to-be thoroughly tested individual is comical at best and downright obnoxious at worst.
Peter Obi could very well be the expected messiah, but let time do it’s work of testing and maturing him into the role. The unruly mob baying and snapping at the heels of anyone not in agreement with them is off-putting and frankly it is counterproductive if not fatally inimical to their stated objectives.”
As it is said, leaders are known in times of crises, and not in times of peace, but again, it’s a fast-moving world we live in, where patience to decipher is considered too slow, or at best a waste of time.
Yemie Adeoye, a journalist and Public affairs analyst writes from Texas, USA.
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