So everyone and their mother is not unaware of the existence of UK\Nigerian rapper Afeez Fashola, who many know as Naira Marley.
I’m sure we all know his songs too well, most especially after his ordeal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where he was arrested, charged to court, arraigned and released on bail on the grounds of internet fraud and other related activities. As it stands the case is still ongoing, but our man is milking the fame (notoriety perhaps?) and currently has followership which has increased exponentially with time. A “movement” which seemed to be meant for urchins, miscreants and “gbas gbos” people generally, is slowly becoming an umbrella body for the youth and the young at heart. Many young professionals may not openly admit it, but behind closed doors and in convivial circles, they identify as Marlians. In that way, something which started out as being reprehensible and unworthy of emulation, has crept like Jack’s beanstalk all the way up to heights of acceptance and followership.
A most important question to ask at this point would be: “WHY?”
I and a few people have been assailed with this question until it hit me. Let’s get to my TedTalk, shall we?
As it stands, the Nigerian Youth is virtually at the bottom rung of the ladder in every sphere of human endeavor, and quite interestingly is highest on the blame index. If you are a Nigerian youth, you’d find that a discussion between two Nigerian adults (the older generation) about their perceived failings will ultimately snowball into the grand vilification of the Nigerian youth. It has not been wiped from our memory that a certain Nigerian Leader called the youths Lazy. It has not been forgotten that a certain minister said that Nigerian Youths are unemployable. Get this, there exists some trace of truth in the aforementioned statements, but as it stands, it can be observed that these are just lame attempts to spin the truth 3\4ths of the total distance away from its point of origin.
The Nigerian Youth is the product of his environment and the training made available to him\her. More often than not they, as children grow up in repressive environments, with half-baked teachers and entitled but really unavailable parents who trade off their children to schools from their toddler period all because they need space. As such, they play no appreciable role in their child’s development other than paying the fees and taking them to and from school.
These kids grow up to be teens who cannot properly express themselves in conversation with their parents, who have glorified robotic silence as a virtue to be emulated by their children, who are filled with questions and confusion at the so many physical and biological changes going on in their body. You, the parent, is unavailable. They can’t talk to teachers either, because most of them are just predators with a chalk and a blackboard.
These teens become young adults and populate the universities and enjoy the freedom that comes with it. The harassment becomes amplifies at this point. Lecturers jump at every chance to show them that they know nothing and that it is always their fault, while parents are already expecting a stellar academic record and earth-shattering chastity to boot. The same parents who may harangue their daughter a year after graduation for not getting married like her mates.
With the picture I have managed to paint, it is clear that the Nigerian Youth is not the cause of his\her problems, while he\she constantly gets vilified for almost everything, while they have to live with the pressure of being all this and all that.
And then along comes Naira Marley to bring that all down.
From being arrested by the EFCC, he ultimately became the spokesperson for young people (a position I honestly believe he isn’t so qualified for), and a rallying point for young people to get what they ultimately need at this point in their lives: Expression and Audience. Speaking Out and Being Heard.
From Young Lawyers who have just been called to Bar, to Roadside Mechanics, it is becoming increasingly clear that this faux freedom fighting outfit is putting band-aids on bullet holes, however it does bring some kind of succor to young people who have been yoked by the chain of expectation of the older generation who met a better world, made it worse and expect young people to conform, excel and get through the bloody obstacle course they created out of their neglect, and with each footwork, with each Zanku move, with each questionable lyric they bellow at the top of their voices, young people are learning, not just to question the actions of the older generation, but they have also learnt to flip that middle finger and hold it aloft in the general direction of Life and , of course, the older generation.
I see an opportunity to rally the youth to make real change in the polity. Do you?