Remember when we broke news of Murphy Ijemba’s exit from…
By Oyebamiji Okiki
Started from the church now we’here! This should be the mantra of some of the biggest artistes Nigeria has ever produced. From Terry G to Timaya, Wizkid to Wande Coal, even Don Jazzy! The list is endless. They all started from the church, but didn’t stay in the church. Some started out as drummers, keyboardist or praise and worship leaders. But what happened to them? Why did they leave the church to seek for greener pastures?
Coming from a faith based perspective, it will be painful and disheartening, to see the young chap that used to lead praise and worship in your local assembly, spraying dollar bills and dancing with almost nude ladies, in music videos. How did he turn out to become this? Well, our brothers in the “secular” music industry will never agree to the aforementioned opinion, as they feel justified with their actions. Why won’t they; these guys can buy the whole church and pay the pastor’s salary, for God’s sake! At this juncture, I will like to assert that this piece is not meant to spur a holy crusade (or a jihad) against secular music artistes, but to ask some pertinent questions on why the church has failed to keep its best musical talent(s).
I now understand better what clubs like Atletico Madrid and Tottenham face every season. They produce bright players; bring them to limelight only for them to be sold to richer clubs (not necessarily better though), and this cycle continues season after season. It is not too far-fetched to say that the church has become an academy (or a breeding ground) where the secular world comes to pick budding talents as they so desire. And the church looks on……helplessly?! To make matters worse, the church (not generalizing) invites these entertainers to come perform on its hallowed and ecclesiastical alter. The moral laxity of the church seems to have reached an all-time low. My unreserved apologies if I sound irate.
A popular Nigerian music star who hails from the South-East Nigeria, once decided to show his philanthropic side, by donating high-end musical instruments to the church he started out from. There is nothing wrong in his magnanimity, even the holy book says the clergy shall eat from the riches of the gentiles. What I find appalling is the hypocrisy behind such acts. While such artistes are welcomed with open arms to the church (no problem about that, the church is a hospital for the sinners), clergy men preach against their music and actions (especially the baby mama syndrome). But while they are on the altar, their sons and daughters are miming and dancing to the latest secular music in town. Not to forget the ones with lewd and polluted lyrics. This is the irony of the century!
When asked: what was the transition like from the church to the secular music? A popular artiste (name withheld) said “if you listen to my songs, you will see that I am always thankful to God. My relationship with God is private…”. This is the same artiste that has songs with lyrics that says the exact opposite to his statement. I do not want to be judgmental, but shouldn’t your relationship with God reflect in your song? I again reiterate my earlier stated assertion that I have no qualms with secular music and the entertainment industry at large; in fact these songs have put Nigeria on the international scene, with billboard charting and award winning songs. This industry deserves accolades as facts have shown that it is one of the highest revenue generating sectors in Nigeria.
So as not to present myself as infallible, I am somewhat of an admirer of some secular artistes and their songs, as I am occasionally caught in the web of indecision between secular music I shouldn’t listen to and my moral cum spiritual background. Most youths will surely empathize with me on this. Even though I do not have these songs on my gadget, the radio is a necessary evil that dishes out hit tracks upon hit tracks. Even as I write, the television is currently playing the song of one the artistes I talked about, and I am unconsciously dancing to the tune! Well, like the apostle rightly said, things I don’t want to do, I usually find myself doing it and vice versa.
If these secular musicians have stayed in the church would they have made it? Would they have stuck to the style of music they are doing if it were in the gospel genre? These are questions lingering in the air, waiting to be answered.
So as not to sound critical without proffering solutions, I will opine that the church provides the platform and incentives needed to make the ever-growing talents want to give their all. Rick Warren said “the church has to be contemporary without comprising”, a statement I totally concur with. It is time the church start to organize programs that will rub shoulders with the likes of Glo Music Fest, the Headies and Grammys. I know there is the yearly Experience music concert, but that is not enough. Also youths in the church should not be in a hurry to blow, all in the name of hustle, as a lot shenanigans goes on in the music industry, but it is well hidden because they hide under the facade of entertainment. They (youths in the church) should draw inspiration from the success stories of people like Frank Edward, Eben, Nathaniel Bassey and others.
Stick to the game and at the end, it will surely speak. (In Professor Johnbull’s voice), over and out!
I am passionate about writing and using it as a weapon to spar in the arena of public discourse. Oyebamiji Okiki can be reached on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter @okikioye