A staffer of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Miss Njideka Dimgba, has said that various socio-political, religious, economic, educational, ethnic and sectarian crises plaguing the Nigerian nation can be managed through the use of music for the enthronement of the country’s democratic experiment.

Stating this in a paper, entitled, “Music as an Instrument of Change and Crises Management in Onyeka Onwenu’s One Love Keep Us Together”, which she delivered at the recently concluded Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) Annual International Conference at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Dimgba said that music can foster socio-political change and proffer solutions in the face of the multifaceted crises bedevilling Nigeria’s democracy.

Making her presentation in a plenary session, which was chaired by Prof. Julie Okoh of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Dimgba traced the history of music as an element of culture and theatre, with their usefulness to crises management.

“Through the ages, music has been one of the most common theatrical art forms through which man expresses his emotions, feelings and sentiments. The primordial man used music to express emotions of fear, pain, danger and change. Till date, man uses music to express himself, his emotions, daily experiences and political climate of his environment. The black and African peoples are essentially music peoples. The essence of their music is still felt in far away climes in the USA, Brazil and Cuba where the Jazz music have been immortalized in the minds of the world as the contribution of Black and African peoples to world culture and civilization;” she said.

Highlighting some crises in Nigeria like the Jos, Aguleri/Umuleri, and Tiv/Jukun Crises, among others, she noted that Nigerian music, in its traditional and contemporary form, has been useful in managing crises.

She identified Ewi, Ijala, Saka, Apala, Agbelege Awurebe, Woro, juju, Afro Beat, and Fuji, from the Yoruba ethnic group; Waka, Kuntigi, Kalangu, Kotso, Saran Marki, and Kakaki, from the Hausa/Fulani; Mkpokiti, Atilogwu, and Egedege, from the Igbo land; and the Highlife of the Niger Delta region. 

According to her, the contemporary forms are pop music with Charley Boy, Sade Adu, Babara Soky, Onyeka Onwenu, Tony Okoroji and others; the classical genre with disciples like: Gloria Rhodes, Frances Kuboye, Dora Ipere, Martha Ulaeto; the Nigerian native airs in European partitions have exponents as Prof. Fela Sowande, Prof. Laz Ekwueme, Sam Akpabot, Adam Fiberesima, Ayo Bankole; the Nigerian Hip-Hop music with 2Face Idibia, P-Square, Wizkid, Davido, Flavour, and Phyno, among others; as well as the R&B singers: Banky W, Tiwa Savage, and so on.

On the question as to what extent has these music brands manage the numerous crises we have had in Nigerian democracy, Dimgba averred that: “There are theatrical performances, especially musical concerts that have been put up by Nigerian artists including musicians to manage sectarian, religious, communal etc crises situation in Nigeria. Such musicians include Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Osita Osadebe, Olive De Coque, Kollington Ayinla, King Sunny Ade, Victor Uwaifo, Dan Maraya Jos, Onyeka Onwenu, IK Dairo, Victor Uwaifo, 2Face Idibia. Many of them created a unique form of music useful for crises management like Fela with Afro beat, King Sunny Ade with Juju, Oliver De Coque with his Ogene Music brand of high life, Osita Osadebe the king of highlife, Rex Lawson with his Owigiri music, and Shina Peters known for his Afro Juju”.

She explained that the question arises because there are so many crises in Nigeria in the last 16years of uninterrupted democracy that have been properly managed, adding that some were managed through military intervention as in the case of the Odi experience during the Obasanjo-led administration of 1999-2003, where so many lives were lost.

Miss Dimgba maintained that, the most recent crises being managed by the military are the Boko Haram in the North East and the oil pipeline vandalism by different militant groups in the South-South geo-political zones of the country, respectively.

She asserted that Onyeka Onwenu’s One Love Keep Us Together was used because the song admonishes that sadness is bad and can never help anyone, encourages that there is hope for future; that it is only love that can make all the difference in our world; and that, we all we need love to reduce our worries, because dwelling in the past can never help us as individual or as a country.

Onyeka Onwenu, an indigene of Arondizuogu in Ideato North Local Government of Imo State, is a Nigerian songwriter, singer, actress, journalist and politician, who has really used this music to bring love among Nigerians, as it is used widely in both private and Government functions.

Nwagbo Pat Obi

NICO Training School

Abuja Study Centre