To commemorate the tragic events of October 20, 2020, also known as “Black Tuesday” in Nigeria, Efe Oraka released a sorrowful ballad titled “Live Rounds In The Dark.” This song was composed in the thick of the collective emotional turmoil suffered by young Nigerians as a result of the unlawful detention and brutal murders perpetrated by the Nigerian government during the #EndSARS protests.
“Live Rounds In The Dark” succinctly and poetically paints a picture of what we all lost in the fire, wielding the power to reignite the spirits of young Nigerians from a place of collective grief to one of collective healing.
Efe Oraka is a 22-year-old Nigerian singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist who strongly believes in utilizing her platform to create art that connects with people and enriches their experiences, by driving critical narratives that initiate as well as propagate social justice and change. We chatted briefly with Efe about “Live Rounds In The Dark” and the very real feelings still attached to it.
How would you describe your headspace while you were recording this song?
I think I was mostly angry and in disbelief when I wrote the song. I started writing the song when the protests period had just begun and I had a feeling that thing would get a little crazy. However, nothing prepared me for the events at the toll gate. It was a turn for the worst. Seeing blood and bullets on an Instagram Live is not something that is supposed to happen. The pain I felt in those moments where I was watching the Live and refreshing my timeline — seeing everyone go through the same emotions as me — was so palpable that the music just came out of me. Those were very heavy emotions to work through, so the song definitely came from a place of needing release.
What would you like people to take the most from this track?
I would like people to remember a lot of things. I would want everyone to remember the sense of community, unity, transparency and cooperation we shared during the protest period. How we organized and upheld one another. How we protected each other dearly because nothing else mattered but the cause we were fighting for. I’d like people to remember the lives lost in the fire. Both the open fire on the 20th and the fires that have been raging since the inception of this country. I want us to remember these things not to be in pain but rather to give us perspective on what needs to be done to heal and move forward. I hope that the song helps everyone process their feelings about the protest period, the event at the toll gate and everything that happened afterwards.
A year after Black Tuesday, how do you feel about the situations that young Nigerians still find themselves living through?
I feel very angry still. Every day we have one security challenge or the other. I think I’ve lost count of how many kidnappings there have been. It’s crazy to think that the youth are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow but we’re not even getting to live to see today. It makes me feel vulnerable in the worst way. The lack of stability really factors into every single thing you do and it’s not fair that young Nigerians have to live this way. It’s not right that people have to uproot their lives and move to foreign places because their country might just kill them. It doesn’t make sense that people lose their lives by fighting to keep it and I hope that one day all this madness finally stops.