Tiwa Savage, fondly known as ‘mama Jam Jam’ and even the ‘African Bad Girl’, just teased new music. It’s titled ‘Koroba’ and while she––very much like her male counterparts who get double the hype following a new track release––never misses, there’s something resoundingly different about this song.
No, it’s not the beats or the Triller teaser-video approach. It’s the very first line that comes after the smooth safari-inspired P2J crafted instrumentals;
“I no come this life to suffer. If I follow politician, you go hear am for paper, dey go call am prostitution. Who no like enjoyment?”
Do you hear it? The African bad girl, just might be taking much-welcomed but belated baby steps towards what is now rapidly growing into a revolution; Nigerian feminism. And this isn’t step one. The possible first step is the smooth and tacit statement of female domination portrayed by the lioness on the Saint Louis sugar stylised cover art for her latest single, ‘Dangerous Love’
Not too long ago, the British Guardian, incurred the wrath of feminists in Nigeria after erroneously centering Tiwa Savage in the fight against rape in Nigeria by publishing a feature on her with a misleading headline. Yes indeed, Savage did take a stance against the alarming spate of rape cases in the country. But her #wearetired hashtag literally encapsulated all the problems Nigeria has been facing since 1960 rather than just rape, which was a burning issue at that point.
Prior to this, in 2018, Savage had in fact said in a radio interview, that she was not a feminist and didn’t believe a man was equal to a woman. Her stance soon became ambiguous as she did an about-turn on the same interview and dropped some female-empowerment nuggets.
While everyone is entitled to their opinions, celebritydom comes with an unsaid responsibility of being an active voice for positive change. However, many Nigerian celebrities do not seem to want a sip from that cup. Florence Otedola, popularly known as DJ Cuppy, also rejected the seemingly bitter and much-vilified cup of feminism by denouncing it on the radio because according to her, the movement was rife with hypocrisy and the opposition seemed to overshadow any work done.
The Nigerian activism scene has since moved past these foot-in-the-mouth moments from women who were meant to champion the cause for other women. But bearing in mind that the influence of celebritydom can be a double-edged sword of unquantifiable social equity, the African bad girl and DJ Cuppy, at that moment, failed the girls.
This falling of hand doesn’t stop there as Kizz Daniel scored a brace, first when he failed the kids by aggressively slut-shaming his love interest on his ‘Fuck You’ track. And then again on ‘Pak ‘n’ Go’ by choosing to lend his hit-making skills to an age-old narrative of societal marriage-pressuring and body shaming of unmarried women.
We live in a time where thanks to social media, it has become increasingly clear that women the world over, since humans began to sprout on it, are faced with the same struggles, placed in the same mentally-restricting boxes, eroded of opportunities and denied fundamental human rights all on account of gender. Yet in a relatively short time, a lot of work has been done, the pot of sour beans that is patriarchy is being done away with. But much like the magic porridge pot, the pot that brews patriarchy seems to have an endless supply of sour beans to churn out. And so feminists toil.
The times have also shown that the workload attached to the feminist revolution is an immense, multi-faceted one which requires as many hands that are willing and able to join in upturning patriarchy. This is why the sexually-liberating and shackle-breaking bop that is Odunsi the Engine’s ‘Body Count,’ will go down in history as one for the kids. Her outspokenness on such gender issues is also one of the reasons why Lady Donli is fondly referred to as ‘my president’ by her fans.
Sadly, in the Nigerian musicscape, songs like ‘Body Count’ are almost as rare as the blue moon that is in the cover art. These are songs that will serve to shatter whatever inhibitions society has placed on young minds, and over time, create a more decent society for the coming generations. This is why, like a job vacancy with next-to-impossible requirements due to well-meaning high standards, the booming Nigerian music industry not only needs talented voices, but voices that will lend themselves to socio-political causes because in Twitteresque style, ‘it’s not every time, vibes and inshallah.’
Things seem to be looking up as vapours of change are rising, slowly doing away with the sour taste of patriarchy. Recently, Grammy-nominated Burna Boy, seems to have shrugged off his perceived cloak of homophobia after collaborating with British singer Sam Smith, who is not only publicly gay, but non-binary.
The collaboration was well-received by the largely heteronomative Nigerian populace, probably because Sam Smith’s sexual and gender orientation may be news to the majority. This same community then secured a bitter win from afropop singer, Simisola who made a comment saying homosexuality was not natural. She soon tendered an apology for her actions.
The real motives behind this two LGBTQ driven moves might be suspect, but they served to create a discourse on social media that schooled many on several aspects such as the fact that selective alignment with the LGBTQ+ community for capitalist-benefits is hypocritical, while furthering the narrative that queer people are everywhere and just as human and entitled to human rights as the heterosexual John Doe next door.
‘Koroba’ is yet to drop and contrary to the hopes of her feminist fans, Tiwa Savage might once again, do a confusing moonwalk on feminism or might only be patronising said fans but either way, the culture needs more socio-politically inclined frontline artistes and we do hope sis is on her way to becoming a coven member.