FALZ – This is Nigeria – Symbolism, Meanings and Breakdown

Analysis and Breakdown

Nigerian Afrobeats artist Falz has put his own spin on Childish Gambino’s “This is America” with a uniquely Nigerian rendition titled “This is Nigeria”. The song and accompanying video highlight the harsh realities of Nigerian society in 2018. In contrast to the original “This is America” video, which contained many obscure elements that needed decoding, Falz’s version portrays the issues in a more straightforward manner. This is likely due to the fact that corruption in Nigeria is often transparent, leaving little room for ambiguity.

Below are some of the things we’ve managed to spot.

To see the full video, see here:

The video starts with Falz holding a boombox which could be taken as a symbol of just how loud the corruption in Nigeria is/ himself trying to get a message across.


The camera then pans out as we hear a voiceover of his father, the lawyer and human rights activist Femi Falana, with the words:

“They’re extremely poor. The medical facilities are poor, we operate a predatory, neo-colonial capitalist system, which is founded on fraud and exploitation. And therefore, we are bound to have corruption institutionalised. – Many criminal cases are settled in police stations, albeit, illegally.”

Femi Falana (Falz’s father)

Differing from ‘This is America’, the video begins with carnage which everyone seems to either take part in or do nothing about. This is shown by the okada (motorbike) driver causally driving pass the fight he sees.

This could also represent Nigeria’s apparent chaos and lawlessness. Falz acknowledges this in the lyrics with the phrase “everybody be criminal.”



The Fulani herdsmen conflict in Nigeria refers to a long-standing conflict between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and local farmers over access to land and resources which has resulted in thousands of deaths. The Nigerian government has been criticised for its handling of the conflict, with some accusing it of not doing enough to protect the rights of farmers and of being biased towards the Fulani, who are politically influential despite being a minority group.

On the issue, a CNN’s report mentioned:

‘That’s why the first man, dressed in traditional Fulani attire would switch from being a happy musician minding his business, to a murderer in an instant. He abandons his Goje (popularly known as the ‘Hausa Guitar) for a machete, and instantly moves towards another helpless citizen who he kills without mercy.’ (see image above).


For the majority of the video, Falz has four girls from Northern Nigeria dancing in the background, serving as a continual reminder of the Chibok girls who were abducted in 2014 by Biko Haram, a Northern Nigerian terrorist group.

In his lyrics, Falz expresses his exasperation towards society’s fixation on celebrities despite all the issues in the country, by stating, “Just because I’m on TV, nah person wey no get work is checking to see if my watch is original.”


The video highlights several contradictions present in the governance and general operations of Nigeria. Here are some instances showcased in the video.


  1. NEPA Offices using generators.
  2. The Chairmen of Okada Riders Union driving SUVs.
  3. The CEO of Tecno Mobile using an iPhone.
  4. The CEO of Innoson Motors driving a Range Rover.
  5. The Nigeria Policemen tieing their stations’ generators with chains to prevent theft.
  6. Female Gynaecologists seeking help from herbalists to get pregnant.
  7. Pentecostals Pastors & GOs driving bulletproof cars, moving with arrays of armed soldiers, living in bullet & bombproof wall buildings but covering church members with the blood of Jesus.

MONEY laundering

The rapper also references “Madam Philomena,” specifically Ms. Philomena Chieshe, who has since been suspended. The woman allegedly failed to provide an explanation for the disappearance of N36 million (£74,869/$99,720), which was partially derived from the sales of university admission forms.


This is depicted by a lady picking up money next to a snake coming from a bowl.

Falz speaks on Nigeria’s paradoxical economic and political situation. The country is still under a long-lasting recession, and ironically the “looters” (politicians who are partly to blame for the economic woes) are still “contesting the election”. The artist mentions the absurdity of politicians thieving “billions and billions” and not going to prison, “whilst the police stations close at 6 for security reasons”.

As he says this the dancing Hausa girls scatter –

The girls leaving the scene reminds us of how lacklustre law enforcement was in trying to find the kidnapped girls. (Over 100 girls are still missing).


The video also captures the opioid addiction many young Nigerian men are facing. The rising youth unemployment in Nigeria, caused by instability, exacerbates the issue. Since the country still adheres to traditional gender roles, men are generally expected to be the primary earners in most households. The scarcity of jobs adversely affects their capacity to shape their lives, and recreational drugs can be perceived as a means of easing the pain for men who may be disillusioned about their future.


Hypocrisy and Distractions


As the camera pans across the widely watched Nigerian TV reality show (presumably Big Brother Nigeria), a voice resembling that of a pastor can be heard preaching the prosperity gospel: “I want you to put your hands up right now because your miracle is coming this week.” All three depictions – opioid addiction, television shows, and church sermons – appear to symbolize the “sedatives” that people use to distract themselves and cope with the everyday frustrations of life.

This is followed by the lyrics: “pastor puts his hands on the breast of a sinner and he’s pulling the demon out.” Here Falz highlights the countless cases of pastors misusing their power to manipulate their congregation to do immoral things.


In the scene depicted above, Falz and a group of individuals who appear to be students are being reprimanded by the police. The situation only de-escalates after a wealthy man bribes the SARS officer. The irony is that SARS in Nigeria stands for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, which makes having to bribe a SARS officer all the more ludicrous. To be candid, this exemplifies the chaos within Nigeria’s governing system.

Although the wealthy man was doing a good deed, he was partaking in corruption, which is criminal. Reaffirming Falz initial statement “everybody be criminal”. To live in Nigeria means that you are almost certainly going to have to engage in some level of corruption because that is the modus operandi.

The scene shows just how “normal” bribery is in Nigeria.


Few prominent Nigerian artists have taken it upon themselves to call out the situation in Nigeria and Falz timing couldn’t be more appropriate.

With the Nigerian elections looming and with the world political climate in a state of great critique, it’s becoming highly necessary for those with large platforms to use it to say what needs to be said.

What did you find? Let us know your thoughts (contact us).


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