Analysis and Breakdown
Nigerian Afrobeats artist, Falz, creates a rendition of Childish Gambino’s “This is America” with a Nigerian twist.
Entitled ‘This is Nigeria’, the song and video depict the harsh realities of Nigerian society in 2018.
Unlike the original ‘This is America’ video, which seemed to have many obscurities to be deciphered. The issues portrayed in Falz’s interpretation are much more blatant.
This may be because in most cases Nigeria’s corruption is transparent.
Below are some of the issues 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.”
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 assumed chaos/lawlessness. Falz adheres to this within the lyrics by mentioning “everybody be criminal”.
CNN also reports: ‘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).
CHIBOK SCHOOL GIRLS
Throughout much of the video Falz has four Hausa girls dancing in the background, which acts as a constant reminder of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped in 2014.
Falz expresses his frustration with people’s attention to celebrity when he mentions: “Just because I’m on TV, nah person wey no get work is checking to see if my watch is original”.
The video is full of the many contradictions within the governing and general functioning of Nigeria, below are some examples highlighted in the video. Source: twitter.
- NEPA Offices using generators.
- The Chairmen of Okada Riders Union driving SUVs.
- The CEO of Tecno Mobile using an iPhone.
- The CEO of Innoson Motors driving a Range Rover.
- The Nigeria Policemen tieing their stations’ generators with chains to prevent theft.
- Female Gynaecologists seeking help from herbalists to get pregnant.
- 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
The rapper also makes sure to mention “Madam Philomena” Ms. Philomena Chieshe who has now been suspended, the woman allegedly could not account for the said N36 million(£74,869/$ 99720) , being part-proceeds from the sale of forms for students seeking university admissions.
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. (Youth joblessness in Nigeria continues to rise due to instability. Since the country still has quite traditional gender roles – similar to other developing countries, men are expected to be the financial breadwinner of most households).
The lack of jobs inadvertently affects their ability to shape a life for themselves. Recreational drugs can be seen as a pain reliever for men who may be disillusioned about their future.)
As the camera pans across the popular Nigerian TV reality show (meant to be, Big Brother Nigeria).
What sounds like a pastor begins preaching the prosperity dogma. “I want you to put your hands up right now because your miracle is coming this week.”
All three scenarios (opioids, TV shows, and church) seem to be symbols of the ‘sedatives’ that keep people distracted in order to cope with the frustrations of living everyday 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 above, Falz and what seem to be students are being chastised by the police, the physical ordeal is only stopped by a wealthy man bribing the SARS officer.
SARS in Nigeria stands for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, so having to bribe a SARS officer is the irony of all ironies. To be frank it shows the insanity within the governing system of Nigeria.
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 the is the modus operandi.
The scene shows just how “normal” bribery is in Nigeria.
WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT?
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… firstname.lastname@example.org