Decolonizing Edo Musik For Future Excellence



By Uwagboe Ogieva

The indoctrination of a foreign imaginary Supreme Being “Osa” and “Giesu” for centuries, decades and score of years have greatly affected and infected Edo music lyrics, rhymes, and melodies to less creativity and innovative ritmic compositions for local and international taste. Today, nearly every music sang, compose, produce or sponsored hardly escape "Osa", "Giesu" or Biblical quotations and personalities. Traditional, circular and international music hardly find their scope in Edo music industry. What really has gone wrong in the Edo music industry? Is Edo music lacking behind on the international market?  How and in what sense?


As our world is made of our cultural and lingustic upbringing, so, is our music compose of acquired knowledge, experience, language, emotions, excitement, anxiety and spiritual concerntration. Interestingly, one may ask; why is Edo music not in world musical classification? No legendary actors like Fela Kuti (Afro beat), Bob Marley (Reggae) Tupac Shakur (Hip-Rap), Sade, Seal, light house family, etc? What actually have gone wrong with the artistic and creative musical art of Edo musicians like Majek Fashek, Sunny Okosun, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Felix Liberty, Isaac Black, Chris ID, Ohenhen, Amunataba, Artur Alile, Omochico-Bay, Adamosa, Talents of Benin, Patrick Idahosa, Richard Ugiagbe, Dombraye Aghama, Osayomore Joseph, Collins Oke, Great Ojo, Isaac Eguasa,Ukodo, Osula, Akaba Man,Robinson, Fabomo, Osaro Nomayo etc among the young artist of the 21st century? 


According to Naiwu Osahon, Edo-Nigerians-Africans are the only group of people on planet earth expecting God to climb down from heaven to run their government,business & domestic affairs. The vogue is to do nothing for themselves because God will fill the pot-holes on their roads, provide them regular electricity, create jobs for the jobless, put drugs in their run-down health clinics & books in their empty university libraries, if they pray hard enough. Some smart guys, he said, have capitalize on the naivity and ignorance of other christian fellows, to set up what is now the only viable and lucrative industry in their society. Unproductive and contributing nothing to their national product, but the religious leaders parade rosy cheeks, while their flock sinks deeper into abject poverty and squalor. Coup plotters, armed robbers, kiddnappers, assassins, hoodlums, 419 crooks, all pray before embarking on th eir operations. Rouge leaders, diverting their restheirces into their private accounts abroad, pray to succeed. Lazy civil servants pray for promotions in their jobs. The media not left out on their battle to envangelism, spreading the Christian God disease, or acute religious madness. Television and radio stations being bombarded day and night with religious preachments and garbage. The newspapers and magazines without exception on cheap and vulgar rag-tags, using alien religions to engender self-hate and self-destruction. Every sentence published is laced with God this, God that.


Edo  Christians are no longer interested in scholarly works, challenging the world of ideas but the spreading of the Christian faith and religion by every means. The Miseducation, indoctrination and conversion of the Edo -African soul from their original spirituality, language and social structure, affected nearly everything about their true existences including their true culture, art and music. Majority of the people solely interested in the spreading of the Gospel, increments of Churches, the Bible, praying through “ENI GIESU” meaning “NAME OF JESUS” mediator, holy and only son of “GOD” proclaim in prayers, music. These does not only make a shift in the mindset of the people to emotionly stick to the British “GOD” totally different from the original imaginary being worship by Edo ancestors, but make a mental disorder, delusion, confusion, and paranoid attitude of the believers.


OSA” represented as supreme being in Edo/ Benin deity adorned in various glorification through Ogun, Orhonmila, Olokun, etc was and is totally diff erent from the “OSA” translated as “GOD”, British English language imaginary supreme being in the Bible. Suppose God of the Jews, father of Jesus Christ. Many Edo Christians and Bible scholars have ignorantly argued to mean same but fail to examine with true knowledge and intelligence the Christian and biblical concept and doctrine as they illogically criticize, denigrate, disvalue and idolize their Edo “Osa” (worshiped before and after slave and colonial invasion). The culure and practise to worship and adorn a supreme being, represented as “OSA” was and is very crucial aspect of Edo people's spirituality but the introduction of the new christian concept of a Big letter “God” have undermine it's ensence over the years. Today, many Edo Christians belief that Christianity, God and Jesus is the true God, mediator and Spiritual figure. Same to complain all ones problems and they will be solved.

How was  2face idubia “African queen” able to win an MTV award? Anything to do with “God”, “Jesus”, “Osa” or “Giesu” on lyrics? Victor Uwaifo, the Benin artist was first to win an international award with his unchanging African ritmic sound accompanied with acrobatic guitar stage display but his works are yet to be exploited and maximize to gain more prominence in the international market. 


What is Edo music anyway?


Edo music is a collection of interesting rhymes, lyrics, compositions in Edo language, authors, production and composers mostly Edo people or citizens. Collective sound that calls attention and emotion

for enrichment of body, soul and spirit. Historically, Edo music lyrics, production and exhibitions through communities and societies, villages, towns, and cities were spiritually and culturally concentrated. Talented artists, drummers, singers, composers were holding key positions. Some in special performers at coronations, festivals, birth -naming ceremonies, marriage, burial, during rituals, etc. Rich in entertainment, fun and excitement. Depending on what, when and where you listen, could heal, motivate, ameliorate, give hope and a catalyst for motivation. Beside the savagery remark of some European visitors on what they saw and witness in Africa including in ancient Benin kingdom, during colonials days, it was noted that most Africans people were very excited people, with interesting and entertaining music, dancing and percussions and their impressive and creative cultural, art and folklore were what documenting and celebrating.


Throught out history, music and sounds has a way of playing in minds and ears of animals and plants as they do make sounds too. Music in language, religion, culture, psychology, spirituality, concentration, imagination, thoughts and feelings can't be overemphasize how could affect human concept and existence. Universally, music has been an instrument of Justice, peace, civil right, voice for the voiceless, binding force, fun and entertainment.


Is there anything to updating Edo music lyrics and rhymes to meet world classifications? Yes!

Edo music must be decolonize, organize, modernize, preserved to have future excellence, meeting local and international awards, recognisition and sponsorship. Cannot be isolated in a world of numerous wealth, fun, entertainment, creative musical arts, pleasure, fantasies, etc. Sure billions of dollars, euro and pounce could be embrace if introduce to world market with natural endowed talents, with creative and  innovative skills, A time taking studio productions rather than hurry and quick money making productions.

Edo language artist or composers must utilize other form of music like, rock, pop, house, techno, blues, jazz, hip hop, rap, R&B, reggaeton, classical etc. lyrics open to poems, idioms, love, relationship, fun, sex, erotic, fantasies, jokes, anything entertaining and of a circular flavor than religious. Avoid monotony, repetition and bore sounds. Remix with modern and old school selection, highlife to emulation creative art of Edo musicians of 60s to late 80s, like Fabomo: “Itan edo of Benin”, Osaró Nomayo:”Uselu motor park”, Victor Uwaifo;”Jeromi”, etc. Youths must open their minds to thinks rather than carried away by circumstances and superstitions.


By Uwagboe Ogieva ©

26 July 2011

Uwagboe Ogieva is a prolific, freelance writer and activist. A program analyst based in Barcelona. Spain. Author and publisher of various articles and journals working with yawewe magazine, bykem,, and other publishing companies.Dirrector Edo language research and development program, chair person-Edo language for all vision 2020.


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Comment by Otedo News Update on November 11, 2012 at 7:00am

Part of my final lines in the last article reads: “The Nigerian music industry is dying; and frankly, it will, or probably has to die patapata, before it can truly rise, and take its due position, in the light of things. Incidentally, the best hands to give it life, are the same ones starving it of the elixir for irreversible success - the young Nigerian artistes”. How?

Yes, piracy is bad for any intellectual work, especially if the product is mostly driven by profit (as it is with Nigerian popular music). All over the world, the fight against piracy is fought at a frenetic pace, because the killer-disease is spreading faster than earlier thought. Nowadays, in the US, the sale of recorded CD's is panting far behind the sales of blank CD's. You can easily guess where CDs are going.
Music executives are storming the courts to put legitimate e-music dispensers out of business so as to prolong the near-certain extinction of the more than 150-year old American music industry, as we knew it. And that is America where piracy has gone absolutely and bizarrely digital, and which has a clear cut infrastructure.

However, in Nigeria, the first big case involving a major pirate (an Alaba marketer) came up at the Federal High Court on July 1, 2009. Our law enforcement people routinely sweep hideouts of small-time Chinese and Hong-Kong CD multipliers masquerading as music and movie pirates. We treat copyright infringements and rights collection with childish naiveté in this clime. In such a situation, only death will “do them part”.

But of even deadlier dimension is the mentality of the young Nigerian artiste: his understanding of his role, and the appreciation of his artistic contribution to social realities. Many years ago, I wrote a series of articles that won the first entertainment reporting award at the Nigerian Media Merit Awards, NMMA. It was entitled “Nigeria’s Creative Rogues”. In those articles, I tried to juxtapose the musical arrangements of the leading lights of the 80's and 90's in Nigeria, alongside their foreign counterparts from whose works they literally lifted several lines and riffs without any attribution whatsoever. We basically called them what they were: creative 'pirates' of other artistes' creative nous. That was close to 20 years ago!

Today, the artistes are more brazen; more impatient and couldn't care if an entire chorus line was lifted verbatim from “reigning” songs of their local or foreign counterparts. They just don't care. And the fans, as it is now clear, appear not to be bothered. But therein lies the trap. You don't need a seer to tell you that barefaced robbery, as it is being churned out by starry-eyed characters who populate our studios and airwaves, will sooner or later collapse the music business into an economic cul-de-sac.

Apart from music beats sounding alike, and with fast-disappearing wholesomeness in syncopation and timbre, the lyrical depth of today’s music is thinning out rapidly. Now, we seem like a nation of unthinking jingoists and flippant abusers of our traditional mores on the flimsy excuse that our socio-economic realities have condemned us to this state. And so we celebrate cash, irrespective of its dubious sources; we invoke the spirit of street-smartness, even if we obtain by false pretenses; we glorify confounding exploits of Yahoo boys and such mercenary roughnecks. We litter our musical videos with scantily dressed girls hobnobbing shamelessly with ‘spirit’-filled boys cascading in indecent splash of affluence and hedonism… and the fetish adulation of money appears unending. CONTINUE HERE

Comment by Otedo News Update on October 2, 2012 at 10:33pm

"For if culture is, as Sam Akpabot (1986:91) puts it ” a way of thinking, feeling and believing in any given society, resulting in a behavioural pattern which gives that society a distinctive identity”, then one remarkable scheme of finding out about the culture of a people is to examine how they conceptualise their music. The argument of Wissler ( 1922 :155) in respect of the cultural potentials of music is appropriate for our present study. According to him “music is a stable trait and therefore provides a useful basis for determining the diffusion of other cultural traits” Alan Merriam posits that:


Music is a product of man and has structure,
But its structure cannot have an existence of its
own divorced from the behaviour which produces
it. In order to understand why a music structure exist as it does,
we must also understand how and why the behaviour
which produces it as it is, and how and why the concept which underlie that behaviour are ordered in such a way as
to produce the particularly desired form of organised sound
(1964, 7)

Fundamentally because of their different environments, more than any other reason that may be advanced, the African and the European conceive of music in different ways. Tracey (1960:10) for instance, believes that the word ‘music’ in Africa means ‘vocal participation, the physical manipulation of instruments and the rhythmic or dance movement associated with music’. In order to get at the true involvement of music in an African society, we need, as Sam Akpabot also advised, to study closely the role of music in religion, government and the various secret and ceremonial societies which regulate the lives of the people, not forgetting the individual and collective role of musical instruments.


The Benin Society

While this paper does not undertake a re-assessment of Benin society and culture since this is neither a historical nor sociological study, it is however important to undertake a summary of the socio-cultural milieu from which Benin song and music emerge. This is because, any approach to the songs of Benin people that fails to recognise the dynamic nature of the society in focus, is likely to miss its significance.


Great Benin Bronze


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