The song ‘Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ released in 1986 by the great Nigerian music icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti is one that can best be described as evergreen. With over 30 years of impact, its conscious lyrics on various social issues remain a didactic guide many generations later.
The song title was chosen as the theme for the recent Felabration symposium held in Ikeja, Lagos. The event kicked off the one-week annual festival of music and arts in honour of the musical legend, Fela. Graced by four outstanding speakers: Prof. Akin Oyebode, Chimamanda Adichie, Bobi Wine from Uganda and Akala from the United Kingdom. All the speakers gave various insights to the theme beyond its literal meaning.
“Music remains one of the
most powerful tools of communication”. – Felabration 2019
One of the most prominent attributes of Fela was his passion for creating songs that go beyond entertainment. Songs that challenge various inhumane norms, well highlighted during the speech of the Veteran Prof. Oyebode, who channeled the theme towards the capacity of music as a tool to educate and positively influence.
This, in turn, served as a wake-up call to musicians in Nigeria and Africa in general. Musicians were urged to use their songs as a tool for re-telling our stories and showing the world a better perspective of Africa.
Using the theme of the event as a basis, Akala, a British rapper, journalist, political activist and poet, related his experience while growing up as a schoolboy in London. Akala shared a lot on how Africa was falsely portrayed to him as a student back in the day.
No doubt, this is one of the many reasons for the dilapidating image of Africa, created in the minds of so many Westerners and Nigerians in the diaspora.
In support, Bobi Wine revealed how these wrong teachings are prevalent in even Africa, by Africans.
There is a dire need for restructuring in our Education system. It is no wonder that among African youth of today, seeing Whites as superior remains prevalent.
“Where I come from,
Children are told that a man from England discovered the river right behind”. – Bobi
This and many others are examples that further buttress how the stories of Africa have been wrongly told. Bobi Wine disclosed that all these underlying factors led to him changing his music from entertainment to edutainment.
“In this country, we need to know history.
If we start to teach our children civics and history…
They know that despite the flaws we have,
Every nation has flaws and every nation has greatness.
They know that Northern Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria,
Western Nigeria and Southern Nigeria were once
very interesting and vibrant places where people traded. – Adichie
Giving the final speech was the award-winning Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who emphasized the need for constant learning, unlearning and relearning; the need to teach the younger generations history, as this will help us to become long term thinkers as a nation.
Adichie further discussed how we confuse fear for respect and also, how we so much confidence channeled in the wrong direction.
“We channel our energy to the wrong things.
We are people known for ‘overconfidence’,
At the same time, it’s almost as if we have forgotten how to be ashamed.”
For instance: Jumping queues at the airport and still claiming to be right. However, we do not display such guts when we should. The writer, therefore, urged Nigerians to have such courage and confidence in retelling our stories and teaching the world our values.
“They think China will matter
They think India will matter, not us.
We don’t really matter. But it’s up to us to make that change.
We can react to this, and it starts with self-confidence. It’s the most we can do.
Self-confidence comes from you knowing who we are.”
This brings us back to knowing our roots and our history, as a good knowledge of where we are coming from will always be of great help in leading us to where we ought to be.
Undoubtedly, the theme ‘teacher don’t teach me nonsense’ was explored from different angles that caused a stir within participants just as the song itself does, decades after its release. Indeed, content is King and this should guide us in the kind of music we produce, the things we do or say, as these carry messages that portray who we are to the world at large.
Eden Odein Benibo
Etu Odi Communication.