In the 1980s, ‘’resistance to oppression’’ governed the zeitgeist. Reggae music was hugely popular. It resonated with the yearnings of the people for freedom from autocracy, domination, and oppression. Reggae was the conduit for social expression; it was the euphonious channel for agitation and for resisting the ‘’sistem’’.
The Mandators evoked the spirit of the times with the ‘’Crisis’’ album. The album had hits such as Rat Race and Inflation. Majek Fashek spoke for a generation with the album – Prisoner of Conscience. And Orits Williki with the album – Tribulation. There were many others in that league.
There was purpose to music. There was logic — not only symphony. There was a method. And there was message — not only melody.
At the time when the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) exercised near monopoly over terrestrial broadcasting, young people had very limited options for degenerative entertainment. Nudity, drugs, and violence which are today ubiquitous digital divertissements, were uncommon in music videos. There was diligent censorship. And lyrics of songs were sanitised.
There was progressive cultural conditioning and value adaptation. Funmi Adams’ ‘’Nigeria my beloved country’’ was every youngster’s anthem. And she reminded the young of the primacy of education in ‘’Bata mi a dun koko ka’’.
Today, the values and innocence of old have volatilised. All gone. Nudity, drugs, and violence are the very enhancing contents for music videos. The lyrics of songs are heavily sexualised — with themes around drugs, and violence. Pornography is buffet – available on social platforms – and intruding when unsolicited.
Songs and skits promoting drugs, sex, cultism, and violence populate the digital biome. Youngsters are in a tournament of the grotesque over who has the most depraved sex tape.
A lack of values, insolence, indiscipline, recklessness, and debauchery is the new conditioning. It is the zeitgeist. It will get worse.
What is the way forward?
The youth will need new creative distractions. It is a tall order. Sex and the ridiculous sell. Nuisance value has become rewarding. Notoriety is now fame, and the despicable now celebrated. Supplanting the current order will take an evolutionary displacement. The times will eventually change – either for good or for bad – as it is with every social progression.
But what needs to be done in the immediate is for agencies saddled with the responsibility of sanitising public contents and of promoting national values to be alive to their responsibility. Entertainers promoting drugs, cultism and violence should be made to face the law. There should be stern reprimand for the promotion of tendencies capable of inducing crime and violence. These entertainers should not be ambassadors to national causes or set as examples to the youth. That is rewarding bad behaviour.
As a society, there should be premium for discipline, hard work, real value, and integrity. We must de-emphasise the culture of profligacy, decadent opulence, and vanity which fuels the trafficking in libertinism.
The need for value re-orientation and new socialisation is a task that must be actuated by – citizens, groups, government, traditional institutions, the media, and all concerned members of society.