If ‘Occupy Nigeria’ was a successful revolution or not, is a debate I’d leave to pundits; preferably political. I can say authoritatively though, that, music carried ‘Occupy Nigeria’. Yes. Music is the sole reason why ‘Occupy Nigeria’ (as I would refer to the NLC/TUC strike action throughout this piece) was a success. If we can call it that.
So, every Nigerian (and interested foreigner) has the basic gist of ‘Occupy Nigeria’ and its major characters – the President and his cronies, the labour leaders, heads of civil society groups etc. They were the ones occupying our TV screens and newspapers, pushing to the background the real major characters; the people!
The union leaders were fighting the President’s attempt at alleviating the suffering of the masses. The heads of civil society groups convened rallies at which social commentators spoke. All smooth and nice except that, none of the above actions could have happened without the masses. Yes, the common man is why the President removed the fuel subsidy, why the NLC/TUC embarked on strike…well, you know the rest.
I travelled home for the holidays, so I occupied at Liberty Square, Lugard Roundabout, Kaduna. Day one and there was only a few of us; about fifty. We all just milled around and discussed the situation. By twelve noon, we were done.
Day two and our numbers were still dire. Doubt began to settle in, as I walked over to a few faces I recognized. It was all talk again, albeit strategies this time, and by twelve noon, we left for our houses again, everyone determined to pull in more people.
I arrived the third day, wearing a maternity mask and a broad smile – we had selected the maternity mask the previous day as a symbol of our protest and the smile because we were finally a crowd! We had agreed to embark on house to house campaigns and public speaking – a primary schoolmate of mine, now an imam, spoke at his mosque. We had a little talk, educating the newcomers, after which a Christian prayed and then a Muslim – it’s a moment I’d never forget.
Next thing I heard, banging, was, “food e no dey, brother eh, water no dey…” African Chinas’ ‘Mr. President’ was blaring out of the speakers. Everyone began to sing and dance along, as yet another strategy paid off. Next was ‘Jaga Jaga’ by Eedris Abdulkareem and by this time, Okada men were parking their bikes and joining in. We; hundreds of people of all religions and tribes, were all moving in a big cycle as we shuffled our feet to Felas’ ‘Suffering and Smiling’ – we were finally having ourselves a protest. I left in the evening that day and saw something similar happening at Freedom Park, Ojota, Lagos on TV – difference being the live performances.
Someone may argue, as people did and still do, that it was a protest and not a concert. Firstly, tell that to the Israelites in Babylon, the Negro slaves who sang while they picked cotton, to the South Africans before 1994 etc – music has always being the voice of the oppressed! Secondly, how do you keep people engaged in a cause all day on just mere talk? Ehn? Lastly, the only voices the people were going to listen to were the voices of people they love and are familiar with. Voices they hear every minute of every day on their streets, from their radios etc. While everyone had their say, these voices belonged to the musicians, who came out in their numbers. Their music, carried ‘Occupy Nigeria’.
Piece by Grant.
Writes on www.miccheck12.com
@GrantDa2nd on twitter. Lagos, Nigeria.
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