D'banj

Judging by the fact that the transcript of D’banj interview with SaharaReporters TV is still one of the most-read stories on this platform even one week after it happened, this continues to be a hot button topic for thousands of young Nigerians – as it should be.

(See the interview transcript HERE.)

No one – no matter how many bodyguards he has or how many hit albums to his credit – should be above being interrogated by his or her compatriots over the state of the common enterprise called Nigeria.

Now, there are those who have reacted with visceral, even uncommon, anger over what they refer to as Dbanj’s insensitivity and a seeming discontent with the Nigerian reality. And there is the visibly minority view, which insists that D’banj is only an entertainer and should be left alone.

Yes, it is a bit of a stretch to criticise D’banj for not joining the rallies in Lagos or London, or to insist that he must oppose the fuel subsidy removal policy. It is after all his fundamental right as a citizen to hold an opinion, even if – perhaps especially when – it is not the popular one.

But that is hardly the point. What D’banj did was essentially tell his interviewer that he had no concern on the subjects of poverty, fuel subsidy removal and the way the affairs of the country are managed – and in the most dismissive sense.

This is wrong for many reasons.

For one, the artiste has referred to himself as a youth ambassador. Of course, as people try to position themselves and their careers, titles like this are strategic to that advancement. However, they must also be ready for the responsibility that comes with that priviledge.

Even more to the point, there is an ironic contraction to D’banj’s latest stance that severely undermines his personal credibility. The singer has always been in his legal and moral rights to produce a song for any politician for a fee – as a business person, this is proper practice. However, in D’banj’s case, he has insisted that this was an endorsement based on belief and not a commercial venture.

This is where it gets tricky. How do you endorse a man out of concern for your nation a year ago and then suddenly be too busy to care about the most important matter concerning your nation, and brought about by that man, a year after?

For those who insist that D’banj is an entertainer and thus should not be burdened with these issues, that is the crux of the matter. He put himself out there.

Perhaps more disappointing than this lack of consistency, is the transparent arrogance in a young man whose success is created by the public, disdainful of the issues on the top of that public’s mind. It is impractical to expect Dban’j to have a Seun Kuti-like grasp of the complexities of cost of governance and fuel subsidy removal, but it is by no means out of order to expect him to show an awareness and sensitivity to those issues, at whatever level he understands them.

It is important for the famous and the influential to understand that patriotism and concern for one’s country is intrinsically linked to the entire concept of citizenship – active or not. You cannot be arrogantly disinterested in your country and still hope to profit from its progress.

D’banj is a talented young man with a superior grasp of his business and his musical brand. If anything, this is apparent from the sold out concert in New York immediately following the disastrous interview. But we certainly hope this is not an attitude he intends to keep up, just because the concert crowds are large, the music awards continue to stream in and the bank account is deservedly fat.

If that is in fact the case, then he would be sorely mistaken. There are many examples of high-wattage celebrity that eventually find themselves done in by a misguided sense of their own immortality.

The day eventually comes that they find themselves on stage and there are no cheering crowds. Then, it will dawn on them. But by then it will be too late.

 

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