The Silence of our Songs

The Silence of our Songs

Before there was –


‘…Werey lo ba de ee,

To get this money to dey ball every night and day,

Zero dulling emi o le naa gere mo laye,

O fe ra bentley bobo…’




‘…Doro flashy,

Doro classy,

Doro fine pass anybody wey doro see,

Doro get pass anybody wey doro meet e o…’


there was


‘…After many many years of waka for bush,

Eventually we enter democracy,

But instead to progress,

Na fighting we dey fight,

If democracy go work,

We must get patience small…’


It has been agreed that music is a powerful tool. The beat of a song, the lyrics, the tone and mood of a song, has a way of entering our subconscious. Have you ever hated a song instantly, but having heard it over and over on the radio, you find yourself singing it? This is the influence that music has on our minds and the direction of our thoughts.

A nation’s music also says a lot about where the nation is. Many Nigerians admit that they have no idea of what the majority of the lyrics by Nigerian musicians mean. Several of the words in a typical chorus appear to be made up. But we are not in the least bothered by this, as long as the beat is hot enough and the dance steps new enough. We have declared that we don’t care about what the song is saying.

Perhaps this means that we are in a time of peace, that we don’t much need musicians stirring up our hearts and inspiring us to action. However, I suspect this is not the case. Yes, we are in a democracy, but we still have a long long way to go and should be willing to listen to those who are willing to speak; rather than merely twerking to beats that leave no impact.


‘…People dey go uptown,

Anyway anyhow now now,

Chop your own and clean mouth now,

We print and loot and share around,

Them say the priest,

E dey pray for the thief…’


The above lyrics are from an artist who is not as well known as Dbanj or Wizkid; but Brymo has something to say about our society and our culture and he does it with wit to a backdrop of melodic rhythms and choice beats. But we don’t have the room for such content in our minds. We are too busy tweeting 140 characters about the lack of change in our country. We complain that what our leaders care about is money. Well…perhaps they are the captive audience of the musicians you love so much, who also care only about money.

When we choose to listen to a particular track or a particular artist, we are making decisions about the kind of content we want our brains to be exposed to. This is not as casual a decision as we might initially think. Music can change our mood, our lingo, our way of thinking, even the way we carry ourselves at certain points in time. Music can inspire us to want to call an ex, or smile at a stranger or swear at one’s boss. Music can connect us to our spiritual selves and reignite passions we thought were long gone.

There is a time for music that has no bearing on our day to day lives, but that time cannot be every time. Take a moment today, and listen to a song that moved you.

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self published work. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam.

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