Abati Vs Banky W-joining the fray...

Now, why I'm joining this fray? I know not. Way too many reviewers already. All I know is that the two pugilists in the fight raised issues I have always been passionate about-Writing/Grammar and Music. Over time, I have enriched my mind with knowledge on both subjects so much that I can safely say I can churn out informed opinions on allied issues. I am afraid I will have to attack Dr. Reuben Abati a little, not that he's not hurt enough already (considering the flak his article has drawn), but he brought this upon himself. The irony is that I could have written the same article but in a different light. In fact, I have allowed procrastination victimize me and I have been beaten to offering a critique of Nigerian music.

First of all, Dr. Abati described the "emergent" generation as "irreverent and creative". Some funny specie of oxymoron there. Maybe he meant "irreverent yet creative" or "creative yet irreverent". Whatever he meant, "irreverent" does not properly describe the generation who are tired of the old ways of doing things and are creatively challenging the status quo. Whatever happened to the cliche "change is a constant thing"? They are doing a very good job, If you ask me. I already analysed the role of each generation in the depletion of our collective values in an article titled "The Wasted, the Wasteful and the Wasting" available at http://d-wayfarer.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html

To me, attacking the alleged "mutation" of the name of the country is no valid point. Almost every country in the world has a moniker or, to use a longer word, a hypocorism, for its darling nation or people. What about "Aussie" for Australian? Or "Yankee" for American? Or "Brit" for British? "Naija" is not only used to describe the nation but also its people. Slangs, nicknames, hypocorisms and pet names are an indelible part of the language Dr. Abati is a scholar of and he should not see offence where none is intended. The word "Naija" has come to stay and there is nothing his generation can do to prevent that. Colloquiality in language is no crime as long as it is used in the right place and in the right context. Informal use of language has not been banned anywhere. No writer who knows his onions will ever use the word "Naija" or any of the other "mutations" in a formal write-up without quotation marks.

May I also say that this is not the generation of abbreviations? I quite agree that technology has brought about a certain impatience for the usage of good grammar, thanks to text messages and online conversations, but like i said earlier, these forms are meant for informal use and it is therefore a rebuttable presumption that whoever knows how to spell the short form of a word invariably knows how to spell it in full! The microwave generation is sure in a hurry but the times are no longer slow and whoever does not get on the mega-fast train will get left behind! At 44, Dr. Abati actually falls within the age group of the impatient generation. His mates in technologically-advanced countries run businesses that rely on Twitter, Facebook, Blackberry, Email and the Internet to keep up with the Wall Street Joneses in order not to be shoved aside by competitors who know the importance of e-presence and relevance. Tell me how a businessman who is not superhuman can function effectively on all these media If he insists on correct spelling and grammar? The important thing here is communication. By the way, SMS is short for SHORT Message Service.

The English Language is Dr. Abati's turf so he can easily claim "Omo-Onile" status there. However, wading in an unfamiliar territory like music was quite suicidal a venture. That was where Mr. Wellington (who we fondly call Banky W-no quotation marks) went for the kill. He should have left yeoman's job to the Benson Idonijies and Jahman Anikulapos who share office space with him.

I quite agree with Dr. Abati that music is more about the content than the form. However, there is a distinction between good music and good entertainment. Good music is produced by professionals like Lagbaja, Asa and Fela while good entertainment is the exclusive right of the class of musicians who produce good beats and sound without caring much about lyrics. I, for one, have a good taste for music and I do not buy CDs that are lyrically bankrupt. There was a time I stopped listening to hip Hop and its Nigerian version of it all because all I could hear was sex, money and drugs. I resisted every song without content and soon built a library of love, soul and gospel songs. My quarantine did not have the desired effect as I still found my head bobbing to the "Gongo A Sos" and "O 4ka sibes". I came to the conclusion that no mortal soul could resist a good beat especially when you're in the dance mood. Which is why Dr. Abati could offer a catalogue of these "meaningless" songs.

I soon started making exceptions for a few of those artistes. 9ice(sic), for instance caught me with his "Photocopy" track. That song actually has everything-it is danceable, conveys a subtly meaningful message and a good melody. Another exception is MI. He caught me with the villainous(Abati:2009) "Anoti" track. I still don't know what "Anoti" means but I know it's one very effective introductory track for an album. Its catchy beats and lyrics simply leave you gasping for more. The track I expected Dr. Abati to attack is the "Blaze" track which talks about marijuana. For me, i can't even resist that track! I could send a copy of this exceptional album to Dr. Abati, the rap's slow enough for him to catch a lot of meaningful lyrics.

I will also recommend that Dr. Abati should listen to the following musicians: GT the Guitarman, Age Beeka, Obiwon, Timi Dakolo...oh, I have to stop now! Just tune your radio to the right station and you might just be hearing very good music without knowing a "Naija" artiste owns the voice. Dr. Abati, don't throw the baby out with the bath water...

Seun Idowu.

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