When a Nigerian music artist, usually male, is caught in a case of assault whether outrightly sexual, physical or emotional, there is an overwhelming sense of support they receive from their fans and supporters. This support bolsters the said artist to do anything within their power to discredit the story or completely erase it from people’s consciousness. While this happens, the fans continue to steam the said artist’s music. They buy tickets to the artists show and will at every opportunity try to bring up arguments to separate the artist from their work, and in some other cases, they refuse to believe, despite clear evidence, that their beloved artist committed the crime they are being called out for.
The commonness of this culture is why D’Banj is a free man, despite arresting and bullying an alleged victim. It is why songs by male Nigerian singers and rappers carry heavy misogynistic and sexist weights nobody seems to care too much about. It is why, after Davido announced the termination of Lil frosh’s contract with his label DMW, there were people asking that Lil frosh be “pardoned” or “punished in some other way.”
— Davido (@davido) October 6, 2020
Did you just use the incident as an opportunity to discharge the guy who to me as not been living up to expectations in your record label? Are there no other ways you can discipline him than pulling him down? The move is very harsh and can be compassionately reversed…
— Hairlord (@gbotemmie) October 6, 2020
The consequence of this sort of allowances is what has absolved generations of Nigerian men, in and outside of the music industry who are saddled with some level of social power, from being held accountable. Think Perruzi, Uti, Brymo. These men have been called out in the past few months for different levels of assault against women and yet they continue to exist as veritable members of society. Their music still get attention and they still get invited to shows that people still pay to attend.
There is no way we can care about ending the escalating reality of rape cases in Nigeria or the domestic violence often meted out on Nigerian women if we don’t actually dissociate and de-platform the people who perpetuate those type of violence. When we stream the songs of people like that or beg for pardon on behalf of Lil frosh, we continue to give them the social and economic power to hurt more women.
By refusing to completely wrench their power away from them, we give them the license to get access to other women and enact even more violence on them.
It is exciting and commendable that an industry power like Davido has actually taken the step to curb the excesses of one perpetrator of domestic violence, we hope the fans, mostly male, wake up and challenge injustice, even when it is being carried out by their favorite artist.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.