Fokn Bois recent song, Thank God I’m Not A Nigerians, has caused some controversy as it was meant to do. The controversy itself is interesting for the issues that it raises.
Explaining a joke means it loses its humour. It also becomes incredibly pedantic. So if you’ve already got the joke, I suggest you go and read something more interesting!
- Some think it is ridiculing Nigerian culture but the point is missed as I will reveal later.
- An offence has been taken due to a mishearing of the lyrics, reproduced on many Nigerian websites, in which a verse about Fela’s red draws (underpants) is reported as “[something inaudible] drugs”.
- Some Ghanaian critics have highlighted the mismatch of Wunlov’s African wear with the songs critique of Nigerians for wearing the same. But they didn’t question the obvious contradiction seeing it only as hypocrisy.
- Responses involve the accusation that this song will destroy hopes of African unity, a rather grand claim, but actually the reactions themselves indicate possible obstacles to unity.
- Some people have not seen the joke. Some have even missed the clue – the deliberate grammatical error in the title, the name of the group and the fact they describe themselves on Twitter as a “Christian rap duo”!
M3NSA and Wanlov the Kubolor are two musicians who come together to make Fokn Bois. M3NSA is married to a Nigerian and his daughter is Nigerian. He also enjoys Nigerian food (there are comments in the song relating to food).
Kubolor means vagabond in the Ga language hence he walks in bare feet. He also dresses in his own unique African style – I don’t think you’ll see him in Armani wear – as he sports his Trashy Bag made from the waste of pure water satchets!
The duo are comedians hence the name Fokn Bois. Humour should have no boundaries. Programs such as South Park laugh at religion, Jews, gays and the disabled. Black American comedians make jokes about whites. British comedians often ridicule their own audiences. People who appreciate this appreciate the context and are able to laugh at themselves. M3NSA and Wanlov both have international influences and have travelled widely and their music and views reflect a wider perspective.
Failing to see the context of the song has prevented an understanding of its intentions.
The root of the problem?
- People mistake the character a musician might play, for real life.
- People read song lyrics in the same way as they read the bible – literally! (Yes, readers I managed to slip in a dig at religion, even into this post!)
When I heard the song it seemed to me to be a gentle teasing of cultural difference. There was nothing vicious or nasty in it. However, it can be difficult hearing a criticism, no matter how nicely expressed, of one’s own country. We have to accept that there is a history of rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria so it has immediately been presumed this song is an attack. However, people have rushed to send insults back the other way without taking time to think.
The fact that people seem to expect to be insulted and respond by throwing more insults perhaps suggests what the problems to African unity really are. Fokn Bois became a symbol of the whole of Ghana as the insults were not just confined to the musicians but projected onto all Ghanaians. Are we able to move beyond this hyper-sensitivity? Can we control ego and pride?
The punch line
The whole point of the song for me is not an attack on Nigerians but, implicitly, a parodying of the petty attitudes of some Ghanaians.
There is obviously some teasing of Nigerians involved but aren’t Fokn Bois adopting the personas of narrow-minded people in order to laugh at them?
So we hear a criticism of traditional dress and a pretentious glorification of Armani. We hear a certain envy at the amount of meats Nigerians eat. We hear negative attitudes to Liberians (when I first came to Ghana I was advised to stay away from Liberians!) and so on.
Fokn Bois are not expressing their own prejudices, in my opinion, but are parodying the small-minds of some Ghanaians. Some Nigerians have obviously seen this but didn’t take it further to realise this is the joke. It’s also been lost on some Ghanaians who thought they were laughing at Nigerians!
Or am I reading too much into it? Let the games begin!