It is evident in today’s complex media environment that audience members do not experience entertainment, media content, or news in isolation. Individuals, genres, and texts are all hybrids. Understanding the broader role of media in politics and the complicated relationship that politics and entertainment have shared since the dawn of time requires an examination of how various forms of political information interact and how people make sense of them in tandem.
Politics, art and entertainment have all coexisted, setting the pace for society and laying the seeds for humanity to thrive in its quest for the ultimate civilization. These entities have over time inadvertently helped each grow to their prime and it’s quite impossible to imagine the absence of politics, entertainment and art in any given society. This is not just limited to the entities and society alone but the artists as well, as they are part of the society too.
According to Pablo Picasso, a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer, “What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes if he’s a painter, ears if he’s a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he’s a poet – or even, if he’s a boxer, only some muscles? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How is it possible to be uninterested in other men and by virtue of what cold nonchalance can you detach yourself from the life that they supply so copiously? No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.”
To elaborate on why the artists can not isolate themselves from society, as they are the source of their art. Take a close look at the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, who according to many critics was the most famous human on the planet, he embodied everything there is to know about art and society. Michael Jackson is my greatest inspiration, and I consider him the greatest entertainer of all time. The man encompassed so many things, music, dance, fashion, civil rights, moral values, climate change, humanitarianism and political activism which in my opinion made him quite the controversial figure and a global mega superstar who impacted the world. He was unapologetic in his views and used his platform for world peace. His acts, works and deeds inspired many to be a force for positive change around the world and in every given field.
Now back home in Nigeria, many young Nigerians are beginning to take a keen interest in politics, as they believe that politics is pertinent to their lives and has a major role to play in their future. The recently conducted Osun State elections have reinforced this notion and the stakes are high in the build-up to next year’s general elections.
The average Nigerian in all sincerity thinks more about entertainment than politics. They are more heavily vested in gossip, celebrity bliss, music, movies and fashion than wasting their efforts to vituperate a government that has done little to nothing for them. What made the elections in Osun attract this much glamour was the involvement of Nigerian celebrities namely Davido and Portable, who stood on opposite sides of the two major political parties in the race.
It is significant to note that nothing inspires emotions like art, it triggers quite a number of things such as loyalty, followership and intense emotions. These all reiterate the fact that people get attached to characters, things and events they can relate to on a personal level. This also reflects on artists who have over the years made a name for themselves in the industry and have to a very large extent made people very interested in them that even most politicians don’t get such dedicated attention.
It is no coincidence that most Nollywood actors, particularly the legends are still called the names of the character that brought them to the limelight. Some of these names include Mr Ibu, Okonkwo, Mama G, Osuofia, Baba Suwe, Aki & Pawpaw, Emu (Mrs Johnson), Toyin Tomato, Ireti, Black Arrow, Mr Latin and a host of others. Davido effectively used his platform to solicit support for his uncle Senator Ademola Adeleke massively, he even went down to Osun to campaign for the elections. This drove a lot of youths to get involved in the political process for the good of the state or at least show support for their fave. This eventually led to the victory of his uncle.
Though what happened in Osun was not solely on the Davido factor, an unexplained movement is on a roll among young Nigerians who are demanding a better Nigeria. Many are doing political awareness around the country, getting their PVC, and campaigning for their preferred candidates like Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC and Peter Obi of the Labour Party. They are actively engaging in political conversions on all media platforms especially social media with each camp having its hashtags, terms, slang, media content and stan names such as ATIKULATES, BATISTS and OBIDIENTS.
Make no mistake, this is not the first time such a movement has occurred. There have been many generations of young Nigerians who took on the wild dog of Nigerian politics and achieved wonders namely, independence, democracy, agricultural revolution, peacekeeping operations around the world, sports bliss, entertainment strides, academic excellence and countless notable feats. Some of these great nationalists who laid the foundation include Herbert Macaulay, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
The aftermath of the Nigerian civil war led to a decline in youth participation in politics due to successive military coups, corruption, bad leadership and nepotism. It is pertinent to note that there have been some isolated situations where youths took action with their voice via protests in the past. Such as Ali Must Go 1978, Anti-SAP riots 1989, June 12 Protests 1993 and Occupy Nigeria 2012.
Nigeria has so far enjoyed its longest run of democracy and it has had its fair share of youths involvement in politics, especially with civil disobedience like the Occupy Nigeria protest of 2012 in defiance of the removal of fuel subsidy which had a nationwide impact and recently the most astonishing of them all the #ENDSARS protest of 2020 against police brutality, bad governance, insecurity and many other challenges in Nigeria. According to many political commentators, analysts and the general public, it was probably the most organised, peaceful and patriotic protest in the history of the nation. All was well till October 20, 2020.
It was a night of horror, many young Nigerians paid the supreme price for the soul of this country. Their lives may be gone but not forgotten, they are eternal. However, it would seem that movement sowed the seeds for something more pragmatic and dynamic that is taking the nation and world by storm. A new generation of political-conscious creatives are taking the bull by the horns and not relegating themselves to just vituperating the government of the day at given times.
Speaking with one of these individuals, Adegbe Jude a producer, sound engineer, artist, writer and political activist who uses his platform for political awareness for youths across the nation via his music, the #YEYE movement which stands for Youths Enlightening Youths on Election, a platform he co-created is a becoming a force to reckon with. He recently released two musical tracks, ‘Mygeria which dropped on the 5th of May, 2022 while ‘Yeye Music’ dropped on 10th June, 2022. These tracks burgess the essence of young Nigerians’ involvement in politics and how they can be agents of change.
Jude believes that the power to change the story of the country lies in the hands of the youths and should take charge of their destinies through every legitimate means to guarantee the future of those unborn. He endeavoured to partner with another great young Nigerian, Owigho Okolo, a broadcast journalist, voice-over and convener of Prospective Generation Foundation who has been a great help to the movement and spread this great message of hope across the nation.
Also speaking on this, Mr Samuel Kugbiyi, an actor, director, singer, writer, voiceover artist and journalist, stated that youths have a strong tie with entertainment, especially in this generation, its an avenue for self-expression, a medium to voice displeasure towards the government and the hope for a better government. Many Nigerian artists have used their art to make bold political statements, artists such as Falz, Waje, Asa, Tuface and Burna Boy who is known for his Pan-African/Political conscious music. Tracks like ‘Monsters You Made’, ‘Another Story’ and ’20-10-2020′ all paint a clear of what he stands for.
A lot of young Nigerians are beginning to position themselves in key areas that matter to the political discourse. Politicians are beginning to realize that the youths are important and deserve to be taken seriously in this new era of youth activeness in politics.
According to Mr Samuel, he uses his creative quirks to reshape minds for the better, collaborating with many international organizations such as Amnesty International, Global Rights, UNESCO and many others to highlight the great power of the youths, women’s rights, push for change and so much more.
He, therefore, added that there is a need for all key stakeholders to reach out to the youths, as they are becoming more powerful, relevant and promising in the political conversation. The reality now is that you can not separate the youths from entertainment and political actors should cash in on this opportunity.
I guess time will tell right?