Fast and furious, the song and drums roar like a crash of thunder in raining season and she dances wildly like fire. Like a devil resisting deliverance, she jumps and gyrates with the skill of a striptease dancer. She dons a white Versace wear. She’s a famous gospel music evangelist. She chews widely on a piece of gum as her mouth sings His praise but her feet shuffles excitedly to that worldly dance step, zanku, mixed with a sprinkle of shakushaku, twisting and turning. She’s a disgrace to Christendom. She’s evil; nail her to the cross, they chorus.
I wasn’t a Tope Alabi fan. Not until I listened to her monster hit, ‘Mo ri ‘yanu’, a couple of years ago. That song changed my perception of her as a colourless gospel artist assaulting the ear with monotonous dogma, devoid of talent, artistry and grace. I think ‘Mo ri ‘yanu’ is to Tope Alabi what ‘Ketekete’ – (The Man, the horse and the son) is to Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey. It’s what ‘Eri okan’ (Conscience) is to King Sunny Ade. While ‘Ketekete’ cements the legendary of Obey as a foremost philosopher, ‘Eri okan’ affirms the genius of KSA as an unsurpassable, multi-talented artist of his generation. The brilliance that produced ‘Mo ri ‘yanu’ belongs in the evergreen realm.
Until I listened to ‘Mo ri ‘yanu’, I had been put off by Tope’s alleged sex scandal with her late pastor, Prophet Elijah Ajanaku. The suspicion in which I hold self-professed men and women of God and the monologue that dominate her works had also caused me to see her songs as predictable and commonplace. In ‘Mo ri ‘yanu’, Tope acknowledges the humbling birth of Lord Jesus and His predestined supremacy. She also preaches about the Holy Trinity and the ultimate ability of God, the Father, to do all things.
But with the zanku plus shakushaku dance steps she skillfully exhibited in a music video that went viral last week, not a few busybodies feel she should be tossed into a lake of fire.
The hoopla that trailed the video is rooted in Nigerians’ monstrous penchant to idolize religious and political leaders and sit them on the same throne with God. But Tope is just a two-legged mortal with a head, two eyes and a beautiful body susceptible to arousal when lovingly caressed by her husband, Soji Alabi. Though a celebrity, Tope is vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life like any other mortal – a reason why when death came knocking on the door of her father’s soul, neither her powerful voice nor her depthless compositions could turn death back.
For those who frowned on Tope Alabi’s zanku dance, here are a few sore points that they feel fall against the grain: Why should Tope Alabi, a 49-year-old married woman and mother, deftly ‘gbe bodi’ and dance like an uncircumcised teenager to Christian songs during the burial of her father? Why should a gospel singer, Christian leader and an entertainer dance so raunchily in public?
I won’t go to Israel to recall the curse placed on Michal for criticising King David, her husband, who danced in an ‘undignified manner’ before the Lord when the Ark of the Covenant was taken to Jerusalem during a religious procession. I shall limit my opinion to the realities of our Nigerian sensibilities. I watched the video over and over, and I came to the realization that folks averse to Tope’s controversial dance did so because they couldn’t come to terms with the personalities of the hitherto dove-like Tope and the new eagle-like Tope. The sharp contrast between the two Tope Alabis, I think, was a major reason for the condemnation. If Tope had been known in the past to dance with reckless abandon, there would’ve been no room for the criticism. Having buried my mother at the unripe age of 63, I know there’s a sense of gratitude felt by children who have the privilege of burying their parents. I think that the sense of gratitude, joy and fulfilment felt by Tope birthed that dance.
It should be pointed out that Tope wasn’t dancing to salacious Naira Marley’s ‘Tesu mole’, she was dancing to a live Christian worship song performed by up-and-coming younger artists, who had come to support a big sister burying her father. To show solidarity with the younger musicians, I don’t see anything wrong with Tope doing the youthful zanku or shakushaku dance steps. Tope, who’s almost 50, should even be commended for having the stamina to compete with the youth in their own dance. Also, I see a dose of chauvinism in the criticism because I strongly feel that if the artist was a male, no eyebrow would have been raised. I’ve seen a number of popular male gospel artists do zanku and shakushaku dance steps in their music videos and no one has cast the first stone at them.
For being true to herself by openly showing her unrestrained dancing skills, Alabi shouldn’t be condemned. Her dance is in total contrast to the hypocrisy of the Nigerian political leadership typified, in this instance, by the House of Representatives which just ordered from overseas 400 brand-new Toyota SUVs for its members. It’s shocking that the House of Representatives could shun indigenous auto assembly plant, Innoson Motors, and ferry boatloads of foreign exchange to Japan to buy 2020 edition of Toyota SUVs when the Federal Government failed to transport Nigerian amateur boxers to Senegal for Olympic Games qualification trials – on account of paucity of funds. The callous Federal Government had shamefully turned down the request by some of the boxers, who had been in camp for several weeks without camping allowance, to sponsor themselves for the qualifying event. The boxers had been raining blows on one another in the hope of earning Olympic tickets in the different weight categories only for the Sunday Dare-led sports ministry to murder their hopes in cold blood. Giving the most absurd of excuses, the sports ministry said boxers would be sponsored to compete for Olympic tickets at the world boxing qualifiers in France. Nigerian leaders are surely walking with their heads upside down. Transportation to France will cost much more dollars. Qualifying from France will be like putting the came through the eye of the needle. Why go to France when you can get qualification tickets in Senegal? Are some people waiting to exploit the country for estacodes?
If the Major-General Muhammadu Buhari regime calls on Nigerians to fasten their belts tight, officials of government should also be seen as doing so. It’s wrong for misdirected customs officials to break into poor folks’ family kitchens in search of imported rice, turkey and toothpicks while President Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbanjo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, and House of Reps Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, their families and cohorts living on taxpayers money, eat foreign food, ride exotic foreign vehicles and treat the masses with indignity.
Even if it’s to score a cheap political point, it never occurred to the Gbajabiamila-led House to take up the sponsorship of just three of the boxers to Senegal by buying 399 SUVs instead of 400. These lawmakers have the latest state-of-the-art vehicles costlier than the incoming acquisitions. The Major-General Buhari-led executive appears not to have time for any other thing at the moment; it’s busy with ensuring ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members are treated with dignity, honour and love befitting of royalty. This is the change promised.
NB: Congratulations to the World Boxing Council new heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, the Gypsy King, whose victory I predicted. Fury’s victory is down to belief, passion and courage – virtues lacking in the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government headed by Major-General Buhari, a Fulani herdsman.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist and a columnist with the Punch newspapers
UNILORIN Extends POST-UTME Registration
The University of Ilorin, Unilorin, has approved an extension of POST-UTME registration by one week to cater for days of technical hitches.
This is contained in a statement issued in Ilorin on Sunday by Mr Mansur Alfanla, the Registrar of the university.
He announced that the new deadline for registration is Dec. 17, 2023.
It would be recalled that the deadline of the POST-UTME registration was December 10, before the extension.
The registrar therefore advised intending candidates to register within the extended period as there would not be further extension.
Disclose How Much Oil Nigeria Produces, Exports Daily, SERAP Tells NNPC
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has urged Mele Kolo Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, Limited to disclose how much oil Nigeria produces and exports daily within seven working days.
SERAP alleged that the NNPCL had failed to disclose the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports according to information at its disposal.
The organization also asked Kyari “to disclose how much of the revenues generated from oil have been remitted to the public treasury since the removal of subsidy on petrol.”
This was disclosed in a letter signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, noting there was a legitimate public interest in disclosing the information sought.
“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.”
“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the details of barrels of oil Nigeria produces and exports every day and the total amounts of revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury.”
SERAP argued that the “Opacity in the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports daily, the revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury would have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.”
The organization said it would consider appropriate legal actions to compel the NNPCL to comply with the requests in the public interest, if it did not get any response within seven days.
SERAP recalled that the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had last week alleged that “the NNPCL is failing to remit enough foreign exchange into the treasury despite the removal of fuel subsidy.”
According to the organization the NNPCL has a legal responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in barrels of oil the country produces and exports every day.
Foundation Trains 50 Women Farmers In Bauchi
A Bauchi based Non Governmental Organisation known as Al-Muhibah Foundation, has conducted a three-day training for 50 women farmers on fonio farming in the state.
The founder of the foundation, Hajiya Aisha Mohammed who is also the wife of Gov. Bala Mohammed, stated this at the end of the training for the women on Sunday.
According to her, the project was funded by the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) and aimed at empowering women in the area of farming fonio locally called acher.
She explained that 25 women were selected from Alkaleri and 25 from Tafawa Balewa local government areas of the state respectively.
She said the decision to settle for fonio acher farming training was as a result of its nutritional value, adding that Bauchi state was among the states facing malnutrition problems due to the lack of adequate nutrition diet for children.
“It is on this basis that looking at the nutritional value of Acha fonio, are the opportunities in helping to reduce the cases of or curb severe malnutrition.
“We also key into the Islamic Development Bank policy to learn how to empower women through interventions that improve health, food security, economic opportunities, education, access to technology which would enhance women’s financial literacy and business skills.
“Today, the 50 women farmers have received farming tools, insecticide, fertilisers, farmland, seedlings, capacity building training as well as 20 water pumping machines to each of the two LGAs,” she said.
The governor’s wife further explained that the project was to also ensure that the productivity, sustainability and profitability of the Fonio-Acha value chains were sustained, developed and expanded in the two benefiting LGAs by empowering women groups in the local production of the crop.
Earlier, the Finance and Administration Officer of the Foundation, Mr Stephen Goyit, explained that ISDB sponsored 70 per cent and Al-Muhibah Foundation sponsored 30 per cent of the project.
He said based on the project design, the 40 water pumping machines and accessories were distributed to the women farmers in a cluster for easy monitoring.
Goyit added that a total sum of N30,000 was given to each of the beneficiaries for feeding and transportation allowances.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Grace Yohana who expressed happiness to have received the training, appreciated Al-Muhibah Foundation for the ‘kind gesture’.
“I’m very happy about this intervention. They gave us N30,000, we learned many things about fonio farming and the state Ministry of Agriculture has also promised to give each of us one bag of fertilizer,” she said.
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