I am angry. I realize that for many, especially the Nigerian men who may read this article, the topic at hand might seem a non-issue. Further, I realize that even for women whom this directly affects, the response might be shoulder shrugs and a statement such as, “what else is new?” Nevertheless, folks, we gotta talk about this issue and really start thinking through it.
I began my introduction with a notice to you all that I was angry. Why? I recently watched the video just released by Nigerian artist Timaya titled ‘bum bum;’ which was shot and directed by Clarence Peters and it made me very frustrated and angry. Why?
How about you watch first and then I’ll tell you why.
1. Clarence Peters & Timaya’s ‘Bum Bum’ Make it Clear Women are Treated as Property in Nigeria
As difficult as it is to admit it, the reality, straight up, is that Nigerian women are treated as property and perceived that way by the (average) Nigerian man in Nigeria. I don’t care how educated many of these Nigerian men are, within the Nigerian society; women are treated and seen as such, period.
Clarence Peters ‘Bum bum’ video underscores this truth and to be honest, it hurts. The Nigerian woman in Nigeria is assaulted, battered, raped and abused, at alarming rates, with absolutely NO legal protection or recourse. In fact, sometimes, it is the mercy of mobs that take matters into their own hands, vigilante style, that help save some of these women who fall victims to these batterers and sexual predators. Further, to secure employment, as a woman, it is not unusual that a male employer offering you a job requests sex in exchange for the job. It is also not unusual, even as an employed staff, to be sexually harassed or physically battered/assaulted by male staff and male patrons of the company you work at.
Even female artists in the music industry cannot escape this culture of treating women as property. Indeed one too many have complained to me about the expectation to put out sexual favors just to even begin their careers. Within the country, the above is just a tip of the iceberg on what many women have to contend with. Further, over the years, thousands of Nigerian women have been sold into sex trafficking in Europe. In the West, the Nigerian woman and African women, in general, have to contend with very backward mentality by Westerners that (Africa’s) citizens are poverty stricken and most likely have HIV AIDS. For decades, Africans have complained that Whites are writing the African story and it is a terrible story. However, when we finally get a chance to write our own story, Nigerian men now write our story and the depiction of who we are as Nigerian women is no different.
The attack, assault and over-sexualization of the Nigerian woman in the Clarence Peters and Timaya ‘bum bum’ video is unacceptable. However, because women are simply properties and have no value, Peters and Timaya know they can get away with this. Infact, the video indeed is intended for Nigerian men, many of whom already hail Peters for it.
2. Clarence Peters and Timaya Make it Clear Children are Properties with the ‘Bum bum’ Video
As I have said before on AML, children simply have no value in Nigeria. They are seen but not heard. For starters, a society that values its children will not have millions of them out on the streets hawking goods or working as scavengers when they should be in school. For those who can afford a television, Uncle Peters and Timaya have a present. It’s called “shake your ‘bum bum’ just like aunty in the video.”
Junior will impersonate Uncle Timaya, while Rosie will shake her bum bum like aunty. I don’t know if NBC intends to ban this video. I, however, think we need more lawyers to step up in the music industry. I get so many emails and contacts in general from lawyers on the continent. What are you waiting for? Jump in. Get educated and competent on the music industry and jump in. The industry needs you. Why? I think the industry ought to be regulated. As it stands, it isn’t. Nigeria is the biggest music industry out of Africa. What it does affects its neighboring countries as well as Nigeria; and there ought to be a strong legal system that provides boundary lines, and corresponding punishment for those who intend to push beyond that.
3. Clarence Peters and Timaya’s Video Reminded me of the Nigerian’s Low Self Esteem and Intense Need to be Western.
There is no other group out of Africa that seeks to be Westernized, by any means necessary, than Nigerians. We (men and women) outmatch any group, anytime, any day out of Africa. It is simply sickening to me. I understand the history of the country, I get where this mentality comes from but many times, I wonder when we will snap out of it! The ‘bum bum’ video is an illustration of this. It is a bad competition with America’s hip-hop community and specifically those who produce these kinds of videos to see who can produce the best ‘shake that ass’ videos.
Mr. Clarence Peters, son of the legendary Shina Peters. Sir, do you realize Nigerian women WILL pay a huge and personal cost for this negative image you continue to create of us? WE SIMPLY, in Nigeria, do not have the legal infrastructure (enforceable) to protect us. How many cases of rapes are reported daily or do we hear of in the news? What about sexual harassments? Again, in the music industry alone, the reports I have received, over time, from young female artists trying to make it and the demand by men to have sex in order to even begin a career is mind boggling. We are only focusing on the music industry. This disease, as you know or should know, permeates all parts of Nigerian life.
What responsibility do you think you have when it comes to the videos you make? You and your company enjoy a huge market share and shoot a larger percentage of most of the videos coming out of Nigeria. Yes, you have made some respectable videos. I have praised you for it. However, for this specific genre of videos you have been shooting lately, what exactly do you believe your moral obligation is in how you portray the Nigerian woman’s image? Is it an unfettered discretion because we do not have more women like Kemi Adetiba shooting music videos?
To the Nigerian woman reading this, don’t just fold your arms and take this. Don’t just hiss and what have you and move on. It affects YOU. YES YOU. You need not have answers as to how this will stop. It may grow and worsen. We may very well find ourselves where the Black American woman is. But, we are at the very infancy stage of this future. So, say something and do something. You already have to tell the world that:
1. No we are not all prostitutes;
2. No we are not all 419ers/fraudsters;
3. No we are not all drug dealers;
4. No we do not all have AIDS; AND now Clarence Peters and Timaya add another stereotype that you have to defend? You shouldn’t be okay with this.
When a group of people, even if they are your lovers, spouses etc., are creating a negative image and impression of you and your demography, you cannot and should not sit and watch silently. The culture of silence, especially by women, when there should be no silence has come as a huge price to womankind in Nigeria. Again, no matter how educated you are or your socio-economic status, it does not change the overall negative impact images like these have and will have on you, especially if you live in Nigeria. We can’t fool ourselves on the reality of things on the ground despite the illusions painted in music videos and an exploding entertainment industry. Women and girls are sexually harassed and raped daily; and when persons like Clarence Peters shoot videos like this, it increases the risks these women are exposed to, given the kind of society Nigeria currently is.
Ladies, you need to begin this dialogue with your boyfriends, brothers, fathers, uncles, sisters, mothers etc. If you ignore, you and your female loved ones, daughters etc. will have a lot more to contend with in the nearest future. I can assure you, both from a legal and non-legal standpoint, that such future will not be pretty.