One: Nubia, Mimesis and the Philosophy of Preferences
I do remember, quite vividly, dancing to ‘Segun Akinlolu’s jagbalajugbu when I was in junior secondary school in my parent’s backyard, say age eleven, twelve. This was in the early 2000s. My back, slightly bent. Arms formed a V-shape. I made my legs take turn to split apart in sharp precision, synchronizing with the beat of the song. I think my two brothers must have been watching on, I remembered smiling, and of course I sang along.
E ba ngbon’do yi gbe
Jangbala jugbu jugbu jugbu jangbala
Ojo t’o ro l’ana yen, gbogbo ile l’omi ro si
Gbogbo aso lo tutu
Baale ile ti sun lo fonfon o
Gbogbo omode l’omi ti ko lo o…
Songs like Owuro’lojo and What a feeling! are other of his prominent songs that crossed my path around the time; and then somehow I lost touch for many years. I thought he stopped singing. And I couldn’t be more wrong. Fast-forward many years later, I found the bug – my milieu (had) selected for my preferences.
Perhaps the best way to articulate this is through the lenses of the great anthropological philosopher, Rene Girard. In the first stage of his mimetic theory – mimetic desire, he argues that humans are terribly helpless when it comes to what to desire (and I agree). As such, a subject (you, me) scans for a model (your friend, your neighbor) in order to desire what the model desires. Friends, what we have here is a triangular structure of desire that filters our preferences through the eyes of the model. Whether we know it or not. This, as simple as it might sound explains everything in a human society, but I will leave that exegesis for another essay, as this will take me time to develop. Let’s get back to music.
Comes in music streaming apps with access to lots of music, making everyone who had access a little less vulnerable to mimesis, and then I re-discovered Beautiful Nubia. And to my amazement, he did not stop singing, people around me just stopped listening.
Friends, I stopped because they stopped.
Two: Beautiful Nubia and Socrates
Segun Akinlolu a.k.a Beautiful Nubia is the Nigerian veterinarian turned musician. His songs oozes of folklorish wisdom principally entrenched in the Yoruba culture and he sings in both the Yoruba and English language, mostly in the former. In my estimation, the general theme of his songs is bathed in a Yoruba quasi-humanism philosophical framework. That emphasizes honesty, kindness, industry, hope, bravery, love, peace; In short, a philosophic-cum-musical meditation on human nature and the human society.
However, between me and you, my love for his works also springs from his personal approach to the work he produces. To put it plainly, he reminds me of Socrates. And who is Socrates? Socrates is that dude who puts a stake in the ground because it is the right thing to do in spite of the unfashionableness of the stake in the ground. This is hard.
And what does Socartes has to do with Nubia, you ask. I say, it is the fact that Beautiful Nubia continues to produce extremely positive messages through his work for the society, even though the majority fails to ‘buy’ into the product. And if you know anything about the economy, then you should know this comes at a huge cost in a market economy. And yet he continues strongly. This inspires me. End of. (And the reader must not fail to note the ‘democratic’ motif between Socrates dilemma, and the market economy in Nubia’s case.)
On the other hand, we have musicians, artists, performers who dances to the tune of the market economy, losing themselves, standing for nothing.
Three: My Favorites
Most of the music I listened to in the past half a decade was via the spotify music app, and based on my listening pattern, Beautiful Nubia is my favorite musician. And now, I am going to do something I have tried so hard and couldn’t do – to list my favorite Beautiful Nubia songs. I have two lists that span the two languages in which in sing. These songs will be a nice place to start.
And one last thing, his songs should be approached with great care. Listen carefully (this is even more important for the Yoruba songs, as his use of the language could be deep) and let the melodies do the magic.
Thank you for reading.
The Happiness River (Oriojori-Eternal Spirits, 2012)
Kurunmi is on the Way (Irinajo, 2010)
Seven Lifes (Jangbalajugbu, 2002)
Outsider (Soundbender, 2015)
House by the Sea (Keere, 2014)
Irinajo (EniObanke, 2009)
Teramo (Sun No Dey Sleep, 2011)
Ireti-Ogo (Soundbender, 2015)
What a Feeling! (Jangbalajugbu, 2002)
Oloja (Amunudun, 2018)