"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbours to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior oppurtunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough." — Abraham Lincoln
The story is told of the man who asked his friend to tell him the truth about his behaviour and as soon as his friend started to speak, he turned away and did not wait to listen. Our story here echoes the noise that has trailed the release of Folarin Falana's video, 'This is Nigeria'.
One notices that those who have a problem with the central idea of the film, as it portrays the Nigerian condition in blunt terms, have instead brought forth other issues to masquerade their real grudges. Some have said it is an intellectual copyright infringement of Childish Gambino's work, 'This is America'. Up until when P. Diddy, a popular American artiste shared the video on his social media.
Having lost the facade of sellable arguments, the detractors of the video moved on to the statement "everybody be criminal" and claimed everyone is not a criminal. Of course, we understand the statement means crime being extensive and contagious but the detractors have kept seeking sellable arguments to cover up for their real grudges of the video exposing the condition of Nigeria.
The statement of the Muslim Rights Council released by Prof. Ishaq Akintola requires some cursory analysis, as it is the latest in the list of attacks on the video. MURIC, like the earlier, have raised the issue of hijab and girls in hijab dancing 'Shaku Shaku'. This is in itself, by my opinion, a diversion from grudges with how the video exposed the rot of the nation and the Muhammadu Buhari administration that MURIC has always shown sentimental attachment towards. For instance, MURIC supported the statement of Buhari that Nigerian youth are lazy.
In lieu of this, we can be certain that MURIC has an attachment to the government of Buhari and are masking it with the supposed use of hijab.
Folarin Falana has famously asked which law the use of girls dancing in hijab is against. It suffices to help MURIC answer these questions. Which law(s) can this grudge of theirs supposedly cover?
We must first note that freedom of religion is covered under the constitution. Section 38 of the constitution provides freedom of religion, thought and conscience.
Is there any violation of this? Definitely, there is none.
Is it offensive to have girls dancing in hijab?
As art, music is a form of expression and dance is a form of expression. Ishaq Akintola of Muric argues that Chibok girls are not dancing and Falana Folarin cannot possibly be portraying Chibok girls. We can explain instead that the dance symbolises catastrophe and 'Shaku Shaku', as it is known, involves scattering various body parts, which indicates the condition of the nation and how the ladies are held.
I wonder why MURIC had no problem with similar portrayal of the chibok girls in the popular movie Black Panther. Perharps, because their real sensitivities and grudges with the Muhammadu Buhari regime were not hurt.
Music that draws attention to a particular menace may use symbolism and dances that the target audience can relate with in order to drive the message home. The argument of Ishaq Akintola that Chibok girls are sad and cannot be dancing is null because the dance is an artistic event and art can be interpreted or misinterpreted. The person with original interpretation is what is left to be known. But the artist has the message and his interpretation would be taken more seriously by the courts.
The hijab symbol is a religious one but does Islam frown against dances in hijab?
There is a controversy on this issue. Islamic scholars are divided. This division is all that is necessary as a section of Islam cannot claim they are hurt when another section has no problem with dancing hijab ladies. A section cannot act on behalf of the totality and if MURIC gets to court they cannot argue that they represent all muslims and that Islam has been attacked in the video. It is not an absolute issue.
MURIC has asked that Falz, as he is popularly known, withdraw the video in seven days. But is that possible? Withdraw it from my phone too? Withdrawing videos is relatively impossible in this age and time. Their request is not only impossible but also impracticable.
In closing, we only need to ask MURIC.
Is this not Nigeria? Was Folarin Falana and Femi Falana, whose voice sounded as the intro wrong, in their statements? Is herdsmen not on a national rampage? Do pastors not do what they are portrayed as doing?
Are drug addicts not in the country? Do rich people not buy their children out of criminal cases and commit the crime of compounding?
Let us ask ourselves;
Is this not Nigeria?
Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, can be reached on [email protected]