Sometime in September, while condemning xenophobia, the Nigerian philosopher/prophet Burna Boy (Government Name: Damini Ogulu) solemnly vowed on Twitter to fight South African Rapper AKA (Government Name: Unknown). Tweet made 3rd of September 2019, exactly a month ago, has now been deleted.
The logic behind this gauntlet drop is pretty clear. International Law stipulates that if two musicians physically fight, the country of the loser has to apologise to the country of the winner and stop extra-judicial killings. Xenophobia solved.
So in solidarity of Burna’s brave decision to be Nigeria’s Champion, I decided to listen to our dada-haired Messiahs 2019 banger “Anybody.” While listening I had an epiphany. The chorus of the song is fire but it also raises a fascinating question. It goes:
Anybody, wey no want to soji
Anybody, wey no dey carry body
Nack am something, ahh
Nack am something
To ba ta fele, fele
Nack am something
It suddenly hit me. I mean I get wanting to beat up AKA (who doesn’t right?!) but the scope of this chorus goes further than beating up one annoying rapper. Is Burna Boy advocating for physical violence on certain portions of the Nigerian population with his incendiary lyrics? The chorus literally says “Anybody, wey no want to soji or Anybody, wey no dey carry body” such persons should be “Nacked (Nigerian slang for hit) with something” promptly.
He then proceeds to stress this point by crooning that “To ba ta fele, fele”, a Yoruba phrase which roughly translates to “if they misbehave in your presence” you are entitled to hit them with a weapon of your choice.
But then why would Oluwa-Burna (with his controversial past/present/probably future) say such a thing?! I set out to find out.
I began by asking the important questions. “What does it mean to Soji?” And “Why does Burna-Boy strongly believe that a failure to do so should result in grave bodily damage?”
So “What does it mean to Soji?” This was a simple question to answer. The Nigerian man “Sojis” by “Carrying his body”. He does this by flailing his limbs around in an established rhythmic pattern. For example. He might mime the act of masturbating while hopping on both legs, etc. This act is commonly referred to in the Western World as “Dancing”.
And why “Why does Burna-Boy strongly believe that a failure to do so should result in grave bodily damage?” This was a tougher question to answer, but I solved it by digging deep and answering the existential question “What does it mean to be Nigerian?”
For a significant percentage of the population, Nigeria is a terrible place to live. Thus, the average Nigerian consistently craves literal or metaphorical moments of escape and fleeting moments of happiness. This is where Nigerian music comes in. Nigerian music (from Fela to Wizkid) has been crafted in such a way that it is impossible for a Nigerian listener (or the occasional enthusiastic white man on Instagram) not to find the joy and escape he seeks.
In plain terms, it is literally impossible not to “Soji”.
Thus in Nigeria, if a man chooses to not “Soji” when confronted with Nigerian jams, he has made a deliberate choice to pick unhappiness over joy. Such persons are locally described as Bad-Belles. Furthermore, the negative energy of a bad-belle is a contagious plague to innocent bystanders around him. Nigerian poet, WizKid echoed this sentiment when he crooned in 2018 hit “Bad Energy” that “Bad energy stay far away”. He did so because he feared its unstoppable effects.
Logically therefore, if you encounter a bad belle who refuses to Soji you should act by defending himself against such person.
In summary, Burna-Boy is a lover of peace and positive vibes not an advocate for assault merely self-defence (except when he is literally threatening to assault someone on Twitter). The hidden meaning of the chorus of “Anybody” is:
“No longer shall we passively accept the Nigerian bane of unhappiness. Never again!! Arise my fellow patriots!! Any man woman or child who wilfully chooses to deny himself and his fellow man joy, Assault him with the closest weapon!!! For if he is left unchecked our fleeting joy shall be stolen!!”
Words befitting of a true African Giant.
Guest article by Bartholomew Eboseremen