“The personality no matter at all
Individuality cannot make us tall
I sing, I sing, for all y’all
Don’t let anybody push you to the wall
Na community na in make us tall
Secret society na in break us all…”
– 2Face, “Only Me”

Just before you arrive at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, you will see a grey bungalow on your left as you move along the driveway. The bungalow is always manned by two armed soldiers and you can’t get in if you don’t have clearance or if you haven’t made an appointment weeks before. In that bungalow, there’s a white room. It is said that there’s a 57-year-old book gently placed on a table in the middle of that room. It’s called Arodan. In the second chapter of Arodan, on the 15th page, and in the first paragraph, there is a quote that reads, “Thou shalt not lead a protest if thou art not a saint. Thou canst only rally the masses to demand a better life if thou art without sin.” It’s ironic how very few people are aware of the existence of this book. And anyone who has ever read it will never be surprised by anything that happens within the geographical expression that is called Nigeria, for all that is to this country is written therein.

My grandfather read the book twice in his lifetime and it was he who told me about that quote, among many others. This is why I was not surprised to hear that some people had risen to oppose 2Face Idibia’s decision to lead a protest against the government on the grounds that he was unfit. And by unfit, they mean that he is not a saint because he has seven children from three different women.

About the protest

On the 25th of January 2017, artiste 2Face (real name: Innocent Idibia) announced via his Instagram page that he would be leading a nationwide protest against the federal government on February 5th. The purpose of the protest was to make “a call for good governance” and an “urgent explanation into the reckless economic downturn nationwide,” among other things. He wrote that “There’s need for Nigerians to rise against what is happening in this country having waited patiently for the legislatures that were elected to represent the people all to no avail.”

Upon announcement, the planned protest received positive reactions, with several Nigerians pledging support for it. Fellow artistes Davido and Burna Boy also said they would support the protest. However, as the days went by, dissenting voices started rising. First from fellow celebrities like Funke Akindele and Bovi Ugboma, then from the presidency, with one of the president’s many special advisers, Femi Adesina, chalking the protest up to political jealousy.

However, the dissenting voice that has been loudest on social media has been the one calling 2Face’s morality into question, and it is pure pettiness. They say that 2Face is not qualified to lead a protest because he has seven children from three different women; he is not good enough to spearhead a nationwide rally against poor governance, they say.

These people fail to realise, or even simply remember, that no one is blameless. Moreso, no one who has ever led a revolution has led an unquestionable life. The people that history tells us to look up to, the Fela Kutis, the Nelson Mandelas, the Martin Luther King Jrs, all of them made their marks in spite of the blots in their lives.

We are taught to look at history through the lens of revisionism and in the process, we conveniently ignore the attributes of revolutionaries that do not add much to the narratives we peddle about them. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter to the cause of racial equality that MLK was a serial adulterer, as it did not matter to the cause of South Africa’s freedom from Apartheid that Nelson Mandela was not a great family man, and as it also does not matter to Fela’s desire to cause social change through his music that he was as far away from the ideal role model as any Nigerians are taught to think about role models. But we will be foolish to deny the impact these men made on history, as history itself bears witness to their legacies.

As MLK led marches and made his speeches, as Nelson Mandela and his friends fought against the evils of Apartheid, as Fela composed timeless music to challenge the evils of the Nigerian government, the people who were affected by the ills those men sought to wipe out were willing to overlook their flaws for the greater good. What 2Face is planning to do with the protest, which has now been rescheduled for February 6, is for the greater good and he deserves as much support as possible.

2Face has been making socially conscious music from the beginning of his career and he, like any other Nigerian tired of the disappointing status quo, has every right to protest. He’s a famous artiste with a voice and he is ready to use it outside of his music. In the past, Nigerians have expressed disappointment in the content of the music of many artistes, saying that they lack constructive lyrics. Now, an artiste who has shown many times through his music that he really cares about the country has decided to step outside his comfort zone and demand accountability from the government. He should be supported and not booed and he has every right to lead a protest, warts and all.

“For instance
Say na me be Baale of Nigerians
Say na me be one wey dey make plan
Say I go create a scenery where better go plenty…”
– 2Face, “4 Instance”

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