Secular musicians’ use of religious scenes to shoot videos: How appropriate?

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Over the past few years, deployment of religious symbolism by some secular Nigerian musicians for their artistic expressions culminating in perceived abuse has continued to generate controversies. Members of the faiths whose religious imageries are said to be negatively applied by the performing artistes in question have flayed such practice – claiming it offends their sensibilities.Last year, David Adeleke (Davido) and his new signee, Olori, received backlash from a few Nigerians over what was termed insensitivity of the duo to the Islamic religion depicted in their music video ‘Jaye Lo’ which eventually had to be pulled down. Ahmed Ololade, a.k.a Asake, a Muslim, has become the latest Nigerian Afrobeat musician to be criticized for allegedly disrespecting Christianity in his latest video titled ‘Only Me.’ Leveraging on the opportunity presented by the recently-held ‘Peace Is Possible 3.0’ musical concert in Abuja. In this report Patrick Wemambu, sought the views of some attendees with working knowledge of the industry on the subject, happy reading:

Cecilia Okorooma
Gospel Singer

“In such a situation (where secular musicians wrongly use religious scenes to shoot videos), who do you blame? You should blame the Church authorities. I mean the Church is a sacred place. Some time ago, we went to the Ecumenical Centre (now National Christian Centre) in Abuja…someone was organizing a birthday event inside the Church. I took offence to that. Celebrating birthday inside a worship centre, who is to blame? The Church authority is to be blamed! Go to Churches now, people play secular music, do what you see in Night Clubs. Too many wrong things!”

Dr. (Sir) Jude Nnam, Liturgical Music Writer/Performer

“For me, it is wrong (for a secular musician to use a religious scene to shoot videos). It is an insult on Christianity in general (in the case of Asake). I want to believe they (concerned musicians) do this because of the gentle disposition of Christians because Christianity is a religion of peace, religion of non-violence. They feel anyone can do anything and get away with it. I want to believe no one can try that with Islam…(Asake) wearing Cassock, coming to the Altar with Crucifix and Chalice and doing all sorts of things (in the Church) that have nothing to do with the song itself doesn’t make sense…images don’t sell songs, it’s the lyrics.”

Lady Onyeka Onwenu
Veteran Broadcaster/Songwriter/Social Activist

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid
Former Chief Imam, Juma’at Mosque, Apo Legislative Qtrs, Abuja.

“If you believe in secularism, you have to be secular in everything…but if you believe in one religion, use that religion, promote it…If you’re a musician and you’re a Christian, you can use Christian background to preach Christianity. If you are a Muslim, you can use music as a musician to preach Islam…It is only in one situation that you can use religious background in your music…as a secular musician when you are talking of peace, unity, harmony you can now use the backgrounds of all the religions without discriminations.”

Helen Habila Zakaria (Mama Tay)
Gospel/Secular Artiste

“In music, there is no song that is not teaching you something. I did a song (with a perceived secular tinge), my pastor banned me from the Church…To me, it doesn’t matter (whether secular artistes use religious scenes in their visuals or not). The important thing about music is to draw crowd. People will always say things so what do you do? Just keep on going as long as the crowd is happy with what you’re doing (as a performer).”

Joseph Ekandem
Ecclesiastical Music Advocate/Composer

“…I’m believing that the Church that has been cajoled in so many ways (will rise up to the occasion). I’m calling on the authorities concerned to moderate these kind of activities (use of religious symbolism by secular artistes to abuse artistic expressions) … to avoid bringing down the valued faith of the Church…dragging the honour that is due a particular faith like the Catholic Church to the mud.”

Performing Artiste

“Sorry, I wouldn’t want to comment on the matter.”

Rev. Sr. Mary-Claire Nse

“In my opinion, I see it (subject in question) as promotion of Christianity…for God’s proclamation depending on the perspective (from which) one sees it. I see it personally as promotion of the Gospel.”

Ambassador (Prof) Martin Uhomoibhi2024 Edo State PDP Gubernatorial Aspirant

“Thank you very much for bringing me into this conversation. It’s something that has bothered me very much. I think it’s desecration, insensitive, not acceptable. You cannot insult consecrated places on the altar of nonsense really…I think it’s not right because it’s even empirically not correct what they are doing. Do those things (wrong religious symbolisms) prevail in our Church? No. Those things prevail in the Mosques? I don’t think so. I think it’s lack of respect for people who have those faiths to use them the way they (concerned Performing Artistes) are doing. Actually, it’s insulting those religions whether Christian or Muslim.”

Ijeoma Osamor
TV Presenter/Producer

“There’s something some of our Artistes do not understand. And that is that religion is very sentimental so whatever you do, try and avoid what will touch the chord of another person. Why they do that (use religious scenes wrongly to shoot secular videos) is because they know they can get popularity for their songs…they are using this for business…not the right purpose to send the right message across. If the message you’re passing across has no relationship with religion, then why use it when you know that people can easily get angry and it can trigger violence…The concerned Artistes should understand that this country is fragile and we do not need anything that will trigger violence in any quarter.”

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