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Nafisa Atiku: Pop Culture & the Important Conversations We Should Have About Socio-Political Awareness

Nafisa Atiku



Beyonce delivers amazing 2-hour set at #Coachella | HighlightsFlashback to when Beyoncé released her stellar album called, “Lemonade”. To some it was one of the greatest works of art ever produced in music. It was music that was expressive, heartfelt and brutally honest. Above all, it embodied a message for social justice and responsibility. Jamming all the way to her hit song “Freedom” by her and Kendrick Lamar inspired messages of strength and resilience for the black community in their struggle to achieve equality and end black shootings in America. It became a political anthem for justice.

Jay Z responded to the issues of the violent police killings by releasing a song called, “Spritual”. When Nigeria was awash with the horrific news of our people being traded as slaves in Libya; Pastor Jimmy Odukoya a popular actor and musician also known as “Pastor J” released a freestyle rap which had over 20,000 views on Instagram. All artistes, speaking out about societal issues in different genres, promoting social justice and their messages producing a legacy that would outlive them.

This is a prime example of using pop culture as a vehicle to accomplish social justice within a society. Bringing it back home, we remember Fela and his very relevant songs and how they shaped our society today. His songs have become a staple in Nigerian culture and are strangely prophetic as they vibrantly describe the struggle of every Nigerian in a quest for better leadership.

Frankly, I think we have underestimated the power of art, media and music to promote the message of inclusiveness of women in the political space and this is a tool that we should use consistently. These days, young people who wish to listen to an artiste who creates art, communicates messages that embody their struggle, and gives voice to their aspirations and dreams, have no one to turn to.

I do not think it is enough to have seasonal posts of how women should be involved in politics or occasional campaigns. I know I might be shaking a table, but it is a much-needed shake. It should be a message that is consistently carried and pushed for the wholesome development of society. We need a pop culture that promotes a conversation on why politics should not be gender specific but based on competencies and of course integrity. It is activism becoming mainstream.

Fela is legendary not just because of his awesome funky afrobeats but because; the message contained within the music is relevant. He is the definition of staying power. His music has outlived generations and left a legacy.

Ten years from now, when our political leadership has drastically improved, we’re going to play Fela’s music on whatever techy gadgets exist in the future and acknowledge how it awoke the consciousness of young Nigerians to take responsibility and make a change. The thing is, in advocating for good governance over bad leadership, we have Fela, Timi Dakolo, TY Bello amongst other prominent artistes in this generation, however for women inclusion in politics and gender parity; who do we have as a voice in mainstream pop culture? Have we forgotten that in sustainable democracies, having women also involved actively in the halls of governance is inevitable? This is a space; our artistes must own and give a voice to women around the country to tackle various societal damages.

Music in particular should not just be an avenue to generate wealth but a platform to speak up about social issues, which hinder the development of the society, and for the purposes of this article, gender parity.

Photo Credit: Instagram / @beyonce

Atiku Nafisa Emmanuella is a legal practitioner, public speaker, CEO of Kambi Hair Products and founder of NYouthSpeaks; a civic education platform that sensitizes Nigerian youth on critical national issues and through economic empowerment helps them to make a difference in their local communities. She is an advocate for young people in politics and this passion led her to become one the founding members of LASO Youths, an organization meant to inspire Nigerian youth to take responsibility for their nation. She is a 2018 Walter Carrington Fellow, a fellowship created by the US Consulate Lagos.


  1. anon

    April 18, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    the only platform for women is one whereby women say what men want to hear. Which is why all women empowerment platforms start and stop at the office and must include doing all to please the husband. Our richest woman is only asked about housework. the quickest way to garner likes online is to speak about submission and doing all the domestic work at home although you provide financially as well. Keeping silent about abuse or providing financially is taught as a form of wisdom. Look at chimamanda, the only reason she’s so famous is because she’s abroad. She would have been silenced or ignored if she lived in Nigeria, although her amazing writing is successful in Nigeria. People only discuss domestic vioelnce or rape when it’s something they can use to silence the movement eg people saying Ceecee’s attitude justifies domestic violence. Misogyny is the bedrock of Nigerian culture, and sadly, we have a long way to go. People actually hate women, and that’s the truth. Only listen to casual conversations or church sermons. Except for maybe a few privileged women or bold women.

  2. Physio Tinu

    April 18, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Is it the women shaking bum bum and leaving nothing for imagination in Naija songs that would be advocating for inclusion in politics? Abeg, leave matter for mathias, we still have a long way to go

    • Larz

      April 19, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      I believe Beyonce is the queen of bum shaking and she sure is as poltically active as they come.

  3. Aare farmland

    April 19, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    There a lot of nice messages in your article especially the end which shows you came with thoughtful article. but my feeling is art is great when it comes from normal experiences, feelings and expressions of people or artists. It may just be that many popular artists do not think it is the main thing they want to share with others or . It is best if it comes naturally or from an artists from a well off background. The pseudo-women’s movement in Nigeria feels, looks, smells and taste elitist mixed with some social-culture status envy instead of counterculture. It is more about how daddy took care of me but my manager does not recognize my talent or I want to achieve what I ever I want to and I want my boyfriend or husband to know that. If the woman is promoted, I doubt the hiring or promotional practices of the promoted woman will still be objective, it will be subjective to the personal whims of the woman just like a man. Women have the opportunity to change the country’s narrative and culture, instead of promoting me,my family and my friends, they can focus on fair hiring and promotional practices, human rights, anti-discrimination laws on education, health, finance, jobs, house-helps, Promotion of technology and economic development. Women’s movement will succeed if they are not trying to be another douche bag at the table. Any major step the country takes forward with will help a woman. If a counterculture or progressive mindset exist it then cam motivate the artist. But apart from an elitist artist, artist have to write and sing songs they believe or want to sing for the next five to forty years.

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