Freedom Of Speech Under Siege In Nigeria? Falz’s ‘This Is Nigeria’ Banned

Falz Photo Courtesy: Pulse
Falz
Photo Courtesy: Pulse

Less than three months after it was released, Nigeria’s broadcast regulator has banned This Is Nigeria, an adaptation of Childish Gambino’s This Is America hit track.

The track and video by Falz, a Nigerian rapper, tackled Nigeria’s many ills ranging from corruption to nepotism and insecurity with several witty lines and references, just like Childish Gambino’s original.

But Nigeria’s regulatory body is clamping down on one line in particular: “This is Nigeria, everybody be criminal.” The broadcasting commission says the line is “vulgar” and cannot be aired. The ban also comes after some push back by Muslims Rights Concern, an Islamic advocacy group, which said the portrayal of the Fulani tribe and young girls dancing in hijabs in the video was “negative” and had “the potential of causing religious crisis of unprecedented dimension.”

Bans on songs by the broadcasting commission in Nigeria are quite common. However, they typically involve songs with lyrics deemed overtly sexual or profane. As Nigeria’s modern music stars are often criticized for a lack of social commentary in their music, compared to legends like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the ban on This Is Nigeria is likely to hurt any chances of more socially conscious songs from pop stars who are mainly hoping to score big hits and lucrative endorsements.

Beyond restricting airplay on local radio and television, NBC’s ban will not have much of an effect online. The video remains available on YouTube and has already garnered 13 million views.

                                                                               

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