Jun 12, 2012

Saving the Music Culture of Jos

I have often believed that Jos, the capital of my home state has a reputation for producing music talent. I was however devastated when I traveled and lived in Port Harcourt where I saw it that it is not only Jos that has a brilliant music culture.

When Bongos Ikwe granted me an interview sometimes in 2009, I was astonished when he revealed that he had stayed in Jos as a kid and even attended, St. Lukes Primary School.  Apart from Bongos that has had a stint with our city; there are only a few artists to have emerged out of our city. The ones I can remember include Psquare, Jeremiah Gyang and the core members of the Chocolate City artists that include M-I, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz. There is also the black member of the British pop group, Lighthouse Family, who is said to have schooled in Baptist High Secondary School Jos, I can’t think of enough artists to make us think that we rule the nation in this territory, especially given the kind of noise along this line.

I have often heard that Tuface was born in Jos but refused to believe it until I read an interview he granted to an online publication when he was asked where he was born. Tuface answered in the affirmative that he was born in Jos. According to Tuface, his parents came from Benue State. Later they moved from Jos to Benue State and back to Jos again. From Jos, they moved to Kano and back to Jos again, then Benue again and then Enugu from where he moved to Lagos to pursue a professional career in music.

After reading this interview I was then able to add Tuface to the list of artists with links to Jos. My believe that Jos is a fountain of music talent is now returning except for one thing – the fear that we may not be able to sustain it for long. This is because certain traditions helped to build and nurture the luminous music culture in the city. This tradition seems to be going extinct. If the traditions go, whatever it gave us will also vanish.

The manner in which the only television and radio stations of PTV and Radio Plateau that letter evolved to become PRTV was run encouraged the unique music culture in the city. Whereas most public radio and TV stations in other states insist on radio stations that promoted traditional African cultures or religious issues, those in Jos looked more in the direction of the Western approaches to issues, playing mostly Western music. On the state-owned electronic media houses, Western style programs probably used to corner more than 90% of air time. The broadcasters of the station where chosen by the high quality of what they have naturally and non-resident presenters where also chosen by merit based on talent they were perceived have which is necessary to inspire fans.

These days however everything is changing. In choosing workers of radio stations, value has been thrown to the gutters. Along the same vein, the presenters are also not chosen by merit. Persons without any interest in music can be given jobs as radio presenters. All these point to the direction of declining professionalism. One practice that is working to destroy standards is the fact that such DJs take money from desperate musicians to play their demos. The more of such demos they play, the more money they get from the owners of the demos. One is thus compelled to turn off his radio due to unattractive presentations as the airwaves are always littered with garbage. Good DJs who are confident of themselves make money through live shows where their fans pay to see them live and have good times and not by dominating the airwaves with detritus.

Good schools have played a huge role. Of course, J-town has often beat its chest in pride that has often been provoked by the presence of fabulous schools on the land. Some easily come to mind and include mind-changing rendezvous such as St. Joseph College Vom, Hill Crest School, Baptist High School, St. Louis College Jos, Nakam Memorial High Secondary School, St. Murrumba College, Government Science School Kuru, Plateau College Sharam, Boys High School Gindiri just to mention the most conspicuous. The best minds from these schools provided the extraordinary power that constantly inspired J-Towners to develop a scintillating music culture. Perhaps it becomes pertinent at this point to mention names of persons that played their roles in shaping the culture of the city. Some names include Joe Black, Nansel Nimyel, Charles Ibezim, Yakubu Lamai, L-D Extralarge, Fracis Oga, Abigail “Mama Jamma”, Uncle Steve, Morris Sua, Victor Duga, now professor, in just pointing out a few.

It has often been said that competition breeds excellence and one would have taught that the arrival of other radio and TV stations, particularly the  private ones should have started setting up a new pace that will compel the others to stand up. Sadly, the new ones have failed to live up to expectations.

Talents are gifts from God to mankind to enable him add value to life and make the world a better place. When these divine gifts are thrown to the garbage tribulations, will as you might expect, will follow.

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