Ade Bantu born Adegoke Odukoya to a Nigerian Father (Adeleke Odukoya) and German Mother (Barbara Odukoya) on 14th July, 1971 is a multiple award winning artiste, actor and activist. In this exclusive chat with me, Godwin Iheanacho, he talked about music and activism from the African perspective. Enjoy!!!
Thank you Ade Bantu for your time.
Godwin Iheanacho: Let’s begin with your 2020 first single–Animal Carnival that recently have been remixed which was inspired by the unending office stealing by Nigerian appointed or elected politicians. Why Animal Carnival as the title?
Ade Bantu: Animal Carnival is the second single off the new BANTU album “Everybody Get Agenda”. We choose this particular title because we felt it best describes the current state of Nigeria especially when it comes to corruption and the ways our office holders act with impunity. The entire country has been turned into a circus show where everything and anything goes. Of course there is public outrage and calls for enquires when another incident of snakes or gorillas swallowing money is exposed, but this only last for a few weeks and then Nigerians move on to the next distraction. It is painful to see how these civil servants and politicians are getting away with murder and daring us to come after them.
Godwin Iheanacho: With your vast experience and exposure on the music scene both locally and internationally especially as one of the long standing judge for the music realty show–Project Fame West Africa, what’s your assessment of the Nigerian music scene especially lyrical content.
Ade Bantu: It is exciting to see how Nigerian artists have now become part of the global pop music conversation, topping charts and setting trends. The new generation has been able to emancipate themselves from the stifling and condescending tag “world music” that was once used to bundle all non-white, none Northern American or European music acts. The whole world is now paying attention to African pop music, which means we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the narrative about continent. Unfortunately, most of our musicians are too obsessed with money and fame. Their lyrics rarely depict the realities of survival on ground or the trails of the common man. They are too scared to challenge oppressive governments or address issues around human rights abuses or social justice.
Godwin Iheanacho: Do you think the music of this millennium is junk compare to the music of previous generations (80s, 90s and the early part of the 20th century)
Ade Bantu: It would be very unfair and disrespectful to call the current music trends “junk”. Every generation has had their fair share of bad music there are no exceptions. The only problem I have with the current music scene is the uniformity of sounds and styles. Everyone is trying to work with the same formula, very few are taking risks or attempting to push themselves creatively. It is important to note that there is a lot of good music out there that isn’t getting the airplay it deserve. Over the past 15 years the Nigerian radio and TV landscape has changed dramatically. 80-90 percent of the top radio stations are commercial entities whose sole objective is to make money via adverts. They are not overtly concerned with adding any sort of cultural, artistic or moral value to the lives of their listeners. With these and other gate keepers in control, it is very difficult for musical outliers and innovators to be heard.
Godwin Iheanacho: As a successful commercial recording artiste, I am interested in knowing:
- What’s more important in a song, is it the CONTENT or the BEAT?
Ade Bantu: What is important is to get the right mix of content and music or beat. Striking a healthy and exciting balance is how you get people to move and listen at the same time,
- What’s your understanding of GOOD MUSIC and JUNK MUSIC?
Ade Bantu: Music is a highly personal and subjective listening experience. What is important is the genuine intentions behind a composition. I despise calculated or formulistic music. It always lacks soul and sincerity.
Godwin Iheanacho: What ignited you into Activism?
Ade Bantu: I was raised to speak up and never to look the other way. My parents never tried to silence me when I questioned some of their decisions or stood up for my rights at school. They always made sure me and my siblings understood that it was our duty to fight against injustice and to speak for the downtrodden. Seeing them live up to these truths in their daily lives when interacting with people in power or family members left an indelible mark on me.
Godwin Iheanacho: Tell me about your BornTroWay project you co–founder which was launched in Ajegunle, Lagos Nigeria in 2011
Ade Bantu: BornTroWay is a community arts projects that we set up to help kids and young adults find their voices and share their stories through music, dance and drama. The one-week programme is free. Participants are selected through an open audition and then trained in all three disciplines by a team of seasoned professionals. So far we have held workshops in Bariga, Ajegunle, Oshodi, Obalende, Port Harcourt and Durban, South Africa. The BornTroWay project has been running for 9 years.