Last week, Nigerian rapper Falz dropped the video to his acclaimed song Child of the World off his sophomore album “27“. As expected, the video dredged a lot of attention, mostly for the message portrayed in the song and ultimately the video. This essay isn’t about the video, but the song ─ the video is merely a reflection of the song. Also, since the release of the video the song has understandably enjoyed a rejuvenation since music videos have a way of dragging attention back to the actual song.
The song has been praised for its conscious message on a salient social issue, rape. On the surface, this song may very much look like the best conscious song of the past year and Nigerians are embracing its good intentions. However, the song−through its subtle re-enforcement of stereotypes and pandering to the general miseducation of rape−actually does a lot of harm in its very conceited and shallow attempt at directing social consciousness towards the subject matter.
The song Child of the World tells the story of a bright young woman who is a virgin. She goes to spend some time with her uncle after her graduation from the University, and “Unku” rapes her. The trauma launches her into a life of sexual promiscuity, and she eventually ends up with HIV.
As earlier mentioned, the message of the song is only reflective on the surface. Beneath it lies the inherent danger that does a lot of insidious damage to the consciousness of the uninformed listener. While many Nigerians have unsurprisingly praised the ‘depth’ of song’s message, some of us saw beyond the feeble attempt at highlighting the evil of sexual violence and the long-term damages that follow.
Falz - Child Of The World (Official Video)Watch Now 'Le Vrai Bahd Guy' : https://youtu.be/CdvY-tfI3ME
'Child Of The World' is taken from the 3rd Solo Studio album by FalzTheBahdGuy
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First off, the song promotes the miseducated assumption that HIV is a consequence of one’s promiscuity. One of the most significant challenges in the fight to end the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS patients is the fact that a lot of people associate the virus with sexual promiscuity, which could not be more wrong considering that sexual intercourse is just one of many ways to contract the virus.
Over the years we’ve had popular media such as movies and stories promoting this stereotype. A very vivid example of this is Tyler Perry’s 2013 romance/drama film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counsellor. The film suffered negative reviews from critics because HIV was made the moral karma of the young lady who had cheated on her husband.
In Child of the World, Falz creates a character who, flawed by a predicament she suffered in the hands of a man she once called family, devolves into a sexually promiscuous lady who eventually has to suffer for all of her past ‘sins’ by becoming HIV positive. So familiar, so typical. Like we haven’t watched poorly enough written home videos that fed this stereotype already. I hope the next time you come across an HIV patient you’re not tempted to conclude that she was bunking all the men in her hood.
Second, Child of the World creates a perfect victim; a girl, virgin and living the Nigerian Dream (whatever that is) of finishing school with a first class is raped by her uncle. This begs for ponder; why he had to create a perfect victim for the rape to resonate more. Would (or wouldn’t) the deed be as chilling as it was if the victim wasn’t a virgin? Would it take away the fact that the act was a terrible one if the victim was say, a sexually active girl? We are in an age where rape victims are shamed based on the premise that they were not sexually innocent in the first place.
A girl visits her boyfriend, and she’s raped, and people wonder how it is that she claims to be raped when she is already in a sexual relationship with the man. So when you create a rape story that merely echoes the typical stereotype of what a true rape victim should be like, of a victim whose ‘innocence’ was brutally taken away by the sexual predator, you are only mirroring the narrow scope from which rape is viewed from by the society. In essence, you are shielding the listeners from the broader, more extensive spectrum that rape spans in reality.
Thirdly, the story is told of a man who rapes his niece. This is merely pandering to the moral sentiments of the average Nigerian, because frankly, more people will get pissed off at a man who violates his niece, including people who rape other people. I mean, we are stuck in a society that only acknowledges extreme cases’ rape, like a man molesting a child or a relative. Like I asked earlier, would the story resonate more if it were about a girl who got raped by say, a friend or a random guy like it happens most of the time? This is not to negate the fact that a lot of women get sexually violated by relatives they once trusted. But while it is not entirely wrong to create a story that merely mirrors an already popular moral sentiment, is it too much to ask that more could have been done in enlightening people about the subtler acts of sexual violence that people often (very conveniently) choose to brush away.
As if the two above mentioned holes aren’t deep enough, while the uncle entirely gets away with his act, the rest of Child of the World focuses on the girl going through a chain of events triggered by the sexual abuse. She ends up broken and decides to lead a toxic lifestyle that ends up in her contracting HIV before ending up in introspection and eventually U-turning. The girl had to suffer from the consequences of an act that she was a victim of.
The uncle who committed the rape?
Well, his role in the story ends from the point he raped her. It is pertinent to note that while the story is based solely on analyzing the girl and her future choices, the uncle just faded away (very conveniently, again) from the story.
Finally, of course, the sexually promiscuous girl has to have a sexual abuse background story. One would think this plot should be left to soft-sell romance but no, had to be imported right into this song. No, Falz, sexual abuse doesn’t necessarily push girls into irresponsible sexual behavior. It is a very uneducated stereotype too.
Nigerian millennials−not particularly inclined to conscious music as almost all the other mainstream acts prefer to focus on inane content−will celebrate anything wrapped in the veil of socially themed releases. Which is why we can’t entirely knock Child of the World’s weak attempt at conscious music because−like I am wont to be told for writing this piece−unlike his colleagues in the mainstream media, he is at least making an effort.
Strong thoughts aside, Falz’s goof might have come out of good intentions wrongly executed. I hope to God that somehow he improves on the way his messages are presented and we as consumers of Nigerian music get to upgrade our taste in music quality.
Victor Daniel is a Nigerian graduate of Law, a short story writer and a part-time social critic. His pieces have appeared in various blogs and international literary journals such as The Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, Linda Ikeji’s Blog, Ynaija, SDK etc. He plays video games and hates on Ronaldo in his spare time. Not a virgin.
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