The Beginning of Everything Genocide: A Review of Ben Jossy’s ‘Benue Child’

August 17, 2018 Music , MUSIC/FILM/TV

 

By

John Chizoba Vincent

 

 

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

When I’m writing, I’m thinking about myself, because it’s the only experience I have to draw on. And I don’t see exact reflection of myself in every face in the audience, but I know that my songs have validity to them, and that’s why the fans are there” – Chester Bennington

 

 

Great songs or sad songs often have a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open, into the light, out of the darkness…

 

This is one of those songs that leave you with memories and scars in your heart. Memories of hurt and pain, loss of loved ones, loss of a home and family members; a land which once housed you, a country you once called a home.

 

The harshness of the melody and the rhythms explained the thematic sorrow seen on the soil of Nigeria. Here is four minutes of music of Nigerian flavour styled honestly in many dynamic types of shadings, aimed at bringing the matters at stake in the country to the eyes of the world. This is that kind of song that leaves goose pimples all over your body and is sprinkled with sustained metaphoric elegies and laments, weaving counter lines interwoven, and a thick resonant chord and beat that makes it impossible for you to stop listening to it over and over.

 

According to Tom Waits songs really are like a form of time travel because they have moved forward in a bubble. Everyone who’s connected with it, the studio’s gone, the musicians are gone, and the only thing that’s left is this recording which was only about a three minute period maybe 70 years ago. But it leaves you with a blemish that would last you a lifetime.

 

Highlighting the flows of the beat and the drums, the gun shots sounding underneath will always abscond with a shadow of betrayal and that of torture in your heart. You’ll realize that our home is an endless nightmare of death and everything genocide.

 

Misery of a land that seeks human souls, the agony of a land that prefers the life of cows to its citizens; a land that promotes corruption and greed rather than unity. How do we then define ourselves in this land? How do we protect ourselves and our family in this land? Is this what our next generation stands to see? Or is there any better future for those unborn children?

 

This song defines who we are. It tells the expression of leadership spiced with selfishness and self-centered people striving for their own selfish interest at the detriment of the masses. Where then do we call home if not here? How do we define this genocide of the Benue children? Who is killing who? Who have Nigerians offended?

 

The contrast in mood is well handled breaking inbetween the addicted groaning and wailing tabled on the altar of crime by the so called leaders, yet we all smile, keep pushing like nothing is going on. We just have to put on a smiling face as if nothing is happening in our dear land because the drums are becoming weaker and the drummers are changing course, yet the dent remains in us.

 

The song is a rousing number that exudes rhythmic intensity and Nigerian afro-pop music. The exciting thing is that the musical composition brings out a sense of brevity and courage to tell the world what is obtainable in a land we called home which is no longer a home but a forest holding blood on its leaves instead of dampness.

 

The song starts off with a rhythmic and engaging tone with a futurist feel to it. The intro feels like an epic sound, like a story and goes on to penetrate into the spirit just a surge of crystal feels. You have to be calm and pick every word from the lyrics to decipher its meaning. I wore the shoe of the artist becoming his passion and aspiration to understand each petition when he said:

 

“I feel like crying every day… stop this GENOCIDE”

“Hear the voice of motherless children; hear the voice of the orphans of war….”

 

This takes you back to those children in the street that were left motherless or fatherless because of war and those orphans who were made so by herdsmen in society. It may sound so poetic if I say that this is a song of a darkness, a song that exposes every atom of wickedness of Nigerian leaders, a song that tells how hurtful it is being a Nigerian. It spelt neglect and abandonment in a metaphoric way. I see things in a different way wearing the lines of the song. It touches feelings and memories of who we are, our lives, our history and our unity as a country.

 

“It was a happy day, Anekele went to the farm and he never came back, it was a sunny day oh… Benue child…”

 

The above line further placed a question on our security. No-one is certain about what is next happening. It could be that you get killed in your kitchen, it could be you get slaughtered on your way to the market; it could be that the last clothes you wore yourself would be the last. You can get killed in your bed because of those things you don’t really know of. Those words are too experimental and real to define and this makes being a Nigerian an endless dreadful journey.

 

We can take this from the angle of politics and political leaders. This song is a scar in the heart of every Nigerian and what the BENUE CHILD came to make us understand is that music in Nigeria should be a tool for restructuring and rewriting the wrongs of society, not an avenue to tell or teach us how to shake our buttocks.

 

“…All I see is blood, blood, blood and I don’t know what to do, all I see is blood… tell me wetin I go fit do If I was the governor, tell me wetin I go fit do if I was the president, I feel like crying.”

 

This further explained the blood spilled in the Lagos fire, the massacre in Plateau state, the killing at Benue state, Enugu and Kogi state which left blood in every heart of every citizen in the country. Every line leaves tears in your eyes as you listen.

 

The contrast in scoring makes the music a first rate choice for a sad song and a composition for those lost brothers and sisters, women and men, young and adults who died on the burning soil of Benue; not only in Benue but in Plateau state, Bornu, Enugu and some other states in Nigeria that have experienced the vicious hands of the herdsmen.

 

In other words, the message passed is concrete and peculiar, different from the normal SHAKU SHAKU and OSHE PRA PRA lyrics.

 

Finally, it is recommended that you get this song in your playlist. Let’s define ourselves. Let’s rewrite this history of genocide and blood spilt to every Nigerian out there. Let’s hold ourselves together to fight this and other things savaging our dear land.

 

 

 

 

Listen to Ben Jossy’s Benue Child:

 

 

 

 

 

john chizoba vincent

John Chizoba Vincent

John Chizoba Vincent is a poet, actor, Novelist and D.O.P. He is the Author Of Hard times, Good Mama and letter from Home.

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