Goya Menor’s ‘You want to bamba’: Paradoxes of a Nigerian brand BY Omoniyi Ibietan
Shey you see how the things goes
How the thing goes…”
Arising from the phenomenal success of this musical note, an elite team from TikTok – an app created in December 2016 for imaginative entertainment and to bring joy – is meeting Bright Goya as I write, as part of its processes of deepening presence in the Nigerian market. TikTok already has one billion subscribers.
Otherwise called ‘Ameno’ Amapiano remix produced by Bright Goya, ‘Goya Menor’ (a Nigerian emcee, hype man, singer and rapper), which also featured Nektunez (a sterling Ghanaian record producer), have become the rave of an ‘elongated’ moment spanning months of unvarnished hit.
Unbeknownst to millions of the fans, these pop musical notes that went viral as a lovely global tune was not produced by Goya as a major project. It was done as a joke. Then, it became a hit, first in Uganda, and on the heels of that, got into Jamaica in the Caribbean, came back to Ghana in West Coast of Africa, then to Zambia and South Africa in Southern Africa, moved to Europe, hitting Sweden first, then sounded in Thailand in Asia. It is indeed an irony that the song had to go on many voyages before returning home to its base, Nigeria, as a hit. It’s unlike a Nigerian tune.
I remember in 2011 when I visited Lux, an exquisite night club, near China Town in Washington, United States of America. I was amazed at the popularity of Nigerian music at the club. There was so much ‘hysteria’ and excitement, a strange feeling of nostalgia, among many people there, the moment Naija music sounded, beginning with 9ice’s. Though those present were 90 per cent Caucasian, there was such a palpable presence of Nigerian spirit in all of them. While the songs rolled, I remember I could recall listening to practically all the songs while in Nigeria. That was the feeling I also got across the West Coast of Africa a year later, from Banjul to Freetown, from Monrovia to Dakar, Accra and Lome where Nigerian musical rendition, irrespective of genre, are popular and caught people’s frenzy quickly. This mental picture, makes it more curious the time it took for ‘Ameno amapiano remix’ to get popular among Nigerians.
Precisely nine months ago on June 16, 2021, the original track was released and lots of money spent in promoting the song. Like practically all earlier efforts of Goya, the promotional initiative failed, and the money went down the drain. By an interesting twist, the work became a success when it was experimented as a jocular undertaking. “It was a joke”, Goya told PREMIUM TIMES in December 2021.
My checks revealed the pop recorded 17,899,463 views on YouTube as of December 20, 2021. By February 10, 2022, the song had recorded 9.5 billion views on TikTok. For three consecutive days, I skimmed through TikTok and found that on the average, the song was used by three or four out of 10 TikTokers. Yet, it remains a rave on Instagram.
Let me migrate to another instance of paradox. Though TikTok has seen the need to meet Goya, the brains behind the pop music, those of us who listened to Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda and Farah Tukan on Wednesday, asked why TikTok had no office in Nigeria. Yes, the company has Nigerians on its team, in Dublin, Washington and elsewhere. I saw a couple of them on Wednesday. But the closest TikTok Office to Nigeria is in Johannesburg. Nigeria is not just the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa, it is also Africa’s most populous. This explained our modicum of advocacy at the event, demanding a TikTok Office in Nigeria. If only to honour Goya.
Let me round off the paradoxes with the main contradiction. This song has been deployed variously, by the noble, the faithful, the elite, the lumpen, the bourgeois and even the deviant. Perhaps, it’s been used more by the last group. Interestingly, this is practical sociology. Goya, 27, a graduate of sociology from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, produced the pop to draw the attention of the young people to the evils of cultism and confraternal brigandage. The reason he asked: “You want to bamba?” “You want to chill with the big boys!”.
Interpretively, he asks a rhetorical question: Why do you have to join cults? Why do you want to chill with the big boys? Do you know what they do to get money? So, as it reflects in the lyrics, you will be running up and down when the consequences dawn on you. Similarly, he asks latently, you do not have to chill with the big boys because you may be introduced to the wrong things, attitudes and behaviours. And Goya insists, as he puts it in his native Ishan language: “Sèbi mekà tàmùwà?”, which means, “Didn’t I tell you before?” Indeed, he told us, in the unsuccessful promotional piece and repeated it in the Remix.
In essence, the Benin-born rapper of Ishan ancestry, asks the young people, indeed, all of us, to shun social vices that have arrested our development and holding us in backward conditions. Goya tasked our sociological imagination to challenge vices rather than embrace them. The version of the song I had earlier posted on the thread of my Facebook post, is telling and poignant in its dramatisation of the lyrics.
Therefore, isn’t it a seemingly challenging paradox of meaning exchange for even the bad guys among us to sing the great song enthusiastically and otherwise deploy a song that questions their conduct and inordinate fun-seeking behaviours, without seeking understanding and clarity? Indeed, it is the popularity of the song, even among the people Goya speaks to that make many to miss the inherent story.
So, let the music play!
Dr Ibietan contributed this from Abuja