So, we often hear talk of the need to change the formulae used to choose the annual “Festival Song Contest. But whilst we have been hearing the talk, we have not seen the walk to support the talk!
As the old saying goes: “Talk is Cheap”, and this probably explains why our deeds have not caught up with our Talk, as While we can run our mouths, making political promises, few of us, have the stomach, to actually implement policies to guarantee meaningful change, aimed at transforming a society at a cultural and intellectual crossroads.
So, here’s the practice, each year, the Government of the Day, leaves it up to the peasantry, to determine what is called the “Festival Song”. This song is supposedly Commissioned in celebration of our Independence and is highly regarded as the encapsulation of the energy, vibe, and hopes of the people, who use the annual platform, as an aspirational platform, that will capture the imagination of the People, and propel some small-time no-talent wonder, into national stardom, based on popular appeal.
Now all this was good and well, when we were a young, largely ignorant nation, dependent on the largesse of our supposed Patrons, to identify, and embark on our own journey, charting and recording our struggles for freedom.
So, at the time, the concept of the Festival Song, A Conscription of the Largely illiterate grouping that formed the Government of the Country, was the order of the day.
Mind you, this was a Stroke Of Then PR Genius, in that it allowed for the newly ‘Liberated” Pesantry, to be conned into thinking that they too mattered as they too, had a say, in the direction of the Country, in choosing the “Festival Song”.
The problem with this approach was that it abandoned the role of the Intelligentsia, in providing guidance to a fledgling nation, as to the directions it should pursue, and the Import of studious well reasoned decisions to get us there.
There was nothing wrong, with the construct of the idea of a Festival Song, as a National concept. The problem was, this should have never been a National Festival Song Contest, staged to appease the masses based on popular, appeal and the approval of the ignorant majority, this should have been a call to our better Angels, to chart a course forward, based on the principles of Nation-Building and Commonality of objectives.
Instead, we committed ourselves to a program that was dedicated to acting as a Salve, committed to easing the new nation of its commitment to the rigours and dedication of Nation Building, to accept the misplaced notion, that Instant Gratification, was the way to go, at the expense of Nation-Building and the Concept of Nation building, as a worthy National project.
So instead of arresting the populist appeal and terminal decline of the appeal of the Festival Song, we gave it energy, much to the detriment of national development, goals, and standards.
Truth be told, what should have been a Celebration of the abolition of the sub-human bondage, dislocation, and generational trauma of the Transatlantic Slave trade, was confined to a parochial brief, labeled as a “Festival”, determined by the Government of the day, who was more interested in acting as apologists for the colonizing abusers, and so foisted this aberration unto the emerging nation, which we allowed to continue beyond its usefulness and ability to transform, because our Leaders of the Day, traded in our history for cheap populism.
With the advent of the Festival, came the cheap and cheerful ‘Festival Songs’. Let’s accept that maybe, just maybe, the Festival Songs were a necessary evil, in that the songs and the so-called Festival acted as a release valve, allowing the common man to let off steam after the burden of living under colonial strictures up to the time of our Independence. This banal proposition was allowed to continue way beyond its useful years because the society outgrew its political leaders. As they never could see beyond their need to follow the crowd, to garner votes, instead of leading the crowd.
Now, the concept of the Festival Song was indeed quite a noble endeavour, but as soon as it became clear, (as it must have) that it was no longer a noble endeavour, it should have been scrapped, or augmented. And so, instead of having largely ignorant people writing, producing, and or performing songs, to commemorate the Festival; we should have been commissioning songs to celebrate our Emancipendence. And thus taking us away from the banality, that became synonymous with our cultural retardation, absent civic-mindedness, and even awareness.
To appease the polloi, we sacrificed leadership and direction, and so the Festival Song and Festival became a celebration of the lowest common denominator, Where rhyme without reason, was rewarded. As was machismo, the vulgar, and the insipid, resulting in a steady diet of trivia, over the years instead of trailblazing inspirational songs and lyrics, that told our story – as in our history, the struggles, and spoke to our national dreams and aspirations.
Instead of mapping a game plan to take us to the next level, we settled for the ordinary, and we are still reaping the fruits of that misguided policy, that has brought us to this sorry state of near-terminal decline, where the society, is on a fast track to nowhere. And those who led us here, are clueless as to how to get us out of the mess they led us into.
The music need not be the abysmally corrosive, antisocial counter-productive force it has become. It can be a tool of social-reengineering and a transformational platform. What is needed to achieve this, is Vision. One that is about nation building and not about self-enrichment; One that is not about political expediency, but one that is about building a foundation that will anchor the nation and people in unity, based on a mutually accepted shared vision, of the future.
Until we Elect that Leadership, this country will continue limbering on, always just short of reaching its full potential, bedeviled by opportunistic corruption, murder, mayhem, and maladministration.