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EDDIE IROH’S AFRICA MUSIC INTERVENTION

THE BIG BANG IS HERE FOLKS!

THE RETURN OF THE BIG BANG!  It is only a matter of time before AFRICA MUSIC returns to the scene. Any keen observer would get no awards for predicting that. First it was The Big Bang of the music scene in Africa. There was none like it on the continent. In some ways it was limited in its coverage of the entire continent, a major task for even a company with deep pockets.

But it is a measure of Publisher Tony Amadi’s admirable enterprise that AFRICA MUSIC gave the continent a fair shot. For the first time the world was made aware of the enormous creative talents that the continent could boast of.  It is a measure of AFRICA MUSIC MAGAZINE’s impact that not before long Radio Stations directed that more African music should be played on air, thus limiting the encroachment of another form of cultural imperialism.

But it was only a matter of time before THE BIG BANG returned to the scene. And it was predictable that it would log on to the new digital age which is increasingly assuming the mode and model of the print media. Besides AFRICA MUSIC is ideally tailor-made for online publishing. With a variety of musicians and their colourful and sometimes provocative apparels, it is just the business for online onslaught! And once again THE BIG BANG is right on the money!

Now it is only to be expected that AFRICA MUSIC will have to do more that spread the gospel of “sweet” music. This time it should be a hell of a lot more critical of the various acts than when the magazine was rested in 1986, that is some 36 years ago. I bet that the raining stars of today were no more than toddlers.  Chidinma, Whiz Kid, Flavour, Kiredo Bello, Tekno, Patoranking or Flavour and even my all-time favourite singer Tiwa Savage, etc and many other youngsters in the music business could only wash their belly for a bath!  Thus so much has happened in 33 years!

When the last edition of African Music was published in 1986 it featured the likes of the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Sunny Ade. Today, Fela is gone, though not his fiery kind of music. AFROBEAT is happening still. Many have followed in his footsteps; presaged by his sons Femi and Seun. Sunny Ade is favoured now by the older generation of music aficionados.

So AFRICA MUSIC today has a major challenge. It is going to have to deal with a generation that is more eager for money and fame than creative excellence in lyrics and its quality. It will have to question the merit of their output. Do they have what it takes to win an international award for song writing? Do the African musician truly care about this aspect of the business? They will have to compare and compete with the emerging South African and Ghana and other African stars who combine English with their native tongue, resulting in a rhythmic and sonorous product.

The challenge ahead is enormous. But it is one i believe that THE RETURN OF THE BIG BANG will have to grapple with successfully. I believe it can.

Dr Eddie IROH, ex DG Radio Nigeria

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