THE POWER OF MUSIC
I love TY Bello. And when I say so, I mean it in far more ways than a fan usually loves a cherished artiste. I hope her husband will find it in his heart to pardon me, but I can’t help loving this 30 year-old artist that’s giving music a different meaning entirely. And the affair didn’t just start today. I’ve known TY since 2002 when, together with Lara and Emem, she took the entire country hostage with the KUSH message of unity and patriotism on lets live together.
And to show that love is not always about selfish interests and romantic vanities, I’ve kept that affair over the years, not minding the distance, or the fact that she secretly got married in 2005. But just when I was about calling off the affair, following her refusal to hug the limelight and capitalise on the opportunities the success of her debut solo album Greenland provided, Mrs Bello has pulled another string that, I’m afraid, may keep me hooked for life.
At a point when we were all getting frustrated by the amount senseless contraptions dominating thee airwaves; at a time when artistic imitation and sloganeering is at its peak, and we were all looking around, hoping someone would dangle a flyer of change before our eyes, TY Bello has stepped forward, making us beam with smiles of hope and, more importantly, reminding us – and hundreds of her clueless colleagues- that beyond entertainment and self-enrichment, art can and must also be used as a hammer with which man can shape society into desired shapes; a mirror through which society can see itself and make necessary amends.
On her Greenland debut album, TY got together with singer Olufunmi and producer Mosa to create a song called Ekundayo. If you enjoy the rhythm of the song, if the message touches you and you’ve played it over and over again, you’re not alone. Many opine that Ekundayo is one of the most profound cuts released in Nigeria last year.
But, did you know that the image TY Bello tried to capture on the song is a real life story? If the song made you think and wonder, then a new video and documentary released by the singer’s management last week will make you cry and convinced you should reach out to motherless babies and other deprived members of society. Not just because you have so much and don’t know what to do with it. But because, if a 94 year-old woman like Madam Janet Ekundayo who herself should be provided for, can devote her time and life to caring for abandoned babies, then those of us who have more than enough, who have strength and age on our side ought to emulate Mama Ekundayo and do what we can to make her job, and those of other orphanages scattered around the country easier.
According to TY, “Mama as a person inspires. I find her almost unbelievable. But what thrills me the most is knowing that she is an ordinary woman in the middle of nowhere who started taking care of children when she was in her 30s… There was also a sense of urgency for me because I know Mama is very frail and I had to tell her story. So I went with a camera and a film crew to capture her. How she speaks, how she lives…”
TY is an awesome story-teller. With her songs, picture or videos, she creates images that leap at you and register their creator’s message in your head. And she does not fall short on Ekundayo. Your body will shake a bit. Your eyes will turn red, and tears will escape from them as you see pictures of beautiful babies abandoned at birth; an old, fragile, wrinkled woman caring for them. You’ll be amazed at the meaning the orphanage workers are trying to make out of an otherwise hopeless situation.
And when I think of the fact that this old woman could have died unknown, undiscovered, uncelebrated, my heart nearly misses a beat. Her story is that of an ordinary individual achieving an extraordinary feat; one who lacks seriously, but is not afraid to give in excess. But now that the artist TY has told her story, what should happen next?
As said in the video, less than two percent of kids who make it into Nigerian orphanages are adopted. Society is yet to fully embrace the concept of adoption. And many orphanages are poorly funded to cater for basic current and future needs of their wards.
“I want as many people as possible to see this video. I advocate for people to adopt for those who cannot, I want people to realise that it is our responsibility to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves. That is my message” TY said in her characteristic passionate manner at the video premier last week.
I hope her efforts and all those that have been part of the project will not go down the drain. I hope Mama’s mission will be continued even after she bows out. And I hope our artistes will take a cue from TY and begin to use their talent, influence and power positively.