Videos by new-age acts like Blaqbonez, Odunsi and Santi have celebrated androgyny in Nigerian music in 2019.
‘A whole new world’ is the title of one of the most beautiful musicals of 2019. It comes from the remake of the classic, ‘Aladdin.’
If there was ever a time which those words suit, it’s 2019. Although we live in a conservative society where gay and even remotely androgynous people get discriminated against with buccaneering bigotry, people have slowly began to tilt towards passive acceptance.
We are definitely decades away from a wide acceptance, but it’s a whole new world. Passive acceptance and indifference do not represent acceptance, but they’re better than persecution.
Last year, Guardian Life bravely led by Chidera Muoka produced a wonderful cover article that spotlights LGBTQ. Before that, Pulse also had a chat with Edafe Okporo, a gay man who was persecuted in Nigeria before successfully seeking asylum and sanctuary in the US.
Bisi Alimi is also a hero, but through the counter-cultural movements of 2019 in art, there is a larger support for a movement that has been heavily maligned in Nigeria. Even though popular figures like Denrele Edun, Bobrisky and Charlie Boy are known for their androgyny, the average Nigerian man could beat them if he meets them.
A few weeks ago, Bobrisky was allegedly beaten by a man who bashed her car on Lekki-Epe expressway. Not to say she was attacked for being androgynous, but a case could be made for it. Nonetheless, through the Nigerian demography called alte has continued to help counter-cultural movements like androgynous fashion seep into mainstream consciousness.
These videos didn’t start androgyny in Nigerian mainstream, but after a relatively dry spell during which androgyny was only being used for comical purposes, people have started being who they are.
Androgynous fashion in Nigerian music
Just off the top of this writer’s head, videos for ‘Raw Dinner‘ by Santi, ‘Shut Up‘ by Blaqbonez and ‘Star Signs’ by Odunsi TheEngine showcase androgyny. In the ‘Shut Up‘ video, men can be seen riding bikes on a streets of Lagos while dressed as women in wedding gowns.
In Odunsi’s video for ‘Star Signs,’ the artist himself took to stage dripping with androgyny. One part of Santi’s video for ‘Raw Dinner‘ features an androgynous man. While androgyny can stand on its own, it can be a transgender trait and that makes it harder to push. But then, these guys are not the first.
When Abass Akande also known as Obesere released his 2003 album, Egungun Be Careful under Bayowa Films and Records International, some of his videos were shot with the legend dripping in androgyny. His shirt was usually a net shirt and a pair of female bootlegged pants. People didn’t understand it at the time.
But then, it tied into his ploy for counter-cultural avant-gardism with that album. If you watch the videos carefully, he acted like a mad man throughout and it sold the album like crazy.
How necessary are these bits of counter-culture?
Honestly, it is difficult to measure, but one of the cornerstones of our generation is promotion of freewill and free-living. The idea is to make people feel as free as possible to live. Although we are quite far off regular people being able to be their androgynous selves on Nigerian streets, these videos are sending good messages to certain people that they are not alone.
That might not mean much to certain people, but it means a lot to those it affects – especially the closeted ones.