“The government of Lagos State, under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has zero tolerance for any slightest attempt by anyone, under any guise to debase the moral fabric of our dear state.’’ That was part of the response of the state authorities to the viral video showing half-clad women pole dancing inside a transparent outdoor display truck in Lagos. Spotted at the Toll Gate Plaza along the Lekki-Epe Expressway, it was found to have been a video shoot for the recording artist, Tekno. Famed for hit songs such as “Duro”, “Pana”, “Diana” and “Jogodo”, Tekno’s antics with the strippers was received with mixed reaction of moral outrage and lusty excitement.
Strip culture is exceedingly popular in Lagos with the proliferation of many unlicensed strip bars. Whether intended or not, parading half-clad women in transparent automobile is just an attempt by the artist to zoom in on an already existing culture. Most residential areas have several strip bars; in some cases, the pole dancers are not dignified or hidden from the view of passers-by. Once, a popular strip club owner in Lagos boasted that undergraduate girls who work as strippers in his club make an average of N150,000 per day. That’s enough motivation for any woman already eyeing the pole.
The pole dancer gets paid by aroused viewer who is usually generous with cash and lavishes it on the dancer’s butt, bust or other supposedly private part of the dancer’s body. Strip culture is a prominent part of pop culture across the globe as some artists rely on such sexually explicit material to make commercially successful music. Pharrel, R.Kelly, Future, Pitbull, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Meek Mill are some of the numerous examples of pop and hip-hop icons who have embraced the strip culture in their music videos.
The story is not different in some music videos made by Nigerian artists. Wande Coal’s Turkey Nla, Dammy Krane’s “In case of Incasity” and Reminisce’s “Tesojue” are a few examples of videos influenced by the strip culture. But none of these artists had the effrontery of Tekno. Tekno allowed his youthfulness to get the better side of him. He didn’t realise how other women might be sensitive to seeing their fellow women being groped and commodified in the full glare of the public. After all, it was past midnight. That must have explained his apology. If then we want to wield the moral stick, how far can we go? Should it be limited to indecent display on our streets?
Art is societal mirror. Today’s pop music is largely corrupted by sexually graphic lyrics that complement this strip culture. Radio and television stations play some of these songs and young children vocalise some of these abominable lyrics. Our popular culture is debased and women have been reduced to mere objects of sexual gratification. That is our dark reality. We have commissioned theatres in Lagos that are yet to serve the public and provide job opportunities. There is a large vacancy in the arts and culture sector that strip culture, regrettably, is filling.
Before indicting Tekno, we must look at the larger picture. The entertainment industry has glamourised the display of nudity or semi-nudity and rewarded it. If our government does not put the money where the brain is, the strip culture will hit us rudely again, perhaps not in a truck.