In a literal sense, the reggae sub-culture of Nigeria in time past and their practitioners added colours to the local environment where they are seen. Your next-door Nigerian reggae man was in all likelihood your Catholic or Protestant brother who has found “conversion” (in a farcical kind of way here in Nigeria) to Rastafarianism. In truth, these jolly bunch are some of the least harmless folks of society you’d be happy to find around you. They are intelligent, industrious, and perpetually happy with infectious mien.
Their newfound love for dreadlocks, Africa-themed necklaces, and multi-coloured mufflers is the stuff that brings bemused admiration for the way they do their things. And? Oh, that rattling Jamaica-speak speech patterns that re-writes standard English language tenses and grammar plus the politically-tinged soulful rhythms of their music stand them apart. Where are they now? Where are those ersatz Nigerian Rastafarians who chose bohemian existence in the midst of greed and avarice of other Nigerians? Through my freshman and senior years at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, there were some real devoted reggae enthusiats, principally folks of the old Bendel States (the reggae scene of Nigeria appears to be dominated by people of the old Bendel extraction with a splattering of key players from the present South-south region).
At school, there was Anselm Akele of the Department of Architecture, Friday Oboh of the Department of Physics, Clarkson Danboyi Ojogun of the Department of Chemistry; each of this trio was smart in his right. Late Akele (Delta Igbo) was a great architecture practitioner, even as undergraduate; late Oboh (Esan from Edo State) was designing and constructing final-year theses for electrical engineering students even as a physics-major student (this was considered an academic oddity as per the prevailing norm back then) whilst Clarkson (another Delta Igbo whose mother hails from Southern Kaduna and I’m sure he is still around because he came over to Minna a short while ago for his academic transcript and he was still full of that infectious smile) graduated at the top of his class.
This trio was no academic pushover. Alas, after our time at school, attitudes began to harden towards the reggae sub-culture as Northern Nigeria began to experience a new cycle of religious awakening in that predictable episodic format that always arrest the gains of whatever development has been made over here. These past years, I have not spied any reggae man on the streets of Minna. The lone Akwa Ibom reggae talker that is known as Paddy Joe (AKA chokoli mai yanka baki or kunkuru mai gashi) is ageing gracefully and, happily, still hosts a very popular and long-running show on the local radio station.
Sunday Adole Jonah,
Department of Physics, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State