"The Midweek Read": Big Man Wicked But Common Man Wickeder

By: Danielle Taylor

Lagbaja’s latest album, 200 Million Mumu (Truth is Bitter), was released in 2013, but it is worthy of another review for those unfortunate few who have not yet basked in the epitome of afrobeat that is Lagbaja. In his humorous and critical style, Lagbaja masterfully blends humorous, playful tunes with traditional hymns to criticize Nigeria’s corrupt political leadership.

Instead of concentrating solely on the well-known problems with Nigeria’s leaders, Lagbaja, singing to and for the average Nigerian, derides the 200 million strong populace as mumu, meaning foolish people, for not holding their leaders accountable for their actions, choosing instead to simply criticize. He forces the listener to question his or her decision to sit idly by while the nation’s wealth and potential are squandered.

“One day, one day,

your pikin (child) go ask,

wetin’ happen? (what happened?) Wetin’ do you? (what did you do?)

You go come answer,

I-I-I sorry my pikin, I-I-I-I-I be mumu.” – 200 Million Mumu (Part 3)

Lagbaja does more than engage in a coffee house political discussion, a favored past time of many Nigerians. He instead makes an insightful and poignant argument that leaders are products of the population at large. Therefore each citizen is responsible to reflect on his or her own thoughts and actions and what they are actively doing to make a difference in Nigeria for their generation and those to come. In fact, the message transcends Nigeria’s physical boundaries and speaks to the lives of those around the world who face injustice and corruption and accept it as a way of life. Listeners are no longer shielded as moral common people. They are forced to take action or be condemned for being more corrupt than the perpetrators at the highest levels of government. Wetin’ do you?

“Easy to dey point finger
shut up na you mumu
na common man dey do common man part
before before we dey shout na military, na military
now wey civilian government dey, shey no be our people dey inside?
from councilor to president
abi na foreigner dey for there?
no be your family dey for there?
no be your friend dey for there?
Let’s tell ourself the bitter truth
Until we come out the un-godliness
pray for our souls, this place no go better”