Author: Joycelynn Okezie
Being a 1st generation Nigerian in America, I overcame a lot growing up. My parents always enforced education. My dad stressed that education is the key to a better life. In school, I was always an overachiever due to me wanting to excel and make my parents proud. I did not fit in at grade school. Books, drawing, and music were my escape. I could not relate to kids in grade school because my background was of African descent and not American. Kids in grade school would make fun of me due to my darker complexion and unique last name because it was different and out of the norm. I used to get called “Darth Vader” in middle school by this boy, and when I told the teacher, she just laughed along with him. I can honestly say all the trials, bullying and discrimination I faced early on has really shaped me into the strong, smart and intelligent woman I am today. Which brings me to the amazing Naija born and bred artist Wizkid.
THE EYES OF ELEGBA ARE WATCHING
Although my family is of Nigerian descent on my mom and dad’s side, I have yet to visit Nigeria, in some ways, this has caused me to somewhat shut off some of my culture and heritage. Ironically when I first heard “Ojuelegba” by Wizkid, it instantly became my favorite song, it resonated and made me proud to be African and a Nigerian. I always told myself that if I pledged Greek in college, this would be my coming out song that I would stroll and step to. “Ojuelegba” is very triumphant. It is a song that reminds you that if you keep positive, true and work hard, you will have success regardless of where you come from. Being African in America was not always cool but with the rise of African Americans yearning to connect to their roots, it is now slowly but surely making its presence known. With the uprising of films like Black Panther and the rise of Afrobeat’s Music, African heritage is having a great awakening and spotlight on a global scale. I don’t care who you are or what skin color, Afrobeats music tends to resonate and connect with every one of the diasporas. It just screams culture and rhythm. When I go out to the club or an event, I’ve now started to hear the disk jockeys play Afrobeats music. As an African, this makes me proud of my heritage. It makes me feel like our voices are now being heard and recognized. At nightclubs, I often hear the likes of “If” and “Fall” by Davido, songs by Burna Boy, Skepta and of course the fellow Nigerian talent known as Wizkid – I can honestly say that Wizkid was the first Nigerian artist I know of to meet major success in the Afrobeat’s music community with his Star Boy movement. First Wizkid blew up in Africa then his buzz transitioned from the UK, and then to the states. It was an amazing feeling to see Star Boy become an international success. Because growing up as African in America, I didn’t see many successful examples that I could relate to. Wizkid is of the Yoruba descent tribe. Ojuelegba is a Yoruba term. Ojuelegba is a busy suburb in Lagos, it’s a transportation hub which connects the Mainland to Victoria Island and It is also the area that Wizkid grew up. Ojuelegba literally means The Eyes of Elegba.
MUSIC CREATES RIVETING CONNECTIONS THROUGH THE POWERFUL DIASPORA
I am most fascinated and impressed by Wizkid’s ability in this song to switch back and forth between English, Pidgin and Yoruba. I believe that is what makes this song so special and unique. Most of “Ojuelegba” is in Yoruba and pidgin English, so right off the bat, his lyrics may not be clear for everyone but it still sure can be felt through his tone and expression. Pidgin is “broken English” that can be understood clearly by cultures from the West Indies, Africa, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Virgin Islands. Pidgin is another way to communicate with a similar ethnic group although you may not speak their native tongue. It is similar to Jamaican Patois. For example “I be hustle to work” is an example of pidgin. The African horns and drums in the instrumental beats make this song hit home and reminds me of Africa. My favorite lyric is when he starts off the song with; “Ojuelegba, they know my story”.
I feel all Africans have stories to tell and hardships they have triumphed in life. Instantly upon hearing that lyricism in “Ojuelegba”, I connected. I know this song is not only special to me but to many worldwide. Drake, who is one of the biggest pop-stars in the world, brought his own sauce and fellow emcee Skepta on the official remix to Ojuelegba, Drake premiered the remix on his Beats1 radio show. Drake and Wizkid soon became instant collaborators with their hit songs “One Dance” and “Come Closer”. Although those were smash hits and bangers, for some reason Ojuelegba is still my favorite Wizkid track to this day. What makes me fall in love is the beat and how seamlessly the lyrics flow through the track, it’s quite magical. This is a special song to me because no matter how many times I hear it, it gives me that same strong feeling. It takes me back to that little misunderstood African girl in the public-school system. This song gives me an identity.
When Wizkid is rapping in Yoruba towards the end of the track, I’m not sure what he is saying but even his native tongue is powerful. This song gives me hope to keep going hard on my goals and to never forget where I came from. “Ojuelegba” was produced by Legendary Beatz, the tune holds a unique sound. I’m sure Wizkid knew what he was he was doing when he teamed up with Legendary. I wonder if he knew this would be a smash international hit that Drizzy would remix. The lyrics actually bring tears to my eyes. Anyone with a long journey can relate to this song. “This thing got me Thanking God for life”, “I can’t explain, they know my story”, “My people suffer”, “dem dey pray for blessings, for better living”. I grew up watching my mother struggle, suffer and work hard to keep a roof over me and my siblings head as a single mom. Ojuelegba gives me hope that everything will be alright, and it also reminds me that God is so awesome beyond explanation. This song is dear to my heart and motivates me to stay on my path especially as an African. On the Ojuelegba remix, Skepta mentioned that his teachers had a hard time pronouncing his surname. That is the story of my life. As an African, just know that your name will get butchered, LOL. Nonetheless, this is a great song and I will continue to play it out on the daily while also introducing it to my kids.
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