Notes on Safara’u’s BBC interview


By Aliyu Jalal

1) Safara’u knows she’s a social deviant:

Yes. She knows. She narrated how she was treated after the leaking of her nude video. She’s also on social media spaces and she reads people’s comments. But there’s a social psychology theory called “Looking Glass Self” by Charles Horton that tries to explain a dominant aspect of human nature.

Horton found out that individuals tend to behave based on how they think they appear to other people within an environment. For instance, if a girl thinks other people think she’s beautiful, she’s likely to do “yanga” and “shagwaba” etc, depending on her sociocultural context.

The argument is that what we think of ourselves are highly dependant on what we think others think of us. It says that individuals will adjust and modify their behaviors based on what they feel other people think about them, even if not necessarily true.

The implication of this theory in relation to Safarau is this: since after the release of her nudity, she suffered enormous trauma consequently. And after the trauma – and the consequent condemnation from society – she has accepted herself as a complete “bad girl.”

So because she thinks people think she’s a bad girl, she consciously and subconsciously continues to behave in that manner. Something about “no longer giving a fvck” because since the world has already seen her nakedness and nobody gave her excuses or consolation other than her family, then why does she need to care about any judgement again?

This will make more sense if you consider her age. She’s 22. She’s still, psychologically, within the age of self-esteem building.

2) She didn’t grow up in a conventional Hausa society:

She narrated about doing her nursery and primary schools education in Ibadan. Ibadan is a Yoruba society with some sharply different sociocultural conditions from Kano, where she later relocated. Because nursery school takes at least three years and primary takes five or six, there’s the possibility she had spent about ten significant years of her growing up (childhood) in Ibadan.

For those who know what childhood means in psychosocial development of an individual, can understand the role this historical reality plays in the making of Safara’u, especially if she has some natural predisposition to explore.

Another fascinating aspect is that she grew up in a military barrack, which also has some social circumstances different from what’s easily obtainable in civilian communities.

Barracks in Nigeria are usually places that gather people from all parts of the country. So, she might’ve grown up playing and schooling with the children of the Igbo, the Ijaw, the Kanuri, the Ibibio, the Tiv, the Birom, the everyone. She must’ve been inescapably different when she found herself in Kano with children who had only interacted with Hausa/Fulani Muslims all their lives.

Some of us might’ve come across people described as “tashin barrack” with a tone that didn’t sound like a compliment. That says a lot.

That all her siblings are boys is a shallow explanation of her behavior, and we can excuse her for not understanding herself enough.

3) She has subtle inferiority complex for being a Northerner

This is somehow rough, but one or two sentences in Safarau’s responses to BBC gave her out a girl harbouring inferiority complex regarding her host community. She spoke, in a tone that was somehow sneering, about how northern artistes don’t get global recognition. When asked of her role models, she didn’t mention any Northern-based musician but the likes of Davido and Burna Boy.

Although it’s a fact that northern music artistes are truncated by some strong factors in navigating the hazily competitive Nigeria’s mainstream music industry, but that Safara’u thinks she doesn’t want to be a Fati Niger or Alan Waka who are sufficiently successful northern-based singers, points to a case that’s not about ambition, but about an interpretation of how music sucesss should be for her.

Even the nature of her Hausa songs are different from what northerners are used to getting from Kannywood singers, and thus we have heard people relegating her talent instead of understanding it.

Safara’u isn’t the singer that wants to whistle “Ayyaraye iye nanaye,” but one that wants to sing something that rhymes with the diversity of Nigeria and the artistic ferocity of her generation, one that has to do with a lot of movement of head and arms like Wizkid does in “Ghetto Love” and in “Fever,” like Davido in “Fall” and in “Assurance,” like Yemi Alade in “My Man” and in “Fire”, and definitely not like Umar M. Sheriff and Hamisu Breaker, whose nature of songs demands being conventionally feminine to perform.

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