Controversial Nigerian singer and hit maker Timaya has been appointed as a Peace Ambassador by the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), a division of the United Nations.
Born Enetimi Odom, the bold and drama-loving singer, who is stepping out of his garment of scandals and controversies, to wrap himself in peace and pleasure, will be expected to ‘contribute to the fulfilment of the hope of all ages, a unified world of peace wherein the spiritual and material dimensions of life are harmonized’, according to a statement from his reps.
Timaya has been in the news for so many unpalatable reasons: he’s either at war with his (then on-and-off) lover Empress Njamah, or he’s battling the media for ‘negative’ reports. At the Hiphopworld Awards 2009 in Abuja, while receiving the prize for Best Dancehall act, he shocked the gathering of entertainment’s who-is- who when he placed the Plaque on his crotch while claiming to dedicate it to his partner Empress. Timaya offered no apologies. Only few weeks back, he was in the news again, disclaiming his long time producer K-Solo who mischievously released a cut purportedly featuring Timaya. And with all these happening, it’s easy to forget what made him catch out attention in the first place: his heart and his soul.
When Obasanjo sent over 5000 soldiers to Odi and nearby communities in 1999, after the alleged murder of about 12 Policemen in the Niger Delta town, many condemned the action and the eventual indiscriminate killings that followed. Critics spoke and wrote against it. Human Rights groups attacked the president. Even the international community did not keep quiet. But it was Timaya’s voice that rang out loud and brought the enormity of the situation to national attention. On the song and video ’Dem Mama’, Timaya captures in vivid details, the tragedy of his people, painting pictures that made many weep.
He talked of poverty and helplessness; of how ’10000 soldiers’ killed mothers and fathers and made their kids orphans; of how they raped and killed young girls and destroyed the village, making the living homeless. And he linked the Odi story, with the story of regular Nigerians living in different parts of the country; battling with joblessness, homelessness, Police abuse and corruption.
It’s over a decade after the Odi massacre, and Timaya, now generally perceived as a bad boy, apparently still has feelings. Beyond all the braggadocio and what some call arrogance and materialism, the young act is still involved in the ‘struggle’ as he himself calls it. And, even though he may sing and rap about Jewellery and cars and houses, closer listen will show you elements of concern and advocacy – elements lacking in most of the pop music coming from Nigeria these days.
According to the co-founder of the IIFWP, Dr. Hak Ja Haan Moon, Timaya was chosen amongst the many Nigerian acts because he is he is ‘One of those individuals whose lives exemplify the ideal of living for the sake of others, and who dedicate themselves to practices which promote the founding ideals of the IIFWP’.
‘I am happy. Honestly, I am. This goes to show that the ideals I am using the instrumentality of my music to preach are not in vain. I have said it in my music that Nigeria can only progress unless the Federal Government pays more than lip service to the agitations of the people of the Niger Delta. It is even a good thing that the President is from that region which means that things will surely get better. I thank those who deemed it expedient to make me a Peace Ambassador and I promise not to relent in this struggle’, Timaya says.
By Osagie Alonge