Falz – ‘Johnny’

Falz (‘This is Nigeria‘) has been one of the most outspoken Nigerian artists during the recent #EndSARS protests in Nigeria. He now re-released one of his tracks from 2019, ‘Johnny‘, which highlights police brutality and the senseless killings of Nigerian youths. The Olu The Wave produced video depicts video footage and imagery of police brutality at the Lekki Toll Gate (More: Amnesty International) and the #EndSARS protests (More: NY Times).

In the lyrics Falz highlights the extrajudicial character of many killings – committed by police units. The SARS unit has since long been known for their arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, extortion and killings:

No fucking threats no weapons
Just him and his guys in his car
You have the guts to tell me
You accidentally discharged?!
Madman! waka! you be bloody bastard!
You waste a life and try to tell me
That you sorry after

What makes these killings so tragic is that they end lifes full of of aspirations and dreams:

Johnny no get privilege
But Johnny want more
Him wan go study
Johnny say him wan be doctor

Johnny‘ serves as a placeholder for many unprivileged Nigerian youths who try hard to overcome poverty but are hindered by structural and physical violence. The track ends with Falz angrily asking: “Eyan melo lo ma ku?!”, which is Yoruba and can be translated as: “How many people will die?!”

In an interview with CNN, he talked openly about his anger about the current state of governance in Nigeria – voicing out the sentiments of many Nigerian youths: “I’m not afraid for my safety, I’m not afraid for my life because where we are right now, I feel like I could easily die by anything else anyway. We have none existent healthcare for example, we have a seriously high level of poverty, there’s unemployment. We’re in a critical state because of how much corruption and just mismanagement of funds that we continue to see on a daily basis. So if I don’t come out to sort of complain about the state of things, I could sit down and you know I could have an accident on my way to work or something. What kind of life am I living anyway?

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