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Opinion

Mohbad: Telling The Tale Of A Star Born After Death -By Adeleke James

The death of Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, a singer, rapper, songwriter and performing artist, has been acknowledged globally by his fans (many of them posthumous fans) and even sympathetic individuals who emerged after his death. Mohbad’s music career came into the limelight a few years after he released numerous freestyles on various social media platforms, particularly his freestyle of Kizz Daniel’s song, which contributed to his fame.

Mohbad signed with Naira Marley’s record label and made his debut during the Marlian feast held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Nigeria, on December 31, 2019. Nevertheless, Aloba left the label in 2022, citing several grievances, including unpaid royalties during his three-year tenure with the label.

Although not much is known about Mohbad before his demise, many sources describe him as a calm person. Aloba’s deep baritone and moving lyrics also defined him as a cool and unique artist. While we cannot establish the threats he faced in his lifetime, many of his lyrics have hinted at the difficult ordeals he may have endured in the Nigerian music industry. But in death Aloba shines on and sheds light on the Nigerian Music industry.

However, his sudden departure has also exposed numerous unpleasant issues that had long been swept under the carpet in the Nigerian music scene. When Mohbad was alive, struggling to establish himself in the country’s music scene, he often went unnoticed, considered by many as a nobody. He faced ridicule, attacks, underestimation, and ignorance from both society and the music industry. But labelling his records “imolenisation” after leaving Marlian Record Label, he began shedding light on the injustices that plague our nation.

Furthermore, some of his lyrics, especially in Ìmole, reveal Mohbad’s possible experiences of overwhelming situations in the industry. In the song “Peace,” Mohbad expressed his struggles, singing: “Wetin be this one like this, been through many many things, many many gist, but I still find my peace.” Despite the realities he encoded in his lyrics, he was convinced that he was the ‘Ìmole’, a light amidst his challenging times. He offered heartfelt prayers for himself, his fans, family, and all those going through tough moments, praying to God with these words: “Cold Drink for the thirsty, food for the hungry, additional strength for the lazy, payday for all my ‘Niggas’ who hustle, shine your light on me so the world can see the glory… I am the light and I want to shine across the world.”

Ilerioluwa, the star born after death: Even as my ink wets the paper, Mohbad has been trending daily for the past 14 days since his death. His demise continues to make headlines, with fans and celebrities worldwide demanding a thorough investigation into the true cause of his passing. His songs continue to dominate major streaming platforms, and there have been ongoing protests worldwide for justice, as well as candlelight processions in his honour.

A star born after death—perhaps Imole will live forever. Perhaps what he prayed for, God has fulfilled, even though he is no longer with us on earth. Aloba may no longer anticipate hope from God in this world, but perhaps Ilerioluwa’s story is not finished in eternity. Maybe he earnestly desired to be the Ìmole in the dark music industry, wishing for God’s light to shine upon him so the world could see his glory. Now, he has become a light that cannot be hidden in our time. Will Imolenisation live forever? Maybe?

Will Imolenisation live forever? Suddenly, Mohbad’s art has taken on new meaning, garnering fresh interest. A particular newspaper writer called him “the new bride of the world”. His name is on everyone’s lips within and beyond the country’s borders. He wanted to live life on his terms, to enjoy life freely, but others wanted him to compromise his desires and love. Regrettably, like many other Nigerian youths, he faced the stranglehold of bullying, oppression, and conformist bosses.

In Mohbad’s case, he rebelled, becoming a marked man, a dead man walking. The most poignant part is that, like the old legends, he sang his unreleased dirge, which surfaced online, foretelling his own death in the song, leaving fans grieving through his lyrics. The lines preempted Mohbad’s thoughts about the future, contemplating what others would say about him after he was gone.

He sang: “Love me while I’m still here, cause heaven is our residence, Jah is my confidence, every man is a walking dead. When I’m there no more, people will love me more. Talk about the things I’ve done, discuss my rights and wrongs. When I’m lying dead on the floor, when I can’t talk no more, If I go live forever, Shebi Oluwa.” This is the song that will outlive Ilerioluwa. Indeed, his posthumous success speaks to the impact Mohbad had on Afropop music during his short but promising career.

Though Nigeria failed Mohbad, Imole lives on: I echo the sentiments of many who have asserted that Mohbad’s death is our national tragedy. His death is our collective loss, even if we didn’t realise it at the time. I didn’t know that Ilerioluwa sang some of those famous songs on the airwaves, especially “Kpk – (Ko poh Keh).” Unfortunately, I, like many others, didn’t know him while he was alive, but his death has changed everything.

Sadly, it took his death for a star like Mohbad to be born in our country. Since his demise on Tuesday, September 12, Mohbad’s popularity and fame have soared like never before. However, now that he is no longer with us, everyone is celebrating the 27-year-old singer, showering him with love and gifts that he never experienced during his lifetime. He has undeniably joined the league of pop stars who became legends after their deaths.

In the end, Mohbad passed away, helpless and abandoned. As a society, we must change our course. Imole, as he convincingly called himself, drew our attention to the battles he was openly fighting. We failed to listen, but many enjoyed his songs and melodies. It’s crucial to remember that Mohbad didn’t just create music; he fought for it and ultimately died for it.

I firmly believe that all Nigerians should be inspired by this tragedy to renew our commitment to demanding justice, fairness, development, and peace from the systems, governments, and individuals who continue to subject us to tribalism, inhumanity, nepotism, brutality, agony, and pain. How many Mohbads must die before justice prevails in our land? How many youths must be sacrificed before we truly become leaders of our beloved fatherland?

Mohbad has now become a metaphor for life in Nigeria, where true freedom remains elusive. You must compromise; you must submit to others; you cannot go it alone. This is precisely what prevails in many places in Nigeria. Who will save us? From where will help come? Society could not protect Mohbad, which is why many youths continue to die needlessly, especially in their prime, while society looks on. Now it becomes clear to me why so many youths came out en masse to demand justice.

It signifies solidarity among each of us, all with bright futures, but some less fortunate than others. It is now, by far, a cry for justice, peace and fairness not just for Mohbad but for our nation as a whole. After all, it could have been any one of them, even me. We have longed for justice and peace in this terrain of pain called Nigeria; when will it reign as we often sing in our national anthem? May the death of Mohbad make a difference.

James, a public affairs commentator, wrote via: jamesadelek2014@gmail.com

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