Why young Nigerians want singer's Ye to replace the national anthem

  PULSE-Nigeria.. If nothing, the requests for Burna's song to be our national anthem are proof that the Nigerian story has changed and we need to acknowledge that. (Burna Boy)

In 2018, it is hard to convince the average young person to "serve with heart and might", especially when internal security crises have made it obvious that we are not exactly "one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity".

When Burna Boy set out to make Ye, and the compendium of tracks that would become his third studio album/mixtape "Outside", he must have been hoping that the fans would enjoy his offering. He couldn't possibly have imagined that they would connect to the song so well that some would go as far as suggesting that it becomes Nigeria's new national anthem.

Yet that is exactly what is happening.
While Burna's critically acclaimed project has been a bit of a slow burner in some regards, the track
"Ye" has gathered a lot of attention.

So much so that fans have begun requesting for the song to be made Nigeria's new national anthem. Others have gone as far as declaring it already is.
If you're lucky enough to be in the middle of a crowd of revellers at one of Lagos' music festivals when the song comes on, you would well assume that it already is the national anthem.

It's easy to dismiss all of these as the entitled ramblings of a social media generation. But, the question is pertinent still. Why do young Nigerians want Burna Boy's Ye to become the country's national anthem?

What is the point of a national anthem?

A country's national anthem is the defacto official song of the country, a collection of lyrics in one, two or three stanzas.
The song is meant to reflect the country's status and identity, narrate its formative travails, elucidate its values, and most importantly, stir up patriotic feelings.

Nigeria's national anthem, Arise O Compatriots, was adopted in 1978. Lyrics were written by John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B. A. Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui and P. O. Aderibigbe to the tune of music composed by the Nigerian Police Band under the directorship of B. E. Odiasse.

They may have echoed some popular sentiments 40-odd years ago, but in 2018, it is hard to convince the average young person to "serve with heart and might", especially when internal security crises have made it obvious that we are not exactly "one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity".
To be frank, the Nigerian national anthem does not reflect the Nigerian story, for young Nigerians and any other demographic for that matter.

"Plenty Plenty suffer wey we face"

Burna Boy's Ye, however, carries the spirit of a constant struggle for survival that captures how the average Nigerian goes by life on a day-to-day basis.
In particular, lyrics like "Plenty plenty plenty suffer wey we face/Just to make sure money dey" pretty much sum up what it means to be Nigerian in this day and age.
We are patriotic to our bellies, our wallets and anything that ensures we can continually be a going concern.

In a stroke of near perfect alignment, the next few lines of the song sample "Sorrow, Tears and Blood", a 1977 classic by the one Nigerian musician who always understood the struggles of the average person, Fela Kuti.
 

Burna sings, "But my people dem go say/I no wan kpai/I no wan die/I no wan peme/I wan enjoy/I wan chop life", borrowing a leaf or two from Fela to tell the story of how every Nigerian really just wants to enjoy life in spite of harsh realities.
For all the good intentions though, it's very unlikely that Burna's Ye will ever become Nigeria's national anthem.
The artist's reputation is a certain hindrance, but not as much as the fact that when you strip it to its bare bones, "Ye" is really a song about how Burna wants to enjoy life, despite the harsh criticism he faces, some of it more valid than he's willing to admit.
Still, this takes nothing away from a very salient discussion. If nothing, the requests for Burna's song to be our national anthem are proof that the Nigerian story has changed and we need to acknowledge that.

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