God, do you know Da Grin? BY MIKE AWOYINFA

Friday, April 30, 2010


By Mike Awoyinfa


I write this morning with a broken heart. A heart filled with contrition and lamentation. I want to sing songs of joy, but how can joyful songs come from a broken heart? You know why my heart is broken? Da Grin is dead. God, do you know who Da Grin is?

Of course, you know him. Who don’t you know, you the all-knowing God? You who know by name every single strand of my hair. God, Da Grin is dead and I bless your Holy name. In everything we must thank you. We thank you for this young talented singer whose star suddenly dimmed in daylight, whose star did not reach the midnight of his life. Oh, God, I fear you, because you are fearfully made.
Today, the youths of our land are mourning. They are mourning because one of their very own is gone. One of the shining stars on the Nigerian musical firmament is gone. Gone forever. Gone for good. Gone for bad.

He had taken his car, a brand new car and driven it to where no man returns. May we not buy death with our own hands, in Jesus’ name. May the things that give us joy not kill us. There it is: the mangled picture of the car that mangled its owner and landed him in an unknown destination. Some say he was driving drunk, when he ran into a stationery truck. When you are dead, people say all sorts of things about you. And you won’t be there to give your side of the story.

He was so young; he was so gifted, but he was not so innocent. At his young age, he sang songs that make adults blush. Songs of sexuality metaphorically couched. Now take these lyrics from his big hit kondo, which translated from Yoruba says: “My mum is gone to the market. My dad is gone to Lokoja. I am home alone. Baby, come and let me hit you with my kondo. We can do it on bed or we can do it on the rug.”
For children of today, who may know, kondo means a baton. It is a throwback to the good old days when policemen carried batons. Today, they carry guns. In Yorubaland, a policeman is called olopa, meaning he who carries a baton. In Da Grin’s music, a baton is a metaphor. It is phallic weapon wielded by a self-confessed bad boy.

In his music, Da Grin, whose real name is Dapo Olaitan Olanipekun, proudly sings that he is a bad boy. Well, you won’t blame him for that. It’s all about marketing. In this sinful world we live in, nothing sells like sex. But that is no reason to sell profanity.
It was on Facebook that I first got wind of Da Grin’s untimely death. I read the writings on my friends’ wall and they were full of lamentations. Lamentations about Death, the irreducible common denominator of all men. Death, the Wicked One, that kills the young before they grow old. Death turns us all into philosophers, young and old.

On my own wall, I wrote about life being a song. A song that is so short. Before you know it, it’s all over. Da Grin has played out his life, just like he sang in his songs. His songs and rap music capture the yearnings and aspirations of every Nigerian youth today: “I want to make it rich. I want to make it big. I want to be a big boy. I want to be the President of Nigeria, but I cannot take the curses and insults that go with it. I want to be as knowledgeable as Wole Soyinka. I want to be rich, like Pastor Chris. They said I was local, they said I would not make it, but I proved them wrong. I kept my focus. I knew where I was going. I dreamt of being a celebrity. One day, I would buy myself Infinity.”

These are some of the ideas expressed in the lyrics of Da Grin. If I were still an editor, Da Grin would certainly have been my story. I would have pursued it, as I did in my Weekend Concord days. Still, I know, for me, the best is still coming. ‘Cos my God is there for me. Always. Always. Always.

In a way, musicians are prophets. Sometimes they prophesy their own demise. In his Ghetto Dreams, Da Grin says: “Sometimes when I dream, I just don’t want to wake up…They say the life I am living, I won’t live long. Leave me alone, I am living my life. They wonder how I made it. God is the reason you hear me on radio.”

Brothers and sisters, let’s beware of our utterances. Let’s be careful what we say. As the Bible says, there is power in the tongue. Let’s confess positively. Let’s not put curses on our head. Let’s not travel on the fast lane of life. Let’s take it easy. Let not stardom go into our heads. Let us just know that we are human beings. Like bottles we are so fragile. We are so breakable. And once broken, we are unfixable. Untimely death shall not be your portion, nor shall it be your children’s portion, in Jesus’ name.

Let us all learn from Da Grill. Let’s do the best we can when time is on our side. The young man did his best. And his legacy will endure. Like his name, his music will live evergreen with us. As his fans are saying, he was an authentic Nigeria star. A rapper who did his rapping in his mother tongue: Yoruba. A musician who looked inwards and still found excellence. He was not 50 Cents. He was not Tu Pac. He was not DMX. He was simply a Nigerian. A Nigerian star.

There is so much happening musically in Nigeria today. Nigerian music is on the upswing. Nigerian music is getting better and better. No more are we dependent on foreign music. For us, charity begins at home musically.
As our fallen star goes home, we pray for all our youths. We pray for God to direct and protect them. We pray for God to instill in them the right values.

God, the youths are the future of this nation. Hold them tight. Don’t allow demonic forces take over them. Enough of our youth dying before they grow old. Enough of parents burying their dead sons and daughters. We cast and bind the spirit of early grave in our land. We prophesy old age for this vessel called Nigeria and everybody inside it. It shall be well with our country, it shall be well with the people of our country.

And above all, Father, teach us to number our days, teach our youths to use their talents in your service, to the glory of your Holy name.

I pray for the parents of Dapo Olaitan Olanipekun, otherwise known as Da Grin. God will console you. God will mend your broken hearts. Take consolation that your son lived and died a hero to the sons and daughters of his generation. The memory of your son and the beauty of his music would live evergreen in our collective memories. It’s so sad and ironic that stars are appreciated only when they die. Death magnifies. Death immortalizes. Death is elevating. Death is funky. Death is a rap song. Death has a swagger. OMG!

26 Feedback:

Anonymous said...

the note on da grin is superb ,may he rest in peace

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