Ordinarily, this shouldn’t even be a serious discussion not to mention it being elevated to a topic for a debate which is generating needless controversy. I mean, between a person who had an experience and others who claim to have exclusive news about happenings in her life, which of them should we believe has the more correct information: the blogs/newspapers or the person who’s the subject of the rumours? What am I going on about?
I’m not sure how closely you’ve been following Nigeria’s entertainment news and gossip. Well, different stories have been circulating as to how Bose Ogulu, Burna Boy’s mum and manager, once worked as one of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s dancers. People spread this news with an invisible wink. There’s this old picture of Fela on stage lying on a woman who we are told is Burna’s mother. As if that wasn’t lewd enough, the picture has a caption with words to the effect: ‘No wonder’. What does this mean, that Fela could somehow have fathered Burna Boy? That he’s making great waves because of his ‘real’ father like Fela? How dense can we be?
The other story I have seen people acting confused over concerns veteran journalist, Benson Idonije, Burna Boy’s maternal grandfather and Fela’s former manager. I listened to two friends acting all confused over how true the claim about Benson Idonije is true. Friend A claimed Burna Boy said his grandfather used to be Fela’s manager. Friend B then asked how or whether Burna Boy knows the real truth. Can you believe this? I think they may have also argued about whether Idonije is even Burna Boy’s grandfather.
The old man had a whole segment in Burna Boy’s album (L.I.F.E-Leaving an Impact for Eternity) where he introduced himself as Burna Boy’s grandfather. And how can something as big as being Fela’s manager not be a story Burna Boy must have heard around the family table too many times to count? I didn’t know my paternal grandfather, but I sure heard about all his exploits as a ladies’ man-nothing earth shaking like being Fela’s manager though. Still. You see how relatively simple debunking all the lazy rumours is? Why then are more people not doing their due diligence before ‘viralising’ stupidly false stories to make a quick buck.
The big elephant is whether Bose Ogulu was a Fela dancer. You’re likely holding your breath. This particular rumour I actually bought without questions. First off, those spreading the story appeared like people with authentic sources. In any case, I saw it actually as a positive and of course I thought it made sense.
Fortunately, I heard from the horse’s mouth-Bose Ogulu, the momager herself. She was a guest on the ‘I Said What I Said’ (ISWIS) podcast, hosted by FK (Feyikemi) Abudu and Jollz (Jola) Adeyeye. A lot has been said about the parenting ‘nuggets’ Mama Burna dished out in that interview. However, and more importantly, Ogulu denied that she ever danced for Fela. Not because she thinks it’s bad but because it just didn’t happen. She was a student of Queen’s College at the time and as a result of this story, she says her then school mates no longer believe the media. Why was it so hard for the media to check the veracity of this particular story? How old was she when that picture was taken, 15 or younger?
In the interview Burna Boy’s mother talked about how one particular rumour about her son was around for several years. Of course, to her own logical mind, there were many holes in that story she’d expected many people to see through: “I saw intelligent people not questioning,” she lamented. This was the rumour about Burna Boy being jailed for murder, breaking jail in the UK and running to Nigeria. I don’t think it was smart not to have confronted the rumour-mongers head on. Granted, there’ll always (still) be some who’d prefer the more salacious rumour to the truth but at least you owe it to the preservation of the brand to set the record straight. If for nothing, just being able to put it on the record. To
That being said, there’s something to be said about Burna Boy and his team (which includes his mother) not being more forthcoming with their side of the story. It doesn’t even have to be a response or rebuttal. In fact, the best strategy is to take the lead in selling the Burna Boy brand/story: What are the key attributes of the Bruna Boy brand? How do you defend these attributes? As some wise person said: Offence is the best form of defence. You need a ‘bank’ where you deposit the truth for use in the stormy times. If or when a rumour tries to break into this ‘bank’, people will already know certain things as facts having heard them in times of ‘peace’. When a brand is under attack, there’s a tendency to take the information at that time with a pinch of salt. Already, Mama Burna comes across as very self-assured and confident. Not only is she an eloquent speaker, she’s passionate and not afraid to air her views. ISWIS is a good start but we need more.