*I’m not Omawumi or Tiwa Savage but foreigners appreciate my music more than Nigerians
Nigeria’s foremost goddess of the talking drum, musician and stage performer, Yinka Ara, simply known as ‘Ara’ recently talked about the value Nigerians place on their culture, traditions and hearitage. In a recent chat with Showtime Celebrity, the talking drummer passionately poured out her heart on why she has not really been active in the Nigerian music industry, and spoke about her love life and what fans should expect from her in 2016.
By Rotimi Agbana
Her prolonged inactivity in the Nigerian music industry
I have not been out of the industry; the pain in my heart is the fact that people don’t promote culture and my brand of music. People want to do hip-hop, and when you have something different and unique but doesn’t seem popular or commercial as they would term it, little or nothing is heard about you even though you are doing something or a whole lot of things. I would say that I’ve not been out, I’ve been working, I’ve been having a whole lot of performances, but you won’t see me on HipTv or Nigezie because they don’t appreciate my brand of music. I’m not an Omawumi, Tiwa Savage or Wizkid. How many people want to listen to the talking drum? We’re more accepted outside Nigeria. Maybe the perception is ‘it’s our thing’ but out there, they know what it really means for a female to play instruments. I play well over five drums.
Those who really appreciate Ara’s kind of music
Its foreigners that appreciate my music because Nigerians do not place value on their culture, let alone promote it. Foreigners appreciate the Nigerian culture and my kind of music even more than Nigerians, and that’s the truth.
Perception of Nigerians towards Ara’s kind of music
I do really want to change things because I’m a Nigerian and I’m a mother. I want my son and other children to enjoy what we enjoyed when we were growing up. These days, what is churned out there is beautiful music and beautiful sounds enjoying widespread support from the corporate community but our kind of music, which is more cultural in nature is not appreciated the way it should. We need corporate bodies to invest, to put in something to encourage us. And that is why you see the likes of Asa, Lagbaja, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti are not really doing stuff here in Nigeria because our kind of music is more appreciated out there and we kind of play for a selected kind of audience who will appreciate that. Well, we are looking into it and hopefully, we would have people who would support what we do, then you would see us on all the music channels.
Fans’ expectation from Ara in 2016
Yeah, this year, if I have corporate bodies who want to partner with me, why not? I already have shows booked for 2016 in the United States, China and all of those places. Yes, they love our kind of music. I was in China last year and we are going to tour China again this year. But I would love to have something here, maybe a drum festival, music and drums or something. Well, if we put a team together and our sponsors are ready, there is nothing wrong in having something like that. I look forward to having sosmething like that here, and I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the new Ooni of Ife. He has revived my faith, and not just my faith but also the faith of every cultural practitioner or rather culturally inclined artiste. You know, he has reawakened that zeal to promote our culture, especially in Nigeria. He is God-sent to our race, so I say a big ‘thank you’ to him.
Her take on relationships and status
I’m not married but I have a son. I’ve not been in a relationship for a long time now and I’ve not been dating for a long time, at all. It’s for a very personal reason. I strongly believe in love; solely in love. I’m very deep, I don’t believe in flings or short-term relationship; I go all the way. So, if I can get what I want why not. It’s unfortunate that our society has gotten so bad that our men don’t even know how to woo a woman anymore; really, men don’t know how to woo women anymore. So when women like me who are deep, who have substance, virtuous women, want a man to go a way he should go, they get scared halfway and pull out. So, until that man comes, I’m going to wait and if he doesn’t come I’ll adopt two more kids in addition to my son and move on with my life. That’s it for me.
Opinion on 2016 celebrity beefs, scandals and controversies
(Laughs) Well, sometimes it’s just a game, a gimmick to sell publicity and sometimes its real, but I wouldn’t know if what happened earlier this year was real or was some kind of gimmick.
On whether celebrity beefs are healthy or not for the entertainment industry
See, if you ask me all these questions about the industry, I’m out of the box. Well, whatever works for anyone, whatever works for them is okay.
How she has managed to avoid scandals
I’m out of the box, a lot of people see me as a drummer and the perception is because of the kind of music and instrument I play. People think something else, right? People think when you play the kind of instrument I play, being the very first woman to play it and be successful at it, people will believe that because you believe in culture and tradition you are fetish. But that is not the kind of person I’m. That is where they get it all wrong. My lifestyle is totally different from that, so you will never find me near scandals. I’ve made my mistakes as a human being, which is normal with everybody. And I have learned lessons. So, on a normal day, you will never find Ara near scandal. I don’t believe in pre-marital sex , I don’t believe in philandering, I don’t believe in a whole lot of things. I don’t believe in going naked to sell my music or brand. I don’t conform to that thing that is perceived to be the ‘in thing’ in the entertainment industry.
Personal opinion on the political and socio-economic situation in the country
I’m very passionate about this country; I am ready to contribute to the progress and national development of Nigeria whenever I’m called upon. In Nigeria, we criticise everything, the social media is not helping the matter, sabotage, propaganda, people don’t want us to see the light, the truth, there is too much propaganda out there and we are being misinformed intentionally. This has to stop because this country is great, greater than you and I. The earlier you and I realize that the better. I tell people that we are too volatile in Nigeria, we are too angry against one another, we shouldn’t be. What we need is reorientation, we need to show love for the love of this country. We need to love one another, show love to one another and neglect this crazy Nigerian mentality. We are a culturally rich people, our heritage is so rich and deep, we need to get out of this craze that is eating everybody up, this ‘get rich quick syndrome’; rituals, internet scams, prostitution, and a whole lot.