On Death and Guilt (For Olumuyiwa Osinuga aka Nomoreloss)


I was saddened to learn this week that Muyiwa Osinuga aka Nomoreloss, is dead.  I add my condolences to those of all the other people who have expressed regret at his death. Here is to hoping that he rests in peace and that God gives the family he has left behind the fortitude to bear the loss. I have a confession to make here, I don’t know much about Nomoreloss, of course I know a few of his songs especially that cover of Orlando Owoh’s Iyawo Asiko. I know he is a good musician, but I don’t know his discography the way I know Olamide’s or Whizkid’s or Davido’s for example. Therefore you  have to forgive me if this post sounds a tad insensitive. Death especially when it comes with health issues and depression as Nomoreloss faced before his demise, is always sad, but from the encomiums that came in the wave of his exit, one can deduce that he lived a good life and was much loved.

That brings me to  a disturbing trend I found in the wave of encomiums and condolence messages that poured in the wake of Nomoreloss’s death, and it was the sentiment by some of the people and echoed by popular Comedienne, Lepacious Bose, labelling Nigerian music acts as hypocrites for not helping Nomoreloss while he was alive and rushing to shower accolades on him now that he is dead. I do not have a grudge against  Lepacious Bose and others like her for expressing their grief the way they see fit, but that attitude of trying to use death to induce guilt in other people is as crass and hypocritical as the “lack of caring for someone while they are alive” that they are complaining about in the first place. This is the time for celebrating the life of someone who has gone to rest from his earthly travails, not time to distribute guilt about how many of his songs you bought or listened to while he was alive or how much you contributed to his bills while he was battling his issues.

Chris Abani it was who said that the two most useless human emotions is nostalgia and guilt. I hasten to add to that the only thing more useless than feeling guilt is trying to induce it in other people. Nomoreloss chose his path and decided what would happen to him when he decided to leave mainstream music and go into alternative music (I am not talking about his health issues, I am talking about the fact that the mainstream never considered him popular enough to care about his condition until it was too late). It was the path he chose and if he has any regrets there is no one he can blame for it. At Artmosphere of March 2016, a member of the audience asked the invited guest poet, Niran Okewole, why literary poets like him do not seek to collaborate with mainstream hip-hop artists in order to make their poetry available to the man on the street. Okewole in reply gave the example of British singer Adele, who reportedly turned down a collaboration with American musician Beyonce Knowles. Indeed Adele has refused to go mainstream/do any collaborations with any popular hip hop artists. Of course Adele stands to make even more money and be even more popular if she goes mainstream, but she has refused to for her own reasons. Whatever those reasons are, she can’t certainly complain, that her music doesn’t have the popularity or commercial value of Beyonce’s.

Therein lies the problem with a lot of Nigerian alternative acts and their fans, and why it grates me to listen to some of them ( I say Nigerian because it’s my reality). They keep complaining that mainstream acts with their commercial music and club tracks, are more popular than them with their “good” and “educative” music. As the often quoted maxim says “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” You either stick to your good and niche music, with the attendant less fame/money  or go mainstream/commercial and make more money/ be more popular. You choose what you want to do and live with it, in other words being Adele works for Adele and being Rihanna works for Rihanna. Thus fans and friends who wish to mourn Nomoreloss can do better than to complain that people (especially mainstream musicians) did not pay attention to him when he was sick. For example when OJB Jezreel and Majek Fashek had their own issues, people learnt of it and came together to help them. It was one of the benefits they enjoyed for being in the mainstream. I have no wish to speak evil of the dead, but no one should be made to feel guilty over how they spend the money they worked for. You can’t turn your noses up at people for making commercial music, and at the same time hope to enjoy the same  benefits that they do for making said music.

As sad as Muyiwa Osinuga’s death is, it is still death and it is a contract we all have to honour sooner or later, why didn’t the sanctimonious people who are now activists for the dead raise this issues while he was alive, and are now trying determine who has a right to mourn him and who doesn’t? It is too late now to ask Nomoreloss if he has any regrets about the musical path he took, but no one should be made to feel guilty about another person’s death except they have a hand in said person’s death. To Lepacious Bose and the likes of her, there are better ways to honour a dead friend than to spread guilt over his death. Honour him in your own way, and let the dead sleep in peace, because, each person is ultimately responsible for the paths he/she takes and the things that happen to him/her. It sounds insensitive but it is the truth.
Once again rest in peace Olumuyiwa Osinuga, the Nigeria music industry will miss you

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