The debut song of the Nigerian duo Zule-Zoo was banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation when it came out in March 2006. Instead of silencing them, the ban actually helped promoting their new album, entitled ‘Banned In Nigeria’, which has become a nation-wide hit
“It was a big shock to us when we heard it on the radio and on the screen that the ‘Kerewa’ track from Zule-Zoo has been banned, and they give us some reasons that we do not see as something that they have to count on. We are not encouraging corruption, we are only preaching against it. Banning our music was like banning the chief vibrant culture of Nigeria,” says Zule-Zoo, a duo consisting of Ibrahim Alhassan and Mike from Benue state, in a video interview placed on YouTube.com.
‘Kerewa’ means: ‘adultery’ – but according to the duo the censor’s board misunderstood the lyrics of the song when they thought they advocated adultery. The song lyrics tell about a woman who is unfaithful when her husband travels, and the music make it sound as if they are celebrating the unfaithful conduct.
‘Kerewa’ allegedly touched a sensitive nerve among the authorities because of rumours that even the president of the country has been guilty of adultery.
When the group came out with a full album entitled ‘Banned In Nigeria’, a nine-track album including the banned ‘Kerewa’, the album became a success, and ‘Kerewa’ has now been “un-banned” by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.
Forgotten warriors Ibrahim Alhassan and Mike came to Lagos in 1996 to attend an audition for the National Troupe of Nigeria which left them disappointed.
“After the NTN’s audition, I had no fare to go back to Benue State, so I decided to stay back and sweat it out with life. There and then, I started working hard to ensure that I realise my ambition to become a star in my lifetime. About that time, Mike who went back to Benue immediately after the audition later returned to join me and that was when we started researching on how to actualise our dream as we later came up with the name, Zule-Zoo, meaning ‘Forgotten warriors never die’,” explained Ibrahim Alhassan in an interview with Ghanaweb.com.
Click to read the Freemuse report on music censorship in Nigeria