Once Upon a Time in Owerri; Tale of a Growing City.

Article by; Chinedu Hardy Nwadike

Once upon a time in Owerri: Tale of a growing city
Once upon a time has helped many story tellers before me and I feel so great starting this piece with it.
Once upon a time, I was more of a nobody and the city still lived on. Day in day out, people wrapped up achievements, preparing the ground for me to come in. This is what everyone who joined the entertainment industry of Imo State recently would say and I am one of them.
There was still a time when music in my city was of Highlife, Bongo, traditional gospel genres every other thing aside it was noise. When radio stations would prefer to put Tuface and other Lagos State based artistes on repeat, while those in the same genre who are based in the state are tagged wannabe noise makers. To those that were artistes at that time, they will really tell you it was their dark age.
But now, highlife artistes struggle to gain airplay in certain radio stations in the state and to the majority of youths, the artistes are in the contemporary genres while those doing our traditional genre are usually expected to be seen only during ceremonies.
Once upon a time it was the other way round and if in years to come, someone cares to write about our time, we will be in his ‘once upon a time’.
Have you thought of the time when 90% of those using the internet did it from a cyper café? When you want to go for night browsing, you make a list of what to download. Sometimes the list will fail you because after saving to your flash drive, you get home to find everything corrupted. Those were still among the dark ages.
This did not only happen in my state, it happened everywhere and I mean everywhere if it is not still happening somewhere tonight.
Today, everyone is carrying internet with him and with few keys pressed, latest songs and video are downloaded.
Once upon a time, if you must listen to radio and watch TV in Imo State, the frequencies have to be 99.4 on FM and 59 on UHF respectively, which means anything they reject will never be heard.
At a certain time, we felt change has come when another radio/TV station was established in the state but instead of providing an alternative route to the people, they became another copy of what was existing, providing another alternative for those who were already enjoying the air time.
If you are a contemporary artiste today, thank God you were never one that time because those doing music in the genre of hip-hop and R&B surely have a good story to tell.
Once upon a time in my city, every popular song I downloaded was tagged to http://www.234eastjamz.com, although there was still http://www.luthershowbizconcept.com at that time.
Although http://www.234eastjamz.com no longer exists, it was a major force at that time, being among the first music/entertainment blogs in eastern Nigeria.
Later there was http://www.wadupnaija.com, http://www.naijatell.com, www. therockmediahouse.wordpress.com and 2012 saw a great deal of revolution in blogging in Imo State, with the emergence of http://www.otowngist.com as the first original entertainment news website in eastern Nigeria.
http://www.mp3timeout.com and http://www.vibesngist.com were next in 2012 and by then, internet awareness among artistes has increased.
2013 saw the biggest hit with the emergency of award winning http://www.prezplay.net, followed by http://www.247tunes.com, http://www.nocmusic1.wordpress.com, http://www.free9jamusic.net and http://www.naijareplay.com.
Since then, we have also seen http://www.sweetnaijamusic, http://www.enjoy9ja.com, http://www.2hotblog.com. http://www.2shymusic.com, http://www.jaragist.com, http://www.gistreel.com, http://www.glamourgist.com, http://www.jinglegists.wordpress.com, http://www.igbonweremmadu.wordpress.com http://www.kintatagist.com, http://www.naijaeast.wordpress.com, http://www.fabxclusive.wordpress.com and others.
With over 20 blogs having their roots in a small city like Owerri, one would still be wondering why it is still difficult to be reading the little happenings of the city in 50% of these blogs.
The clear fact still remains that the presence of these blogs which have served not only entertainers and audience in the state, but also those in other parts of the country and beyond, have really done a great job in making the city a better place for entertainers, especially the musicians because 80-90% of these blogs are music blogs.
Even when it is proven that the blogs have done something, they still need to do more, else in years to come, someone will title his article ‘Once upon a time: There were more than 20 blogs who failed to make impact’. It would surely be painful to see our efforts packaged inside a title, ‘Once upon a time’.
Once upon a time, the city of Owerri and the entire Imo State had no entertainment blog, later they had one and now, they have more than 20. Just in a city as small as Owerri.
Bloggers should understand that no matter how far they go without making a reasonable impact in their immediate environment, it will simply look like online hype. Although this statement might sound myopic, because most bloggers would surely say that the entire country is their parish, I still believe that a little touch of originality in once work will cover up for Social Cooperate Responsibility.
Imagine if more than 20 dedicated blog should show 30% concentration on a city as small as Owerri, the entire country will never rest until they understand the city has a lot happening in it.
Thank God most bloggers are artistes or artistes’ managers who go on complaining that radio stations in the play more of songs by artistes based outside the state especially Lagos, a sin they are also guilty of.
If I see headlines like ‘Aifee fights Acharaman on twitter’, thrice a week, I wouldn’t mind if the rest are ‘Kcee and D’Banj spotted in New York’. Like I said earlier, just 30% dedication and the rest to artistes outside the state, we would just be fine and people around the state will surely get to know our artistes whom despite their fame amongst themselves are still unknown to a better part of the people in the state.
Once upon a time, artistes say they have released a single when they post their songs to http://www.4shared.com and other free file hosting sites, today the blogs mentioned above post the songs for them.
While some artistes have learnt their lessons, others are still glued to a certain blog thinking that one blog alone will make him famous.
Some artistes still believed when bloggers say ‘I gat you covered around the country’, the truth is that, there are people who do not know there is something like http://www.notjustok.com, yet they go online to download songs daily.
If top sites are still unknown to some internet users, what more the one that started last year.
Artistes have let bloggers play politics with their songs. He promised you that he will send your song to 20 other bloggers who will release the song with him by 4:00pm and by 3:55pm, he has not sent the song out to anyone.
After posting and sharing the link everywhere, he will send it to other who will in anger decide to post when they like.
While the artiste is busy with one link, he will never know that someone has created 20 or more enemies for him unknowingly and the worst people an artiste will make his enemies are bloggers, especially in today’s Nigeria.
I can wait till next year to write that ‘Once upon a time in 2013, artistes were still being deceived by bloggers’.
My advice to artistes is to see that they work with open minded bloggers who will put artiste’s success ahead of traffic.
The fact that the city is growing is acceptable, and the fact that the city has what other cities ahead of it does not have bring up the question ‘What is happening?”
Is that the bloggers who in most cases started their blogs to change the trend of backwardness in the city will at a certain point start derailing?
Is it that entertainers in the state are in no way worthy of appearances on these blog aside when they have released their songs?
Is it that the bloggers are working against the artistes so that no one outgrows them?
Is it that that the bloggers are working against themselves making it a case of where two elephants are fighting?
Is it that the bloggers chase traffic more than the success of those they are publicizing?
To me I believe it a little bit of every question that has been asked with more that has not been said here.
Although changing the face of the industry in the state does not lie in the hands of the bloggers alone, but I am looking at the fact that we are in an information age where blog posts can still be called up years after.
The radio/TV stations, newspapers, magazines and every other person in the media sector need to stand up to the responsibility of helping our immediate environment.
Stop celebrating the glory of nothing because until a building is roofed and furnished, nothing has been achieved.
I know it is a thing of choice, but just like my name is Hardy today, a better writer will surely emerge in time to come to write thus ‘Once upon a time in the days of Hardy, there were many talented people who could have made a difference, but they chose to waste their time in celebrating the victory they never had’
Your name could be used to replace ‘Hardy’. Now let’s get out of the dark ages.

Chinedu Hardy Nwadike is a blogger based in Owerri. chikisnow@yahoo.com 08136723796, @hardynwa, BBM 222E7850

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