Tope Alabi and The Roadside Christians: Between Hypocrisy and Identity | By O. Busayo MFR


Music has a way of bringing people with diverse religious beliefs and socio-cultural orientations together; either for entertainment purposes or for sober reflections. Music plays several roles which are not limited to socio-cultural, religious, political, spiritual and moral significances. Music is divided into several genres ( depending on the region) such as – hip hop, Fuji, juju, Apala, ogene, gospel, highlife, folk, jazz, blues R&B, etc.

In an attempt to define the term “Music”, some scholars opine that music is a universal language. While some believe it is the only food that can be offered to one’s soul. This takes us to the emotive and communicative functions of music. I would restrict myself to these two definitions due to the economy of space and time.

However, engaging discourse on music without taking account of musical accompaniments, emotional responses and dance patterns are like preparing pounded yam for an Ijesha or Ekiti man and not considering the soup that would give it a safe trip into the belly. I think such an intellectual exercise would better be called or described as an ‘academic accident’. In Nigeria, there are different kinds of dance moves like “bata” dance, snake dance, “sabata” dance, “ogiriyan” dance, “ajah”dance, “azonto” dance, ”shakushaku” dance and “tesumole” dance.

Some of these dance patterns are associated with the culture of some ethnic groups (they perform religious and spiritual functions) while some are products of popular music which are only for entertainment purposes.

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Tope Alabi Dance

It is worthy of note that there is nothing like a gospel dance pattern. Most gospel artistes recreate out of their creative imaginations and find a way of “Christianizing” these dance patterns. In contemporary Nigeria, many young hip hop artistes were able to hit the limelight through the dance patterns they introduced into their songs which give their songs the required emotional understanding, feedback and musical unity.

You would agree with me that some churches favour cultural dance moves (most especially “bata “dance that is associated with sango the god of lightning) while some Yoruba churches also praise God through chants (e.g “ijala”which is associated with Ogun the god of iron).

A short excursion into history makes us to know that Evangelist Tope Alabi hits the limelight through one of her songs titled’ ” Baba mimo wowa sope” ( meaning: Holy father, here I come with thanksgiving). That song and its dance moves directly imitate Awilo Logomba, the Congolese “Makossa” crooner. The adaptive prowess of Tope Alabi makes the dance pattern to achieve admiration from practitioners of Christianity religion.

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Tope Alabi dance Zanku

In a sharp reference to the topicality of this discourse, nobody can clearly showcase what constitutes a gospel dance or how the body movements should be coordinated without betraying the original emotional responses to beats. Honestly, it is highly hypocritical of those who are criticizing Tope Alabi for her public display of affection to God almighty through her dancing skills without minding whose ox is gored.

Your private opinion about her remains your private opinion. Your vitriolic attack against her innocent and well-coordinated dance steps cannot be said to come from the heavens. In fact, advanced spiritual praise to God cannot be done in a normal way.

In the physical, you may appear mad or drunk but it makes you a darling in the sight of God. At a point, the biblical David had to tear his garment just to praise God. The same set of people who danced to Tope Alabi’s Makossa adapted dance moves are the same set of people criticizing her for her ability to “Tesumole” and carry her body. This is no doubt a clear case of unprecedented hypocrisy.

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Tope Alabi dance

These are people who have been entertaining themselves with such dance steps in the corners of their rooms and also knowingly or unknowingly “carrying their body” to the beats of popular music and dance moves. There is no any dance pattern that is particularly gospel.

Evangelist Tope Alabi has been able to show the world that her identity as at twelve years ago remains the same.

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