“Humility will take nothing from you, it can only add.”- Debola Williams
The first thing that may come to some people’s mind is…”Is she saying she wants to have kids with different men?” Why I wouldn’t owe anyone an explanation if I chose to live my life that way, for the sake of clarity, no, that’s not what I am referring to when I say I want to be like Nigeria’s music legend, Innocent Ujah Idibia, whose stage name is Tuface. I’ll pass on the happenings in Mr Idibia’s private life. But, I’ll also admit any day that this icon of the music industry is one man I have always found intriguing. Unarguably the greatest artiste of this generation not just because of his brand and unique style of music, but because of one attribute he possesses and which has become almost as legendary as his music. Humility.
In this day and age where the average John Doe who has no remote claim to fame or any other accomplishment of note for that matter saunters around with an exaggerated opinion of himself, humility is a virtue that is becoming increasingly rare. In fact, the impression one gets from the society nowadays is one which preaches climbing atop a mountain to blow one’s trumpet. This is not to say that it is completely wrong to speak of one’s achievements or be proud of them. Nevertheless, except you are being interviewed for a job or are trying to get someone to buy into your idea, product or service, then tooting your own horn should be the exception to the rule and not the norm.
Since the beginning of 2016, the entertainment industry has witnessed a lot of drama. There have been fights and theatrics among artistes. A situation which has degenerated into some name calling, a good dose of boasting and grandstanding for good measure. The Don Jazzy versus Olamide episode readily comes to mind. And just as that was settled, in a move akin to receiving the baton in a relay race, the Whizkid/Dammy Krane club fight took over. These fights and “beef” among artistes who unfortunately have many fans and followers who look up to them boils down to one thing – the battle for supremacy. The I-am-better-than-you mentality is responsible for the cold war which eventually snowballs into something more sinister.
Time and time gain, we see people who were not only anonymous but also in the throes of penury only a few years ago become a law unto themselves because of some fleeting fame/fortune providence has bestowed on them. And while this is common among music artistes, actors and celebrities in general, it is by no means limited to this category of people. Regular folks who were only a shirt and trouser away from being naked come into a bit of money and completely lose themselves in it. It’s amazing! It’s one of the reasons why I belong to the school of thought that believes the humility of a poor man can never be trusted. Give a man wealth, fame and a bit of power, then you’ll see his true colours.
Unpretentious humility is the factor that sets Tuface apart from his peers. Apart from churning out good music over and over again, he is one person who has not allowed all the appurtenances of fame change him. In this part of the world, this is nothing short of a miracle. I have never met Mr Idibia one-on-one but I have followed his career closely, the highs and lows and even the controversies surrounding his personal life. Even though he is adored by many, he hasn’t escaped getting flak for some of the indiscretions in his personal life. But, not once have I heard or read of him lashing out at a fan out of anger. Not once have I heard any bad word being said about him by his colleagues in the industry. Not once has he conducted himself in an arrogant or rude manner in spite of criticisms that have come his way, which is far from what can be said about his ilk in the same industry.
I have been fortunate to have good people who read my work and encourage me from to time on my writing journey. However, like every other person I have been criticized a couple of times too. Most times constructively and other times harshly. One time a lady who happened to be my senior in high school requested my friendship on Facebook. I accepted her friend request, only for her to literally type the word “Rubbish” in the comment section of the satirical piece I had just posted on my Facebook timeline. Now, I know that not everyone understands satire, so I quietly went to engage her inbox, explaining to her that the article was tongue-in-cheek even though there are plenty of truths in it.
She responded that she understood but was still entitled to her opinion. Of course, she was! But I was surprised because this was someone who wasn’t just a random person I didn’t know at all. For one, she is definitely older and I would have expected more tact from her. Secondly, she was the one who requested to be my friend. Now, why would you ask to be my friend only to act so cold and critical towards me? Thirdly, she couldn’t articulate exactly what she didn’t like about the article and even left the chat abruptly while I was engaging her. I just didn’t get it. And so I deleted her, because I couldn’t wrap my head around what all the negativity was all about. But sometimes, I wonder if I should have left her as a friend so she could continue to see my exploits.
That episode gave me an idea of what people like Tuface go through. Even in the times when he has been verbally attacked or accused of stealing songs by a former friend, he has always demonstrated class and admirable maturity in the way he has handled his business. Contrary to what many think, being civil or polite amidst plenty of criticism is easier said than done. Oftentimes we see celebrities (who forget that they became popular only because of the love people have shown for their work) treat this same people as though they were lesser mortals. Even among ordinary people who are not celebrities, there’s always a tendency to think too highly of oneself as soon as one’s profile begins to rise.
It’s the curse of good fortune which very few people (like the Tuface’s of this world) have managed to escape. Just like Mr Idibia, I want to be one of the few to escape the curse if I ever become famous.