When I was in preschool until I reached 7th grade, I remember my dad used to always play these cassette tapes. Yes, cassette tapes. CDs were around and even the radio was available. My dad loved (which is a definitive understatement) his cassette tapes. Randomly, the parts of the songs will come back to my memory. I don’t remember the titles nor the artists’ names. What I can’t forget is how they made me feel.
It’s hard to forget your roots.
The songs derived from his homeland Nigeria. I would sing along sometimes in my head or if I was bold enough, I would sing under my breath. Nevertheless, my lack of singing ability didn’t take away from my sense of pride of being able to connect with my roots. Those car rides to and from school were my escape from “American music.”
Sweet escape. Ogene reconnected us.
The best plantain is the one cooked when it’s sweet. After it has been fried and allowed to cool, your mind is consumed by the plantain’s savory flavor: the sweet escape. A similar feeling occurred after I heard Nigerian Hip Hop artist Zoro’s song ‘Ogene.’ With a featured appearance by the famous Igbo artist Flavour, ‘Ogene’ took me back to my childhood.
Ogene is both an instrument and an Igbo style of music. Nigerian author Chinua Achebe referenced the Ogene’s use in Igbo culture in his popular book Things Fall Apart. The Ogene, which resembles a gong-like instrument, was used to alert members of a tribe about a certain event. It is considered the master instrument of the Igbo culture used at rituals and celebrations. Ogene evolved into a style of music reflecting the sweetness and the beauty of Igbo culture. The ogene is enhanced with performances such as masquerade.
It is important to note the history of ogene to truly understand Zoro’s 2016 hit. Zoro brought ogene to the mainstream.