How artists smoking Indian hemp on social media and music videos are misleading young people

Jhe song ‘Last Last’ by Grammy-winning artist Damini Ogulu is arguably one of the biggest songs on the planet right now. Since the song’s release on the music star’s birthday, July 2, 2022, it’s been rocking the airwaves and topping charts around the world.

Additionally, the song has been streamed six million times on the Spotify streaming platform alone, making it the most streamed song in Nigeria right now.

In the Apple Music Top 100: Nigeria, the song soared to the top spot within hours of its release and stayed there for several weeks. The song has also achieved commercial success on other giant streaming platforms like Boom Play Music, as well as Audiomack, to name a few.

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Currently on popular video streaming platform, YouTube, the song’s visuals have garnered over 62 million views since its release on May 13, 2022.

While the song – ‘Last Last’ – is danceable and groovy, its theme borders on the use, abuse of Indian hemp and alcohol to soothe one’s pain, especially someone going through grief.

In the song, the singer opened up about his grief and the death of a friend, Sobama, who was shot on August 24, 2010 in Port Harcourt. Burna Boy noted that he used “Igbo and Shayo” (a local slang for Indian hemp and alcohol) to ease his pain.

In the video for the song, which was the Grammy-winning singer’s directorial debut, he said the house, cars, “Igbo and Shayo” used were all his. Additionally, the commercially successful video, which has aired multiple times on TV stations around the world, showed the singer drinking alcohol and smoking Indian hemp excessively.

Burna Boy is not the only Nigerian superstar to have records produced solely to glorify the use of Indian hemp, nor is it his first time. In 2011, the singer released the song, Smoke Some Weed, which featured Onos.

Additionally, in 2013, at the height of his career, rapper Ice Prince released the song Gimme Dat, the long version of which featured Burna Boy, Yung L, and Olamide.

In 2010, iconic Nigerian rap artist Vector released the song “Mary Jane” – a nickname for Indian hemp. Indigenous Nigerian singer 9ice also took to the singing booth in 2007 to release the record ‘Ganja Man’ – a song which features Jah Bless. So far, all of these records and more have gained millions of listeners and viewers across streaming service networks.

Apart from their music videos, most of these artists also use social media handles to show the use of this illegal substance. A case in point is famous Nigerian singer Naira Marley, who not only declares how much he smokes in the lyrics of his songs, but also tweets about how he gets “high” all the time. smoke indian hemp. There are occasions when he shares pictures of himself with the illicit substance in his hand.

The likes of Wizkid and Davido are no slouches as on several occasions they have used their Instagram feed or Stories to share photos of themselves smoking Indian hemp with millions of their followers.

On Twitter, Davido has 12.2 million followers; Wizkid, 10.7 million; Burna Boy, 7.3 million; Naira Marley, 4.2 million. On Instagram, Davido has 25 million followers; Wizkid, 15.1 million; Burna Boy, 11.3 million; and Naira Marley, 6.9 million. However, a large portion of the followers of these superstars are known to be young people between the ages of 18 and 25.

Cannabis is illegal in Nigeria. Its production, distribution and use are criminalized by local laws, but despite this, cannabis use in Nigeria is growing rapidly, especially among the country’s youth.

According to a recent study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime published in 2018, in Nigeria, cannabis is the most commonly abused drug.

In addition, the average age of initiation to cannabis use in the general population is 19 years old.

Speaking on development, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Christian Nwoke described the use of illicit substances among young people as worrying.

He said: “A lot of young people who weren’t using drugs now copy these celebrities and they blindly copy them because they see them as role models; they see it as glamorous behavior. Additionally, they may tend to enjoy the euphoria that comes with using these substances. They tend to think drugs make them happy, high.

“These youngsters tend to copy most of what stars post, especially based on what they see in their music video, social media accounts and certain films. This has led to an increase in reports of mental illness. It has a multiplier effect.

“It’s not that easy to stop this trend, I think it will take time for it to be eradicated. Law enforcement must be involved. Also, those who have immersed themselves in it must deal with intensive counseling; those involved should be professional psychologists and counselors and primarily people from the correctional profession. This should be implemented at all levels, from the grassroots to the federal government.

Corroborating the opinion of his colleague, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye from the Department of Psychology at Obafemi Awolowo University further stated that there is “fire on the mountain”.

“When you allow a young person who is growing up in a very critical impressionistic stage of their life – an age of exploration – they would like to explore. They prefer and identify with anything that can create ecstasy. As soon as you mention marijuana, drugs and the like, they go with the entertainment. Therefore, if a youngster is exposed to this, they will want to try it unless there is proper supervision, especially parental supervision.

“It’s the age of technology and they have easy access to the internet and all the evils that come with it. So they will definitely end up being attracted to drugs; and when that happens it has a very negative. This is what we are experiencing in Nigeria. I do not know the statistics, but all the same, I do not want to minimize the fact that there is fire on the mountain if nothing is done now. So , social media is not helping the situation.

Professor Elegbeleye continued: “It is difficult to say what can be done to help. So many things can be done, but again, the more you try to do them, the more other problems interfere. For example, if the government wants to ban these artists, it may be difficult because the government collects revenue from all these entertainment shows.

“Even if the government says that they would not expose young people to such entertainment content, I don’t think that is possible because the internet is not controlled by the Nigerian government. As soon as a young person has the money to buy data, he has access to the Internet.

Also in a conversation with National Drug Control Agency Spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, he noted the steps the agency is taking to curb drug abuse among young Nigerians.

He said: “The actions of these stars deceive a lot of young people, especially their followers who look up to them as role models. These are the people referred to as Generation Z. These are the people who form the bulk of their followers and these celebrities mislead them by glorifying these things. So basically our response has been both law enforcement and advocacy.

“Law enforcement in the sense that those caught with illegal drugs would be arrested. Remember that there are other government agencies responsible for regulating some of these things. But ours have to do with exhibits if you get caught up in them. We are trying to divert our attention from the criminalization of young people. But the law as it stands today still shows that possession of Indian hemp by anyone is a criminal offence. Even at that, we try to use the carrot and stick approach, if you get caught with this stuff, you either go through the court system or go to counseling.

He further said that the agency has partnered with some celebrities to change the narrative.

“On the other hand, we try to engage young people at different levels. We try to involve them through associations. We also have celebrity ambassadors as well as drug-free celebrity clubs. We have a number of artists in the club so they can create awareness and spread positive content that will change the narrative of what some of their colleagues are doing,” the spokesperson said.

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