Tag Archives: freedom of speech

Freemuse X Shouts Artist’s Voice: Nigerian Musician M-Josh

Artist’s Voice is a collaboration between Freemuse and Shouts – Music from the Rooftops!. The collaboration aims to provide a platform for artists to share their stories, in their own words, brought to light through interviews published on a shared blog. The blog is available on Shouts and Freemuse websites as well as on corresponding social media channels.

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Interviews are undertaken by Shouts managing editor Halldór H Kristínarson. All interviews will be published in the artist’s own words. Cover image: M-Josh (real name Matthew Joshua Chukwubuikem) / Reuse with modifications from M-Josh on Instagram.

Freemuse and Shouts believe that the right to freedom of artistic expression is a right for all and will work together to create a platform for these expressions.

Freemuse and Shouts cooperated on the below interview of Nigerian musician M-Josh. M-Josh was threatened by a member the Nigerian army for the song Movie In Aso Rock concerning human rights violations and the military in Nigeria.

Halldór: Thank you for participating with Shouts and Freemuse for this joint interview. For those out there that are not familiar with your music, can you please introduce yourself to the world? Who is M-Josh?

M-Josh: First of all, my name is Matthew Joshua Chukwubuikem. I am from Eastern Nigeria; I am a musician and an activist. I am not just an ordinary musician; I make reasonable music capable of bringing positive change to society.

Halldór: You recently received threats from Nigerian military personnel because of your song Movie in Aso Rock. Why did this soldier get so upset about your music and lyrics, in your opinion? For those of us who do not understand the language in the video, can you explain what the song is about?

M-Josh: In the first place, Movie In Aso Rock is a musical piece of art that I used to explain the drama in the Government of Nigeria. A lot of unthinkable things happen, and no one is held accountable. The politicians do anything they like and get away with it.

Halldór: Have you always made conscious music or used your music in protest? How did you start making music and using your voice to try to send positive messages out into the cosmos?

M-Josh: Initially, music was just entertainment for me. But there is a popular saying that ‘he whose house is on fire doesn’t chase rats’. I decided to switch totally to conscious music due to the decay in my society; music is a vital tool to reach out and bring positive change while trying to entertain.

Halldór: Are you worried about your safety?

M-Josh: Of course, I am. Nigeria, as it is today, is a lawless nation, shit happens, and nobody cares. Politicians commit all sorts of atrocities, and if anyone tries to speak up, they come after them with their police, army or even send assassins.

Halldór: What kind of security adjustments have you had to make recently?

M-Josh: Well, that is personal.

Halldór: How important is it for you to represent your culture in your music, and why? In your experience, how do you feel that people outside of Africa view the Nigerian people?

M-Josh: I believe history has not been fair on my people and the culture in general. Lots of deliberate attempts have been made to re-write the story and culture of the African people. Nigeria, the Eastern Nigeria has been hit hard by western influence, and only a few people are doing well to represent and tell the true story. I have watched my culture been gradually eroded. It is very sad to say that the Nigerian people are not well represented outside Africa. This is due to bad leadership and also a western conspiracy. I discussed that a bit in my soon to be released song Stories Of Africa.

Halldór: What is your take on music and activism, and do you think the two should be intertwined or separated?

M-Josh: Music is a vital tool used to get information across to people easily, it is entertainment, and it brings people together. If you want to sell an ideology, use music. Activism on its own is basically a campaign to bring about positive political or societal change. You have a big tool if you fuse your ideology into music and sell it to the people. I feel music should accompany activism.

Halldór: How does general activism fit into your everyday life? Is it all through the music or are there causes that you fight for outside of your work?

M-Josh: Even if I wasn’t a musician, I would still be into activism. I hate seeing things go wrong around me. I always stand up against oppression, be it in music or in my day to day activities.

Image: M-Josh (real name Matthew Joshua Chukwubuikem) / Reuse from M-Josh on Instagram.

Halldór: Can you describe the music scene where you live? Are there many musicians, like yourself, that use their voice for good?

M-Josh: Music is entertainment, and it is thriving in African and Nigeria precisely. There are lots of good musicians over here though a lot of them don’t feel it is important to use their music the way I do. Some do though.

Halldór: What is on the horizon for you? Musically or otherwise?

M-Josh: In the future, I hope to reach the world with my message. I like good things, and I have my personal goals too.

Halldór: Is there anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops to the whole world?

M-Josh: As much as you can, try to attract positive change. Let’s make this world a better place, let’s make it that heaven we all aim at.

Follow M-Josh’s work on his Instagram and YouTube.

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Rapper Maykel Osorbo and Visual Artist Luis Manuel Otéro Arbitrarily Detained In Cuba

For a couple of months now, I have been trying to interview a rapper from Cuba. His name is Maykel Osorbo. This is a collaborative interview with Freemuse, a non-profit organisation that advocates for and defends freedom of artistic expression worldwide.

The reason why this interview is coming along slowly is because Maykel is constantly being arbitrarily detained by Cuban authorities. We can only deduct that he is being detained for his music, lyrics and activism.

According to Freemuse, Cuba is one of the top 10 countries that detain artists in 2019. More on the repression of Maykel Osorbo and his friend and visual artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara can be read on Freemuse’s webpage.

“Both Otero Alcántara and Osorbo are active members of Movimiento San Isidro – the collective of artists that fight for freedom of artistic expression and demonstrate against Decree 349 which came into effect on 7 December 2018 and continues to curb independent artists’ expression in Cuba. “

– from this article on freemuse.org

For those of you that understand Cuban Spanish you can listen to Maykel himself speaking below about the incident and what is happening to him in his own country.

Cover photo taken from Facebook

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Young Director Of A Protest Music Video Dies In Prison

Shady Habash, the young Egyptian director of the video for the protest song Balaha has died inside the walls of Cairo’s Tora Prison. Habash was only 24 years old. He had spent 26 months in the prison after being charged with terrorism for taking part in creating said music video that authorities stated used insulting names for the Egyptian president.

The musician and activist in the video, Ramy Essam, paid tribute to his friend on Facebook saying that Habash was “the kindest and bravest of people. He never hurt anyone”. Essam is currently living in exile because of the Balaha video.

Essam finished his post by saying that it wasn’t a song that killed Shady Hasbah.

“What killed Shady was the dictatorship and the horrendous violation of his human rights, and we have to demand for the investigation of his death caused by denial of medical care. We have to stop the same violation happening to Galal El-Behairy and Mustafa Gamal, who are still behind bars because of a song, suffering from human rights violations as thousands of others.”

Essam created the Balaha Case campaign which raises awareness of and fights for the freeing of the rest of his artistic crew that are still in prison in Egypt.

Cover image is from Ramy Essam’s webpage.