By Michael Aromolaran
In 2015, pop artiste David Adeleke, aka Davido, had a public spat with Ovation magazine boss Dele Momodu. That spat inspired the taunt, “Mr Dele na my boy,” which Davido sang in Bahd Baddo Baddest (2017). This Tuesday, Davido got into a Twitter beef with another Dele, his cousin this time around: Dele Adeleke. If Davido dreamt up a taunt this time, it would probably be, “Mr Dele na olodo.”
Davido cast the first stone in a tweet, where he accused his cousin of not being “intellectual” enough to compete in the Osun state gubernatorial elections. According to Davido, Dele Adeleke graduated from university with a 2:2 grade, so doesn’t have much in the way of smarts.
In the subsequent tweets, Davido accused his cousin of hiring people to disparage him, and that in the course of which they disrespected the memory of Davido’s late mother. Davido also ratted out to Twitter that the house in which Dele Adeleke lives was a gift from Davido’s father.
The maligned cousin has since denied paying people to discredit Davido.
The cause of the family feud is political. Two members of the Adeleke family — Ademola Adeleke, a former senator; and his nephew, Dele Adeleke — were recently given the go-ahead by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to contest its gubernatorial primaries in view of the July 16 Osun State governorship elections.
In 2018, Ademola Adeleke contested the Osun State gubernatorial elections, which he lost to Governor Gboyega Oyetola. Four years later, he first has to prevail over his nephew at the primaries, and this makes Davido unhappy.
Let’s get it straight: there is no moral law forbidding a nephew from competing with his uncle for a political position. And if there is one, there shouldn’t be. A son should be able to compete with his father; a niece with her aunt; a friend with a friend. And it doesn’t have to be a distasteful affair. In the same vein, a son should be allowed to hold political ideals that oppose his father’s, even while living under said father’s roof, without at any point fearing expulsion or disownment.
This, after all, is the kernel of democracy — the independence of thought and action. Democracy shouldn’t only be a national ideal, but a familial one. Because if parents can’t abide opposition from their children, and uncles can’t abide opposition from their nephews, then why should we expect governments to reward opposition from its citizens with anything but batons and teargas canisters?
Though Davido didn’t say it, one senses that he finds his cousin’s ambition disrespectful because it crosses paths with that of his much older uncle. In the Yoruba culture, which Davido belongs to, it is disrespectful for the young to challenge the old. Were this the case, then it is ironic considering the role Davido played in the End SARS protests of October 2020.
As the protests neared full bloom, Davido joined a group of protesters in Abuja in solidarity, before going to meet the then-Inspector General of Police, Muhammadu Adamu, with whom he is believed to have restated the demands of the youth-centric movement.
The irony here is that the End SARS protests at some point ceased to be only about police brutality, and became a cultural revolution, the target of which was the gerontocracy. On Twitter and on the streets, End SARS protesters lambasted the ‘old people’ in government, and the ‘old people’ who have held onto power since 1960. And even the ‘old parents,’ who, like the man in that Soyinka’s aphorism, choose to stay silent in the face of tyranny. In various End SARS crannies, there were calls for a fresh, youthful face in the 2023 presidential elections.
Two years later, Davido, the self-anointed End SARS spokesman, threw his weight behind his 61-year-old uncle, and not with his much younger cousin.
Since Davido’s attacks on his cousin, Dele Adeleke’s Twitter followers have swelled by the thousands. Surely Davido, long in the entertainment and publicity business as he has been, must have known that he would do more good than harm to his cousin by tweeting about him. Which is why I wonder whether it was all deliberate. Whether the beef was artificially contrived.
What if it was all one deft ploy to bring attention to his cousin so that, in the long run, it becomes a two-horse race at the Osun state primaries, with both of the racers flying the Adeleke house insignia?
Or perhaps his tweets were so designed to ramp up buzz for a new Davido song? It’s uncanny that on the same day that Davido hounds his cousin, he announces that he would be releasing “new music” the upcoming Friday.
Musicians have done even more dramatic things to promote an upcoming song or album, or to reboot a flailing career, like Skiibii Mayana who reportedly faked his death in 2015 for some attention.
It so happens that the remix of Skiibii’s song — “Baddest Boy” — is the music that Davido announced would be released this Friday. Tell me, is it sheer coincidence, or has Davido been taking lessons from a publicity strategist of the extremist kind?
Michael Aromolaran is a Nigerian writer and journalist. He is a literature, football, film, and music enthusiast. He is @_michaelberlin on both Twitter and Instagram.