I was a woman for whom weddings did not stop the world. I thought they were beautiful and life-changing. I also thought that they were a good way to open the next chapter of someone’s life. But I had to care deeply for the two people getting married for a wedding to hold my attention for more than a few short minutes; indeed, mean anything to me. That is why I envied people who could tune their TV set to a show about weddings and just get carried away by whatever lovebirds tying the note.
But all these changed. I watched Ada Ada by Flavour and I fell in love; not with Flavour, with the song.
Ada Ada by Flavour tells the complete story of the Igbo traditional wedding from morning to evening; after the ceremony when the newlyweds are leaving to start their own lives. The video begins in the morning when we meet an anxious soon-to-be bride as she frets around their house, worried about the delayed arrival of her groom and his people. We then witness the colourful arrival of the guests and a highly embellished ceremony that will tell you that, if well interpreted and funded, the church wedding has nothing on our traditional wedding ceremonies in Africa (check out traditional weddings in Uganda and Zimbabwe for starters).
As expected, with all the love that I feel towards this music video, I got an Igbo friend of mine to tell me all about the symbolism (yes, they might not strike you as deeper than average words if you are just watching the music video purely for entertainment, which is also okay).
First, the choice of the name Ada for the soon-to-be bride was not guess-work or chosen because it is a name for Flavour’s beloved sister or because it rhymes well with the beats, lol! I was told that a girl whose birth-name is Ada in Igbo cosmology has immense significance because (ideally) it is normally given to either an only girl in a family or the first daughter both of which are very special positions in this culture.
The choice of Ada for this song therefore portrays Flavour’s own deliberateness at highlighting how important the girl being married is to not just his family but to his groom and his family as well. This should also tell you why the wedding presented in the video is not a cheap one. Since I am not an expert in Igbo naming, I will stop here with that name, Ada.
Before I go on, let me highlight the fact that about three quarters of the song is done in Igbo and Flavour, who is highly esteemed for his ability to sing fluently in Igbo does not disappoint in his inclusion of cultural nuances which are not just ornamental, but very functional and educational as well. I must admit that I learnt a whole lot about Igbo traditional weddings and cultures by simply watching and researching about this song.
So yes, if you find me translating some of the Igbo lines in the song, it has nothing to do with me being multilingual; I simply researched. I would also like to take this opportunity to challenge Kenyan artists to completely understand their cultures and local languages so that when we listen to the songs, we can very well understand certain aspects of our cultures (I’m not talking about the “Nairobi culture”) and even have these presentations invoked during serious researches on traditional cultures (I have nothing against contemporary culture).
Another important element of culture comes in the very second line in the song:
“Have you seen my tomato baby?”
I was wondering if Nigerian men love food so much that they see it in everything including human beings until my friend patiently explained to me that in Igbo culture, beautiful, adorable women are likened to their finest farm produce which also signifies good health and fertility. No wonder at the end of the video the bride and groom leave promising to come back home after nine months with twins – that is also a sign of hyper-fertility which even global health researchers have acknowledged Nigerian women for.
The song also goes on to highlight the important role the man is going to take up in the marriage such as protection and provision.
I think I have already written too much for a music video that is less than five minutes. But I have to mention the attire. Both the attendees of the wedding ceremony (which includes parents and close relatives) as well as girls on the bridal trail seem to be powerfully aware of the fact that they are supposed to well represent a tradition that is highlighting its place in a fast-changing world and the result is a splendid mix of both tradition and modernity.
Did I mention that Flavour’s style of singing is called Igbo High-Life?
The video that is produced by 2nite Enter10ment and Capital Dreams Pictures and was directed by Clarence A Peters stars Uti Nwachukwu, John Okafor, Chinedu Ikedieze and many other notable Igbo names in the Nigerian entertainment scene. It was officially published on YouTube in June 2013.
You are perhaps thinking this is Igbo life and it does not concern you?
Here are a few reasons you need to watch this music video:
1) Flavour very clearly demonstrates to us that it is not impossible to borrow from our cultures when targeting the younger generations some of whom I am told would rather die than be heard speaking in their mother-tongues, let alone be associated with their traditional practices.
2) Flavour brings back color to culture – it will make you rethink the beauty of your traditional practices (the good, of course!)
3) Ada Ada is just highlife, I don’t know how else to explain this.
4) Flavour borrows heavily from his Igbo roots but he is powerfully aware of his global target audience so the little pure English in the video is just enough to get you by. You will learn that you can use Kiswahili or your mother tongue if the sentence you are talking about is not adding up – perhaps just not to your boss.
5) And yes, you will be entertained!