Here in America, the news we hear from Africa is pretty much always bad. Which tends to lead us to view the continent as hopelessly broken, impoverished and chaotic. The truth is far more complicated and hopeful.
Even the recent news out of Nigeria of over 200 girls being kidnapped from a school by Islamist extremists reveals an unexpected dynamic. Just a decade ago, the Nigerian government and media could have ignored this tragedy as one among many and the families involved would have helplessly watched as their daughters disappeared into never-never land with hardly a peep from the wider world. Today, the story is getting attention and increased pressure is being placed on the Nigerian government to deal with the situation because of everyday Nigerians who took to social media and used their contacts around the world to raise a ruckus, insisting that these girls and their fate not be allowed to fade into one more in a seemingly endless string of tragedies.
I pray and trust that these girls will be rescued. And when they are, it will not be because of their government or outside aid agencies, but because of their fellow country men and women.
Which is the secret hope of Africa which is hiding in plain site: it’s people. I mentioned once before that one of my pet theories is that God has a great work planned for Africa. There is a great, as-yet largely untapped spiritual power residing in the hearts of men and women across the continent. Mark my words, the day is coming when these spiritual warriors will rise up and Africa will astound the world. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Rwanda’s reconcilliation movements are the tip of the iceburg.
But that’s a topic for another day. Today, I want to tell you about the music of one particular man from Nigeria who I have had the absolute privilege to get to know over the last couple of months. His name is John Igbinovia. He and a few of his friends stumbled across my blog earlier this year and reached out to me. We’ve had some wonderful conversations about God, the church and theology, among other things.
Along with working and raising a family, John is a musician and writer. He goes by the stage name XTsamurai which reflects his love of martial arts and the virtues of the Samurai. He says the name can be translated as “a warrior who serves the highest form of Virtue and Truth, with ‘Strength’ and ‘Honour.'”
John is a PK (pastor’s kid) who got his start playing and performing music in the church. After being trained in classical piano, he picked up several other instruments and now rocks the guitar. (I’ve always had a soft spot for a man who can play the guitar.) He claims the influence of musicians ranging from POD, Linkin Park and John Mayer to Bone Thugs & Harmony and Eminem. He describes his music as a “fusion of rock and afro-cuban salsa overlayed with distortion guitars and inspiring lyrics”.
I asked him which video he’d like to share with y’all and he picked his most recent, very fancy video:
I also really like this song by XTsamurai which he performs with Nigerian Gospel Singer/musician extraordinaire Florocka:
I think I’ve embarrassed him repeatedly with my enthusiasm and he’s probably starting to wonder what sort of weirdo-groupie he’s dealing with. But truly, John is one of the most impressive people I’ve encountered. He’s an extraordinarily smart, perceptive, creative man. He has a deep spirituality and a willingness to stand against the currents around him that is just not common in this world. He’s one of those people who makes me excited about what God is doing in the world. I hope you will join me in following and sharing his work.
Later this week, I’ll share a bit about John’s writing as well as more about the challenges facing the church in Nigeria which I hope you will join me in praying over.