A week later, we have realized that the song was made by DJ Basplit featuring Hypeman BobbyBanks. For a while now, Shang had been bubbling in the Nigerian underground, good enough to be followed by heavyweights like Naira Marley, Zlatan and the legendary Olamide.
The 30-second part of the song that women has now become a viral sensation across Nigerian social media spheres is delivered in Yoruba, with a noticeable quas-Ibadan accent.
It reads thus;
“Parole ninu yin ma n dun
Irole le ma n we
Ale le ma n fine
Weekend le ma n ta
T’e ba ni parole ninu yin ma n dun
Pata kan f’ose kan, e t so di uniform x2
Oju mi logbo, obo mi ogbo
K’oju to gbo, obo ti baje
Oya ko shedi balabala
In English it goes thus;
“Parole makes you happy
You’re only beautiful in the evenings
You only take your bath in the nights
You only sell over the weekends
Whenever you have parole, that’s when you’re happy
You wear one pant for one week because it’s like a uniform
I’m only old facially, but my vagina is fresh
But before the face got old, the vagina was already ruined
Now wiggle your bum…”
The song is a social commentary on call girls and their night duties. While some of them have day jobs, most of them don’t. Even the ones with day jobs have to still take their baths in the evenings to prepare for their nightly duties.
The song also seems to mimic a conversation between a call girl and a suitor. It is widely and wrongly believed that a woman’s vagina gets widened by constant sex. It is also believed that women who haven’t had a lot of sex have tighter vaginas. A lot of men also think sex with women who have tighter vaginas is more pleasurable – word to Jihadists.
Thus, the prostitute that Hypeman BobbyBanks makes the song about is trying to sell herself to her potential customer. Thus, she says her face is old, but her vagina is still fresh. The potential customer then proceeds to slutshame her that it doesn’t matter when he says, “Even before you got old, your vagina was ruined…”
Despite that allusion, this suitor succumbs to the prostitute’s invitation to treat and asks her to twerk for him. Some people will also argue that “Shedi balabala” is a metaphor for sex and they will have a point.
Slutshaming and objectification
We live in a period of post-modernism where policing a woman’s sexuality has gone out of style or has become archaic. This reality argues that the woman has a right to her body and how she wants to use it. This reality covers a woman who aims to make money from her own nudity or vagina to make money.
Over the past few years, Amber Rose and Deena Ade have held Slutwalks in Los Angeles and Lagos respectively, to give the power back to women on a number of fronts – including sex. Women have also moved quickly to own words like ‘slut,’ ‘bitch,’ ‘whore’ and other derogatory terms as a representation of power in their own sexuality.
That is why rappers like Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Mulatto, Saweetie, Cardi B and the girl group, City Girls have become the toast of modern women. But as women have moved to own their sexuality, they have also moved to safeguard and even police it.
Thus, concepts like slutshaming and objectificaiton of a woman’s body have gained more credence with the fourth wave of feminism – which is slightly radical.
Some women will perceive the topics that Hypeman BobbyBanks addressed on ‘Shedi Balabala’ as slutshaming and they will have a point. Some women will even argue that conversations around a ‘young vagina’ on the song draw strong hints to prevalent pedophilia in the Nigerian society and they will also have a point.
However, some people – mostly men – will counter that the song is social commentary without any clear indication of direct shaming and they will also have a point.
But the truth is that the song tows the thin line between social commentary, slutshaming and subtle hints of pedophilia – albeit metaphorically.
Bottom line remains that the song can’t be separated from slutshaming, no matter how much we try.
Women benefiting from things they criticize
The virality of ‘Shedi Balabala’ has mostly been championed by women. This comes after several arguments against recently viral trends like #SilhouetteChallenge and #BussItChallenge which many consider to be blatant objectification of women by women themselves.
These arguments felt like women were dragging back the fight against objectification and excessive sexualization of female bodies – especially black women.
While those arguments were compelling at the time, they couldn’t hold water because it had long been established that a woman can do what pleases her with her body. While a feminist school of thought argues that the limitation to that power is when women objectify themselves to please men, that argument can’t hold water because that’s how some women make money. .
Moreover, there is a difference between celebrating ‘WAP’ and #SilhouetteChallenge but the difference isn’t that pronounced. Equally, the songs that soundtracked #BussItChallenge and #SilhouetteChallenge don’t objectify and slutshame women like ‘Shedi Balabala,’ which is relatively more direct and explicit.
In the instance of #Shedibalabala, a lot of women on the trend understand the language and are even singing along as they dance to the song. #Shedibalabala is the instance where women cannot eat their cake and have it.
Toying with the lines and benefitting from slutshaming due to fear of missing out [FOMO] drags arguments against slutshaming back by years. It also renders paints some feminists on that trend as hypocrites.
Owning the narrative?
Some people might argue that participating in #Shedibalala is a way for women to own the narrative like women have done with the several #Slutwalks and ‘B.I.T.C.H’ by The Plasticines.
In a way, this might not be dissimilar from dancing to songs like Cardi B’s ‘WAP’ or ‘Bottom Bitch’ by Doja Cat, but arguments of owning a narrative will be dead on arrival because one woman might be hopping on #Shedibalabala for activism, but she will inspire more women to hop on a trend without due deferring to activism.
Moreover, a lot of women who are hopping on the trend to purge their F.O.M.O for likes and retweets, not exactly engaging in any activism or owning any narrative.
*Pulse Editor’s Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Pulse.