It was a Friday evening and Kennis Music star, Joel Amadi, who was working on a new song in Lagos, got a call that his father was missing. News was already flying about the spate of killings in Southern Kaduna but Joel never expected it to hit home hard. His worst fear was confirmed following the announcement of his father’s death. SEGUN ADEBAYO reached out to the music star who bore his mind on the ordeal and how his father and others were murdered.
The news of your dad’s death ravaged the social media last week Friday. At first, people thought it was a publicity stunt but it turned to be true. How did you receive the news of his killing?
It was a bad day for me. It was something that I don’t even know how to explain because of how it happened. My sister called me that our village was under attack and my dad who had gone out around 5pm was yet to be back. She said they could not reach him and it was already getting dark around 9pm. It was raining heavily with gun shots being fired everywhere around the house and even in the neighborhood. As of that time, nobody could tell what had gone wrong because my sister and other siblings were hiding and they could not ascertain what had gone wrong or if my dad was alive. It was later that my cousin called to break the news that my dad was shot by the gunmen that invaded my community in Southern Kaduna. That was when the reality dawned on me that I have lost my dad. The attackers killed my father; I lost an uncle and other person during the attack. They made way with people’s money, food stuff and provisions and threatened to even come back and attack the community again. It was after some hours that soldiers came to calm the situation but the gunmen and had come and gone with many families crying and devastated over their losses.
You have obviously been hearing of killings in Nigeria and even in your state Kaduna. Now that you have experienced it, how does this make you feel about Nigeria as a youth?
It is very simple. This message is sending fear to my heart. It is telling me that I can’t trust this country and the leadership to protect lives and properties. This is not the first time such dastardly act would happen but it has continued to happen over and over because nobody has been made to face the music or punished. These people come and kill and none of them has been brought to book. It is so sad. You know I have never believed in travelling abroad to relocate or stay because I believe in Nigeria and I believe I can make it here. Even as a musician, I love to overseas perform and come back home. But now that I have tasted the bitter side of life in Nigeria, I have started having a rethink about staying in Nigeria. This country does not care about who lives or dies. Our leaders don’t even know what to do or they usually look away and move as though nothing has happened. These killing have continued for too long in Southern Kaduna. I have lost my patriotism for Nigeria. This country has injured my soul and I don’t think it is worth staying here anymore. I am the only son of my parents and I am worried for my safety and that of my family.
How is your family handling this moment now and have you been able to go home to see your parents?
The situation back home is not something I can describe. The mood is pensive and we are left distraught. My mum and my siblings are trying to stay together to be strong. I have not been able to go home because of the information I gathered that these people even threatened to come back to wreck more havoc on the community. As of now, my family has moved out of Kaduna to a safe place that I don’t want to mention now. I can’t even go to Kaduna now until the situation is calm and we are assured that our lives are no more in danger.
So, you didn’t witness the burial of your dad as the only son?
I couldn’t go home to bury him. It was a mass burial that was done for him and others that were killed on Friday. They were all buried on Saturday and no member of my family was there to witness the burial because they had to stay away from the community. It is one thing to lose your dad it is another thing to be denied access to his burial because you feared your life was not safe. This is happening in Nigeria in a state that has a governor but nobody is talking about it and we all looked away as though it is one of those things. People were killed like fowls in their homes where they were meant to be resting. The assailants operated for hours without anybody stopping them. It was after they had left that soldiers came to town to calm the situation. This is really devastating and troubling but we can’t stop talking about it even if my life would be in danger.
How strong are you to move on from this?
I am trying to be strong for myself and family, especially my mother. This is a very challenging time for my family. We are praying and staying strong to get through these hard times together with the help of friends and family.
Has the state governor or a representative of the Kaduna State government reached out to you since this incident happened?
The state governor has not spoken to me. I have not heard any word from the state government either. Nobody is talking to me or any member of my family. They have simply moved on and left us to our fate. I was told that the attackers came a day after the soldiers left Southern Kaduna, which makes me believe that there is somebody who gives information to these evil-minded people to attack us and kill our people.
But we heard that the governor’s wife reached out to you?
The governor’s wife reached out to me on Twitter when I came on Twitter to call the attention of everybody to what is happening in Southern Kaduna. She reached out to me via DM on Twitter and gave me the number of the leader of security team in charge of the community. The man called me but nothing could be done as of that time. The deed had already been done. My dad and other had been killed.
Moving forward, don’t you think this going to affect your music career?
It is not going to affect my career but it is a drawback for me but I am not going to be held down by this. I will continue to use my voice to address these problems and I am already speaking with international organisations for partnership on new projects that centers on some of the problems in Southern Kaduna. I will use my voice to speak out and condemn every wrong thing in Southern Kaduna.
When was the last time you spoke with your dad before he died?
I think I spoke with him three weeks ago when I went to my mum’s hometown in Abia State. I was there for an event, so when I got there, I called my mum to inform her that I was in her town and I seized the opportunity to speak with my dad as well. That was the last time I spoke with him.
How supportive has your label, Kennis Music been since this incident happened?
Baba Keke has been supportive. He came to my house on a condolence visit and prayed for me. I appreciate that so much. This is not about my label but my personal loss. It is about Joel Amadi’s family and I am not expecting Kennis Music to put this on its head as one of its responsibilities. I just want to deal with this moment the best way I can. Baba Keke has been playing the fatherly role in my life and I appreciate his love a lot.
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