Editor’s Note: Please join me in welcoming Anike, MMW’s newest contributor! You may know her better from her blog as “cosmic yoruba.” We’re thrilled to have Anike join the MMW team.
It is still quite rare to come across depictions of Muslim women in “mainstream” Ghanaian or Nigerian media. (By “mainstream”, I am referring to media available in English or pidgin as opposed to those targeting specific audiences and done in local languages.) When the rare West African Muslim woman pops up on screen, she is shown in ways that range from ridiculous to borderline offensive and just plain wrong. I have come to notice that most times when a Muslim women is portrayed in either Nollywood or Gollywood (Nigerian and Ghanaian movie industries respectively), it is clear that her character was written by people who are not Muslim. Take for example the song Sexin’ Islamic Girls by socially conscious and prolific Ghanaian rap group, FOKN Bois, comprised of emcees Wanlov The Kunbolor and M3NSA.
FOKN Bois are known to be politically incorrect in their lyrics, openly ridiculing many African and Western cultural taboos. Sexin’ Islamic Girls is from their album FOKN Wit Ewe, an album filled with tracks that are, in the words of Craig Duncan, “hilariously offensive,” and that deride different diverse groups of people including Christians, Muslims, Chinese, Rastafarians and white people, all the while possessing a greater meaning. FOKN Bois say that none of the songs on that album are meant to be seen as offensive, except to those of “moral weakness.”
I am not going to link to the video but you can read the lyrics of Sexin’ Islamic Girls here (note that they are graphic and some may find them offensive). The lyrics are funny in a very sad way and I could not help but notice how all the insulting cues seem to come from Western stereotypes of Muslims and Muslim women. From “We love you in Ghana, they hate you in America” to mentioning “berka” (i.e. “burka”), which no one in either Ghana or Nigeria wears.
Sexin’ Islamic Girls is supposed to be the most controversial song from FOKN Wit Ewe’s line-up because, you know, Muslims do not take things like this lightly. It has been praised as “the closest the world will come to a Salman Rushdie/2 Live Crew collaboration.” Sexin’ Islamic Girls is seemingly an appeal to end bigotry because Wanlov and M3NSA have sex with Muslim women. Or maybe Sexin’ Islamic Girls is mean to offend only the members of Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. On a track in FOKN Wit Ewe they criticise the many African pastors growing rich off religion but say that “true and real Christians” will understand what they are talking about. They also cryptically joke that FOKN is actually an acronym that means “For Our King Now”. There has so far not been any mention of how “true Muslims” are to understand Sexin’ Islamic Girls.
In introducing Sexin’ Islamic Girls FOKN BOIS claim that “everyday when the Boko Haram go off on various missions, the FOKN Bois keep their wives, sisters and daughters company”. Thus the video features women who are the wives, daughters and sisters of Boko Haram. These women surround the two emcees while “erotically” eating various foodstuffs. Both the song and the video of Sexin’ Islamic Girls intentionally push buttons, so apparently getting offended means misunderstanding the joke and not having a sense of humour.
When you consider that FOKN Bois’ lyrics are said to be full of humour and wit, not to mention groundbreaking and innovative, Sexin’ Islamic Girls comes up short. I can see this talent in a few of their other songs, in particular Strong Homosexual Guys which calls out and makes fun of the homophobia that is present in many African countries, Ghana included.
That this track came from men that are said to be smart and funny, who make fun of anything while criticising deeper social problems and religious extremism makes it even more confusing. It is difficult to see the problems and/or major social issues that are being discussed in Sexin’ Islamic Girls. Is it the terror that is caused by Boko Haram? Or is it just a jab at sexually active Muslim women? It looks more like Sexin’ Islamic Girls ridicules Boko Haram by using the women related to the terrorist group. Sexin’ Islamic Girls is so poorly done, perhaps it would have been more enjoyable if FOKN Bois had poked fun at Boko Haram directly. FOKN Bois objectify Muslim women to make fun of a terrorist organisation, and they are doing this from the outside. It becomes more problematic should their “For Our King Now” comments be taken seriously.
I am not surprised that hardly anyone is talking about the sexism present in Sexin’ Islamic Girls – or perhaps we are supposed to ignore it because the song is a satire. When one considers that Muslim women are hardly portrayed in mainstream media from both Ghana and Nigeria, it is such a pity that Sexin’ Islamic Girls is one among few.