Wednesday 4 July 2007

I Go Chop Your Dollars - 419 Song Expose

We need to show the positives

I could not help but note the comment left in my blog about police recklessness in Amsterdam. It is a sad reflection on our society that there is a "White man's paranoia" when there is a gathering of people of African descent.

We who legally live in Western societies should and must not be afraid to gather for social events reflecting our culture, humour or traditions and we must not allow the nefarious activities of the few who besmirch the good name of our homelands to deny us the freedom to associate just because the police can be up to no good.

The freeing of the arrested detainees indicates a number of facts, the police were wrong in their assessment and actions; there are Nigerians who are law-abiding and legally resident in the Netherlands regardless of the impressions other prejudiced sections of society might have and the authorities can still be seriously embarrassed for being utterly irrational if people speak up for their having their right trampled over.

Pseudo-ambassadors undercover

If we all stay in our homes and refuse to associate with other countrymen and I can understand the reticence and suspicion of many, where would our host societies get to know about our culture, learn not to be afraid of our traditions and appreciate the good and worthy values we can bring to their societies?

We cannot allow ourselves to be completely subsumed into other cultures in the quest for acceptance, assimilation or integration, we are products of multiple cultures and we should celebrate all that makes us what we are.

Celebrating 419

This brings me to the "I go chop your dollars" song, it was released a few years ago, one does have to read the lyrics and understand what is being said because it is not so much about praising the scammers but highlighting a whole range of issues that affect the scammer and the scammed.

Having obtained the lyrics from Nikke's Index which appears to be pre-occupied with the public service of exposing scams, it is important to understand the language and the satire or irony that the song conveys - it is by no means a glorification of scam or 419 practices.

I would try and provide an exegesis for each line in order to help convey the thoughts.

I Go Chop Your Dollars

This is the song title - Chop means eat in Nigerian Pidgin English, but in this context it means swindle to spend. It has a corrupt connotation and this should be the giveaway about the song.

I don suffer no be small

Upon say I get sense

This highlights the socio-economic malaise in Nigeria, smart, intelligent and well-educated people who cannot seem to get opportunities for a career or more, it feeds a desperation to survive - in some cases, by any means possible - some turn to crime.

Poverty no good at all, no

Na im make I join this business

An excuse and a situation, one needs means to survive and we do not have the safety net of social services in Nigeria. Most of the time, the only people would have any means automatically become responsible for their extended families that whatever income they have is spread too thin to be of any effect.

Eventually, the benefactor would not be able to meet any of these needs and the supplicant has to come up with something.

A comment on Nikke's Index implied that most Africans are given to kleptocracy as a culture, we can ignore that comment, but there are issues in our societies that need to be addressed with good governance, infrastructure development, career opportunity and anti-graft revolutions.

419 no be thief, its just a game

Here he says that Advance Fee Fraud is not stealing, well, that is debatable depending on perspective. It is fraudulent no doubt because there is a false pretence in acquiring the trust that allows people to part with money for some sort of shady and corrupt deal.

Some people have turned this elaborate deception into an art or a craft and they are winning the game of deception, unfortunately.

Everybody dey play am

Everybody is playing this game. I think not, but probably everyone in that circle of desperation seeing others benefit from fraudulent activity is enticed into having a go and somehow, they do have rich pickings.

If anybody fall mugu, Ha! my brother I go chop am

This is the punch-line; if anyone is stupid enough to believe the stories then that person is game. Mugu means stupid fool - the etymology is Hausa but it has been adopted in Nigerian Pidgin English to mean the same thing.


These are the tall tales that people believe and trust to become willing partners in the fraud and hence getting fleeced.

National Airport na me get am

I own the national airport

National Stadium na me build am

I built the national stadium

President na my sister brother

The president is my sister's brother - well that would translate to the President is my brother. However, sister in the Nigerian context could be a sibling, a relation or even close friend indigene of your town of origin.

You be the mugu, I be the master

If you believe all this, you are the stupid fool and I am the smart one - Mugu, appears again.

Oyinbo I go chop your dollar

White man, I would swindle you

I go take your money disappear

I would swindle you and be untraceable

419 is just a game, you are the loser I am the winner

Advance fee fraud is a game between you the losing fool and I the winner smart guy

The refinery na me get am,

I own the refinery - that is almost plausible, Nigeria is an oil-rich country, but really?

The contract, na you I go give am

But you go pay me small money make I bring am

I have a contract for you, but you have to pay kickbacks to get it signed over - Does the Al-Yamamah deal sound like this?

You be the mugu, I be the master... na me be the master ooo!!!!

Once again, if you believe all this, you are the stupid fool and I am the smart one

When Oyinbo play wayo, them go say na new style

When country man do im own, them go de shout bring am, kill am, die!

When a white man comes up with some money making (swindling) scheme, it is celebrated as a financial instrument, however, if my fellow countryman comes with a similar scheme he is criminalised, booked, jailed and shot down.

Oyinbo people greedy, I say them greedy

Westerners who fall for these deals are greedy, indeed they are very greedy and that is what these frauds rely on - greed.

I don see them tire thats why when them fall enter my trap o!

I am already fed up with the fact that they are greedy, but that makes them easy prey, if they can be deceived then they are game for the consequences.

I dey show them fire

I would do them for whatever I can, their money most especially.

My take

For all intents and purposes, this is really no glorification of the criminal activity, rather is simple social commentary on how desperate society is that they turn to crimes which some rationalise as games.

It highlights the willingness of the victims to believe the incredible in the hope that they can make large sums of money in some shady scheme - it is criminal too.

In what is seemingly a dog-eat-dog world, it is about pitting wits and some would in the end fall for the con because they are not half smart.

Once again, governments and law enforcement should do much to stop these activities, but it is change in the social circumstances of these countries that would sort this out - opportunity through merit, zero-tolerance of corruption and building of essential infrastructure to feed innovation and industry.

Solving the wrong problem

However, it is all a cop-out as the war on drugs - there is a growing demand in the West for the goods and rather than deal with drug addiction at home, they are spraying crops abroad.

It does not in anyway deal with the problem, rather, the makes the marketplace for drugs more violent. In the case of Advanced Fee Fraud, people who are vulnerable to tall tales about making large sums of money for doing literally nothing should first be educated and after education criminalised - it would take away the ready supply of greedy and gullible people who allow 419ers to exploit them.

The victims of fraud are not blameless in this matter and they too should be visited for being accomplices in nefarious and criminal financial activity.

Somehow, after reading through these lyrics, someone somewhere cannot take a joke and thinks it is glorifying scammers - I think not, it is the truth we hate to hear - the game, the mugu and the chop.

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