Joshua Idehen makes a welcome return to Media Diversified with his unique take on London life and protest under the eye of the oppressor
What’s the point of a protest? If mummy sat back and let you have a tantrum in Westfields, are you really threatening her power? Lemme rephrase: What’s the point of a UK protest? I ask, because, ever since I went to the The Iraq War 2 one, a war that happened anyway and none of the people involved have ever even smelt the paint off a jail cell, I’ve wondered, why bother? If it doesn’t do anything: if the men in charge can legit look at five hundred thousand to a million gathered against them and barely shrug, why engage? More importantly: why are we asking for permission? I don’t understand why the government has any say on whether us lot can make our presence known when they’re being right poopheads. Any government should be perpetually afraid that if they step out of line the general population will go nuts on them, at any time. Instead, we ask, pretty please, for the right to Voice Our Disapproval. At a specific, pre-determined time and place and promise not to make a mess, if that’s okay? Madness.
I don’t feel protesting in the UK serves any purpose beyond allowing the Powers that Be to play Pretend Democracy. You know the score: they let us have a weekend to ramble about a bit in Central/East End London, and then when we’re all good and spent we can go home to Love Island and let the big boys stay out late kicking the world in the guts. Maybe I’m just super cynical but having seen how things are done in Thailand, Hong Kong, Ukraine, the Middle East, I have often wondered if either we’re not very good at it or we’re just happy to play our part, you know, like paper straws to save the polar bears. Are we just happy to say “we did something, yeah”? Go a little further than an online petition? No, boat rocking, just a nice mellow afternoon of discontent.
But recently, some of us got a bit ahead of ourselves, didn’t we? Some ladies were assaulted by police whilst “illegally” protesting about ladies getting assaulted by police, and then Extinction Rebellion got creative with glue and the road. And thus our Smirking Fash-Lady Priti Patel had enough with the Pretend and the Democracy: here comes The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which, among many things, gives the police the right to ban any protest they deem too “noisy”.
Who decides how noisy is too noisy? Well, not you, that’s for sure. And as much as I’ve just spent the paragraphs above railing on how the UK populace don’t really know how to protest, I have never seen a quiet protest. There’s gotta be some noise, no? I mean, it’s gotta be a little disruptive; how else is anyone gonna know there’s a protest if you can’t hear it? So that’s any noise, is it? Sound system? Shut it down? Call and response singalong? Sent in the horses? Owen Jones giving a speech? Well, that’s a step too far, my g. Do you really trust the same people who let one hundred and sixty thousand people and counting die of covid to have a fair and nuanced response to dissent?
And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think the general population understands how fascist this bill is. If it goes through (it’s so far gone through MPs, and the Lords went nuh uh and kicked it back, and then the MPs were like, No, We Insist) then the Met, the government, Boris and everyone who’s have made it their privilege to make your life a living hell can stop you doing the bare minimum about it. I mean, they could’ve stopped you before anyway, but now they won’t have to put up appearances anymore. And what else are you gonna do, vote? Lol, as if it counts. Go to the police? Ha, good luck. Leave the Country? With that Blue passport?
There is something we could do, but I feel some kind of country-wide, collective waking up needs to happen. We need to realise we never needed their permission in the first place to make ourselves heard. I’m not saying we should riot or anything. I mean, I’m absolutely saying we should riot, or at least engage in weeks-long, extreme levels of civil disobedience.
Or we could have a few more months of “Kill The Bill” marches. Yeah, that’ll show them.
Joshua Idehen is a British-born Nigerian based in Sweden. A gifted spoken word artist and musician, he has contributed poems to Mercury-nominated albums ‘Channel The Spirits’ by The Comet Is Coming, ‘Your Queen Is A Reptile’ and the Mobo winning “Black Is The Future”, both by Sons of Kemet. More recently, he formed Calabashed with Alabaster DePlume, a spiritual jazz crew who were recently named a 2021 one-to-watch by NME, and worked with LA electronic maestro Daedelus on the critically acclaimed mini LP, “Holy Water Over Sons”. In 2022, he begins his journey as a solo musical artist, collaborating with producer Ludvig Parment (Saturday, Monday)