"Life e no easy my brother, you dey find your own, me I dey find my own"
“ ‘No Fit Vex’ is just a way of saying no hard feelings to anyone, you know? And this is a personal track for me also because it’s a way of speaking on any situation I might have had in the past along this journey. Even if we don’t fuck with each other like that anymore, it happened and that’s life.” - Burna Boy via Apple Music
I recently moved, albeit unwillingly. A couple of weeks ago I was asked to find a new place and I was asked to find it quick. Why? My former landlady’s son just got married and she wanted him to move into the apartment. It made no sense. I was given only a few weeks notice and it was in the godforsaken January, the 62-day-long month that comes with so many hiccups. It was ー and still is ー infuriating, confusing and frustrating. But it’s Lagos, those adjectives perfectly describe this chaotic city. On the bright side, one of the perks of my new apartment is it's a stone throw away from a small beach. Since the move, I go there occasionally to either unwind or clear my head. A couple of days ago I was seated by the beachside, watching the waves threaten to envelop my feet in water and dirt while listening to a couple of songs, when Burna Boy’s “No Fit Vex” came on and while I'd heard the song numerous times before, there was something particularly stirring about his lyrics that day.
Nestled somewhere in the middle of Burna Boy’s Grammy-winning album Twice As Tall, the overarching theme of the LeriQ-produced record centers around friendship breakups and doing away with the bitter indignation that mostly comes with it. Perhaps the most striking lyrics are the opening lines of the chorus: “Life e no easy my brother, you dey find your own me I dey find my own / If I dey keep my distance dey Abuja, make I Dey Lagos oh”. As I watched the wind violently blow the waters, there was almost a renewed meaning to those lines. It quickly reminded me of a famous Yoruba saying “Omi L’eyan” which basically translates to “Human beings are like water”.
I grew up in a small neighbourhood with just a handful of friends. We were young, happy and carefree. Many of my best childhood memories were the ones I created with them: Saturday lunch at Victor’s, playing football barefoot at my dusty church compound, multiple choir rehearsals with Tomi, Emmanuel and co, discussing anime with Tony and showing off my flawless cartwheels and splits in my large school field. It was blissful and fun, most especially because I had friends who shared my blithe and sunny energy. But as time quickly passed ー like it almost always does when you’re having so much fun ー we all began to pull apart. Uni came calling and we all had to disperse like Naruto’s clones. It was bittersweet, travelling miles away from your friends to this strange place that came so much unknown but so much promise at the same time.
Your feeling of longing is quickly exchanged with excitement when you meet new friends, people of like minds. Your childlike insouciance and radiance help you make friends almost effortlessly. Life is mostly simple. But as time passes again and as your puerilism begins to wear off, you start to forge real bonds. Not the kind that’s formed over jejune desires or flimsy, innocent conversations, but the kind that’s deeper than what you’ve always had. It’s more purposeful. You begin to appoint your chosen family, people who share a similar mental schema. You’re all pregnant with ideas, filled with high hopes. You slowly begin to plot about taking over the world, you might even meet a nice person along the way, fall in love, promise to remain together.
The real bonds you form at that stage comes with a bit of decisiveness. These are the people you’re choosing to do life with henceforth. But you know what they say, life never goes as planned. That’s why when Burna sings “Life e no easy my brother” it sounds so simple, yet so weighty. Uni finishes and you promise to move to the same city or keep in touch. You promise to come visit whenever you’re opportuned or you promise to all finally pursue that ‘great’ idea you’ve discussed severally. But it almost never happens. You begin to “find your own” while they also “find their own”. And finding your own isn’t easy, especially in this country. Burna describes the struggles perfectly: “My people just dey try to find any way / Grinding just to stay alive every day / To survive, have to go outside in the rain.” It’s exasperating, sad, even a bit thick, but it’s life.
They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. But not always. I say distance sometimes makes the heart grow further apart. Just like the wind was insistently pushing the waters that day, so the wind of life blows us as well, in search of our “own”, and that occupies us, almost always pulling us apart. The phone calls reduce, the texts become sparse, your interaction is reduced to clicking the like button on Instagram when they post a picture or sending fire emojis when they upload that ‘hard’ picture of their story. It’s nothing personal, again, it’s just life.
Last Christmas, I received a text from an old friend. A few years ago we were inseparable, spending almost every hour of the day together, but now, we barely speak. The text started by wishing me a Merry Christmas before going on to accuse me of abandoning him, just because of how little we keep in touch. I felt guilty for a while, thinking to myself that I could have done better, reached out a little more. But my thoughts changed later on: communication is definitely a two-way street and when Burna sings “Me sef I fit no dey gbadun the wey you dey move.” there was a slight validation for the feelings I had afterwards. But regardless of the loss of communication or distance, I silently root for these people. They’re my chosen family and they’ll probably always remain so. And that’s probably why this record feels so special to me because the end echoes my current sentiments: “And when i hear better news about you, I dey smile and e dey ginger my soul / I dey see your struggle, I no fit vex for you / Lai-lai, lai-lai, I no fit vex for you.”