A Big Bother, Nigeria.
Ayo Adene wrote:
I’ve never watched BBN.
So I keep being astonished at the frenzy, especially at a time when I’d rather ‘the youth’ were as overwhelmed by Nigeria’s slippery slide into deep socioeconomic coma.
God have mercy, but I’m seeing social media feeds of one famous Mercy weeping passionately online for the eviction of this Erica.
I’ve never seen anyone weep for Nigeria recently;
Maybe, reality shows are more worthy of our emotion,time & investments than our own reality.
It may be so.
I’m open to the possibility that something is wrong with me, than with those who enjoy the latitude,luxury & privilege of being titillated & satiated by a show that I’m certain has no application & in fact is asphyxiating.
These are my views only.
I understand millions of people think the opposite.
But see, I’m an angry Nigerian.
I’m angry everyday.
Intellectually angry, not emotionally.
Emotionally, on this subject, I’m rather a mix of sad-plus optimistic-and-intensely-ambitious,
which in one word is to be pragmatic based on a hardassed plan.
But yes, I’m angry every day.
Angry in the brain but at peace in my heart. Get it?
Not angry in a dramatic way, no.
Angry in a focused, surgical, intellectual way that can lead to change & results.
I’m angry for example, that last week, Buhari’s government raised the prices of 2 essential commodities at exactly the same time.
I’m angry because that has never been done in history.
Never been done in history in any land where the government knows its people are sensible & vividly awake to their participation in governance, and therefore to be feared in their response to any thoughtless policy that sabotages their economic well-being.
I’m angry, realizing that Buhari’s government does not give a feathery fuck what Nigerians think. Otherwise they wouldn’t have the unmitigated, very testicular temerity to hike the prices of both electricity & fuel, in one excruciating blow.
That policy is literally a death wish. But in Nigeria? Barely a whimper.
Yes, yes, yes. I hear the unions are calling a strike today. We already know how that will go. Talks will be held, big brown envelopes, ghana must go bags and account numbers will exchange hands.
The feuding parties will haggle prices, and get rebates like the ones we get at the tomato seller in Bodija market.
You know, down from say fifty naira fifty kobo to fifty naira forty five and a half kobo. And everybody will go home, and live happily ever after.
Or they won’t, but what is happiness, if not the liberty to indulge in overt emotional execrations to the doltish perambulations of reality television characters with nowhere to go, both physically & conceptually?
See? I’m angry because the government and the oil marketers will smile to the bank, as they use textbook economics to befuddle the mentally lazy masses into agreeing there’s no other way to solve the deficit, and other IMF sounding excuses about subsidy removal, and so on.
I know how subsidies are used in other countries. They make poor people rich, like farmers. Only in Nigeria subsidy makes poor people poorer and the rich richer.
I’m angry because while all this is going on, yesterday I watched the Kogi West Senator, the most virally videoed Dino Melaye, display his bedroom. He was revealing endless caches of diamond wristwatches by recognizable brands, diamond cuff links, diamond studded shoes all neatly arrayed in rows and columns from here to the seashore and back.
And then there were still unopened suitcases with gold clasps, containing God knows what else, all the same luxury brand of suitcases, stacked on top of and next to one another, in the other room.
As the much toasted senator walked from room to room, giving a guided tour, I was angry again.
I asked two questions, one, what gives this person the confidence to display this? Shouldn’t he hide this, at least?
I could ask other questions, like about the EFCC, but by now we know they’ve outsourced their responsibilities to INTERPOL, so we’ll wait for those scandalous global headlines instead.
As the tour of 2 or 3 rooms ended, and the robustly endowed, always happy senator bounced through it all imperially, it did occur to me that he was but one, out of one hundred and nine Nigerian senators, not counting the house of representatives.
Their class is reputed as they highest paid legislators on earth. I considered that even if the rest were only half as rich as this representative from the state with Nigeria’s biggest white elephant industrial steel project, and we totaled all their excess wealth, and made it useful, there’d be absolutely no need to raise fuel prices, or electricity tariffs.
There were more diamond pieces in that 2 minute video than in a Tiffany’s in London or Swarovski in Switzerland.
So I’m angry, that while I’m watching this arrogant & crude display of the constipation of money that should have trickled down from the Niger Delta, to Ibadan, Aba and Southern Kaduna, and relieved 120 million Nigerians from being, according to the multidimensional poverty index, the crown jewel in measures of global poverty, the same people are agonizing over BBN.
They are crying over one Erica, while the real Big Brother is getting away with actual diamonds in his bedroom. And there are 109 Big Brothers, 306 Bigger Brothers, 36 Biggest Brothers and 774 gbasgbisgbos Brothers, not to mention uncountable SAs, SSAs and unnamed hangers on we actually could evict from our house, if we weren’t fixated upon the fake reality on television.
I wonder what the reactions of Nigerians would be at this time, to fuel& electricity price hikes, if we weren’t otherwise consumed by expensive entertainment.
I wonder how these ‘youths’ manage to power their parents’ petrol generators to watch BBN for long hours every day, or buy the top up electricity cards, to sustain the habit.
One gets the impression they would even borrow to afford the habit. Like these ‘youth’, who have raised over $10,000 dollars already in a spectacular go fund me, because one Erica was evicted.
I have never wanted to talk about the fact that I don’t watch BBN. I’m past the pleasure of putting down other people’s pleasures to get pleasure. It irks me only because of the circumstance.
It’s not even about one show in particular, I generally don’t watch TV, apart from select news moments. Then it’s local news, like Channels TV, not CNN or BBC. My taste is determined by stories, and there are almost no stories on CNN that I can identify with. But Channels TV, and such, yes.
While not watching too much TV, I spend extensive amounts of time on social media. Which is why I know what’s going on, as per BBN. It’s all over my feed.
From my extensive forays around niche pages on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, & respectively linked webpages, I’ve accumulated enough research to see that in other countries where governments are sliding into unaccountability, the people are sacrificing, pushing back, and forcing their leaders into reckoning.
People like you & me are working: there’s massive amounts of colourful, captivating data and practical information on the internet, from people simply trying to solve government and live better lives.
I see struggling democracies like the U.S., yes, that one, where minorities like the black population who have been under siege for centuries, and now dying weekly before our eyes, now converting social media platforms like Instagram & Twitter into advocacy groups, pushing out well researched lists of initiatives to raise funds for, and policies to fight for.
What do Nigerians use social media for? Do we understand that there are entire universities of knowledge and practical resources for survival stored at our fingertips, on the same platforms where we while away?
I’ve never seen a Nigerian raise a go fund me to reform the police, or pay legal fees to advocate for new policies. I’ve never seen Nigerians organize opposition effectively via social media platforms.
But today, I’ve seen Nigerians raise a go fund me for a reality tv character.
To be fair, even though I hardly watch tv, I did watch something heartening on social media yesterday. It was a northern Nigerian man, dressed in white babanriga with white cap, with a microphone in his clenched right fist. He spoke with anger, in intense bursts, and all in Hausa language. Thankfully, the short speech was subtitled. It was a scathing, blistering rebuke of the Buhari administration, for doing nothing except deepen people’s suffering.
It was watch-worthy because it was a northerner speaking. I don’t know who he is, but we southerners like to say northerners are this and that. This northerner likely isn’t watching BBN, doesn’t know who Erica is. That’s something we ‘exposed’ southerners would indulge in. But you know, if I had to cast my vote yesterday for someone to represent my convictions, it wouldn’t be Senator Melaye, nor the ‘Nigerian youth’, such as the ones doing this go fund me for Erica. I’d rather raise a go fund me for this northern gentleman who vociferously rebuked his own kinsman on social media.
Maybe he can use $10000 to organize a formal opposition movement that doesn’t depend on political godfathers to influence real change?
To close, the judgment may be that Nigerians are more sentimental than rational. I hate to say that “Nigerians are” anything, especially negative things. This same sentimentality can be found anywhere on earth. It’s just human.
The problem for me, is that in the specific context of Nigeria, we are the least placed to enjoy the freedom & privilege to be sentimental & irrational. I think.
And I was angry, but now I’m placid. Why invest my rage on the behalf of many whose circumstances are less comfortable than mine, but who collectively evince no need to disrupt their reality?
There will be no single saviors.
There will be no Sowores or Soyinkas, or the other. Those days are gone. There will only be collective salvation. We will be our own heroes, on the day we switch off our TVs, and become angry.
And if we haven’t switched off our TVs & smartphones yet, there’s new cutthroat tariffs to ensure we get the point.
Tariffs are not something Dino Melaye, Buhari, and the rest of Nigeria’s one percent class will ever have to worry about.
By the way, like me, the one percent elite don’t watch BBN, although for different reasons than me.
It’s because they are busy.
It takes a lot of work to control the levers that keep Nigeria hurtling toward the grave, and they simply can’t afford to rest for one moment away from their macabre responsibilities of keeping the money flowing in one direction only.
As for you and me, we will be okay, las las. We have splendid 99 percenters like these fellows, who could raise a go fund me for the masses. Although first, you probably have to be a famous masses, like Erica, to get this kind of spectacular attention.
Maybe the fundraiser sef is a scam?
Like our entire generation has been a scam. Our parents generation too. A scam.
Just like 2020 has been a scam.
Like Big Brother. Scam.
Like Nigeria, scam. Hushpuppi on a Melaye tip.
I understand many things.
I know Nigerian masses, the educated middle class, and the otherwise energetic youth, have been systematically suppressed by years of jackboot dictatorship & economic asphyxiation, to the point where we are in collective social amnesia & political coma.
Yes I know.
As a doctor, I also understand that pain & trauma patients sometimes indulge in opioid type painkillers as a way to distract from suffering. Maybe that’s what this is?
I can understand. Which is why I am reticent to criticize.
But the same education compels me to distinguish between anesthesia & euthanasia.
My sworn oath convicts me to prevent death when possible.
Which is probably why I write this.
That we wake up from the comfort of looking away, and convert our attentions to treating the fuckups that make us need an overdose of pain killers in the first place.
That we maintain the same energy from our imaginary BBN reality show, in our less glamorous real life.
We are all housemates in Nigeria, but there’s no prize money, only bloody tariffs.
Nigeria is big, but it’s not your brother, and it’s not a show that can be switched off.
It’s our painful reality.