By Opedare Ayodele
Short answer: Don’t try to make us think! We don’t want to think. Just make us feel happy and we will give it all up to you.
Do you want the long, detailed answer?
LET ME EXPLAIN.
Spoiler Alert: Most Nigerians won’t make it to the end of this post. We don’t like to read either.
This method of public seduction has repeatedly worked on Nigerians through the years.. Wizkid blew up worldwide after dropping the biggest song of his career, where he stated how much the ‘people of Ojuelegba know his story’, Davido sang his way into our hearts with his first single where he remembers ‘back when girls told him no no because he had no doe’ , this is a dude that was already worth over 35 million naira at 15 years of age.. FIFTEEN!! I’m curious to know this period he was talking about. Also, there’s Timaya, whose entire rise to fame in the industry was built around songs filled with sad tales about how much his ‘enemies’ don’t want him to make it, how he used to sell plantain on the streets and how he didn’t do well in school while trying to study law.
How about the movie industry? Actors like Funke Akindele and Odunlade Adekola have had their biggest breakthroughs playing highly comic, overdramatic illiterate characters to pander to the average Nigerian’s fragile ego, characters designed to make you laugh your lungs out while feeling better about yourself for at least being more educated. Also, there’s Efe of big brother Naija season 1,who won the competition with the image of the ‘less privileged Nigerian’ he portrayed in the house, provoking empathy from Nigerians which gave him massive advantage.
The other end of the spectrum doesn’t look so good. Conscious music, has it’s often called, hasn’t been well received by Nigerians due to its serious, deep and challenging tone. Artists who make conscious sounds have been written off or pushed into the background.. Asa is a foreign artist except when she sings feel-good tracks in Yoruba or pidgin English, Mode 9 will always be disrespected because his style of hip-hop was too American for us to comprehend, Jesse Jagz’s skills and intellect is constantly overlooked and Brymo is still not getting the credit he deserves, even though he makes the most unique and beautiful neo-Afro sounds in the country. In my opinion, Brymo is the closest this generation will ever come to a Fela type of musician, but his talent is lost on us because we are not the audience an artist of his caliber deserves. Sometimes I wonder what the fate of the actual Fela would have been if he was singing in this day and age of Shaku Shaku, saint samiganja, legbegbe and osha pra pra.. Would he have been as great if he was performing for this generation? Let’s be real here, most of us are only Fela fans because elder folks played his music all the time while we were kids, THEY were the REAL Fela fans.
But no case depresses me as bad as the one of Darey Art Alade, the son of a musical legend, who represented Nigeria at an international music competition and gave a good account of himself, only to come back to his country unappreciated, unnoticed and underrated.
Darey delivered great tunes, stunning strong performances, and commanding vocals.. But Nigerians didn’t listen… His music was too far ahead of our taste and it just flew over our heads. It wasn’t until he said in one of his few hit tracks that “e no mean say because you no gbadun my style at all at all, na him bad pass” meaning “just because you don’t enjoy my style of music at all, doesn’t mean it’s the worst kind of music”. It was one of the few times he ever spoke pidgin English on a song, and it was in protest to the Nigerian audience’s reception to his music. Maybe it was the catchy tune of that part of the song, or the melodic rendition by Darey, somehow, that line hooked Nigerians, and a new street slang was accidentally born.. “at all at all, na him bad pass” that’s right! The most commonly used Nigerian phrase in the last decade and one of the most popular Naija slangs of all time was invented by a man the streets don’t even appreciate. Sad.
This is also a method employed by politicians every single year. Goodluck Jonathan once swayed an entire presidential election in his favor when he gave his famous “I had no shoes” speech, touching on his humble beginnings and how he suffered just like every Nigerian was suffering before getting to where he is, the purpose of this speech was intended to appeal to the emotional side of Nigerians. The “I am Goodluck” campaign was launched after this speech subconsciously made Nigerians put themselves in Goodluck’s metaphorical shoes, so many voted based on emotions rather than logic.
Many politicians have won elections based on short-term gifts given to the masses.. bags of rice, generators, motorcycles etc have been gifted away to derail the minds of Nigerians away from the path of critical thinking into the position of patriotic empathy. The governor of my state got re-elected by pleading with the people to vote for ‘one of their own’ and promising to do the things he didn’t even do in his first term, would you like to know if he has fulfilled his promise?
The biggest and smartest employers of this method, however, are our religious leaders. These set have Mastered and perfected the art for decades. Nigerians are known to be deeply religious people, this has gone from being a strength to a big fundamental flaw in our character over the past few years. The method? Announce yourself as a servant of God, perform a few ‘miracles’, declare signs and wonders upon your congregation, conduct some spectacular testimony sessions and assure your audience how they can be like the success stories they just heard.. If only they give to the church as much as they want from God, do all these, repeat the procedure, each one bigger than the last, sit back and watch your ministry grow exponentially. There are thousands of churches in Nigeria thriving with this business model. So much is the money they’re raking in, now some churches have private universities, mini-cities, huge prayer grounds with attendance strong enough to shut down traffic movement for hours on a regular vigil night, a certain prophet has a whole channel dedicated to his show of various miracles on DSTV .. Pastors even have private jet(s) now!!! So strong is their hypnosis on the mind of Nigerians’, you dare not criticize, else you’re the spawn of the devil and you must be taken down with extreme religious prejudice. While there are actual spiritual leaders who preach the gospel and teach real-life lessons, they’re branded as broke, secular or not concerned with the prosperity of the ministry.
The pattern here is obvious. We want music to make us dance and forget our sorrows, not sounds to make us ponder on them, we want comedy to make us laugh but we don’t want the hidden message, we want satire but we don’t want the moral lesson, we want miracles but we don’t want the gospel, we love religion more than we love God. We don’t want to face our problems, we want to escape, we don’t want to learn, we don’t want to think.
Don’t ever come at us with your intellect, that’s a wrong move, Nigerians make most decisions based on emotional benefits, we are easily intimidated by intellectual superiority and we catch unnecessary feelings when our reasoning is challenged.. An intimidated Nigerian is the worst enemy to have; we’ll call you names, we’ll insult you, we’ll dive into your past and find something.. If we don’t find anything, we’ll fabricate and spread rumors about you, we get vindictive and throw all caution to the winds when we’re hurt.
Certain respected leaders have gotten killed and maligned in the past for being too intelligent for Nigeria; M. K. O Abiola, Bola Ige, Ken Saro Wiwa, Odumegwu Ojukwu have all been scapegoats.. Wole Soyinka fled the country in the late 90’s because he was too clever for his own good, I once heard a tale in the past about how Nigerians despised a functioning and effective Muritala Mohammed just because he didn’t smile much.
An intellectual approach is never a way to gain the advantage on Nigerians, you do that, and you’ll be branded as an arrogant, condescending know-it-all who can only ‘blow big grammar’..believe it or not… You’re now a public enemy who must be suppressed. I can’t make this up… If you need proof of this, try sounding civilized or educated next time you run into a Nigerian police officer.. I dare you.
What Nigerians love, however, is a sob story. Nigerians love it when we look better than the next man when someone who needs us is at our beck and call, we love it when it looks like without us, a certain person’s glory or success is at risk. There’s something about that feeling of being in charge of someone’s destiny that gratifies Nigerians, our delusions of grandeur massages our fragile ego. This is why our emotions are so easy to manipulate, this is a country where we call our elderly clergymen ‘Daddy’ and our female bosses make us call them ‘Mummy’.. Our intellect has been beaten down so much over the years, we run to emotional satisfaction to feel good about ourselves.
Do you want to win over Nigerians? Ignore the brains.. Go for the heart. Don’t tell them about your masters and doctorates, tell them about how you sold gala and plantain chips under the sun to pay your school fees.. Don’t brag about your achievements, let them know what they stand to gain if they root for you.. Don’t tell them about how you graduated top of your class, tell them about how you survived a spiritual attack from your aunty in the village.. Don’t Throw your CV in their faces and start talking about how qualified you are, just tell them to support their ‘, fellow tribesman’.
It helps if you have a character flaw as well, you can’t be too perfect, they need a reason to pity you.. Probably how you used to be a drunkard until your soul was saved and you’re now a deacon in your church, or how your fiance left you for a richer man because you couldn’t buy her expensive stuff to show her ‘assurance’.. Or how your teachers said you’ll never amount to anything in life. Don’t speak too fluently either, don’t hurt our ears with your impeccable queens English and flawless diction! Water it down a bit.. Speak pidgin English, go gaga, spew out proverbs in our native dialect.. Let us know we’re listening to someone on our level.
This applies everywhere else too. That policeman who was an asshole to you yesterday? he doesn’t care about your knowledge of civil rights, he just wanted you to pay your dues… The lecturer who kept insulting you in class probably did it because you didn’t greet him well earlier in the day.. How about the elderly woman at your place of work who keeps giving you a hard time? She doesn’t care if you know your job or not, she just wants your high service and PDR (Public Display of Respect).. The point here is to appeal to their sensitive side, massage their egos and go your way, it works like magic.
The average Nigerian is selfish by nature, maybe the problems in our country has pushed us over the edge, or we’ve always been that way. Nigerians don’t care about bigger pictures anymore. We root for the underdog because we feel emotionally invested, we support the unqualified because of selfish motives, we rally behind the local champion because if he wins, it’s like we’ve won as well.
Each person just wants to feel good with his/ herself… And when the correct buttons are pushed with the right finesse, you can sell shit to us and call it gold, don’t worry.. We’ll gobble it up.
Disclaimer: if in any way, you feel offended or attacked by this write-up, then you’re a guilty emotional Nigerian, and I’m not sorry