Auditions will soon begin for the next season of BBNaija, a brilliant shindig of unhinged fandom. But for a name that connotes mentorship, BBNaija fails that office: big brothers don’t reward play while serious work awaits.
Entertainment is best as celebration of grit and achievement. Which is why, in timing and ethics, pleasure businesses contemplate relaxation after work. And why Western societies can over-hype show business, a poor child idling around with playmates who inherited enormous wealth is clearly not getting it. Nigeria is doing that—running entertainment as its most viable youth enterprise — emulating those who can afford to play.
Three months after we rested BBNaija 2018, Ghana had its own moment in a nationally televised Science and Maths quiz where secondary schools competed for glory. Marked by nationwide euphoria, it was captured even by the BBC, which documented the journey of Kissi Kweku, the lad that led his school to last year’s trophy. The Ghana show has been on air for 25 years, proving a sense of priority that steers youth energy in the right direction. The gains will come.
Questioning our technological slumber invites a punditry that blames the West while listing some black innovators. Ironically, to mention African technological inventors is to prove the point of their minority. No one does same for the Chinese, the Europeans, or recently, the Indians. For over 50 years, we have been writing back to the West to correct false narratives about Africa, rather than doing the work, which is more eloquent. Rejoinder literature cannot defeat the fact that we don’t have a bicycle brand wholly produced by ourselves.
The alternative to rejoinder, Africanism, is for rich black people to flaunt their wealth, showing the white man they, too, can afford the good life. Ironically also, the jets and Lamborghinis are produced by the people you want to spite, who look at you the same way educated Nigerians look at the money-miss-road that thinks money can compensate for illiteracy.
Often rightly blamed is the government, but little is said of other agencies of cultural development, like corporate Nigeria. Can corporate Nigeria engage the young mind in relevant productivity, such as ‘incentivizing’ technological and scientific thought? Is there an imperial conspiracy in foreign multinationals promoting leisure, as opposed to what they did decades ago to help their nations to rise?
At the bottom of global racism is the black man. Asians have since risen in world reckoning by technological exuberance. Arabs have gone far, with Iran unveiling its first indigenous turbo jet engine last August. Anti-racism laws and debates may protect the black man, but never elevate him, while indigenous technology and problem-solving can.
A risen Black Africa will fulfill the Wakanda longings of the African-American whose racial pride, like ours, is daily wounded in Africans living in televised agony and drowning en mass at the Mediterranean, pleading western succour.
Our obsession with entertainment is understandable. The point is not that we should quit playing, but that we should refocus on things that really matter, on failings that have stripped us of dignity. Without electricity, we suck up to the Chinese for generators and, as we struggle to fuel them from high fuel prices, we run back to them for power banks. Our major bold footprints are in movies and music, where heavy makeup, Ankara, and colour now perform exotic breeding in British accent.
We must quit fruitless rationalizations. The world is witnessing a rise in anti-globalisation and we are being chased back from all over the world, as statistics of downcast humanity in Libyan slavery and Western asylum. Yet in Big Brother, we are cultivating a lucrative idolatry of leisure. Nothing is physiologically wrong with the black man, only a complex crisis of civilisation solvable through a radical shift in education and culture.
Big Brother Naija, for corporate Nigeria and in spite of government, can truly be a big brother and mentor our youth by creatively leveraging true enterprise and leisure. It can, in a fun way, incorporate technological innovative ethics into the system of auditions, giving back to a society that made its sponsors rich, instead of perennially mining the youths for big money.
A truly big brother is actually a family statesman, one that guides the youths to find the actualisation they need.