By Prof. Remi Sonaiya, Abiodun Olowo-Ake, Betty Abah, Chido Nwakanma, Emmanuel Emeh and Ier Jonathan-Ichaver
Our hearts are heavy and go out to the young children and families involved in this Chrisland VGC scandal. We pray that healing will come to them and that all involved will learn whatever lessons we can take from this.
We appeal to all of us adults to be truly mindful of how we conduct ourselves and our businesses, especially our entertainment – our production, distribution and our consumption of it.
• We appeal to the various music and video producers to save our younger generations and put out more humane and humanly dignifying content. Please stop with the pornography. We have had enough. It is damaging our young ones and damaging the fabric of our society even more. We know many of our unscrupulous politicians and corrupt leaders have done their best to destroy all that is decent and just in our community. Are we now willing to drive in the final nail in the name of art?
• We appeal to the various broadcast channels – whether TV, DSTV, radio or whatever media to please be sensitive to what they are putting out there and be tactful as to the timing of these programmes.
• We appeal to the Nigerian government, especially the Nigerian Broadcast Commission and the Nigerian Film, Video and Censors Board, to awaken to its duties and apply the laws to protect our young, vulnerable, and impressionable. We have had enough.
We are amazed at our surprise that our children are acting out the things we have been busy modelling for them for years in our runaway production and consumption of what passes for entertainment. What did we expect with the music videos being broadcast in broad daylight at our eateries, in our homes and more uncensored? Music videos, movies and programmes that are primarily pornographic in nature. The lyrics of many of our best-selling songs talk about nothing else but women’s bodies, sex, money and the different illicit sex acts in which one can engage. A particular piece with catchy beat details all the sexual positions people engage. These songs are played mindlessly at our parties and weddings. It is a scandal! And the biggest scandal is that we have let these things go on for years!
It started with Black American music videos gaining popularity in Nigeria in the 1990s – rap and hip-hop culture promoted by mainly young men and women from intensely dysfunctional homes living extremely dysfunctional lives. We saw the women and young ladies in these videos wearing less and less as time went on. To appear modern, woke and sophisticated, many of our young and old followed suit. Even our language changed, becoming more gutter, less refined and less respectful. So that even our most educated today think using ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ as they speak is astounding and shows how sophisticated they are. We then dressed to imitate these new ‘role models’ whose creed seemed only to be ‘get-rich-or-die-trying-and- while denigrating the woman as best you can. So we now started gyrating to songs that called our beautiful sisters and daughters ‘hoes’ and ‘bitches’ and called our handsome brothers and sons ‘dawgs’ and ‘niggers’. The beats were unique, we grant. It was the content that was the problem.
We displayed our ignorance of how God wired us by thinking we could take in all these things without them changing us and affecting our offspring. We went one step further and allowed channels full of American content from Hollywood and its music industry completely unfiltered, unfettered and uncensored access onto our airwaves, stations and their degenerate messages flooded our homes. What on earth were we thinking? A lot of the entertainment itself was, in many ways, the underbelly of the music space. While immensely popular and enriching for producers, entertainers and others, there was hardly much uplifting except for some inspirational & gospel music channels and some inspiring movie content. So not all was bad.
However, we gradually took on more and more smut. Smut, after all, pays. And then our super-talented Nigerian musicians got into making music videos – videos that saw more near-naked women, more flesh, more sex, more barbaric displays of cash and fast cars and big houses. So today, there is hardly a music video or movie where we do not see all these on display. When asked some years ago why the industry felt the need to portray their art in this way, a Nigerian rap musician said, ‘Sex sells’.
The Nigerian government has been extremely lax in regulating the content and what channels such as TRACE, BET, MTV Base (how ironic!) show. You go to a restaurant or an eatery or even sit in your home and turn on the TV. You see porn masquerading as art and music video. We see people twerking, engaging in sex acts, butt-naked women and foul-mouthed men kissing, cursing, drinking, smoking all sorts of substances. Then, of course, there is Big Brother. These images are available for viewing in broad daylight and without time restrictions. DSTV has its parental control feature, but we believe the Nigerian people should demand better quality control by having such programmes be better scripted. And our children are exposed to these constantly-even when we go out to buy ice cream. They have copied and are now practising! Should we be shocked, or are we simply living in denial?
It is instructive to note that other civilizations do not allow the wholesale destruction of the minds of their young. They protect what they expose their young to – what your senses receive shapes your thinking. The images we watch day and night influence our behaviour. How can we show smut to ourselves and our children and think they will become the Mandelas, Obamas, Okonjo-Iwealas, Ezekwesilis, Chimamandas, Wa Thiongo’s of the future? You do not plant thorns and expect to harvest tomatoes.
Enough already. Please save our children and the future.