Friday, 16 April 2010

For the Love of Nigeria

There are so many things going through my mind right now and I can't even find an appropriate title for this post. I don't intend it to be a long post but I'll see if that's possible.

So I saw 'Welcome to Lagos' last night. A 3 part series of life in Lagos, well life in the slums of Lagos. In the the program makers words, "We were heading for the ghettos and slums" and when they got there they said "the dump became symbolic of everything we were trying to achieve in the films". So this people had an agenda, to feed into the stereotype that Nigeria is a lawless country, with poverty stricken people, rife with corruption and social unrest and home to creators of email scams.

What did they find? Yes they saw the slums, perhaps much worse than they could ever imagine but it must have been shocking for them to find decent, honest people who prefer a life of grime to a life of crime. "People who are proud of the fact that they earn an honest living, and are making a better life for themselves and their families through sheer determination and hard work". (Quoting Will Anderson, one of the programe makers.)

I've had tons of emails from friends who are unhappy with the way Nigeria was once again portrayed in a negative light. In fact when I saw the program last night I thought this documentary will show a balanced view of Lagos only to find out that was not the intention of BBC. The normal me would have been effing and blinding alongside my disgruntled friends but for some reason I've been smiling contentedly.

In contrast to most people, the program didn't leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I chose instead to see the positive message in it. The voiceover was more positive, almost a celebration of the resilience of Nigerians who live in such squalor. It may seem patronising because the images showed something different to the words but I'm ever the optimist.

The shock though is that as someone who lived in Lagos I didn't realise people lived like that. Even the bigger shock is the fact that the Lagos State Government is aware that these people exist and is doing nothing about it. I think that program needs to be aired in Nigeria to shame our politicians . Also the international community should stop allowing Politicians into their country until they fix our country. But we all know this is impossible. There's far too much to be gained from a country of both abundant natural and human resources for any sane nation not to want to be its ally.

What's my point. We can all be angry with these British Broadcasters or we can do something positive about it. We can paint the picture of the Nigeria we want them to see. Let's be frank, the media in most part of the world sensationalise everything. You think a successful tale of a country like Nigeria will make good TV? Heck no! That country is far too blessed already for Broadcasters around the world to air positive things about it. Instead they will concentrate on the ironies.

We have to go out there in numbers and in unity and not only tell the Nigerian stories we want the world to hear but also play out the Nigerian story we want the world to tell about our country through positive and influencing actions. It can be done and it starts with little steps from those people who are in the lowest ebb of our society through to the top.



In My Dreams It Was Simpler said...

I saw that BBC programme last night too, and like you I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. It showed that Nigerians are determined, hardworking and enterprising people who will do what they can to survive. It was still very sad though, seeing the way lots of people in Nigeria live. Struggling so hard just to make a living. There is much to be done if we want to make Nigeria a better place, and the BBC don't owe us anything. We have to help ourselves.
I will see what they come up with in the next two episodes of the series.

Harry-Rami Itie said...

Well I have to see that BBc program

Jaycee said...

You just mentioned something that's been on my mind. Why do they invite prominent politicians from all over the world when they can't even clean up the slums first? I imagine Hillary Clinton looking at her surroundings in awe (not).

aloted said...

i agree with u...i dont think this programme was out to put naija in a negative light...i was also shocked and amazed..i knew about the dump in ojota but i never imagined that a community existed there.

the programme showed that even in suffering nigerians are still happy ...

our leaders should be put to shame

I enjoyed watching the programme and i really liked joshua with his family.

Myne Whitman said...

I am with you that it is because Nigeria is doing something right that there is so much focus on us, whether good or bad. As for the rest, we have to tell our own stories.

Have a good weekend.

L-VII said...

The show for me was an affirmation of what I had always known. Omo Naija can survive anything, anywhere. I was moved by the people's determination to hold on to their dignity. The hard work that they put in. The ingenious ways they made money outta rubbish and blood.

I was proud of those people and I even bought Vocal Slender's songs on Itunes.

Slums exists everywhere and it is high time Nigerians stop pretending that the country is all good. If we do not like it, instead of railing against the BBC, register to vote and make your bit of difference.


musco said...

I didn't know even know you had written a piece on this before I put mine up.

I no vex ... but really wish 'yeye' NTA could also come here & do a documentary on their 'chaffs'(or whatever they call them) and the opposite side of life in the UK.

...definitely PROUD to be a Nigerian jo!

StandTall-The Activist said...

You are right Parakeet!

AlooFar said...

Insightful, as usual.

Afronuts said...

Yeah..I had mixed feelings when i saw the documentary too. I remember watching the episode of 'Hot Cities' which focused on Lagos and was appalled by the way Lagos was shown as a country on the verge of becoming a disaster zone.

Welcome to lagos was more positive in light of its presentation. I heard that Eric obuh, one of the scavenger who wants to become a recording artiste is getting help and is being sought after, ever since his story became known through the documentary.
I heard promoters are after the guy already.

At least the programme shows that there are people who prefer honest living to crime.

Still, when will we see documentaries that showcase the good of Nigeria? Even a documentary I saw on Nollywood seemed to ridicule our struggling movie industry. have u been? U're scarce oh