Friday, July 27, 2007

Between Yahoozee and Ms Winfrey

Oprah has made a handsome living from the power she has to use her couch to make or break issues . She does this for most part with a Lite touch to the acclaim of a lot of women across the world. She is greatly admired and incredibly powerful or so most surveys from the USA suggest. At the same time she rarely ever takes on anything without dumbing it down to a level that makes it only consumable as emotional fast food, emotive, hysterical and completely self serving. From Hip Hop to Racism she finds a point of under- intellectual departure from which her show is launched. My dislike now confirmed she picks on a very touchy subject so called Nigerian Internet Scam. Never mind that the follow up on her website suggests there are 13 million Nigerians, it seems if you are going to stereotype 140 million people you need not even bother with the facts to much.

Yes it is true that Nigerians are involved an awful lot in scams on the internet and the name is now Yahoo, Yahoo boys not 419, Oprah ( even the street issues are wrong). The numbers involved are less than 200,000 individuals as a percentage of 140 million this is less than 1%. Like her favorite Africans in the Mzansi she ignores that there are at least 2 Nigerians on the list of top 10 surgeons in America, that the largest most profitable African American Business of Black Enterprise top 100 is Nigerian owned, the country has produced at least 4 of the 10 most celebrated African writers and even more inventors and scientists. She champions Patricia who admitted she wanted to double her money and illegally help to transfer funds out of Nigeria. Her greed and disdain for the laws of other countries lost her the savings of her life. It reminds me of when I was scammed by a group of Irish lads in a white van my desire to buy a cheap TV and video set with high spec drowned out my normally eloquent intuition and I was taken for £120 pounds. The shame and pain still abides with me till date. If it seems too good to be true it is. There are no innocents in these crimes.

This does not absolve those who participate in this reputation destroying acts. Those of us who were fortunate to travel regularly in the 1970s remember a time when a Nigerian passport earned you respect, deference and even dignity. In the same UK where we are now met with sniffer dogs we were celebrated for our oil wealth as well as enterprise. We were widely known for our desire for education and upward mobility. The turning point was the Buhari/Idiagbon regime starting 31st December 1983. They could never have foreseen that their effort to restrict foreign exchange by cutting remittances to Nigerian students abroad would lead to a broad range of desperate actions including participation in Credit Card fraud. Once some of the brightest and best crossed over into crime the deterrence of shame and the taboo of risking family reputation had been broken so far it has not been restored. There is no excuse but there are always reasons . In a nation with a some of the highest ratio of young men in the world a culture of getting rich quick has used this approach to devastating effect on the reputation of the great country of Nigeria. In a society where conspicuous consumption is celebrated as well as rewarded and productivity ignored there is certainly a breeding ground for this behavior.

Oprah and as the recent Pew research on global attitudes show South Africans in large number paint this stereotype as a Nigerian rather than an human condition. They should know better. There is more per capita crime especially violent robbery leading to murder in Mzansi than Gidi. As Oprah's own life story shows and the treatment of African Americans in USA confirms there should be more caution exercised. Then there are the Nigerians quite a few who describe us by the worst amongst us and now put the celebration of this misguided young men to son. Most popular amongst this is the track Yahoozee. I like the music especially the use of Apala inflection in the chorus but I once again meet my 50 cent/Hip Hop is dead moment. If I buy this music am i glorifying what it celebrates or is it just a work of Art? Is the Godfather a glorification of the Mafia or a classic work of Cinema? Or both?

I know and teach enough about the power of stereotypes to know that when it is well packaged the very people who carry the yoke of being reduced and grouped in this way become the owners as well as enforcer of the label. We can see that in stereotypes such as 'Blond Bimbo' or 'Black super Stud'. It is the power of half truths to be used as the only truth. If only for that reason simplification, stereotypes and reduction the kind Oprah had on her show and the people who made Yahoozee track sell to the public must not be left to stand without challenge. Hopefully the fullness of our character as a nation both good and bad can be explored, understood and finally celebrated as it is for other great experiment in Nationhood. The enterprising and productive millions of Nigerians deserve no less.

5 comments:

Saymama said...

Wale,
I couldn't have articulated these sentiments better. When Nigerians in the west are steroptyped as fraudsters and scam artists only it infuriates me. And you're right, dishonesty is a human condition of which people of all nations are guilty of, not just a trait that has to be synonymous with being Nigerian. Why they never profile the mental condition and deep lust for greed in the people that fall for the scams, leaves me wondering.
Love your blog. Always insightful and honest.

vicky2bwilde@yahoo.com said...

Sir, i hadn't even gone halfway through your page b4 i started clapping. You are really an omoluwabi. i couldn't have said it better myself. God bless u. Ms Winfrey sometimes comes across as literate but not educated. its unfortunate that with all her influnce she wants 2 sterotype a whole country for the actions of less than 1% of its population. Fellow Nigerians, let us collectively pray that "God no go gree for am". Thanks again for articulating our thoughts for us.

Anonymous said...

GOD BLESS YA ALLL.....UP YAHOOZEEE BY DON....THE PROGRESS OF THE COUNTRY NIGERIA TILL DATE LIES ON YAHOO, AS WE HAVE MADE BANKS EXPAND DRASTICALLY THROUGH WESTERN UNION TRANSFERS, INVESTMENTS IN THEM, SAVINGS AND ALL...THE CHEAPNESS OF COMMUNICATIONS- GSM, DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND YOU WOULD KNOW WHAT I MEAN....THIS MESSAGE IS POSTED BY DON .... I RUN RACKETTO1 IN LAGOS, .......SUBURB I AINT DISCLOSING...

Anonymous said...

MR OMOLUWABI, YOU TOO DO WELL, I AM ALSO CLAPPING HERE, IN FACT I AM GIVING YOU A STANDING OVATION APPLAUSE...MAKE UNA NO MIND OPERA, SHE GET PROBLEM, PERSON WEY NO WELL AT ALL...MAKE UNA RIDE ON!!! YAHOOZEE FOR LIFE...I SCAM ONE CLIENT ONE DAY, THE GUY VEX DEY TALK SAY NA WE MAKE AMERICA GREAT, THEY TOOK ALL OF OUR TREASURES YEARS BACK AND USED IT TO DEVELOP THEIR COUNTRY, DEM TAKE MY GREAT ONES AS SLAVES TO WORK FOR THEM...NOW, I DO NOT HAVE THE BASIC AMENITIES A CHILD OF MY AGE HAS IN THE U.S AND YOU EXPECT ME NOT TO CLAIM BACK MY STOLEN WEALTH FROM THEM ?? IMPOSSICANT...UP YAHOOZEEE !!! DoN.

kwawkesse said...

Hi This ur boy Kwaw.
Yes i want to make a lil point about scam. To me it's a game and Opera can tell the whole americans about scam but i trust you some people are gonna fall for it no matter how far it goes. To me some people scam because of poverty and that's a fact and the main point why people scam and with that i think it even help them to change their life (lol). Sometimes Americans think they r wise but to me they r the most stupid people on earth (some are very kind though)That's why they do send money to help we Africans). So Opera shouldn't just talk like a lil girl.She is a lady and she has to know how Africans are suffering. So to me the scamming helps alot. Even the US also scam and they shouldn't forget they even took some of the Gold in Africa and also right now they r in Iraq because of their Oil. See I wish Opera will get a chance to read this, I really Respect her but she just cant stand up and talk shit.Am really made @ her right now and i wish i could talk to her myself.this is my email address flynaainquiryonline@gmail.com I dont give a fuck of who that Opera is. Dont try to fuck up with we Africans and dont u know you r a Black American? Man this woman (Opera) has to Think before she even loose all what she has got. U Aint say notting. fuck u all hatters (Get Money) $$$$$ Bill.

lil Boy kwawkesse #233-244990642