In the spirit of giving people their flowers, you just have to give it up for the young people in this country. We are like the rose that grew from concrete; we thrive not because of but regardless of the absence of an enabling environment. The hype about young people is real, not so much owing to the fact that we constitute the largest demography but really because we are the very soul of this country. Pay a little more attention to the news, aside from the dark clouds that hover in terms of cringe-worthy headlines, young people represent that silver lining that reminds us that all is not lost – at least not yet.
Most times I go online just to catch cruise, apart from the violence ear and dear, I find myself binge watching skits. I see creativity on steroids, jaw-dropping content for days. I see how far we have come from the days of “Baba Soji” and “Papa Ade” by Ayobami Ajewole and Emmanuel Ogonna Iwueke who were OGs before IG. I see what value content creators generate with just their smartphones and I tell myself that most of the box office ‘hits’ we see from the abroad is, at best, average storylines sprinkled with expensive cameras and VFX. Sadly, no matter how sharp these arrows are, even with a quiver filled with such talents, an unskilled archer will not know how to weaponise them for greatness.
It’s Don Jazzy Again!
It is very important to recognize what ace music producer, business exec and supreme leader of the Mavin dynasty is doing for the creative community because the Don Jazzy effect is a metaphor for what every young person needs. Our pool of talent is definitely on an OPG level but opportunities are not distributed evenly. Success for most young people is simply the consummation of their developed ability and the right visibility – they are not asking for too much. So when one of Nigeria’s biggest social influencers puts you on, he is really helping you get that cake because he realises that there has to be more of us at the top of our game. For someone who has been doing that for about two decades, we should put some respeck on his name.
Once Upon A Time
When I saw the trailer for Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys 2, I legit felt goose bumps run down my spine because Steven Spielberg and Jack Snyder no do pass like this. Not Laburu giving us a masterclass in smoke and mirrors, causing everyone to go after red herrings while she, as the real McCoy, stays hidden in plain sight. Should I talk about the powerhouse, Debo Adebayo whose content has evolved beyond Daddy Wa and is also addressing very important social issues with his platform? Or is it the doings of Dare Adekoya? Which begs the oleku question: tell me something wey we no fit do.
The central theme I find in all these creative expressions among young people is that we are new school ethnographers – we are a storytelling generation and that’s on everything. We curate these experiences and create our own narratives because we have the responsibility of teaching our children who the real heroes are and those who were villains – not the perverted history that is usually forced down our throats. We do this for the culture because it will be televised and if mainstream media gets gagged, it will be live-streamed because we are very proactive Nigerians.
“I had to tell my story cause they’d rather show you black kids with flies on their faces on the television” – Joseph “Skepta” Adenuga.
Potatoes Will Potate
The recent embarrassment some of our athletes suffered at the on-going Olympics is another episode that shows how dreams of young people are dashed. For an event that holds once every four years – some people just had only one job. When I saw the furore over sponsored kits even before the event, I knew something was in the water. It therefore comes as no surprise that while other athletes are running for gold, most of our best talents are running away to the proverbial greener pastures because top talents want to represent those that take their careers very seriously.
Whether it’s in the NBA, football, UFC, boxing, athletics, and so on, those of Nigerian descent that have reached the top of the mountain in their respective fields are mostly those with dual nationality or those who have spent considerable time in an environment that better facilitates their craft. You don’t have to do too much to become a prophet in this country, just go and search out old newspapers, change the date, names, events and you will get almost the same result.
One of the challenges we face around here is that most leaders are surrounded by praise singers; people who consistently tell them that they are the best thing since Agege bread. We can’t continue to tell leaders that they are wearing invisible robes when in reality they are stark naked. One of the consequences of putting square pegs in round holes is that somebody’s incompetence somewhere will make you eat a breakfast you didn’t order.
Where I come from, we look one another in the eyes and tell some home truths. We fight hard but we love even harder, it’s never anything personal. It has helped us stay on the straight and narrow because faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the many kisses of an enemy. We should normalise speaking truth to power because what we fail to say at home, they will tell us abroad and in very candid terms – whether it be in sports, education, criminal jurisprudence, and so on.
Dangerous – Ndeke Kwa Mzilikazi!
When you make it difficult for young people to get a good education, express themselves, exercise their democratic franchise, thrive in business or be gainfully employed owing to obnoxious policies, run for elective positions owing to the monetisation of the electoral process, exercise their right to association and peaceful assembly. When you have conversations about the future of young people and wax lyrical about inclusive growth but not a single young person is in that room or are represented in such systems. When you profile every tech-savvy or successful youth as a cyber-criminal, when you infantilise voices that were old enough to vote for you but are now suddenly too young to understand governance. When you think that political placebos are a replacement for proper youth-orientated policies, when you think vibes is the same thing as value, you build a country that doesn’t work.
One For The Hypeman, Two For The Real Ones
You’re reading this because BellaNaija gave me a platform. So I think it’s important for us to celebrate all those platforms that are amplifying the voices of young people, showcasing their doings and ensuring they have their day in the sun. To those brands that put their money where their rhetoric is, to those policymakers that do their best to churn out pro-market regulations instead of choosing ego over economics, to those veterans that take it upon themselves to mentor the next generation instead of just telling them that “it’s God” and to every cheerleader genuinely rooting for young people. I appreciate you on these streets. We will not stop until we see a Nigeria better than the one we were handed. As usual, we what? We muueeve!