Monday, June 16, 2008

No Victor, No Vanquished: Who Really Cares…?

TV - Documentary/History - The Gist

Sometime in the ‘90s…
It must have been around the holidays because I was mighty bored that day. Seeing that my elder brother (who was majoring in History at the university by that time) had left one of his textbooks around, I decided to kill time by reading about notable historical personalities.

Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Ghandi, Yassar Arafat, Winston Churchill and a couple of colourfully paged biographies later and I couldn’t help reflecting: “What the hell were some of these guys thinking? Bet I would have done that better…!”

March 2006…
Fast-forward to the first quarter of 2006, in the service of the Fatherland. 3 weeks after sharing a camp with total strangers, I was being shunted off to a tough Local Government Area that suffered from water problems but had the most picturesque scenery I’d ever seen.

After being rejected from my initial posting, I trade places with a stuttering colleague to take his teaching place in a school. Despite the rapidly dwindling student population, the shrill voices of the kindergarten kids still carries into the “staff room” as they religiously chant the names of the 36 states and capitals, thrice a day - just like medicine.

Before I gladly terminate my appointment a year later, another female colleague spots what has been bugging us concerning that recital. The kids are just mentioning 35 out of the original 36 states! The one being omitted is another issue altogether…

May 5, 2008 circa 11:00pm...
I’m lying down awake in my room closely monitoring the NTA broadcast and wishing I had enough money to pay for a cable TV subscription. Due to a certain eccentric employee of the Power Holding Corporation who runs a crazy rotational power-sharing scheme, my house only gets to receive power on alternate days. Predictably, this messes up my TV-viewing schedule when it comes to daily Reality TV. By the same time next week, I’m guaranteed to miss any great weekly TV show I happen to catch this week. Now I’ll have to add a generating set and fueling costs to that cable bill…

Eagerly anticipating that day’s episode of Star Quest (I missed the previous day’s and I’ll miss the next), I am therefore shocked when NTA starts broadcasting their post-Civil War chronicle; a series of documentaries called “No Victor, No Vanquished” which is a historical and analytical narrative of the events that led to and occurred during and immediately after the Nigerian Civil War.

Why am I bringing this all up? Well, for those of you who do not know, the Nigerian Civil War was fought from June 6, 1967 to January 13, 1970 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria soldiers and the secessionist Biafran forces (led then by General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu) who wanted to pull out of the country to form the Republic of Biafra. Nigeria at that time was ruled by General Yakubu Gowon.

For 30 months, the war raged taking its toll on the military and civilian populace as fierce battles, air strikes, reprisal killings, community decimations and totally false political propaganda became the order of the day. The financial, moral, ethical and psychological scars as well as the many other unknown effects of that war are still present till today even though the newer generations of Nigerians have tried hard to bury the events and forget the memories.

What is my view concerning all this? Despite my semi-Eastern Nigerian origins and the tales of horror I’ve heard my parents recount, I have chosen to largely remain blissfully ignorant and never to take sides in a battle I wasn’t even around to witness. But every once in a while, whenever sectional violence breaks out across the ethnic divides of my dearly beloved country the deeply lodged animosities boil up again to the surface to confront the ideals of ye leaders past of older generations who strove hard to ensure that Nigeria remained one at all costs.

The younger generation, who by now mostly embrace the notions of intermarriage, are immediately faced with tough and confusing challenges as one’s wife, lover and friend suddenly attains the enemy status just because a tiny group of people many hundreds of kilometers clash with an equally tiny group of herdsmen over cattle grazing rights.

Or aspiring lawyers, mechanics, doctors, businessmen, seamstresses, car washers, area boys and prostitutes each hustling in equal measure for their daily bread, lay down their lives all for the noble cause of a young man who chooses to defecate in a rival’s uncompleted building or a young sixteen year old swollen with the passions of her first true love and the first stages of gestation for a misguided Youth Corp member serving in her school.

The things that have continued to spark off the raw tinder of the fires of our national divide have even lesser values than these cited examples and once in a while a movie is screened, a book published or TV documentary broadcast each portraying the events of the past through the eyes of its intellectual creator while carrying an underlying message that this evil should not visit our doorsteps again. But are these lessons in history really necessary? After all, are we really listening?

NTA’s “No Victor, No Vanquished” will not be the needed balm for soothing these long-hidden wounds nor will it be the panacea to the millions of people who lost friends, neighbours, siblings and relations and whose collective destinies changed with the drop of an exploded shell. For while critically watching it(as opposed to casual viewing), I only find a programme which will give the older generation a new cause to cast fresh accusing fingers over debatably outdated facts and also give the new generation an even bigger reason to feel disdain and disconnect from the labours of our leaders past.

Caught up in the web of wide-spread economic devastation brought about by some of these precedent hallowed, halo-clad despots, inspired by the glamour-filled lifestyles and quick wealth of the nouveau riche and bombarded by the peer- and parental pressure-filled mandatory success guidelines of top-notch jobs, fat salaries, fast cars, duplex accommodation, work-hard-play-even harder life standards and the obligatory multiple sex partners all acquired before the ideal age of 24, many a Nigerian youth is not interested in watching old men trade blames over who caused a war that may or may not have brought about all these problems in the first place.

Instead, we are watching Star Quest and hoping to be instant musical stars. We are watching The Apprentice Africa and hoping that through hook or crook, we just might be Mr. Shobanjo’s apprentices. We are glued literarily to AMBO and The Next Movie Star and hoping to break into the sleazy lifestyle of our dear Nollywoodians or we are reading about their crazy scandals in the soft sell magazines. We have lost our senses and buried our attention in following old Mexican soaps with more twists and turns in their plots than the Onitsha-Owerri road.

Don’t blame us. In our usual way of passing the buck, maybe part of the blame should go to the national education system. Let’s blame the schools who are now so good at brainwashing and indoctrination that our children are now shunning Physical and Health Education and the playground to go for junk food during break time. My niece’s boarding school in a quest for Religious neutrality recently decided to conduct joint Worship services instead of allowing the kids go to their individual churches. And in kindergarten, the letter ‘Y” doesn’t stand for Yam anymore. That’s so uncool. It now stands for Yacht… Or maybe Yahoozee!

That fresh generation will never know the black and white Television or any electrical device for that matter that has no remote control. Many will never see a turntable, a spin dial telephone, VHS tapes or a dugout canoe. Many have never been taken to museums by their over-worked, over-stressed parents whose notion of a family get-together is plunking down their kids in the latest fast-food outlet that probably has a bouncy castle. And many will never care to know or be taught about the Nigerian Civil War or its repercussions.

When a school chooses to teach her kindergarten kids just 35 out of the 36 states in Nigeria, then we can now say: Congratulations! What do we care about history? After all, Social Studies is now truly and totally dead.

As for me, I do not still know Nigeria well enough and so I must search for more. While continuously doing my research and even prior to writing this piece I still find that the debate over who was right and who was wrong and who did what still rages on till now, 38 years after. You can gather all the information you want, my dear generation, and hear all the horror stories your parents will tell but the truth is that we were not there when it happened. Whatsoever you will hear, read or view will depend on the perspective of your sources. And in wars, the greatest casualties are women, children and common sense.

They claim there was No Victor, No Vanquished. The choice of what to believe is YOURS…

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Twelfth Commandment

All Media - Advertising - The Gist

No, it’s not what you think. The title of this post isn’t the title of a movie I’m reviewing. It isn’t an album either neither is it a documentary. It’s just an experience I’ve gone through recently that I thought I should share with you.

Do you know those automatic cash dispensers better known as ATMs (Automated/Automatic Teller Machines)? When they were introduced into the Nigerian financial scene by the banking sector I was one of the few people that danced madly in joy over the news. The reason for this was clear. In my line of thinking, ATMs meant PC Networking, Networking meant Computers and Computers meant Civilization. Hurray! Digital Civilization had come to Nigeria!

I remember waiting earnestly for my bank to issue me with the cherished plastic. After years of running a paper-based account I was finally going to say good riddance to the things of old and move up to the swipe-and-pay. No more torn bank books for me or having to sign twice behind the slip after waiting 30 minutes for the female cashier to freshen her make-up or the male one to stop chatting up the girl ahead of me in the queue.

And so one day it was my turn to be issued with plastic cash. My happiness knew no bounds. I wasn’t swayed by the fact that it wasn’t exactly a license for uncontrolled spending (a.k.a. a credit card) or that a few days ago, I’d read an article in a national newspaper captioned: “Beware of the Automated Thieving Machine”. Not even the mandatory 2-day wait for my account to fully migrate to digitaldom or the 105 Naira ATM charge deducted at my first withdrawal was going to dampen my enthusiasm. I had unshakeable faith in digital power!

“Wetin concern Media Nemesis with ATM?” you might ask. Well maybe it’s the media content developer in me. Deep in my mind every time I approach the automated money-doler, I can’t help but wonder how much underutilized these machines are in reaching out to people. All the ATMs I know just play annoyingly short and rubbishy repetitive snippets of classical music which a digital voice tells you to wait for your transaction. And the screens mostly deliver adverts tailored only towards the deploying financial institution offering you crazy loan schemes.

Now I’ll need your help here. I want you to close your eyes and imagine…

Imagine if the FIRST TIME you heard bits of Sasha’s “Adara”, 9ice’s “Gongo Aso” or P-Square’s “Do Me” was on an ATM machine! I can imagine the conversation going something like this:

A: Have you heard the latest?

B: No! Wetin dey?

A: Ah! You too slack oh! P-Square now have a new hit track out!

B: Oh yeah? Where you hear am? Which radio station?

A: Radio ke? Have you been to XYZ Bank lately?

B: No! When I no get money? Abi you pay inside my account?

A: Pay wetin? Abeg check out their ATM jo! Even if you just go there and pretend to do an Account Inquiry, you’ll hear all the latest tracks pumping out from the speakers. I even heard D-Banj’s latest CD there too. And there’s Ruggedman, Konga, Weird MC, Sammy Okposo, BOUQUI, even the latest boys from Aba

B: Eh! Abeg I dey go there now-now Make e no be say na me be the last to hear am.

Yeah, I know the idea might even sound lame but how would we know the efficacy of it if we never try it out anyway? CD releases, Nollywood movie trailers and screenings times, shows and events, indeed everything entertainingly gratifying could turn out to be fodder for this advertising cannon. Still imagining, just reflect on the even more numbers of customers they might reach if the telecom companies partner with banks to lease some ATM screen space to advertise their promos.

It’s not just the telecoms either. Imagine if Bank PHB gave us all the updates on The Apprentice Africa via their ATM screens and printed out the viewing times along with your financial details on the ATM receipt? Imagine if Skye Bank had printed out special complimentary Celebrity Takes 2 tickets for customers who use the ATM a certain number of times? Or if UBA had dome the same thing for the 2008 AMMAs? It’s a well worn cliché but if media marketers had just a little bit of imagination to utilize the numerous ATMs around instead of scrambling to erect massive bridge-like billboards, the possibilities would just start becoming endless.

Of course, typical with the Nigerian-faddish way of thinking, the possibilities of abuse would be endless too.

One can equally imagine the resulting cacophony that would result from the simple act of turning an ATM into a jukebox as neighboring banks would jostle not just for our accounts but our auditory senses as well. The issue of copyright infringement would also rear its ugly head in the hallowed halls of banking as greedy marketers no doubt would eagerly sign up to sell the same content to competing banks without any resultant remuneration to the artistes themselves. And which octogenarian would want to have his/her slowly failing hearing damaged more by “Do Me” blaring from a machine that’s already tough enough to manipulate as it is?

And if the marketers were given domain over the ATM screen then it would become an advertising Armageddon even worse than what we get when watching TV soaps. We’d be made to spend more and more time waiting for our transactions as we are bombarded with commercials for soaps, toothpaste, churches, cigarettes, condoms, furniture, milk, sweets, and yes, the banks too. The advert glut and the resulting chaos from it might be enough to even make you hunger once more for the days of paper…

My reverie is over. Much as the ATM symbolizes a movement towards the digital future for Nigeria I think I’d rather leave them as they are for now. ATM-based marketing can further enhance the entertainment experience if well handled but when last did we ever handle anything right?

Now going back to the title of this post, I assume everyone knows the 11th Commandment, right? (In case you didn’t it is this: Thou shall not get caught.) Well, recently, I was FLAT BROKE but that wasn’t enough to shake me like in the past. After calmly strolling to my friendly neighbourhood ATM in my friendly neighbourhood UBA premises, I slotted in the plastic key to my account and dutifully followed all the instructions on the screen. Of course, the amount was also dutifully deducted from my account and the card dutifully popped out…WITHOUT THE MONEY!!!

Not believing what I was seeing, I decided to take up the case with Customer Care. Unfortunately, the guards who must have heard all the ATM tales of woe dutifully and politely blocked the door (it was almost 6pm) and told me the problem would resolve itself within 48 hours.

48 hours?!? Now I was mad! Having nothing more on me than a damaged N20 note and none of my pride, I first tried to bluff, then seeing that wouldn’t work, I put on my best British aristocrat mannerism and politely asked the guards for a tiny N20 loan to find my way home. The guards in question must have heard those lines several times too because they both politely shook their heads: NO.

I was too weak to even drop the Briton routine and switch back to my Agbero one. To cut the long story short, a young Police dude who’d suffered the same ATM dupery saved the situation by lending me the said amount without even wanting to know if he’d ever see me again. Now I can’t really say bad things about the Police anymore.

For someone like me who likes to throw money around when people ask for my help, it sure humbled me how desperate one can go for just N20. And yes, the money did revert back to the card within the 48 hours as promised.

What lessons have I learnt from this? You just might consider taking your bank book along ‘cause you just might not know when that ATM will disappoint you. And I have learnt the Twelfth Commandment: THOU SHALL NEVER TRUST AN ATM…

PS: In case the whole idea of ATM marketing fully kicks off in Nigeria and becomes a money spinner for advert companies and media execs, just remember: I said it first!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Woomie's Comments

At June 10, 2008 3:00 PM, Woomie O! commenting on my blog wrote:

4NE, i have been embittered by the TV content for our young children. Their brains haven't formed well as a result of what they see on TV.
I say this because a great part of the things i know today, i learnt on TV as a child (you will agree with me). Now, when i tune to local TV stations, I don't see the Sesame Street, Barney, Sarafina and other educative Sci-Fi cartoons I saw as a child, instead, these stations 'hammer' our children's brains with Johnny Bravo, Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain, Cow & Chicken, I am Weasel etc etc.
I try not to let my neices watch too much of these things, they learn ablsolutely NOTHING postive from them...truth is, they don't even understand any message (if any) behind these cartoons.
I look at these kids and I want to cry...I am embarassed by what this new generation do with their spare time.
our loval TV stations are brain-draining our average Nigerian Kids.
Somebody should ask the Bruces of Silverbird TV, John Momoh of Channels TV, Tinubu (or whoever is in charge) of LTV and the now-reduced-to-mediocres of NTA network, if it is what they watched as kids on Nigerian TV stations that they have reproduced and are presenting to our kids...If these things didn't work for them then, what makes them think they will work for our own kids (and their own too) now?
Did the defunct ClapperBoard and the old NTA network emmigrants leave with the tapes???

4NE's Reply : Well said! There's NOTHING more for me to add... For those of you who don't know, Woomie is a very intelligent young female and I'm not just fronting. Check out her blog here

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Inform, Educate and Entertain… And VOLTRON

TV - Flashback - The Gist

Turn your TV to the NTA every morning and it’s a mantra you are bound to catch at least one of the A.M. Express presenters reciting as they flood into your living rooms or wherever your TV set is kept. The flooding this time is pleasant. Believe it or not, you don’t have to cringe every time you see the words “Nigerian Television Authority” on the glowing end of the TV tube. Even a mediocre has to excel once in a while.

OK, I digress… back to the issue at hand...

I love Television, no two ways about it, but for some years now, our relationship has started becoming shaky as I begin to seriously doubt the authenticity of its mandate. Is Television keeping true to that Inform, Educate and Entertain (I.E.E.) Broadcast Creed we swore to on that day when I told her “I do”?

Yes, watching the TV can be very entertaining at times, and if you bother to watch the increasingly socialized social diary called the News you just might get a nugget of information here and there but as for getting an education, I’ve been very skeptical if the idiot box dishes out much in that line.

Fact is, the only set of people who got any proper sort of education from TV were those who were lucky enough to watch programmes like “3-2-1 Contact” and “Sesame Street” in the hey days of B & W programming or even the early episodes of NTA’s “Tales By Moonlight” (as a kid then I used to love any story that featured animals. I felt I must be very smart because I realized early that animals didn’t talk so it must be humans in those costumes! I digress yet again…).

What fun it was in those glorious days of watching “Voltron” and longing to possess the gymnastic skills of Pidge, or Lance’ suave looks or Keith’s leadership abilities or marrying the Princess Allura for that matter. We flew across the skies in their aerodynamically-challenged space vehicles and our fantasies were limitless for even when the black-and-white screen failed us, we filled in the colours with our vivid imaginations. Television taught us how to D.R.E.A.M.

In those days Science was a daily discovery and you could master the rudiments of killer courses like Mathematics or all the tongue-tying complexities of Oral English straight off the TV set. Television programme schedulers were always all too conscious of the slightest details of the school calendar and would arrange programmes accordingly to sooth the tastes of their young audiences during holidays.

Those days are long gone. The youth of nowadays simply have no imagination.

I was therefore pleased when I spotted a tiny glimmer of hope for this generation. From amidst the Babel that is daily programming we occasionally catch a little ray of insight as it shines out to Inform, Educate and Entertain us. Take for instance, A.M. Express, Wednesday the 4th of June. A doctor comes on-air from the Benin Network centre some time around 6:40 am to Educate us on Infertility. Now that’s an important subject so I put a hold on my breakfast preparations to watch.

What really grabs my attention is his definition of infertility which I will try to reproduce as well as I can. In his own words (all the emphasis are mine):

“… Infertility is medically described as the inability of a couple to conceive after participating in active coitus, that is full sexual exposure, for a period of one year”.

(And here I am thinking, slowly chewing on a slice of bread: what does this guy mean by “full sexual exposure”? He isn’t talking of photography, is he? Or radiography, for that matter.)

And he continues:

“…It is medically agreed that the normal frequency of full sexual exposure for a couple in that one-year duration should be at least three exposures in a week...”

Three exposures a week! My hackles immediately rise, I don’t know why. Okay… Cool down. Quickly discarding breakfast to do the math I come up with this:

3 full sexual exposures a week (medically agreed) x 52 (chronologically agreed) weeks in a year = 156 full exposures! For those of you that don’t get this, that means you have 156 chances to get Junior.

Now isn’t that Education? I won’t vouch for the authenticity of this M.D.’s statements neither will I swear by all things terrible that his quoted sources for the “medically agreed” definition are accurate. The only thing I can be sure of is to say I was well and truly E.D.U.C.A.T.E.D.


So all you lovebirds out there trying for a shot at replicating handy toy-sized copies of yourselves, here’s some very good advice: If after 156 full sexual exposures successfully carried out within a duration of 366 days and the female in the equation isn’t throwing up in the mornings and getting a belly that you can’t attribute to excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, then YOU BOTH NEED TO GET YOURSELVES CHECKED by a doctor who specializes in full sexual exposures. A pity they never scrolled the Doc’s name onscreen so I can’t help all you desperate peoples with that vital piece of info.

As for all them people who always strive to break all the records in the Guinness Book of Full Exposures, I have nothing (yet) to say to you. And if you find you aren’t batting at the A.M. Express endorsed average of 156, then what the hell are you waiting for?

Breakfast temporarily forgotten, I take a stroll through my cerebral garden, rocking on my mental rocking chair, smoking an intellectual pipe and reflecting on all these. (Would Keith have been too busy defending the Planet Arus from Hagar’s Robeasts to worry about giving Princess Allura her due 156 full exposures whenever he’d eventually get to marry her? How innocent Black & White TV romance can be.)

Yeah, I miss the Glory Days of Television. I do miss Voltron.

PS: Yes, I’m still trying to work on my TAA review titled “And Then There Were Three…” but the devil seems to be in the works. I’m thinking of re-editing it for posting it later this week tentatively re-titled as “And Then There Were Two…”

Stay posted!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Commenting on the Comments...(PS: Help! An I.D.I.O.T. Is Spamming Me!)

Online - Blogs - Comments

I can hear them gasping! There, I've done it. I have shed the cloak of objectivity and brought the battle to their doorstep. I have challenged them and I know they are going to post Comments.

It isn't easy to do but I believe I've done the viewing public a wee bit of favour with my recent posts. But many of them will never thank me for this. It takes quite a struggle to shift my neutrality but it's been done. So someone special (you know yourself...) told me I sound too formal! Ok... from now on, the perspective has changed.

To that someone, I think now is as good a time to defend myself. I ain't too formal I think. Just that reviewing can be such a tiring process most times especially when trying to sound as neutral as possible, even when the particular reviewed piece in question is crap. Just how objective can you be when describing the beauty of an orangutan?

And so I turn to formal speech to mask my disappointment. People who have seen me cuss in public (after wasting hours of my short life watching a crapy movie for instance) can attest to the fact. But it doesn't happen too often. And this objectivity thing dey tire me more nowadays...

As I go through all the Comments that have been sent to my blog, I am humbled. I'm still stumbling. I can only say Thank you to all of you for bothering to drop by... and read.

Except of course for that I.D.I.O.T...
When I joined, one thing I didn't count on was for spammers trying to use the Comments field of my blog to spread their filthy pop-up advert links. Sorry, I'm too smart for that. Comment moderation is a blessing to any serious blogger.

Next time someone sends me a shopping link or one of those foolish online lottery links with an heading like "I love this blog's topic. It seems you have a strong personality, etc, etc" disguised as a Comment, I'll calmly delete them as usual.

Then I'll calmly walk over to you, politely tap you on the shoulder and personally kick your online ass... HARD!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Showing On A TV Near You: The Ten Dumbest Things

TV - Observation - The Gist

It has happened to virtually every one of us…

You sit down and turn on the TV. After watching in amazement for a few minutes you can’t help but to wonder how much dumb programming manages to slip through all the broadcasting barriers of programme conception, creation, marketing, censorship and transmission to land on your idiot box.

Yeah, I know. I’ve been there too. So here I am watching and thinking: why am I watching this? And what can I do about it? Rather than spend the next few hours of your short lives watching DUMB TV, here are some things you just might want to consider steering clear of.

Several warnings though before you read this:

a. The term “dumb” means: incapable of speech, silent, lacking intelligence (in other words, stupid), taciturn, etc and can even be used as a term of endearment akin to dum dum, dummy, etc where the person being so affectionately addressed does not fully grasp the subject in question. (If you didn’t get the above definition, then you are well…dumb)

b. Sequel to the last section of above definition, some of the programmes listed here aren’t totally dumb themselves but do contain Elements of Dumbness.

c. I’m going to step on a few toes. Not everybody reading this is going to like it.

d. Drawing up a list of the Top Ten Dumbest Things on TV is probably a dumb thing to do. You’d be shocked just how much of the stuff there is out there!

f. And in case you don’t figure it out, the rankings go from 10 (Dumb) to 5 (Dumber) and up till 1 (Dumbest).

OK, (Drum roll)… Let’s BEGIN!

10. Ultimate Soccer Experience: Anchored by Mike Maiyaki, one of the greatest sports analysts alive, there is actually nothing dumb about this great sports programme apart from the half-screen format used during sports analysis. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the producer insists on squeezing the visuals into just the right half of the screen. What’s up with the left side? If there was some sort of marketing or sports info scrolling there, it might probably make some sense but as it is, this is just so dumb, dumb, dumb.

9. Moments with Mo: Yet another talk show but this one has got CLASS. Check out the avalanche of sponsors and you’ll be left drooling if you are a media marketer. But if you’re a member of that audience you must be dumb! Why? Because THE AUDIENCE IS CUED! Cueing an audience is as fake to Nigerians as canned laughter and occasionally on this show, the fakeness shows way, way too wide. Case in point: the episode that featured John Fashanu and Nkechi Okocha. Someone must have given the wrong cue signal because when John Fashanu was describing the ankle injury that put him out of professional football for good, SOME MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE ACTUALLY APPLAUDED!
Hello??? The right cue card was supposed to say: GASP!!!
And don’t rejoice either if you catch Modenine on this week’s episode. It was most likely recorded last year (Copyright 2007 Inspire Africa, if you catch my drift…)

8. Morning Ride
: Showing live on the NTA every Sunday morning circa 1000 hours, this Becky Madojemu - produced programme suffers from just one great big mishap: it is full of broadcast transmission glitches. The presentation is OK and the guests typical of any breakfast show but an evil sprite seems to be tweaking with the transmission knobs. It isn’t uncommon to have several cuts during a single broadcast forcing someone on the editing deck to keep a stack of ad inserts handy for such moments. For a programme that has been around since 1988, not having sorted out its transmission issues till now is just plain... dumb!

7. The New Onga Advert: Yes, the new one featuring Kate Henshaw-Nuttal. I love the chick to pieces but I just don’t get what she and her “daughter” are yapping about in that ad about cooking and not forgetting tradition. Given the foreign trip and the hype that preceded the shooting of that ad, I’m sorely disappointed. Someone must have fallen asleep somewhere during the production process, but it definitely wasn’t Kate.

6. Quizline: It’s a BIG waste of talent really. Three (in my opinion) very good TV personalities trapped almost every day in a programme where they talk mostly to themselves for all of 50 minutes while playing sometimes crazy music and giving away money to people equally dumb enough to phone in. Here’s a secret you didn’t know: Guess what? The odds are stacked against you wining anything substantial or else how do you think Akin would have been able to maintain his dreadlocked hairstyle? Or Omowumi, her eye shadow? 3 o’clock can be a very boring time on TV. And yes… I was dumb enough to try phoning in too.

5. National Sports Lottery: Ify might have gotten popular on Big Brother Nigeria but she must be really determined to lose that popularity fast. I’ve tried not to help it but watching her host the NSL show is nothing short of irritating. And her shrill voice, funny wardrobe, non-flowing lines, the civil servant/bus driver-type audience and the occasionally odd co-hosts aren’t helping matters. Check out the SA versions of TV Lottery. At least the witty hosts do look like they are enjoying what they’re doing. In line with the NSL slogan of “Levels go change”, her levels are changing alright… for the worse!

4. The Guinness Football Battle Advert: As a follow-up to their Udeme campaign, the guys of the Brown (or is it Black?) Bottle decided to go for a football-battle style ad where two opposing teams work together to retrieve a football from a runaway truck. Simple. The ad is nice and even funny in some parts but why, oh why, is the truck driver sleeping? Check out that portion of the ad just before he looks into the rear view mirror and sees the chasing crowd and you’ll see his eyes are FIRMLY closed for a couple of seconds or so. Naughty, naughty! FRSC ought to hear of this. On another note, the FULL ad shows the two teams’ henchmen opening their bottle caps against each other’s bottles. The fact that the National Association for Food and Beverages (a body to which the Brewery Bottle Boys belong) launched a campaign seriously kicking against such means of bottle defacement meant that part of the ad had to be edited out. D. U. M. B.

3. The Presidential Media Chat: ‘Nuff Respeck’ to Mr. President, Ijeoma of Thisday, Reuben Abati of The Guardian and all the others that graced the May 27 edition of the Presidential Media Chat. At least the journalistic panel wasn’t as patronizing as their predecessors of the Obasanjo era and they did throw some barbs at Oga Nigeria (the most recurring adjective was slow-coach). But what did we learn from the hour-long Question and Answer programme? NOTHING… Same old story 9 years later. Different presidents, same robes.

2. Some Reality TV Shows: Remember “House 4”, that Big Brother wannabe? It was dumb. Remember “Angels”, the Reality show where some so-called Angels showcased “African” traditions and values in the bush while referring to the show’s mystery voice as “My Ancestor”? It was dumber. Watched several episodes of it and couldn’t figure out what these “angels” were actually supposed to do apart from gossip around a tree clad in wrappers. Now they say they want to do Season 2. That sure takes the cake for dumbness…

1. The Yo Yo Bitters Advert: The third advert to make the dumb lineup and winner of the Dumb and Dumberer Awards, this ad is probably half of the reason why Morning Ride made the line-up in the first place. Sponsors of the Health Monitor segment, the poorly produced ad with a wack soundtrack highlights the miracles of the wonder drug as seen from the eyes of a “healthy” man who now no longer suffers stress and “is now useful in bed”. Whoever the man is, he must be confused about the sexes of his children because he goes ahead to refer to the boy and girl as “Junior and her sister”.
His wife too must be given credit for increasing his bed usefulness seeing that she wakes up from bed with an unattractive nightgown and FULL makeup on! She then “catches” him taking the said Bitters which was openly “hidden” in the fridge (remember Junior and her sister have been taking the drug obviously without the knowledge of their mother). But wait a minute! Wasn’t she the one who put it on the dining table sometime earlier in the advert? Confusing, weird… and TOTALLY DUMB!!!

PS: Now that I’ve done this, I can’t wait to begin List 2. Nominees, anyone?

Watch out for more dumbness…

The Grandest Finale of All

TV - Reality - The Gist

All photos courtesy of the Star Quest site

Located somewhere in Lagos is an event venue that will go down in history as the one place that has been a cradle for a new bevy of stars. That place is the Ocean View Restaurant.

The Expo Hall of the Ocean View Restaurant was the cradle, 10:05 pm on Saturday, 10th May, 2008 was the Estimated Date of Delivery and the Star Quest Grand Finale was the birth event.

The thrilling star-studded event - anchored by Gbenga Adeyinka The First - kicked off with a mini-documentary called “The Journey so far” chronicling how 36 talented musicians who were chosen out of the multitude that applied for auditions formed 6 great bands and were later whittled down to just 3. For the 3 remaining bands, Expozee, The Diamonds and Da Heritage, this was their night of glory as the finals of Star Quest 2008 were broadcast live on the NTA.

Next on the programme after “The Journey So Far” were stage performances from each of the 3 finalist bands doing two of their originally composed and produced tracks. First up on stage were The Diamonds who got to strut their stuff with two locally-flavoured, energy-filled dance performances. Despite their obviously well-rehearsed pieces and being spurred on by their huge fan base, the performances looked a tad weak compared to their Fameland average. Their choice of Afro-rhythmic dance tunes: “This Life Wey We Dey (Face Reality)” and “Ju’di” (roughly translated to mean dance in the Yoruba language) delivered a relatively weak punch and left beautiful Ajumoke Nweze, best vocalist that she is, conceding most of the vocals and stage presence to pot-bellied band leader, Anthony Iwediunor.

The fine boys and lovely sisi of Da Heritage were next. The purpose of this band as revealed by band leader and lead male vocalist Chukwudi Ubido, in the mini-documentary that preceded their performance was to fuse Western and local influences into their music. As female vocalist Glory Odey was also apt to point out, this group didn’t have the best in the vocal department and their first song, “Why You Go?” a love ballad imploring a runaway heartthrob to return, did bring this vocal flaw to the fore. Adding to their troubles was the clash of musical instruments which drowned the vocals at certain times during the performance. “Why You Go” was a very sentimental track with its slow beginning, touching lyrics and crescendo ending but Da Heritage just didn’t seem to carry the stage well not unlike their Diamonds predecessors.

“Jisi Ike”, their second track which was a sort of clarion call did far better than the love song. The motivational/solidarity anthem with a catchy hook encouraging the struggling peoples to “Jisi Ike” (Hold On) and be strong no matter the hardships they face was very sing-a-long-ish, reminiscent of Styl-Plus’ “Stay Alive”. Da Heritage did their crescendo bit at the end again which seemed to work well for them.

And then it was the turn of Expozee… Trust me, it’s hard to take back all the bad things that have been said previously about this group because tonight of all nights they seemed to finally realize what they came there for. And it wasn’t passive bandleader, 25-year old Emmanuel Aika or the dance seductress, Nnedi Ezirim who held the magic wand either. It was lead guitarist turned male lead vocalist, Seun Adegboye who blew the crowd away!

Taking off straight from the launch pad, all boosters firing, the group led off with “Jaiye”, a song extolling the uniqueness of Life and celebrating living fully in the moment. Seun, in a style which called to mind the likes of King Sunny Ade, led the group in the rendition of this piece which predictably got everyone off their seats and gyrating to the soulful tunes of Highlife. There wasn’t a single soul, African or expatriate, that wasn’t moved by that song! And boy! Did they dance…?

Omale Sunday, probably a little bit conscious of the spell Seun had placed on that crowd then took up the spotlight tearing everything lyrically apart as he took it on down, way down to the Ghetto. And Expozee showed everyone that when it gets down to the streets, they too can play dirty. The track title, “This Gbedu Na We Own” was self-explanatory. Whether it was galala, konto, makossa, whatever, Nnedi laid it down on that dance floor and Seun once again threw the lyrical mud all over the place with his Yoruba rap. It was a no-contest. If Star Quest was to be won solely on that night’s performances, then Expozee were the clear-cut winners: this Gbedu was definitely theirs.

The Music Videos

After the live performances, it was time again for the bands to try and impress second time around but this time in celluloid as their debut music videos were unveiled to the public. The Diamonds cleverly decided to do a switch, this time screening a music video called “Tempted” which showcased Blessed Edewor’s singing abilities. When the video ended, I couldn’t help but wonder why he had been content to stay behind all this while. Da Heritage, on the other hand chose not to change a winning formula as “Jisi Ike” came on once again. Expozee, also following the same pattern, stuck to the “Jaiye” song for their video maybe hoping lightning would strike twice.

In all fairness, all three videos were wonderful in showcasing the cinematic skills of the TV production company, though Heritage’s video was the champion here. The transition of the video from its Black & White intro till the screen burst forth in living colours towards the start of the chorus was visually gratifying.

But all these last minute climatic bursts of brilliance weren’t going to determine who would carry the day. After all it was the votes would count…

And the Winners were…

Their name was The Diamonds and that night was their time to shine. Parading arguably the best female vocalist, talented instrumentalists and a cool-headed band leader, The Diamonds wooed their audiences with their harmonious teamwork and hassle-free performances. While their stage work wasn’t always top-notch and their musical choices weren’t the best, they were guaranteed to deliver anytime unlike their rivals Expozee who sadly left everything till late and Da Heritage who maybe narrowly missed the winning formula.

Maybe in the end it boiled down to taking chances and the winning band continuously showed versatility in every task they had been given. The opportunities the music videos gave to showcase yet another of their songs was their trump card and The Diamonds fully grasped it with arms wide open. Apart from some hue and cry over the initial Eviction, this time a lot of Reality TV viewers went to bed satisfied that the REAL WINNERS had emerged.

And so the party wound to an end, the champagne was popped and The Diamonds got their ticket to stardom as they lofted high their cheque while the other groups felicitated with them and looked on in envy. Another era on the Nigerian musical landscape had come to a close with Diamonds becoming the official winners of Star Quest 2008.

It was a journey that had started weeks ago with a dream, a hope, a struggle, an online entry, a chance for an audition, cracked vocal chords, numb fingers, frustrations and evictions. It was a tough shot for stardom and they all won.

But for now The Diamonds shine with the stars…

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Review Alerts

Movies - Review - Alerts

Hello Good People!
Here are some screenshots of a couple of movies I’ll be reviewing this month.
One is a Flashback Review of Kaycee Oguejiofor’s 2004 flick, “Mama I Will Die For You” starring the likes of Patience Ozokwor, Ebube Nwagbo and Uche Ndigwe. This movie tells of the amount of damage an adulterous mother-in-law can bring about in her daughter’s marital home.

Pix 1: The Title Screenshot

Pix 2: Cover of Part 2 (or is it Disc 2?)

Pix 3: Ebube Nwagbo... then...

Pix 4: The "Seduction"

The second is Tchidi Tchikere’s “Breath Of Anger” released in 2007. It features Mike Ezuruonye, Mercy Johnson and Tchidi Tchikere himself in leading roles locked in a paternal struggle. Indoctrination and moral corruption also play major roles in the development of the son in question, Echezona and his attitude towards his two fathers.

Pix 5: Part 1 & Part 2 (a.k.a. Disc 1 & 2)

Pix 6: Title Screen

Pix 7: "Father" and Son

Pix 8: This kiss... this kiss... (The most dramatic kissing scene I've ever seen!)

Stay posted…