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Don’t blame Nigerians for mourning Kobe Bryant – Part 2

By Oluyinka Oyeniji
04 February 2020   |   2:52 am
First of all, social media is a force that we probably continue to underestimate in Nigeria. Definitely not for the government which has sustained its push for legislation to regulate it.

Kobe Bryant

Continued from yesterday
First of all, social media is a force that we probably continue to underestimate in Nigeria. Definitely not for the government which has sustained its push for legislation to regulate it. Even though the world continues to battle fake news and irresponsible reporting, the regulation would definitely be some response and being proactive before we are all consumed by this volatile force. I cannot count how many times I have read tributes to Dwayne The Rock and Celine Dion. Social media kills them every day, sometimes monthly and at other times, every few years. Eddie Murphy has died severally too. So, at some point, social media has to be bridled before it causes more catastrophic events. There just has to be responsible reporting. Self-regulation by platforms and holding owners responsible may be a better way to sanities it.

That in itself is still a form of regulation. Social media platforms now take down offensive posts. Because there is no such thing as “citizens of social media land or country”, the news broke all over the world and everyone irrespective of geographical boundaries got it at the same time. That is the power of the internet. Let’s not talk about parts of Nigeria where the income of the entire household cannot buy one android phone, or where they can no longer afford fuel to power a small Generator for a few hours only to rotate their fans, watch what is remaining of local stations or GOTV at best, not to talk of charging phones. Or where they can afford one phone, they will require to be able to afford data for whatsapp only, switched off intermittently to preserve data where you have three monthly subscriptions in 30 days and cannot afford to browse the news. So, if you can possibly cross all those hurdles, you are no longer an average Nigerian.

That is the truth. Whatsapp makes you know the last time someone subscribed to data. Something like “last seen on… at…” Social media has taken the place of NTA CHANNEL 5, 7, or 10. It probably explains why we have not taken our broadcast digitization drive strongly. Blame DSTV; let’s not discuss the monopoly of the company, its rates and billing system or indeed Government’s skewed efforts to address it. Plenty misdirection. Others wonder why we do not celebrate our local sportsmen as we do to those abroad. In fact, in this case, both government and the governed are guilty as charged. Kobe Bryant’s death made me know Isaac Promise had died. One of my friends on Facebook, a respected Entertainment Entrepreneur “Fidelis Duker” posted his anger that Isaac Promise had died and no one remembered him, yet they were ranting about Kobe Bryant.

As I write this, I check google for this story (don’t we all rely on it nowadays) and found that BBC reported Isaac Promise’s death on the 3rd of October, 2019! Imagine. He was Captain of the glorious Nigeria’s football team which won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. BBC was kind enough to post a picture of a tweet from @thenff saying “we are sad to hear of the sudden demise of former @NGSuperEagles forward, Isaac Promise. Promise was captain of the Beijing Olympics’ Eagles squad that won silver. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. May his soul Rest in Peace, Amen” To satisfy myself that I am not biased, I continued searching and found that several Nigerian news platforms reported his demise. Since then, nothing else has been heard from any quarters.

I did not see any tributes from government, nothing from his team mates and other Nigerian international players, nothing on his burial, no delegation, absolutely nothing. (I am hoping this piece would generate responses which will indeed prove me wrong)! The media has a role to play. I can’t blame Nigerian media houses; they may have become stretched too by the campaign against lack of good governance or becoming swamped by the many troubles bedeviling our dear country. So much to report, so many interests to be considered. The Isaac Promise’s news just fell in the crack.

How do we treat lives in Nigeria? It is probably one of the most poignant issues relating to how we treat deaths and demises. The other day, I saw a video of a Senator representing a State in the northern part of the country on the lip – service being paid to activities of Boko Haram. I was pleasantly shocked that I reposted it. At one point, the Vice President was code – named “Minister for Condolence”. Within two weeks at the most, he just had to visit to pay condolences. It is so disheartening that we still have many unresolved murders. I ask, “are we that afraid to fish out criminals and call them what they are?”. I would never be able to understand that. The famous get killed and we all hear about it.

Not that anything else gets done except to “offer condolences”, “pay condolence visits” and “send high – powered delegations” to “the befitting burials”. These things shock me as we have “ready – made” vocabularies for these unfortunate historical trends! That’s how Dele Giwa was killed, Bola Ige, Funso Williams, Dipo Dina, and we may never hold anyone responsible. Those are the famous ones, how about the peasant Christian farmer in Plateau State who was butchered on his farm? Not that this is a particular scenario but it is guaranteed modus operandi. Yet, we have Muslim leaders offering safe abode for Christians who are victims of these horrendous and despicable onslaughts. There are several politically – motivated killings which may never be resolved. Makes me think, if one gets away with one, then……………..

In United States of America, (forget the knife incidents in UK which now give sleepless nights), every citizen is accounted for. Kobe Bryant’s death would trend for a while, we would continue to read of it, till all the bodies are found and a gripping burial is organized, I can already see the roll – call and the organization by the NBA! In other parts of the world, (I am tempted to use “saner climes”), sites of accidents become special places of leaving flowers and tributes. The 9/11 incident has Ground Zero with memorial celebrated annually. Not that we also don’t have Oke – Afa Isolo where we remember victims of the bomb blast. I also know Bellview has a site at Oke – Aro for a plane crash. It may be because it had some notable dignitaries onboard the ill – fated flight.

Again, our lack of policy thrusts to guide administration of sports, media and entertainment are other reasons why Nigerians may choose to honor Kobe Bryant. This again shows “selectivism” by government which we may never be able to totally ignore. Yorubas in Nigeria have a saying “Omo to ba da, ti Baba e ni” translated as “a good child is the pride of the father”. Pastor Ituah Ighodalo will say “Success has many fathers”. We have to applaud Aunty Abike nowadays, after all, her son who is married may be few years my junior. But Aunty Abike is trying nowadays. With her portfolio in the Diaspora Commission, she has been the voice for Nigerians in South Africa, those trafficked in Libya, etc.

Only recently, she supervised the safe return of a lady from Libya, hope I am right though. What I remember Abike Dabiri for, instead is the visit of Anthony Joshua to the President. Not that I can figure the essence of his visit though. I liked that he prostrated. Omoluabi ni wa ni ile Yoruba. We are very respectful in Yoruba land. When I prostrate to you (like it is a Press – Up exercise), it means I respect you. When I hug you, it means I love you. When I hug you before I prostrate, it means I love and respect you. So wait for me to prostrate after hugging you, don’t think I am disrespectful. Anthony Joshua has been celebrated for his different feats. Dude bounced back after that defeat and did what he had to do and in the safest way to do it. The Mexican gave him no hassles at all. He was binging away after his shock and unexpected victory. Anthony Joshua who has been honored in UK came to present his Belts to the President.

The last time, the Governor of our State helped him to carry his belts. Meanwhile, there are different sportsmen and women all over the country struggling to be seen, to be promoted and striving for facilities to propel them to the international space. Where are our stadiums? I prefer calling them that, not stadia! Where are seasoned Administrators to developed our sporting Ministries? How much do we allocate for Sports Development? How much gets appropriated? How much gets filtered away? Do we have a sustainable plan? Thank God for Mike Adenuga and Glo. Trust me, many may not have known Anthony Joshua. At least, let us thank God UK propelled him to greatness. We all flee abroad for the golden fleece and hopefully return home after getting all the opportunities these countries have to offer. We are not celebrated at home, anyway! A Yoruba slang says “Ja pa”, translated “Escaped far, untraced”
To be continued tomorrow.
Oyeniji wrote from Lagos.


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