Few days ago, a colleague was riding with me when I said I will do anything to ensure my child does not have to go through some of the hardships Nigeria offers as a country. I mean, Nigeria is a beautiful country, one that I love, pray for and playing my part to ensure there is growth. However, we have our challenges. These challenges are even more frustrating when you know that Nigeria has all it takes to create a better environment and economy for her citizens. Things that are meant to be seamless become difficult for some and unattainable for many, due to inefficiency and a deep rooted culture of mediocrity. However, my colleague said something pertinent. She said to me, that the versatility of who I am today comes from the many experiences life has put me through and I agree with her. I have not seen every side there is to growing and living in Nigeria but I have seen my fair share and my experiences help me develop the right level of empathy and understanding needed as basic comprehension skill to do the job that I do – produce conversations.
I believe every man is unique and this uniqueness is woven in the complexities of their varying experiences, perspective and orientation. Also, the ability to see life away from self and one’s immediate reality is a skill that must be embodied by leaders, Policy/Decision makers and gatekeepers of culture.
On the 4th of May, 2021, while anchoring a conversation on ‘The Nigeria woman; Her safety and her future’ on Television, (a topic which was important at the time, being the time when the news broke about Yoruba Movie Industry’s Baba Ijesha defiling a child), I asked my guest co-anchor (Fola Folayan), if we can say there is progress comparing the reaction of Nigeria and Nigerians during the alleged rape saga involving the Senior ‘Pastor’ of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo and Nigerian photographer, Busola Dakolo and what we see happening now, in the wake of Baba Ijesha case, and she started by saying ‘Yes and No’. Wise response I must say.
I have followed the Baba Ijesha case, reported it on Television(WAYS Show), watched the drama this delicate case has created among the Yoruba arm of the Nollywood industry in dismay with a heavy heart. And no matter how difficult this may be for the very few forward thinking Nigerians to accept, I can tell you for a fact that Baba Ijesha case is the real representation of Nigeria when it comes to how we treat the many reported cases of defilement, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape and even more so, the much more larger unreported cases.
“Human nature is designed to revert to what it considers ‘normal’ and whenever anything or anyone attempts to bring about change, the first thing you will notice is resistance.”
The Nollywood industry is a culture and mindset shaper. Storytelling, which is the soul of filmmaking is so powerful that it can shape, strengthen or challenge our opinions, values and our ‘normal’. The Yoruba arm of the Nollywood movie industry is predominantly expected to serve the south west region of Nigeria which comprises of Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states. Estimated to have a total population of about 60million, this region houses two of Nigeria’s largest cities – Lagos and Ibadan. Many culture influencers have called for the use of storytelling as a weapon to re shape our culture as regards dealing with violation of women and children. However, these calls have fallen on deaf ears as movie makers consistently produce films that re-enforces the backwardness and immoral act we encourage as a people. We have weaponized family values and respect for encouraging sexual predators and pedophiles in our society. Wives protect their pedophile husbands as they rape and defile their (step) daughters and families protects uncles who rape their nieces. Even women are strong allies for demons in the form of men and are vocal rape apologists.
This explains why I was not surprised when Popular Yoruba actress – Idowu Philip, widely known as Iya rainbow, who should be a mother, granted an interview to tell us how she pacified Damilola Adekoya, popularly known as Princess, for four days to drop the case against (Omiyinka Olanrewaju) Baba Ijseha. Or was it when Bukky Black, another Yoruba Nollywood actress, a supposed mother figure, came out to defend and support Baba Ijesha (an actual abuser)? More so, I had no iota of shock or surprise when the faces of patriarchy disguised as fathers and leaders of TAMPAN ( Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria) were more concerned about being ‘respected’ and their words being law, thereby suspending members of the association from working with Iyabo Ojo and Nkechi Sunday Blessing for (in my opinion) standing against defilement of a child, rather than the actual crime committed. Don’t get me started with the round headed idiot who is too inconsequential for his name to be mentioned on here.
“So when injustice, failure, rape, sexual assault, are reenforced as normal; when we make the ills of society normal (through story telling) and the young ones get used to it, what do you think happens when the children grow and become decision makers?”
If the gatekeepers of content we consume could not come together as adults, parents and leaders to set an example for the younger generation on how to handle an issue as delicate as this then we have lost the plot.
In saner climes, a brand like Airtel would have put out a statement to distant itself from Iya Rainbow’s utterances, but so far, its radio silence. No, I do not blame them. It is said that ‘when you go to Rome you do as Romans’. If Nigeria is fine with her daughters being defiled, molested and raped, while proudly chanting – ‘Pa mi sile ma pami sita’ why do we expect a business brand to think otherwise?
Let’s not by any means think this to be a south west region problem, this is a case study (unfortunately) for Nigeria and this is what majority of our population are – Rape apologists and accomplices to a crime against nature and life.
Until we come together as a people – family, Religion, Leadership & Governance, to treat rape as a crime that it is, our daughters (old and young) are at the mercy of demons. However, as long as we have mothers like Damilola Adekoya (princess Comedian) and Iyabo Ojo, there is hope.