We cannot afford to be incendiary or bombastic, especially in our passion to make a point, no matter right we imagine we are.
When Ayomide Tayo, one-third of the Loose Talk Podcast crew tweeted this, few hours before their recent episode was released, something told me they were going to have a lot to say about the Wizkid “baby mama drama”. What I didn’t realize was that it would go that far out of left field.
It was impossible for anyone not to have an opinion about the Wizkid allegations. Not only because he’s the most successful popstar today, but the accusations by Shola Ogudu were also something that several Nigerian women could relate with. Those Whatsapp chats reflected poorly on the pop star, with many fans disgusted by his apparent irresponsibility. Twitter- the virtual barbershop where everyone’s voice is heard- was filled with all types of analyses.
Because Wizkid is a public figure, it was inevitable that media outlets would get involved in the conversations, not to talk of a show whose identity was based on issues such as this. And Loose Talk went in, hard.
In the last two years, the trio has done a remarkable job of having important conversations about Nigerian music and pop culture. One sometimes disagrees with their assertions, but their irreverence is why they strike a chord with many listeners. However, Episode 135 was a disaster- as they found out and has since issued deserved apologies to the subjects of their podcast.
While Teni Entertainer and Wizkid are entertainers that one does not know beyond the realm of their artistry, I do in fact know the hosts and another subject of the controversial episode. AOT2, Steve Dede and Osagie Alonge are not only co-comrades of the fourth estates, but they’re also people I’ve been friends with for a minute, the latter six years at least. Biola Kazeem’s friendship goes even further: from 2004 to 2008 we were students of the Mass Communication department at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. What’s more, he’s a media practitioner as well, having successfully converted his love for football into a media business. In the aftermath of his tweet that could have been better put and the subsequent Loose Talk reaction, I decided to stay out of the fray until heads were cooler. Now they are.
Beyond the platitudinal “We must do better” that is fashionable to say nowadays, it is imperative that we take actual learnings from this episode for the greater good. Were it to be six or seven years ago, all of the referenced opinions may not have had deep reaching consequences they did. But in 2018, our words are weighty. Osagie is no longer a music commentator; he is a thought leader whose words carry power. Ditto Biola. Between them, they have over 80,000 followers on Twitter alone. That’s nearly four times the print run of Nigeria’s highest circulating newspaper. No tweet, no thought, no expression can be just theirs; there are people for whom it is THE creed. In the words of Winston Churchill, the price of greatness is responsibility.
At the end of the day, it is only entertainment. We may not like how Wizkid treats his children but in actual fact, it is his family problem. There’s nothing any of us, no matter how much “inside gist” we know, can do about it. Someday he would have to deal with the consequences of his actions towards his child. Like Shina Peters sang, “Oba mewa, igba mewa lo ni ile aye, eni kan o le lo’le aye gbo.” Mr Balogun could very well learn a few things from the older Mr Peters. Around the time Wizkid was born, SSP was the biggest artiste in the country, spawning children since he was 14 years old. At 60, he’s an old man; not The man. On the contrary, journalists are custodians of the culture. Knock on wood, we’ll still be here decades from now. Legendary hip-hop journalist Elliot Wilson said it best: “I’m not an artiste, I’m not going anywhere…”
Again, it is just entertainment; nobody ought to get hurt over the choice of music or unfounded allegations that a certain act is morally bankrupt. Do they no longer enjoy the privilege which Fela or Michael Jackson did- that the artiste can and should be separated from the art?
Outtakes can be interesting should be saved for later when the matter is no longer intense or for a season finale. Earlier this year, my colleague Joan Omionawele interviewed BBNaija finalist Nina who was extremely rude and uncouth. We published a detailed account of the backstory and her antics in the studio. In retaliation, she posted Joan’s phone number on her social media handles and directed her fans to attack the lady. For weeks on end, she was insulted, threatened and cursed at. In hindsight, I realize I was remiss in my duty as her editor to protect her from such things. Of course, journalists get backlash and the best of them are used to it. But when fans get rabid as they often do, it is the leader’s responsibility to gauge the extent of the reaction from the audience and steer it in the best way possible.
Consequently, we cannot afford to be incendiary or bombastic, especially in our passion to make a point, no matter right we imagine we are. It is not enough to “keep it one hunnid”; at the end of the day, no be fight. We all are not perfect. They just have the misfortune of making their mistakes in the full glare of the world.
That said, to those who used the events of the past few days as cover to launch personal attacks on all the persons involved- Wizkid, Osagie, Steve, Ayo, Teni, Biola- you only get half a bar: the last line of JAY Z’s Takeover.
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