All That Vexing With BBN And South Africa By Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Two events which have dominated national discourse in the past two weeks involve South Africa. The one is the Big Brother Naija, a reality TV show being filmed in South Africa, and the other is the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by South Africans.

I will begin with the BBN show and try to establish its relationship with the concerns being expressed by Nigerians. Nigerians are upset that the programme is being aired in South Africa. Because of that, highly placed government officials said that they would take the matter up. The second thing that Nigerians are losing sleep over is that the show is considered immoral and washes our dirty linen before the international audience. They also say that it showcases what is negative about Nigeria.

But our annoyances over these matters are misplaced and uncalled for. The young men and women were not forced at gunpoint or otherwise, to go get naked for the world! They were enticed with fame and fortune, what their country never gives, and passed through a rigorous selection routine before becoming housemates. Those youngsters you see there on the reality TV are merely taking shelter under a little umbrella for a huge mass of young people in Nigeria with no hope of gainful employment, or the enabling environment for them to succeed as entrepreneurs.

Most of our young graduates who presented themselves for screening for employment nationwide, clad in cherubic robes, either lost their lives, or were scammed by the very nation which requested to screen them before employment. But as we speak, employment is currently going on but in the dark and under the auspices of the “who-know-man” portfolio.

Therefore, what we see in the BBN is a bigger picture of a nation that has stripped its young naked, and exposed them to all manner of self-abnegating conditions and made them easy prey.

In that light, I want to suggest to Nigerians ascribing immorality to the BBN to cut off their subscription. The show is for a mature viewing audience and only subscribers get to view the “immorality”. And after cutting off their subscription, they must stop watching any musical video in Nigeria as well. Why? A lot of our music videos today are replete with the nudity they say is on the BBN, to the extent that it is not even music any more but a showcasing of the derrieres of naked young ladies. What makes these musical videos very dangerous is that they pollute the minds of our children. On a good day, you get these music videos on any of the big TV stations for a penny. So, ascribing immorality to the BBN is cutting our nose to spite our face.

Concerning the xenophobic attacks, it is apparent that in Africa, not many like Nigerians. The explanations are legion: Nigerians are go-go; brash and can survive whatever condition you throw at them, credit to years of living without power supply, water, good roads and medical facilities. At a training programme recently, the full weight of that animosity stared me in the face from Mauritanians, Ghanaians, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Beninese and the Cameroonians. They said we rub our being African giants in their face, and at any given opportunity, they sought to embarrass me.

But this is not a new development. Remember that in Nazi Germany, Hitler played the same card. He ascribed the economic woes bedevilling Germany to the Jews and went ahead to kill millions. In the South African case, recall as well that the African National Congress up until Jacob Zuma has not really liberated blacks from the shackles of apartheid. Blacks in the country still hew wood and fetch water. And so, when they look around and see the Nigerian in his elements braving the odds, marching forward and singing Hallelujah into the bargain, you should therefore expect this backlash.

In an article published in two national newspapers, written two years ago, after the first xenophobic attack on Nigerians, I had suggested we shut our doors against Africa and build our economy, our people and our institutions. Nigeria should no longer make Africa the centre-piece of her foreign policy thrust especially when those countries we help in times of need continue to deride us.

Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Benin City, Edo State

Punch