WHEN WE REWARD FOOLISHNESS
When we reward foolishness and make mockery of wisdom and sanity, then we by our own hands have written off the future. We make mockery of the watery eyes of our men of wisdom of ancient Afrika, whose eyes looked into the future with the hope that sons and daughters of Afrika would continue what they could not finish in their own time.
These are my thoughts and these words are the reflections of my heart concerning my home called Afrika; the people, ideology, principles, philosophy and what these people call life and living.
I have seen and watched closely how we in Afrika undermine wisdom, how we take for granted the strength and ingenuity of those who are sleeplessly doing their best to create a better narrative for Afrika and then how with our eyes closed, we reward handsomely the acts of foolishness, savagery, immorality, indiscipline and the many other vices that we support.
I am sure a few of the issues I will speak about in this article will offend some people, and there might be some backlash, but I think that’s ok, really. When we stop talking about the very things that undermine our society, then we have become irresponsible and such society will soon be washed away.
In the course of publishing this magazine for about eighteen months, we have come across a lot of people, characters, ideologies, mindsets both good and evil. In all of these, the one thing that makes my heart sink concerning Afrika is how we reward foolishness handsomely and then turn around to persecute those who are doing the right things. We sit down and lament about our woes, throw tantrums all over the place about how Afrika is not working and then when we are called upon to have a sit-down and dialogue about how we can profer solutions to the very things we complain about, the seats will be empty. In other words, we love the sensationalism of negative trends and how the clamor we make for change makes us feel useful and expressive on social media and all, while at the same time we have no intention of really making change, since there will be nothing else to cry over or create social media presence with.
I will use a few examples to express my thoughts about how we reward foolishness at the expense of wisdom and the future.
At the time of writing this article, the Big Brother Naija season 5 just ended. Big Brother Naija is a Nigerian reality competition television series, based on the Big Brother television franchise, in which 12 to 21 contestants live in an isolated house and compete for a large cash prize and other material gifts, at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted from the house by viewers. If I am correct, the winner of this season 5 went home with the largest prize that has been won from inception of the show, valued at about 85Millions Naira (That is about 217,562.25 Dollars.) Here is a breakdown of the prize for winning the show.
N30m cash prize
Dubai trip for two
SUV from Innoson Motors
Trip to Dublin
Trip to watch the UEFA Champions League finale
One year supply of Indomie noodles, Munch it chin-chin and Colgate toothpaste
One year supply of Pepsi
Brand new Oppo mobile smartphone.
And other things.
If you have watched or seen any scene of the Big brother show, you will instantly know that the show is one crazy show loaded with pornographic scenes and without any regard for the sanity of the general public. In fact, there are scenes you see where real life sex actually take place under the sheets and all these are captured as part of the show. I would have shown some photos here, but I won’t. So imagine being rewarded with 85 million Naira worth of gifts for winning a sexually explicit show. Now compare that award to what was given to Mr Somadina in 2017 when he emerged the Mass Communication Best Graduating Student from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), formerly known as Anambra State University. When he was told of the award for best student, he had high hopes that the gifts that would come with the award will be worth the award, but the items he got left him bemused: a tuber of yam, a fowl and a certificate. “People expected me to get a gift related to books, but when I got yam and fowl they started laughing, wondering whether I’m a native doctor. If I had got a laptop, or N500,000 to help me for Master’s degree, it would have made more sense,” he said later in an interview with BBC.
Another example is quite similar to that of Somadima, Bamisaye Tosin got N200 (less than a dollar) for being the best graduating student (BGS) at the Ekiti State University’s (EKSU) Department of Civil Engineering. Although, Mr Bamisaye told PREMIUM TIMES he was not discouraged, many class-top graduates like him are no longer impressed with the reward system for academic excellence in Nigeria.
Now compare the awards that were given in these two scenarios of best graduating students from universities to the award that was given to the winner of Big Brother Naija for a sexually explicit show, then you will see the exact thing I am saying. I have nothing personal with the winnner of the Big Brother Naja show, but I must however say that, we as Afrikans have succeded in putting our priorities in all places except where they are needed most, that is, creating a society that is sane, progressive and which truly
rewards hard work and morality.
Of what use then?
I am not proposing in any way that our society should be built on reward systems for doing well neither am I saying that people should not do the right thing if there is no reward attached. But judging from the three cases of awards I have described, would you blame a young teenager – male or female – if they suddenly think going to school or doing the right thing is not worth it since foolishness pays more? Well, you decide the answer.
While many are lauding the show, I could not agree more with Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja, Emmanuel Ojeifo, when he said “what values are we transmitting to youths today, in a society where immorality and stupidity are rewarded with big prizes?
“We cannot continue to nurture a society that places a premium on iniquitous shows such as BBNaija and expect to groom a generation of cultured, disciplined and morally upright leaders.
“The promoters of this immoral show must ask themselves what they intend to make out of it; they must ask themselves what values and morals they are projecting to the larger Nigerian society.
“They must honestly answer if they’d be proud to gather their children in their living rooms at home and make them watch such a distasteful show.’’
You be the judge.