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Friday, 21 September 2012

What's wrong with the Nigerian version of "Hold Me Back" video?

Following the release of the Nigerian version of Rick Ross’ video “Hold Me Back” people, including Nigerian artists, have started expressing their indignation about the video. This video has generated great controversy among Nigerians. Some have based their displeasure on the premise that the video portrayed Nigeria as a poverty stricken country, while others have argued that the video should not have exposed the hardships we face in Nigeria, but rather should have portrayed the brighter side of the country. When you compare the American version of the video and the Nigerian version there is a thin line that runs across what was portrayed. Both videos depicted a ghetto-like environment and the hardships people face on a daily basis, especially young people. These people who have raised concerns about the video were simply irritated because they did not like how the video exposed the slums and people living in those slums in Nigeria. They preferred a video shot in Aso Rock or Tinapa resort or Obudu mountain resort that depicts glamorous lifestyle and ecstatic environment; they fancy a video that masks the destitution over 70% of our national population live in. They did not like the video because they think they are highly patriotic and as such their connotation of patriotism is to pretend that everything is fantabulous when in reality everything is messy. They forgot that patriotism entails speaking for countrymen who cannot speak for themselves; fighting for people who are unable to fight for themselves. They loathed the video because they are ashamed to expose poverty and hunger in Nigeria and that is because they think only for themselves. And this brings me to my worry.

I am worried about the way we treat poverty and hunger in this country; we recycle poverty; and we claim hunger does not exist. We are too shy to say we are poverty stricken even when the figures published by our own bureau of statistics show that over 70% of our national population live below poverty line ($1 per day). We live in a country where one-third of our national population go to bed hungry every night and we pretend it doesn’t exist because we are in a comfort zones. We live in a country that contributes over 5% to the global hunger and we pretend it does not exist because we are not affected in our comfort levels. We live in a country that ranks in the top 20 countries most wrecked by hunger in the Global Hunger Index reports and we still pretend it is not happening because we don’t feel the hunger. We are not perturbed by the worrisome statistics (including the ones doctored by our own agencies) on poverty and hunger against our dear Nigeria, but rather we are irritated by a video that depicts the status quo in our country. No matter how we try to mask the truth it will always stare us in the face. Those who think that the Nigerian version of "Hold Me Back" by Rick Ross is a travesty of Nigeria’s situation should please have a rethink!

For us to fight poverty and hunger in Nigeria, we must expose them. To do this we must know where the hunger is and where poverty resides. We must know the victims and how hunger varies among them. We must put together voices of those vulnerable to poverty and hunger; they must be exposed and heard; and not shut up anymore. We must improve on the hunger awareness and feedback systems. We must accept the fact that poverty and hunger exist in Nigeria!

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