Open Letter to Nigerian Celebrities: ‘Take your Public Image Serious’ – Adeniyi Ogunfowoke

Adeniyi Ogunfowoke Writer/Freelance journalist
Adeniyi Ogunfowoke
Writer/Freelance Journalist

Nigerians watched a tipsy Olamide bring the Grammy Awards of Nigeria (yinmu) ‘The Headies’ to ridicule as he disgustingly pulled off a “Kanye West” on stage because his YBNL ‘rookie’ Kesh (whose lewd songs are meant to be thrashed), didn’t scoop the next rated award. Kesh and Asa can never be on the same stage. It’s like mixing oil and water. It’s an affront!

Speaking after he was given a special recognition award, Mavin Records Boss, Don Jazzy. in reaction to Olamide’s outburst called him out saying: “Egbon, if you want the car, come and collect it. By the way a question for Di’ja – why were you jumping like…?”

This statement stabbed Olamide like a dagger. Of course, Nigerians can’t forget Jega’s subtle “murder of Orubebe”. Like in Mortal Combat, Don Jazzy ‘finished’ Olamide.

The YBNL boss could not swallow his ‘washing’ on stage by Don, he took the brickbat to twitter. Trust the mocking mockers on twitter they jumped on it creating all sorts of hilarious memes. Many definitely had a good laugh reading the tweets and watching the memes about the tweet fight.

The beef, it later emerged, was settled by Dangote whom we thought was too busy to settle a dispute between grown men who acted like children.

Few days later, it was the turn of Dammy Krane and Wizkid. Dammy Krane had accused Wizkid of stealing his song. With no love for each other, they met at Quilox at a party organised by Obafemi Martins.

According to reports, Wizkid broke a bottle of ‘7up’ on Dammy Krane’s head. The latter’s head was smashed and dripped with blood. Twitter was abuzz again.

Is Wizkid a thug, street boy or an artiste? These artistes are meant to be role models to children. They are no different from politicians who have depleted and pilfered the national resources. They do not care about their public image nor do they have an iota of integrity.

Thankfully, unlike the politicians who are ‘irredeemable’ and addicted to corruption, Nigerians still have a role to play in getting an artiste to fall in line. For instance, by requesting brands not to sign-on the artiste as an ambassador, ensuring that radio stations do not play their songs, and finally that Nigerians should not buy their songs.

This said, it is saddening and shameful that many Nigerian artistes tend to be bohemian. They do not meditate about the impact of their actions and inactions on the society. Again, artistes, sports personalities and celebrities are supposed to be role models.

It should be possible for a child to learn something from an artist either through their sterling works or their monastic lives. However, Nigerian artistes do not give a damn as far as the bucks keep coming in. In a saner society, if what Wizkid did is true, he should have been arrested for assault and public disturbance, had his day in court and perhaps sent to do 500 hours of community service at Ojuelegba! Like many say: “We are in Nigeria and anything goes” even when we are in the change dispensation!

Look at America’s favourite dad “Bill Cosby”, the first black man to play a leading role in a television series when he starred in I Spy in 1965, his dexterity and concern for his public image made him ‘cover up’ his alleged sexual harassment of women for years. You can only imagine the sweeping effect of over 30 women accusing Cosby of abusing them in a period spanning decades. His public relations team did an awesome job of selling Cosby to Americans. Many do not still believe he did what he was accused of. Why? because of his “untainted” image.

Recall the diss between Dr Dre and Meek Mill? This is what beef is all about. It revealed the other side of each artiste as it took them to the studio to record diss songs and at the end, Dre clearly flawed Mill.

What about the unpleasant hip hop fight between East coast (Bad Boy records) and West coast (Death Row records) that is Notorious B.I.G and Tu Pac? Both were fatally shot by unknown assailants following a drive-by shooting in 1996 and 1997 respectively, according to Wikipedia. Their deaths were traced to the beef as Notorious B.I.G was alleged to have paid gang members 1 million dollars to kill Tu Pac, according to a 2002 report in the Los Angeles Times.

Beef is normal in the entertainment industry. However, if it is not well managed, it can spiral into a full blown war. Despite this, the image of an artiste earns him goodwill when music eventually leaves him.

What will you remember some Nigerian artists by, aside from their amazing songs? Tu face having children from 4 different women before finally settling down with Annie Macaulay, Davido can’t control is libido, as he tries to settle his dispute with his baby mama, Wizkid behaving like a child, Olamide who goes around with a red plastic cup whose content is predictably alcohol and whatever else. These are Nigeria’s A-list artistes whose images have one issue or the other.

Image and branding is everything. A positive image will endear you not only to Nigerians but also to brands and other corporate bodies. Consequently, with a courteous image, children can reference you as their role model.

It is high time that Nigerian celebrities begin to take what they do in public profoundly serious. This is a social media age where everything they do is in the public domain. Their laundered image will hunt them forever if they continue without regard to their image.

An image built for decades can crumble within seconds. The image of some of our artistes is not helped by the carefree and sensual lyrics they churn out day in, day out. Horrible music, senseless lyrics and craze-inducing dance beats are what Nigerian youths  consume. Image is everything, hence Nigerian artistes should do everything that will protect and project their music and public conduct. It is worth it.

Adeniyi Ogunfowoke is a writer/freelance journalist, radio freak, and budding photographer. Follow him on Twitter @sleeksavvy

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