It may sound foreign to the ears of the average Nigerian, but it is what it is.
It seems like the whole world watched the recently concluded Big Brother Naija. Votes came in from just about every part of the world, even far away China.
For those of us who didn’t watch on our TV screens, we saw enough clips online to get the general picture of what was going on in the House at every point in time.
More interesting was the drama and banter that followed on Social Media. Warring factions slung jokes, dirt and insults at one another and struggled to portray their preferred candidate as the best (wo)man for the prize.
I’d like to talk about one particular housemate though. The only one who left the House without being evicted because he was disqualified.
We know very well the reason Kemen was disqualified from the show. He had fondled and touched fellow housemate TBoss in her sleep and since she could not consent as she was unconscious, that is sexual assault.
It may sound foreign to the ears of the average Nigerian, but it is what it is. Worthy of note is that the organizers took swift action and disqualified the errant housemate.
This was met with different reactions online and offline. A lot of people supported the disqualification and agreed that Kemen and his wandering hands deserved to be booted out while many others blamed TBoss for Kemen’s misdemeanor.
Another round of debate was sparked when Payporte continued to associate with Kemen instead of severing all ties with him as other sponsors had done with disqualified housemates in the past.
Again, more people blamed TBoss for denying the poor man a fair shot at the N25m which they were all competing for.
Kemen himself gave an interview and insisted that TBoss wasn’t being honest about the incident and that she was withholding the truth because she wanted to win the money so bad. Once again, people blamed TBoss and another round of outrage ensued.
This also sparked a debate on the issue of consent across many social media platforms, leading both men and women alike to reflect on their past experiences.
Some of these people have had to come to the realization that they were either victims or perpetrators of sexual assault in the past.
Lessons were re-learnt and it is obvious that as a society, we must do better and we must continue to educate ourselves on this topic.
Now, the only reason that Kemen can still go around giving interviews and expressing his joy so gleefully when Tboss was evicted on the final day of the show is that the Nigerian entertainment scene promotes rape culture and victim blaming very actively.
Nigerian music lyrics are full of messages that endorse sexual predatory behaviour.
Let’s not even get started on Nollywood where the only solution to rape cases seems to be having the rapist and victim get married and all is well with the world.
Nigerian music has done very well globally in the last decade and it has taken Africa to the world.
While we are proud of our talented and amazing artistes who are doing us proud by dominating the airwaves all over the world, we should remember that they need to stop normalizing sexual harassment and abuse.
They need to stop putting out music that makes catcalling and street harassment seem cool. Some of the lyrics are nothing but creepy.
Let’s start with Eldee in ‘Bosi Gbangba’.
‘Today na today, you no go escape, I go put you for corner, I’m ready for you.’
This simply implies very strongly that cornering a girl at a party, not letting her go regardless of whether she wants you or not is normal party behaviour.
It is part of the fun and just the next step after dancing. This just means that if I dance with a guy at a party, I should expect him to put me in a corner and not let me escape.
In ‘Shuperu’, Alhaji Orezi goes: ‘On mu champagne o. On mu rozay o. Ko wa fe ba mi lole’.
This just means that it is incredulous for you to buy a lady a drink and then she refuses to follow you home after.
In short, if you buy her a drink and she accepts, she just said yes to going home with you. I wonder what happens when more than one guy buys her a drink though.
Even Adekunle Gold who has blessed us with some of the best love songs in the past few years might have fallen into this trap.
In ‘Friend Zone’, he seems to think that if you invite a girl to your house and she honours your invite, you have automatically escaped from the friend zone.
‘I say make you come my house, you dey call me your brother’.
Excuse me, but she can come to your house and call your mother mummy because she sees you as her brother and a visit is not enough to change that.
You have a better chance telling her how you feel, wining and dining and all that back and forth that men and women do before they decide whether they want to date or not.
‘O ti kan mi lapa o. O ti kan mi leyin o. Story for the gods’
‘To ba n dun e, ko fara mo’
So yeah. Baba Milli wants the girl to just endure it even if she’s in pain. And even if her back and her arm break, it doesn’t matter because her story is for the gods, not him.
These words are the words of some of Nigeria’s foremost entertainers whom many teenagers want to be like.
Exactly what are they teaching them to be? What message are they passing across? That sexual harassment is in fact, not harassment but a normal part of life?
No, I am not asking musicians to be preachers and talk about eating your vegetables and reading your Bible in their songs. But these messages endorse rape and contribute to the rape culture.
We all know that music is one of the tools that can influence social change and that is why activists cum entertainers have always sent across strong messages via their lyrics.
What messages are our musicians passing to whoever is listening? It’s okay if you talk about how a sumptuous body is giving you a woody but please do not make it seem like it’s okay to forcefully introduce the woody to the owner of said body.
It is very okay to sing about sex even, some of the best R&B songs are about coitus. But please let it be consensual.
Do not sing about cornering women, or insinuate that acceptance of a drink is acceptance of an invitation to your abode, and do not in fact mistake presence for consent in the event that she actually follows you home.
So maybe the organizers of BBN aren’t actively dissociating themselves from Kemen because the Nigerian Entertainment scene normalizes and accepts what he did and so, in the eyes of certain parts of society, he did nothing wrong.
That is the reason someone who was disqualified from the show for being a sexual predator can become a Payporte ambassador.
The reason why the abuser and his victim can attend the same parties and post-BBN events is the Nigerian audience, you and I, dance to the lyrics of songs that promote such behaviour, laugh at jokes that celebrate it and enjoy movies that do same.
It is why comedians can make jokes about the incident and AY can say that Kemen’s actions are normal for guys.
It is why Helen Paul, a woman, can make jokes about it and seek to justify such despicable actions.
Kemen was caught on tape, there is visual evidence of his actions, but because he apologized, he is being welcomed with open arms right away. Classic case of R and B (rape and beg) that is quite common in Nigeria.
If someone can publicly assault a woman and get away with it this lightly, then there’s very little hope of those who are assaulted away from the public eye getting any justice.
We should do better. BBN should do better. The Nigerian entertainment industry should do better.
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