Wole Soyinka attacks BBC portrayal of Lagos ‘pit of degradation’

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Read Time:4 Minute, 18 Second

Nigerian playwright derides Welcome to Lagos, shot in teeming slums, as colonialist and patronising

A BBC documentary series set in slum areas of Lagos has been branded “condescending” and “colonialist” by Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate and one of Nigeria’s most famous living writers.

Speaking to the Guardian, Professor Soyinka said that Welcome to Lagos, the BBC2 observational documentary which follows various people in poor areas of the city, was “the most tendentious and lopsided programme” he had ever seen.

The series of three programmes, which concludes tomorrow, follows groups of people living in three impoverished areas: a rubbish dump, the Lagos lagoon and the city’s beach area. The narration from the black British actor David Harewood overtly praises their resourceful resilience.

Welcome to Lagos has been well received by most UK critics and featured in the In praise of… slot on the Guardian’s leader page.

A scene from Welcome to Lagos. Wole Soyinka says the series is patronising. “It was saying, ‘Oh, look at these people who can make a living from the pit of degradation.’ ” Photograph: BBC/Keo Films/Keo Films

Soyinka, a world respected writer and activist who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, said the programme displayed “the worst aspects of colonialist and patronising” attitudes to Africa.

The 75-year-old, who splits his time between the US and his home outside Lagos, added: “There was no sense of Lagos as what it is – a modern African state. What we had was jaundiced and extremely patronising. It was saying ‘Oh, look at these people who can make a living from the pit of degradation’.

“There was this colonialist idea of the noble savage which motivated the programme. It was patronising and condescending. It surprised me because it came from the BBC which is supposed to have some sort of reputation. It was not worthy of the BBC.”

His remarks were echoed by the government of Lagos, one of 36 states in Nigeria’s federation. Opeyemi Bamidele, the city’s commissioner for information and strategy, has submitted a formal complaint to the BBC calling on the corporation to commission an alternative series to “repair the damage we believe this series has caused to our image”.

Soyinka’s work includes Death and the King’s Horseman, the celebrated 1976 play about colonialist attitudes, and King Baabu, a 2001 satire on African dictatorships.

He has been an outspoken critic of how his own country is run, most notably in 1967 when he was arrested for trying to broker peace during the Nigerian civil war. He has also been an implacable opponent of corruption, was sentenced to death by General Sani Abacha, the Nigerian dictator, in the early 1990s, and has spoken out against the regime of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Of the BBC series, he said he “did not have any beef with any government” but was speaking as a concerned citizen. “I am talking about Lagos as a place where human beings live and work and which is a place I know intimately,” Soyinka added. “It is a pulsing city – in many ways too pulsing for me, which is why I live a little way out of it. But it is such a rich city, and it is deeply frustrating to see it given such a negative and reductionist overview.

“What I saw I found very unjust and sensationalist. What I saw was not an honest reportage. The problem is the title – it programmes the mind of the viewer in advance and sets the overall context.

“One could do a similar programme about London in which you go to a poor council estate and speaking of poverty and knifings. Or you could follow a hobo selling iron on the streets of London. But you wouldn’t call it Welcome to London because that would give the viewer the impression that that is all London is about.”

Soyinka has close associations with the BBC. He has written many plays for the corporation and recently judged a BBC World Service playwriting competition and recorded a series for the international network about post-apartheid South African writing, to be broadcast in May and June.

He told the Guardian he will continue to work for the BBC and plans to write an essay about the series: “What I think the BBC needs to commission is a remedial series which takes a proper look at Lagos as it is today.”

The BBC did not comment directly on Soyinka’s comments but sought to defend the programme, which was made by KEO Films, an independent producer.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Welcome to Lagos explores the impact of the massive rate of global urbanisation in one of the fastest growing mega-cities in the world. Its aim was to give a voice to those living at the sharp end of this ever-expanding population and highlight the resourcefulness, determination and creativity of those adapting to life in this most extreme of urban environments.

“The series has generated a broad range of comment, but it has been well received by both viewers and media commentators, many of whom have specifically highlighted the positive and unstereotypical portrayals within the film.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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BBC’s Welcome to Lagos Part 2 – Raising Controversy

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Read Time:34 Second

The BBC documentary ‘Welcome to Lagos’ has become relatively controversial. Some see it as a positive depiction of the poor but ingenious in Nigeria’s teeming commercial center, Lagos. Others see it as a negative and derogatory attempt by a foreign media outlet to once again insult Lagos and Nigerians.

While the program was available to a mostly European audience, viewers in America were unable to watch this documentary until now. Below are 6 clips that comprise Part 2 of the documentary. Part 3 of the documentary is yet to air but will be uploaded as soon as it does.

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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This Graveyard called Nigeria

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Read Time:15 Minute, 31 Second

My group of Nigerian friends who sat together with melancholy glued to their countenances on that cold winter morning at the popular Nigerian Restaurant in Canning Town, East London, probably underestimated the depth of social decadence and violence sweeping through our nation.

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Sovereignty: The cry of nations

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Read Time:3 Minute, 49 Second
Of what essence is to be in a marriage or relationship if all you get is heartache, distrust, infidelity, pain, anger, frustration, molestation, humiliation, intimidation, marginalization, oppression, assault and battery, stress, nightmares and shame? Continue reading

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ikwerres and Their Denial of Igbo Identity

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Read Time:13 Minute, 14 Second
This is a rejoinder to Mr. Okachikwu Dibia’s article entitled â€œIkwerre-Igbo Relationship As Seen By Ohaneze Nd’Igbo” published on www.gamji.com  wherein he attacked a comment reportedly made by the President of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo, Chief Ralph Uwechue, that the Ikwerres are Igbos who now deny their true ethnic identity. Continue reading

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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BBC 2 Documentary: Welcome To Lagos

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Read Time:3 Minute, 40 Second

Please do not get me wrong, this documentary is a public relation(s) disaster for Nigeria , Nigerians and every thing Nigeria stands for. But I tend to have a different view about this documentary.


My opinion is that, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC 2) deserves special award and commendations for finding time, resources and manpower that went to Nigeria to do such an eye opening documentary. Please permit me to thank BBC 2 for this wonderful efforts and exposure. I suggest British Broadcasting Corporation should do more documentaries on Nigeria .

This documentary should become a major challenge for our own media outfits like, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Channels Television, Silver Bird Group, Daar Communications Plc, owners of (African Independent Television [A.I.T.], and Ray Power Radio Stations) to expose many dark sides of our society, with a view to prompting positive actions from the government. On this note, I recommend Covert Journalism/Reporting for all Nigerians.  These days every one can become a reporter (iReport) and publisher due to information technology. Therefore, we should expose the good, the bad and the ugly in our society. Covert, surveillance and spy cameras are also recommended.

For the benefit of those who have not watched it (welcome to Lagos ), and you live in the UK I have enclosed here a weblink for episode 1 and episode 2.

The above documentary is similar to an earlier drama/film (Blood and Oil) shown by the same channel BBC 2. The above film(s) and documentaries are highly recommended. First, it shows the level of decay. Secondly it shows absence of government. Thirdly it shows the determination and how people work very hard to survive in the face of government imposed hardship. It also revealed that there are a lot of human resources to be harnessed for national development. The people in the documentaries (Welcome to Lagos ) exhibited several entrepreneurial and survival skills.

I understand that the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (Dr. Dalhatu Tafida) protested to the controller BBC 2 against the documentary (Welcome to Lagos ). Ironically, the government he is representing and past governments did more to push people to the slums. An example was the Moroko evictees who were forceful evicted by the ex military ruler (Babangida) in 1990. Till date (20 years after), many of them are still going to court for compensation. Many have died in the course of pursuing their resettlement claims.

Though Moroko then was not properly developed, all the ex ruler (Babangida) did was to forcefully evict people from their homes. By so doing he pushed people to the streets which would have led to more slums. Thank goodness he (Dr. Dalhatu Tafida) did not deny the existence of the slums in Lagos in his protest message. On behalf of poor Nigerians whose pain, anguish and neglect by the government necessitated the making of these documentaries, I declare his (Dr Dalhatu Tafida) protest letter null and void.

The authorities that asked Dr Dalhatu Tafida to protest or the Nigerian High Commissioner himself should bury his head in shame for the failure of Nigerian government to provide basic amenities like houses, electricity etc. How much will it cost the nation to provide houses, steady power, water etc for its population compared to how much that has been looted by government officials. Olabode George for instance misappropriated about 85 billion naira. Imagine what this amount could do for those people shown on the documentaries.

In the same manner that the British Broadcasting Corporation used documentaries (Welcome to Lagos) and drama (Blood and Oil) to expose the neglected part of the Nigerian society, and even cause the federal government to react (protest letter from The High Commissioner to the BBC 2), let use films, documentaries, drama on DVDs to propagate political evangelism and change. Picture effects are a powerful means of communicating to people. Perhaps this method (political evangelism) could cause the government to react positively for our people.

Finally, please remember to participate and join the fight against global warming. Turn off your electrical appliances/lights when not in use. Plant a tree or sponsor one to plant on your behalf. Government and companies should send less paper work and do more email, telephone, and sms. May God bless Nigeria .

Chinedu Vincent Akuta.

An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK

akutachinedu@yahoo.com

http://briefsfromakuta.blogspot.com/

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Political Abortion: Obama’s Stand on Nigeria

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Read Time:6 Minute, 37 Second

I pretend to understand how much hatred President Obama and his administration have towards Nigeria. During his several visits to Africa before and after his inauguration, President Obama has willingly and steadfastly boycotted a visit or stopover at Nigeria, Africa’s number 1 trading partner to USA. I understand that President Obama does not owe Nigeria a visit, if he chooses not to. He is entitled to his choices of places to visit as a person, president or both. Fair enough! However, giving consideration to Nigeria’s bilateral and friendly relationship with USA, of which past USA presidents has in numerous ways acknowledged, respected and nurtured, one would expect such good relationship to continue in an amicable and smooth manner. So far, it has been the opposite since the inauguration of the 44th President of USA.

However, what I will definitely like to understand is what President Obama’s aim at by adding Nigeria into the infamous list of “countries of interests”? Secondly, I do like to understand what are the criteria that set the standard for such list? Thirdly, the so called list of “countries of interest”, isn’t it a new brand name for “list of terrorist countries”? From my understanding it seems to me that the two names can be traded to mean the same thing. The annoying part is that Nigeria made the list of the so called “countries of interests” few years after she transited from military rule to democracy. In addition, she made the list at the time when her democracy is still fragile and wobbling and also when the country is having difficulties in attracting FDI as well as also experiencing a financial difficult time due to the global financial breakdown chain reaction that was created by the corrupt and greedy practices of well respected Americas` financial institutions. What else could be the best and most efficient way to motivate Nigeria or commend her struggles in her most critical times? Yeah, put her name in the damn list, that’s it, right?

Now, I sense that the relationship between Nigeria and USA is based on “blackmail” and “intimidation”. Will you not agree with me? It is even worse than the sort of relationship that exists between a slave and a taskmaster. To me the relationship seems like that of a jealous divorced husband blackmailing his ex, in order to get her back, or perhaps to make her pay, or even perhaps to punish her for divorcing him.

The question here is did Nigeria divorce USA in that she merited this sort of blackmail or punishment? Or did USA see Chinese growing influence in Nigeria threatening?  Halloo!! It is very interesting to observe the hand writing on the wall like the biblical Daniel.

It appears to me that the influential rise of China in Africa is a potential threat to USA’s and Europe’s clampdown, grip and stronghold in Africa’s economy. Obviously, in recent time many African countries have opened their economy to be explored, ploughed and developed by China. Many African nations have witnessed foreign direct investment (FDI) coming from China. Some of these African nations have testified publicly that Chinese presence has brought tremendous positive change, more than their western counterparts since the time of liberation or independence from colonialism. Would you blame these African nations for change in mind or direction, since their long time romance with the western nations and their corresponding companies has been like romancing with the fire? They got burnt, didn’t they? Of course, they did.  I guess that the sad depressing experience and the evident scars are there to show it. The long nights of political oppressive anguish pain, the never ending hours of economical and welfare torture and the perpetual deceit and treacherous acts, have all constituted to desire for a new direction and survival tactics by these African nations. Hence, another question is does this have a part in branding Nigeria into the list of “countries of interest”? You do not doubt that it has a part, do you? Look deeper my friend, you will find the clue.

The Nigerian born Abdulmutallab followed his own will and should face the consequences of his actions individually. Based on the known available facts surrounding the sad scenario and also based on good sense of judgment, it is out rightly wrong and unacceptable to judge the whole country with the action of Abdulmutallab. Should one say because America today occupies the number 1 position in the world statistics of the countries where citizens and individuals can easily snap and go ballistic and rampage with gun spree that eventually end up killing and massacring innocent people either in schools, or hospitals, or shopping malls, or streets, or in barracks, or the sub-way, or anywhere at anytime; that based on this account that America or Americans are potential psycho trigger happy people to be watched out for or included in the list of“ nations of interests”? I suppose not. If such answer is true and believable, then on what ground and reason should the whole entire country of Nigeria and her citizens be branded  a threat to America’s and world’s peace and safety, just because of the irresponsible and nonchalant behavior of one Abdulmutallab on 25/12/2009?

Abdulmutallab

President Obama should also remember that Al Qaeda is a common enemy Nigeria and America fight against.

Hey, hold on a second, should I be the one that have to remind President Obama the pedigree and courageous actions Nigeria has undertaken against terrorism in order to maintain peace within the African continent and the world? Perhaps I should and I gladly do it. Brief account, Nigeria fought against apartheid in South-Africa, singlehandedly fought for peace and power brokered the Liberian civil war, and has been highly involved in peace keeping mission in many nations in Africa such as DRC and Somalia (to mention but few). Nigeria is a new found home for most white Zimbabweans that are running away from the regime of Mugabe. The list of Nigeria good deeds is very long and outweighs her failures and mistakes in every ramification.

I believe that common sense if it is really common, can tell any one that Nigeria as a people and country is more mindful of doing good and great things that are beneficial to mankind,  rather than supporting cheap shot terror activities. Nigeria has never aimed at nor support terrorism nor secretly or publicly condoned terrorism. Therefore, apparently and undoubtedly, the action undertaken by President Obama’s administration by including Nigeria in the list of “countries of interest” is an epitome of “political abortion” to Nigeria’s embryonic democracy as well as her entire life and survival.  It is a deliberate misleading judgment.

Alas! Thank you indeed President Obama for creating such a political devilish tantrum over Nigeria and her population of over 140 million. Nigeria has now negatively advanced in her political, economic, and developmental jeopardy after the horrific announcement of the horrific inclusion into the list of the unpopular prestigious “countries of interests”. Think about it deeply, read the signs and analyze the current Nigeria’s situation. I have no doubt that you will un-reluctantly and gravely agree with me.

My take to this hyprocritcal fiasco will be for united states of America to think twice and withdraw Nigeria’s name from the list and ask for apology, knowing fully well that Nigeria as a country does not support or condone any act of terrorism

The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of codewit.info or codewit.com.” To have your articles publish, please submit them to editor@codewit.com

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Undue Attention to General Ibrahim Babangida

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Read Time:3 Minute, 52 Second

I have been following with keen interest the decision by the former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida to contest the 2011 Presidential election. Personally, I don’t think he (Babangida) will go far.

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Beast in Denial -Rise of xenophobia around the globe

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Read Time:3 Minute, 34 Second

It’s quite amazing to see how hard times and austerity can strike up the real beast in humans both in those that claim to be most civilized and their counterparts that are regarded to be less civilized.

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Africa: The Dilemma of the 21st Century.

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Read Time:4 Minute, 47 Second

Across the globe, Africa is presented as ‘no good’ a continent. It is violence, hunger, disease, corruption, poverty and ignorance. Continue reading

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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