Perhaps My Favourite Nigerian Ad of 2017

I pity any jury this year or next year that would be tasked to judge this ad by Airtel versus the "Achebe" one for Wikipedia. Tough one. Two incredibly beautiful campaigns.

I had shared by opinion about the Wikipedia one. I love this for its simple insight; it's clever demonstration of the filial connection between Nigerian mothers (African mothers, especially) and their children.

So relatable.

If not for that epic one by Wikipedia, this would easily be my favourite by a faaaaaaaar distance! And the acting is spot-on. They killed me with the cut back to scene after the announcer. I'd give the credit of boldness to the client. Not many of them approve such playfulness.

Lovely.

A Beautiful Ad for Wikipedia Features Africa's Greatest Story

I found this gem! (But I should digress for a sec. A few weeks ago, I stumbled on an Instagram ad for Wikipedia. The ad features that tiny Internet phenomenon called Emmanuella. Expectedly, it has the slapstick humour one expects from this girl, sometimes exaggerated for effect. I love it).

Then this one. Still by Wikipedia. It features Pete Edochie and Achebe's famous book. One must commend the guys behind this for a clever casting of an actor whose career is most notably associated with his role as the lead character from a TV adaptation of the book. (In my head, Pete Edochie is still registered as Okonkwo).

There are many layers to this beautiful ad. One of this, it seems, is that our stories, and cynically, like our humanity, are at the mercy of capitalism. This is a simple evidence - Wikipedia wants to sell itself to a Nigerian (African?) audience, and so the advertising minds - for sake of advertising profits - exploit arguably Africa's biggest story to tell the story of Wikipedia. Capitalism!

But that's not necessarily the most important layer. It is the storytelling quality - of the directing, of the acting, of the very substance of resurrecting Things Fall Apart in an era where history is a footnote in Nigerian classrooms, and in an era where creatives elevate technique above good idea. This ad - let's appropriately call it film, doesn't distract with techniques. This is a strong narrative informing an execution, not the other way round.

I love this work. Proud of it.

(It's the work of Anakle, a digital advertising agency)

Oops! This Writer Went In On Fela!

"Basically there was no Rosa Parks kind of momentum, no Martin Luther King massive disruption of an entrenched system of segregation which led to concrete achievements in the areas of adult suffrage, women and minority empowerment, desegregation in the educational system to mention just a few."

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"For Fela specifically, his failure could not be taken too far away from his personality. He was seen as a caricature by serious minded people who although loved the rhythm of his songs and the powerful lyrics consigned him to just side attraction that only interest you on a Friday night. His message, however, resonated on the masses, those who were dislocated from the system, who apart from the tendency of morphing into a mob flow were dim-witted and unable to effect a real social change at the levels where it matters the most."

Fela Lives But Was He a Fraud?

 

"Healing"

"Healing, a simple act of kindness bring such meaning
A smile can change a life let's start believing
And feeling, let's start healing"

The GTBank "737 Moments" Commercial That I Was A Part of

One could say this commercial has literally colonized Nigeria. I hear it at every corner. It’s GTBank’s clever attempt to create something catchy from one of its widely-used products - the USSD code, *737. It is especially popular with young people. It only makes sense to create content that resonates with them. Hence, I teamed up with other creatives to create the commercial.

I’m proud to have been a part of it. It was quite an experience scripting it, casting the models, and especially working with a cool team.

Trevor Noah's Book Is a Beautiful Memoir

I finished reading Trevor Noah's memoir - "Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood". Simply put, Trevor's mum is a riot. No woman should go through her version of hell. And not many women have the doggedness that makes her the most admirable and pitiful character in the book. In a way, she reminds me of Frank McCourt's long-suffering mum in his epic memoir - "Angela's Ashes", only differing in her charming rebellion. She's introduced as unruly with a modicum of extreme piety, which makes her a good comic material for her narrating son. She risks herself in an apartheid South Africa to get pregnant for a white man and challenges everything that threatens to muffle her freedom. The biggest irony however is left for the ending pages where the once untamable lady resigns into a life of enduring domestic violence from Trevor's alcoholic step-father. The way he handles this aspect of his mum, one gets the sense that Trevor wrestles with the mystery of how women stay in abusive relationships.

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Trevor finds her Christian piety funny. Some of the funniest passages are those where he argues with his mum about the role of Jesus in their lives. The mischievous child once poo-poos in the living room and the stench produces a community-wide panic that made his mum and grand mum suspect a demon. He finds the whole panic funny. It's easy to theorize that families like his are fertile triggers for a creative existence. Whereas his mum deploys Jesus, Bible and the Church as survival tools to navigate a crazy world, Trevor considers these Christian elements nothing more than placebos.

Dude has a healthy cynicism about the whole Christian enterprise. Again, one may theorize that he is like those kids whose extreme pious upbringing, spiced with enough liberal tension, prepare them for an adult life marked by cynicism or creativity - or in the extreme - Unbelief.

There are more thematic concerns in the book, including racial dynamics in South Africa, the struggles for love, etc. but I'm mostly fascinated by his profiling of his mum.

It's sheer brilliance how he blends the realities of ghetto, with his coming-of-age struggles, with his innocent love-life, with his family drama, against the backdrop of apartheid South Africa, all with his characteristic humor.