“Drummers and Dancers” by Yusuf Grillo
I was watching a movie again yesterday, although I had watched it about three or four times already, from the beginning till the end. It is a Christian movie, a Mount Zion movie, no surprise, since I tend to watch movies that fall in those categories once in a while, especially for the sense of familiarity that they offer. I watched a lot of them as a child, and I don’t mind having one play in the background when I’m getting work done on my laptop. As an adult though, I can now see that a lot of critical thinking was/still is not invested in the drafting and production of these movies, and I have addressed that here. I clicked on the tab that the movie was running on and got hooked.
The storyline involves a man, an accountant, who does not get paid for months because he refused to illegally alter the authenticity of certain documents. His boss talks down to him in the office, and worse still, his landlord talks down to him at home since he is unable to pay his rent. Basically, his state of living is terribly toxic. It turns out to be a test; his boss wanted to promote him to a higher position and wanted to assess his credibility and loyalty to the company. Prayer is very good; believing in God’s ability to care for us in our times of challenges and trials, faith, is important too. However, I observed the scenes from a different perspective yesterday and I kept thinking “there is no way this is normal”.
Where was the Human Resources department? Where was the union? Why does a workplace injustice have to be countered with fasting and prayer, and passivity? In a socially-conscious society, a movie about someone not getting paid for months will not be brushed off by a “it was just a prank” attempt to normalize it. There are Christians and non-Christians who do not get paid what was agreed in their contracts in lower-level positions in Nigeria, who do not have the luxury of basic workplace benefits and live from hand to mouth. Many of them even work in none-office settings. Why is the answer to that problem “let’s pray about it”? The whole thing had to be a comedy.
Nigerians tend to not be conscious of the things that they see, hear, and sense, in the general society and in politics, especially in relation to how they affect them as individuals and people. Songs like Codeine Diet, and others that fall into that genre, that praise the use of hard drugs, engagement in online scamming, and the objectification of women, tend to be more popular than the ones that preach critical thinking, the probing of politicians, mutual respect between men and women, and the importance of education.
Fela was a very socially and politically conscious individual, and those who are obsessed with the idea of being the next him do not even understand what that means at its very core. Go and ask anyone who actually lived with him about what was done to thieves after hearings were held and judgements were passed in Kalakuta court. Fela hated theft of any kind with passion.
Movies in which people, 99.9% of the time, women, are beaten black and blue by their spouses with no repercussions, bosses demand to have sex with their staff in exchange for job security, orphans and poor children roam the streets because there is no national child-care plan for them and their irresponsible/physically-impaired/late parents cannot take care of them, animals are unnecessarily tortured and abused, differently-abled/physically-impaired persons are made fun of, people are sacrificed for money in occult rituals, and so on, are still being made, with little or no attention to the central problems in the movies, or proposals on how to counter them, except that the characters/victims become better at some point or someone gets vindicated.
Ironically, one of the popular slangs in Nigeria now is “jí, má sùn”, a Yorùbá sentence that translates to “wake up, don’t sleep”. As opposed to waking up and being more conscious individuals, a lot of the youth and adults are waking up, but to higher and deeper levels of ignorance, mob mentality, and stupidity. It’s quite irritating, and it’s a crying shame.