Of Black Panther and bleak prospects | Sayo Aluko

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About three weeks ago, they breezed into the office space in uproar; all decked in uniform, custom-made Black Panther tops worn over Khaki trousers – youth Corps members posted to serve in the agency I work with.

They breezed in, thumping their chests, chanting phrases/sentences which included but not limited to “oh T’chala!”, “Kai T’chala!”, “Wakanda forever”, “Wakanda till I die!”, “Today is my happiest day as a black man”, “I’m proud to be a black man”, all with an aluta-ish hoorah and an euphoria like that of a toddler who just made first tongue-contact with cotton candy.

Their rave went on like water out of a burst pipe, the shouting was too much that I had to intervene. The following conversation ensued:

ME: Kilode!!! What is it! Can you guys stop shouting please??

THEM: Haaaa! Mr. Sayo, it’s like you’ve not seen the movie Black Panther. You need to go and see it. Haaaa! Haaaa!

ME: I have seen it.

THEM: No, you haven’t | Really? And you are silent like this? | Mr Sayo is not telling us the truth jare | Ha! Sir, if you’ve seen that movie, you will understand our shouting oh.

ME: I do not understand your shouting about a Marvel’s comic. Don’t you have better things to shout about? I’ve been watching you since y’all entered, vomiting stuff like black panther movie making you feel proudly Black and African. I’m disappointed in you all and it’s actually not your fault.

THEM: Mr Sayo has come again | Why are you disappointed sir? | But this movie is a classic | Didn’t you see the moves and the machines | Me I feel proudly African because of this movie oh | But sir, you even gave us permission to go have fun | Wakanda forever jor (they chorused) | You don’t have to like the movie sir, T’Chala is a legend!

ME: T’Chala is a legend?

THEM: Yes sir | Yes Mr Sayo, he is | Stop hating Mr Sayo.

ME: Does anyone here know Sir Seretse Khama?

THEM: Who is he?

ME: Okay. What about Julius Nyerere?

THEM: No | Oh wait! Is that his real or full name?

ME: Whose real name?

THEM: That comedian, errm, errrrrm, Julius Agwu!

ME: What!!! Subuahnallah! Issokay Issokay. What about Thomas Sankara or Kwame Nkrumah?

THEM: *Chorused blank stare*

ME: But at least you’ve heard of Madiba?

THEM: *Chorused blank stare*

ME: Madiba! Madiba!!! Oh! okay, Nelson Mandela!

THEM: (Chorused a sheepish smile) Habaaaa, yes now, Nelson Mandela of South Africa now.

ME: But you don’t know Madiba? Okay. Then, you must know Obafemi Awolowo right?

THEM: The guy on the 100 naira note? | Sure Sure Sure | We know him very well.

ME: (Felt like slapping someone’s child at that point, but Jesus kept taking the wheel) The GUY? Guy??? Awolowo ni guy?

THEM: Mr. Sayo, is he not the one on hundred naira ni?

ME: Yes oooh Sirs and Mas. He is the one oh, eyin Oga mi, my bosses.

THEM: But what has Wakanda got to do with these questions you are asking us now Mr Sayo? | We are talking baddass black panther movie, you are asking us questions | We don’t understand jare | Mr. Sayo sef….

ME: Konisewu dears. Ko ni si problem. Sorry about the many questions. You just stop shouting and go on to have a good evening, all of you. Wakanda forefa! E káre láyé!!!

They left me, I got my quiet, though they were still euphoric as they wobbled towards their common office.

They were 8 in total with an average age of 24;
5 attended two of the “top” private universities in Nigeria, 1 came from “the abroad” and the other 2 from Nigeria’s premier university.

To these bunch of youths, their first-order thought of an Obafemi Awolowo is as a “guy” on the 100 naira note, but then, they did Aso-ebi over a comic, they are euphoric about Vibranium, a phantasmic.
[Vibranium is the fictional all-purpose mineral resource in the movie].

The fact that the Black Panther movie is a commercial success is one thing that’s down to a well-oiled pre-release publicity, they touched all the buttons and played all the cards well; and Marvel Studios should be seriously happy as I would if I were in their shoes. But, I didn’t just get the euphoria, the whole wakanda movement thing wey some people, including my happily ignorant Corps members above, just carry for head like gargantuan gèlè.

I write this today, three weeks later, not because I didn’t want to earlier, I’ve just been too shocked or disappointed. Well, I write this today because, yesterday, while I was about to leave that office, the leader of the shouting Wakanda gang approached me looking lost; he needed help on how to prepare a basic presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint. I repeat, Microsoft PowerPoint – a 25 year old Corp member.

At that point, it all made sense to me. Why it is easy for a lot in this generation to be easily herded like sick sheep. Why names like Sankara, Nkrumah, Nyerere, and Awolowo will not strike deep, but T’Chala would. Why the youth of this day are constantly caught in unnecessary e-Wars and banter. Like, why it was easy-peasy for APC to put Muhammadu Buhari on its Presidential ticket, or why PDP can be audacious enough to put Goodluck Jonathan on its own Presidential ticket and WIN! At that point, it all made sense to me, again.

The curse of skin-depth. We live for the shallow. Critical thinking is like bile to our tongue. Hence, herd aptness, hence, bleak prospects.

I end this thought by saying, that an average (hmmn, Sayo, average sha, you sure, abi MOST???) Nigerian youth of this day, is vast in brawn, tiny in thought, and laughably inept in/with aspirations.

Yeah, there you have it, #NotTooYoungToRun and a Dino Melaye will laugh. [SELAH]

I shudder.

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PS: My thoughts on the Black Panther movie? Well, I enjoyed the trailers more than the movie itself. || The Acting? Borderline bleh. I’ve seen the Cast do better in other movie roles. What was that from Lupita, Whitaker and Bassett??? Sigh…|| CGI, Stunts and Fight Scenes? Poor || Costume, Colour and Cinematography? Good || Score and Sound effects? Average || Storyline and Screenplay? Good. Summarily, with a $200 million budget, I personally think the Black Panther movie was drowned in its own hype, and is at best a Marvel studio’s mascot, primed to forerun “Avengers: The Infinity Wars”; at that, it won.

#Konisewu

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