Talking about International Standards
One of my major gripes with Nigeria and things made in Nigeria is the it’s-good-enough mentality. I have mentioned that in a previous article – how we celebrate mediocrity.
Read that if you haven’t.
It hurts to think that of all the things we spend money on in our own country, a very minimal amount of it is actually made here. Think about it.
What’s the name of your favourite bathing soap? Your phone? Your cars? What about your shoes? Your internet service provider? Your mobile phone service provider? The food you eat? How about the stores you buy most of these things from?
You should see the way people flock to a particular chain of stores to spend money by the hundreds of thousands – and there’s no money in Nigeria.
Why do we do these things to ourselves?
But then – whose fault is that?
When I was a music reviewer for a certain lifestyle magazine, my editor and I were always at loggerheads over what he considered “unnecessary harshness” from me. He would complain that I was using international standards to judge locally made content. The one thing I asked that always shut him up is:
“The international music we listen to, are they not locally made content too?”
The entire time I was there he never had an answer for me.
It’s upsetting that people will say: “Don’t look at Nollywood movies the same way you consider Hollywood.” That’s nonsense simply because a good movie is a good movie – whether shot in Universal Studios or in God Is Great studios. The only thing that may differ will probably be picture/production quality – and that’s not even the first thing that makes a good movie. Think about the movies you’ve watched more than twice. Except you’re an editor, trust me you didn’t watch those movies over and over for their production quality. In fact, I doubt you can remember how good the camera angles were.
I remember Nigerian artist 9ice talking about bringing home a Grammy on his biggest album yet; Gongo Aso. I and a couple of friends analysed and examined the statement – and we came to the conclusion that it was just a line from a song.
Really? No offense meant, but what Nigerian artist is ready for a Grammy?
I really believe whenever we do things, the intent should always be to sell to an international audience. Apart from years of experience, range of opportunities and what not, a Genevieve’s resume shouldn’t be much different from a Gabrielle Union’s. M.I. started some controversy online sometime ago after the release of his Illegal Music III by comparing himself to certain international rappers. I didn’t have much to say on the subject, but I cheered him on. Apart from maybe language and diction, should there really be any difference between a Nigerian and an international rapper?
There are a number of artists I listen to – artists from France and Germany and other places who speak languages I cannot make sense of. I love the Italian Opera but I cannot speak a word of Italian. My French is passable at best. Yet, I enjoy the music.
When you do things with the intention of only conquering a region, trust me your work will be average at best. You cannot have world-changing ideas if you keep thinking like a big fish in a small pond. Of course, do things that your immediate environment can relate to. I know artists who say their stuff is not for ‘local’ minds – but it’s limiting to think about them alone.
And as far as the ‘intellectual artists’ go, if people around you do not like your stuff, chances are the people out there won’t either. Keep wasting your time.
A quality shirt in Nigeria should be a quality shirt anywhere else. People know good things when they see them – whether in Oslo or in Slovakia. Whatever you do, put in your best effort and make it with people within and beyond in mind.
You wouldn’t have to make any noise about it. Believe me, the work will make all the noise you require it to.