I’d been hearing about Emmanuella, been seeing “this is not my real face”comments on my Facebook timeline but I had never watched any of her videos until Monday evening when I was supposed to be writing the latest episode of Shadow of a rainbow.
I wanted to watch “This is not my real face” so I searched for it (anything to postpone the writing jare) and two hours later, my brother and I were almost crying from laughter. We had watched twenty or so episodes on Youtube *Airtel network was horrible… as usual* and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Because my primary temperament is melancholy, analysing anything is second nature to me. What makes this videos so appealing? I wondered. The acting is not polished or the best we’ve seen in these parts (except for Emmanuella, she’s a natural), the cinematography isn’t professional- it looks like something shot with a mobile phone (a low end one for that matter), the locations used are not eye-catching or even extraordinarily rustic, the script isn’t out of this world either with many of the skits coming from jokes that have been making the rounds for years.
The answers weren’t coming until I asked myself why I liked the videos so much. Apart from Emmanuella’s sassiness, it was the honesty in the videos that drew me. Nobody was trying to be something they weren’t, no fake accents anywhere and the characters felt like I had known them my whole life (again I say, especially Emmanuella who seems like an amalgamation of all the naughty children I know)
. They were also able to make their skits feel very indigenous even if their sources aren’t (This is not my real face was adapted from an American joke about a student who submits an exam script late and when the invigilator refused to collect, the student asked if he knew him. When the invigilator said he didn’t know him, the smart student stuck his exam booklet in the middle of a pile and ran off)
On the average Emmanuella’s videos boast of at least seven hundred thousand views on Youtube with some videos getting as many as two to three million videos, Toke’s Vlog doesn’t get half as many views *This kind of shade can blot out the sun* even with all her theatrics and the Ameri-Briti-Chinese accent. Emmanuella’s videos are produced under the stable of www.markangelcomedy.com, Mark Angel is her uncle.
As much as we like to think that we are an aspirational people who are rejecting our local cultures and values for the foreign and “civilised” ways, we are still a simple people at heart. It’s not hard to see why the most popular radio station in Nigeria is Wazobia fm (the nonstop pidgin English radio station). Anywhere in Nigeria where there’s a Wazobia fm, you’ll find that 60% (or more) of bus radios are tuned to Wazobia, the shops and markets buzz on the Wazobia radio frequency.
I could give you many more examples of people who have shot to fame by embracing the indigenous and rocking it with pride, Falz the badh guy, Kansiime Anne (I love that woman scatter) and Funke Akindele’s Jenifa quickly come to mind.
I think that even in moving upwards, we should not fail to look inwards. It is often true that what makes you YOU, will make a way for you.
“Normal is good enough”, a certain wise man kept telling a group of us young writers last year. I echo his words today.