My appetite and My news
What I want, what I spend my money on, what I desire have an inextricable link to the news I loathe but I’d rather ignore it. I prefer living in a world, whose fault’s responsibilities rest on the shoulders of the villains I have been sold, over one where I engage my individual responsibility in the collective cracks and crevices in the form that upholds my neighborhood, my country, my name.
All great analogies start crude. So first, did you know that at some point during this pandemi, crude had a negative value. In other words, it cost money to get crude away from where it was made. People were being begged to take away crude. One of the most essential raw material that shapes this decade was being offered away.
It’s often impossible for mere mortals like me to truly grasp the idea that my solitary choices has immense power. You see, because I was obeying the stay at home order with so many people doing the same, the amount of cars on the road had a sharp decline. Because the cars on the road had a sharp decline, the demand for crude fell, because the demand for crude fell, the producers of crude had less and less places to sell to. The cycle continued until demand fell so drastically that the producers of crude that believed they didn’t need to slow down or couldn’t afford to slow down had to find a place to move their excesses. The math was clear, just like when you may have noticed in transition seasons of your life; finite space + growing stuff = pay for storage.
Don’t let my math detract from the point. My choice to stay home and only drive to the coffee shop. Your choice to stay home and not leave for many weeks, your neighbors choice to sleep in, hug trees and shout on their son breaking new toys, all led to a negative value of crude.
This is gonna be true whenever you have a chance to vote but that is not the 🦴 up for chewing today.
I know, I am just retelling news that you probably already heard before. What this however means is that, my choice has a very direct link with the amount of corruption going on in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and all the oil producing countries alongside the hideous exploitation of communities and pollution of rivers, ocean and beach shores. Before jumping on that assessment, ponder this: Saudi Arabia’s regime which many westerners condemn for having terrible woman rights and equality cannot stand without our collective and extended demand for crude oil.
I just watched Oloture on Netflix. It’s a Nigerian movie. I found out about it from a teary full frontal emotional review shared by the producer on her Instagram page.
I was scrolling through my wall when I saw Hilda, a younger sister of my high school colleague – Gilbert. Gilbert is a story teller. I reached out to him a few months ago to collaborate on stories in technology. It didn’t work out but his portfolio included a deeply moving short film – The revenge of Wole. It was not out yet. The amount of power that he packed in that short film was rivetting.
I follow him and found his sister through him because he is always promoting her food. She is a joy. I never ate her food but I was always so drawn by the comedy of their personality but the skill and passion behind her cooking. I want to eat her food simple because she wants to make it.
So you could imagine my shock when I see a very familiar passionate face of one who felt not merely recognizable but also like a friend. My reaction was, I know her! Even though it took me a second to recognise who she was. But wait, this is not Hilda’s account, neither is it Gilbert’s. I don’t follow Hilda, so she shouldn’t show up on my wall. I expect to see her in my IG stories because that is where her brother posts the food.
Hilda is on Mo Abudu’s page? I paused my scroll, hopped onto the IG tv and watched her cry through her review of Oloture. I have been a distant supporter of Ebony Life studio. I don’t really watch Nigerian movies often but I believe Nollywood, and Nigerian entertainment is an essential part of rebranding Nigeria and by extension Africa. Nigerian art is telling the world now through media and technology appetite and demand that we are not mere monkeys, or slave materials good for corrupted financial aid. We are people, capable of ingenuity, creativity and immense innovation. African art has always had an undeniable connection to truth, reality, spirituality and unadulterated representation. And now, the world is demanding different from Nigeria. First our music, not a little bit of it mixed into western palette but raw unfiltered Nigerian music is being embraced, imitated, and thoroughly enjoyed in her native dialect and tune. It’s not afro-beats but simply Davido, in his Nigerian nickname and my tribal tongue. It’s Burna Boy in conjunction with Sean Combs but very much Nigerian music and vibes.
I digress, appetite and demand. Oh yes, that is what we were talking about. Oloture is the story of an undercover woman unearthing details for a news media company only to find herself deeply entangled with the story of human trafficking, prostitution, and the typical taboos that are oh so distant to most of us, right ?
Appetite and demand ties all these stories together. A politician with power, influence and money desires to throw incredible parties to impress his friends and get a physical relief in a crazy world. It’s so easy for me to sit here and say, what a scum. He drugged her and laid into her with reckless abandon. However, he didn’t know who she was, he didn’t understand her background, he didn’t know her story. All he knew was that he paid for a service and she was to offer it.
Let that ring in and sink in. He paid for a service and she was part of the fulfilment of it. So many times I go to a restaurant to eat and my money drives a single mother out of bed to leave her kids and work tirelessly to serve me exactly what I want in the way I want it expecting that her story is not of interest to me. It doesn’t matter to me that my money is buying the distance between her and her daughter, my money is the catalyst to essentially the education and maturation of a young one in an absent parenthood.
All I did was want food and go get it. I am that politician, we are all that politician except we desire different things, we have different vices because of the nature of our routines.
Let me repaint the picture, I love massages. Yet often times the women that give me a massage often speak little to no English. I don’t want to pay full price at super upscale massage parlors. I just need a release from a hard long week. When I look into the eyes of the women that give me massages, I often see pain but the barrier of communication and the speed at which they need to get me in and out often leaves me at an impasse. It’s very possible that these women have been trafficked and I have read reports of such but I wouldn’t know if I don’t take interest in their story enough to be inconvenienced.
Look, I just want a damn massage, it’s been a long stressful week. Is that a crime? I often look at what it would mean to help and it’s oh so daunting. First, what if it’s true? What does help and love truly look like? Is it for me to keep coming back and trying to communicate and build trust until I can get them to open up? Is it to stop getting massages and do my part to not potentially contribute to the eco system?
Often times, it’s painful to even consider that I am part of the problem that I read about. But what is the answer? I’ve done all those things, befriended them and they won’t talk about it. You can’t just ask, are you being trafficked? It can be a grave insult at the same time how long will it take to earn their trust? I also have bills. Can I afford to just keep going for massage even when I don’t need it just to build trust that I don’t know what to do with it? What if I spend all these money and she is just simply an immigrant working hard to earn her keep.
The world doesn’t scream at us saying, YOU are Part of the GREAT problem. From how my appetite for beef maybe intertwined with ozone layer revolt, to how my fashion choices might be funding demand for underpaid over worked labor in inhumane conditions. From my perspective, I just have an appetite and I have the money to satisfy it.
Oloture joins a short list of movies that jolt my dead conscience like an ordinary citizen slumped into coma being shocked to regain consciousness. What I do from here is really what counts but first, I want to capture my fleeting thoughts and remind myself that I am not Oloture the brave woman putting herself on the line. I am the politician.
I want what I want and I am eager to pay for it.
What do you want?
What are you paying for ?
Unblur the lines between what you demand and what it robs others to fulfil.
Even as much as I try to embrace the truth. It’s very humbling, sobering to learn that the answers to the world’s greatest social issues lie not in convincing bad people to be good but convincing myself to take ownership of my role in it.
I don’t like it. I’m sure you don’t either but first, join me. Not in changing the world but in changing me. Whoever me is to you.