Hilarious Or Heart-Breaking? – The Nigerian Dilemma – Mfon Augustine

The incident which majorly featured Dame Patience Jonathan’s touching, albeitdramatic outburst on National Television is no longer breaking news. This fact however, hasn’t stopped the circulation of exaggerated clips and wisecracks in mockery of the incident, while the First Lady’s grammatical blunders are made the brunt of jokes by social network folks.
It’s safe to say that this is a growing trend in the country as incidents which were originally aimed at provoking deep ponderings almost always end up being used as comic relief by the masses.
A good example is the “Oga at the top” saga in which a top NSCDC official’s inability to provide the commission’s website and thereafter referring to his superior as his “Oga at the top” cost him his job (and his face) but gave way to a new comedy series for his amused audience. Hours after the program was aired (also on National TV), the chant was taken up on every active social network. Seemingly witty lines such as; “blame it on my Oga at the top”, “I don’t want to say this and then my Oga at the top will say something else…” etc were the order of the day.
Religious folks refused to be left out of the fun. “Oga at the top” was added to the long list of the Names of God. Clips of the incident were edited and musical remixes were created. Barely a week after this, the trending line was customized on tee-shirts and even lady gowns. Oga at the Top was officially a hit!
However, taking a closer look at this, can we all honestly agree that the best response to an embarrassing situation as such is laughing ourselves into a stupor? Or should we all rather bow our heads in shame? We seem to have forgotten that we’re one Nigeria and one’s dirty linen being washed in front of the world equates the whole nation’s shame.
Only recently, 234 young girls were reported missing and a Twitter campaign with the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls was launched to canvass world support. While there were still on-going speculations on the circumstances surrounding the abductions, along came the social media comedians to “cheer up” the situation.
“#BringBackOurGirls (that’s if they’re really missing) and take the stingy boys” wrote a self-proclaimed social network queen.
On the heels of this was the publicly aired meeting of the First Lady with the management of the school concerned. Her tearful words of despair were considered a sham and sneered at. And if that wasn’t enough, her words were carefully dissected, the grammatical errors outlined and callously laughed at. Even highly-placed statesmen saw nothing wrong in joining in the fun.
Once again, the social media bullies took up the chant; “diaris God oo, diaris God oo”, followed by mocking laughter. Seemingly creative marketers quickly got to work on promoting the new “trending line” and the cycle started over again.
At this point, I stop to ask; have we let our need for comic relief overcome our sensitivity to human emotions? And is it ethical to let crass humour take the place of sober reflections or do we all need a rethink on the policies that we live by?
It’s all the more saddening to note that this bandwagon of merrymakers is led by young people. Youths who don’t see the need to put their creativity to purposeful use to help build up the country which they would control in the near future. Rather, it’s easier to take the timid way out by creating jokes to act as a smoke screen over the more disturbing issues hanging over our heads.
Laughter, they say, is the best medicine for the soul. But at a time when the country is faced with political, economic and even religious crisis, where is the place of guffaws and wise-ass jokes? It is cowardice that makes a man shy away from challenges but rather, resort to “merry laughter so he can ease his troubled heart”!
Having chuckled our way this far and not much has changed; we should realize that we need much more than a temporary dose of giggles. We need a cure. I cannot predict what it is but we certainly won’t find it by ignoring the harshness of our reality and creating humour for every thought-provoking situation. Perhaps, if we would all could look beyond our need for amusement, review our mindsets and then, rise up with one mind to work together, someday we’ll get there.
Facebook: Mfonobong Emerald Michael.
Twitter: @MfonAugustine

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