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Before We Dance Away Our Essence

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe questions the value of turning every public event in Nigeria into a dance party.

Most public functions in Nigeria always have dance troupes who entertain the guests / outtraveler.com
Most public functions in Nigeria always have dance troupes who entertain the guests / outtraveler.com

The other day, I was on my desk, working hard like the good girl that I am (without losing weight though), when I saw on the NTA network service, a programme that caught my interest.

The event was the National Roundtable on the 2019 elections, which was supposed to be a post-mortem on the polls.

An interesting and topical issue. My eyes and chair shifted to face the TV. With all that transpired during the last elections and continue to unravel with the endless court cases, who wouldn’t be interested in the subject matter?

Maybe, I would learn the real reasons the election body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), postponed the election.

No matter the side you belong to in the political affairs of this country the last election must have affected us all in one way or the other.

Maybe I would learn why so much blood had to be shed to elect our leaders.

Maybe I would understand the reason(s) behind the voter apathy we all witnessed.

No matter the side you belong to in the political affairs of this country the last election must have affected us all in one way or the other.

So, every opportunity to understand what really went down and why should be embraced.

But alas, before I could finish articulating my expectations of the meeting, my people showed their talent.

A group of dancers, dressed in a south south dancing costume jumped onto the stage.

I was deflated.

Dance? You mean all these serious looking people I’m looking at on the screen left their homes and places of work to come and watch dance?

Dance?

It’s understandable when we entertain visitors with dances native to any of the different tribes that make up the country.

Then such becomes a marketing tool for tourism.

It’s also different when we employ the use of thematic dances or even dramas during some events because at such times, they become channels of education.

Dance? You mean all these serious looking people I’m looking at on the screen left their homes and places of work to come and watch dance?

But what’s this desire to entertain and be entertained during even the most serious and intellectual discourses?

How then do we distinguish between cultural and non-cultural occasions?

Is it that the organisers of such events lack the creativity to deliver engaging content, and therefore always have to resort to dances to keep their guests from dying of boredom?

Could it also be that our public officials have found another funds-siphoning tactic?

I need to understand how watching dancers move their waists up and down on stage – like the beads on a Yoruba maiden’s waist – add value to these events.

But what’s this desire to entertain and be entertained during even the most serious and intellectual discourses?

Now, it’s even clearer why the likes of Senator Dino Melaye got re-elected to the Nigerian Senate in spite of copious monkeyshines and the endless drama that dogged his stay in the red chamber in the last four years.

It also became clearer why Senator Ademola Adeleke was audacious enough to believe he could become the Osun State governor, when the only skill he can claim proficiency in is dancing.

And of course, I now believe that indeed, the people of Osun State truly voted for him; they’ve been bewitched by his eclectic dance steps.

The other time I was alarmed to see a video of Dino Melaye entertaining fellow Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members with a song and dance during a National Working Committee (NWC) meeting.

It was even more discomfiting watching the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and others gleefully cheer him on.

However, it’s all clear now.

We’re a nation of dancers and, also clowns.

We’ve have been dancing around the most critical issues of this nation since the British left us to our fate.

The quintessential Nigerian politician also knows this only too well!

So, during election campaigns, rather than come prepared to address issues that affect our lives and our children’s future, he would come with different types of musicians.

Rather than tell us how he would build roads and end needless deaths on our highways, he gives us a Davido.

We’ve have been dancing around the most critical issues of this nation since the British left us to our fate

Rather than show us how he would improve healthcare delivery and end President Buhari’s endless trips to London hospitals, he throws an Inyanya at us.

And in place of demanding he proves to us that he can fix our educational system and save it from complete rot, we dance shaku shaku and are content.

Thereafter, we wake up a few months after the election and start cursing anyone and everyone.

Memories of our dance steps, once upon a campaign trail, would have faded but our enormous problems remain.

Even when we’re invited 100 days, one year or two years after to mark milestones of his administration, he entertains us with different dance troupes even as our stomachs growl from forced intermittent fasting.

Sometimes, we even go along with our children who are forced home from school because their lecturers are on strike.

Or perhaps, as in Rochas Okorocha’s case, we go and shake our waists to entertain him, on such occasions.

Unfortunately, the sad irony of it is usually lost on us.

But that’s what happens when you are exposed to too many deafening rhythms from politically motivated drumbeats.

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