Minutes after the online release of the Nigerian version of Rick Ross’ “Hold me Back” video, Nigerians on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have since rained curses and insults on the rapper for his audacity at showing Nigeria in its poorest and most ghetto form. The video starts with commentary about the Biafra war and then launches into a series of clips shot at different poor areas of Lagos State with scores of Nigerians chanting along the chorus with him. There is even a clip of Rick Ross handing dollar bills to poor children who race through the dirty slum waters to grab a note as he races off in his speed boat.
– Rick Ross is a hot mess
– Rick Ross is just trying to paint a negative picture about Nigeria. We’re not monkeys over here.
– Do you think tourists would ever think of going to Nigeria if Rick Ross keeps deceiving the world with a horrible video like this? This video is giving Nigeria a bad image.
Why all the negative sentiments from Nigerians for the video’s Nigerian version?
As a proud Nigerian, I believe my fellow Nigerians would agree when I say we HATE being depicted as hungry, malnourished, poverty striken and dirt poor even though it is the reality of most Nigerians. (Over 80% by many estimates).
Now by Nigerians of course, I mean wealthy/middle class Nigerians who make up the bulk of those online. They were privileged enough to get an education and live above the poverty that has enslaved most Nigerians. They live in a bubble that knows close to nothing about this Nigeria that Rick Ross speaks about and it is absolutely despicable that he would choose to focus on only this version of Nigeria because it is unrecognizable to them. What of the country’s wealthy areas in many parts of Lagos, or its overpriced hotels and fast rising estates? Or its polished, refined and globally aware party going, Afropolitan elites? Or even just the fact that the nation is private jet loving, with its purported rank as one of its fastest growing markets globally? Or the many things that makes Nigeria Africa’s luxury loving, indulgent and wealthy big brother?
Now imagine some of the kids Rick Ross depicted in the video coming on YouTube to watch the video and seeing the self conscious comments and complaints by Nigerians. They would probably have confused looks on their faces wondering what the fuss is all about especially since the shots he put up were candid and real…or are Nigerians trying to say they don’t want the world to know where they live or what Nigerian slums look like even though that’s where most people live?
Rick Ross is advertently/inadvertently awakening already held stereotypes about many African countries as war torn and hunger stricken but what it should remind us is that it isn’t exactly fair as Africans to expect the world to hide the realities African elites find as shameful.
It is true that there are ghettos and slums everywhere in the world but unfortunately most of the continent is still degenerate – slum life is not a minority problem but a majority problem. Thankfully, with rising economic fundamentals in many African economies, this reality is changing, Nigeria is leading this reality with its ever accelerating GDP growth numbers but is the wealth circulating fast enough to reduce slum life and poverty so that it is no longer the reality of majority of Nigerians?
Perhaps what I and my fellow Nigerians should work towards not covering up our shame but embracing the nation in all its contradictory glory. While Rick Ross glamorizes poverty in Nigeria maybe most Nigerian artistes can for a start abandon foreign locations and shoot the glamorous shots Nigerians speak about at home as a start or will the shots not be glamorous enough by global standards?
Let us all tell ourselves some hard truths and instead of being ashamed and insecure work towards building a continent we can all be proud of, only then will videos like Rick Ross’ Hold me back not matter.