No Seriously! On saturday, one of my favourite aunties, Onoshe Nwabuikwu repeated in her wildly popular column, Airtime, a review I did of Jeta Amata's The Amazing Grace; a movie that I thought was ghastly ... and that is putting it mildly. Then, on sunday, Big Brother's Ebuka published in his column a rejoinder I did to a rejoinder Charles Novia did to a piece Ebuka wrote! There too, I had the gun on my hips...
Both pieces were in Thiday.
As I write, I just got a really nasty mail from someone who purports to work with Jeta, as well a not-too-pleasant text message, actually two, from Mr. Novia's end. Ah, the dangers of having an opinion! I am posting the offending here pieces one after the other...
Charles Novia’s ‘defense’ of Nollywood
Contrast with Ebuka, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, 03.18.2007
Right of Reply
Reading last Sunday’s paper, two rejoinders struck me enough to go against my self-imposed tradition of allowing each fight their own battles (especially when I know they are eminently so capable). One was the response by Dapo Olorunyomi to Simon Kolawole; the other and most pungent was that by respected Filmmaker, Charles Novia to TV presenter, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu. Incidentally, unlike Charles, who has never met Ebuka and "has no interest" to, I happen to be acquainted with all the correspondents.
Both ripostes were strikingly similar for the latent bullying observable: one from a senior journalist to a junior though accomplished colleague, the other from an older entertainment practitioner to a much younger one. However whilst the former took the high road of intellectual superiority, the other threw a considerable amount of propriety to the winds.
Surprisingly, I say surprisingly, because Charles Novia is ordinarily a sound intellectual; one whose thoughts and words have consistently bestowed Nollywood with an intelligent underbelly. Unfortunately, his piece "In Defense of Nollywood" plunges short of minimum standards of decency.
In my opinion, Charles Novia went after Ebuka so tactlessly only because of how young the writer is, and for that, my intelligence and that of many readers, I assure him, have been insulted. To refer to Ebuka with such derogatory phrases as "Ebuka fellow", "plastic smile", "fifteen minutes of fame", "amateurish" amongst others was uncalled for and going to such childish levels as undermining his recent assignment for the Guinness brand to prove whatever point was absolutely needless.
Just in case there is anybody who got carried away by the onslaught of insults; let the point be made quickly that the fact that Ebuka got his break via a reality show cannot reduce the quality of his contributions to public discourse. And even if considerable substance were to be the sole qualification for penning a newspaper column, then it would be in order to remind Charles Novia that the massively popular (popular enough that Mr. Novia remembers intimate details of Ebuka’s sojourn in the House) Big Brother Nigeria was acknowledged as an assemblage of some of the most intelligent young people in Nigerian reality show history; and even in that assembly, Ebuka by conduct and expression was one of its brightest stars.
Ebuka, in case Charles isn’t aware, is also a lawyer having earned a B.L. from the Nigerian Law School, not a mean feat I will assure him, since I am presently undergoing the same process. In addition to that, since Ebuka came out of Big Brother, he has earned a name as a capable event compere; that is apart from quickly becoming a rave TV presenter.
In fact, just two weeks before this ill-motivated rejoinder, THISDAY Columnist Joy Bewaji had made the point that Ebuka would in all probability have gotten his present job as TV anchor for "Friend or Foe" (NTA Network) and the Guinness Greatness, in spite of being a BBN housemate, based on the strength of his character and intelligence, both of which in fact put him on the 2007 long list of the prestigious "The Future..." Awards.
Added to all of that, over the few months in which he has maintained his Contrast column, the young man has displayed a mix of analytical depth and intellectual width that has endeared his column to many and is responsible for its immense popularity.
So for Charles to reduce Ebuka to "a reality show ex-housemate making do with his fifteen minutes of fame" was rather juvenile.
I will not comment on the depth and propriety or otherwise of Ebuka’s comments on Nollywood. That is an ongoing debate, and as far as I could see, it was hardly the motivation for Charles’ rejoinder. Instead, it was obvious that the basis for the unnecessarily petty and deeply disrespectful response was based solely on the fact that Charles Novia doesn’t think Ebuka has the pedigree to express certain opinions, evidently because he ‘just came into fame’.
Even then, the language and misguided passion employed in expressing such reservations actually reflect very badly on is own person and judgement. Ebuka has the right to his opinions, and as far as columnists go, he deserves the space that he has gotten. For Charles to even suggest anything to the contrary, just because he disagrees with the young man’s opinions, is in very, very low taste.