Tobe Writes: Unoka Syndrome And The Nigerian Artiste

People often believed that the character of Obierika was true to type with the image of the writer, Chinua Achebe, and as such, would be his favourite. However, the writer debunked this notion and said, before his demise, that Unoka was his favourite character in his seminal work: Things Fall Apart. Personally, it bewilders me that the supposed efulefu and lazy artiste would be the multiple award-winning author’s favourite character. After a tedious brainstorming and academic excursion, I have summed up some reason why Unoka might be dear to the sage’s heart.

Achebe was one of the best graduating students among his peers in Government College Umuahia where he had his secondary school education. As a result of his academic excellence, he was given a scholarship to study medicine, a profession which has a notorious reputation of being noble and by extension reserved for the most brilliant student. Well, the young Achebe stunned his benefactors’ midway in his university education, when he decided to abandon the course to study English and Latin. Needless to say, his scholarship was cut off for choosing what I’m sure they thought was an ignoble discipline. A discipline graciously designed for academic mediocres, the average minds and the never-do-wells, a course for the efulefus and the iti mpa cha akwus. I believe back then that Achebe must have been treated like a leper for such a stupid step, because he dared to follow his heart.

Today, this condescending treatment is still very much the same for every young mind who wants to be a writer, a musician, an actor, a poet, a sculptor, a model and any other form of profession that is not in the conventional line of Medicine, Law, Engineering, Accountancy, Banking etc. Like Unoka of Umuofia, the society thinks less of an artiste and does not take him serious, save you have successfully blazed the trail and become a millionaire.

Now, being a millionaire or a successful artiste is surprisingly the greatest anathema for some of these artistes, most especially the actors and the musicians.  These folks try to answer back to the society the rhetorical question – that rhetorical question that life asks every man that sojourn upon the face of the earth. This question is asked to every soul in a unique way, depending on the man’s nature and nurture. Because of the way the society is structured, it always seems that those who are threading the part of conventional profession have a coherent and sure answer to this rhetorical question. For those of us who by art of omission or commission tend to find ourselves on the non-conventional path, our non-verbal answer often sound stupid and comical until you blaze the trail.

One might ask, what is this question? Well, as simple as it might appear, the almighty question is loaded in these three lucid words: Who are you?

Unfortunately, some of our Nigerian artistes, perhaps because they are bad students of literature, tend to forget that a rhetorical question does not have an oral answer or response, and always make the mistake of not only answering this question but overdoing it with their ostentatious lifestyles once they are on the fast lane. They try to rub it into the eye of the society that scorned them at the beginning that; yes I have arrived, you said I will amount to nobody but look at me now. Like Unoka, they call on friends and foes to spend whatever money they get without recourse for the rainy season. They buy clothes they never need, flashy cars that will be difficult to maintain, attend every event, stir needless traffic and furore on social media, post all the details of their life just in a bid to answer a question that needs no answer.

Tragically, these artistes end up like Unoka in the evil forest at the twilight of their life. When stricken by a disease or misfortune, they run helter skelter searching for help from those in the conventional profession. Inadvertently, they end up reinforcing the ab-initio societal belief: being in the non-conventional field is a charade. They reinforce the traditional belief that artistes are efulefus, complete and certified never-do-wells.

I believe it is high time our artistes know they owe nobody an explanation about the path they have chosen to tread in life. If they succeed in it, they should keep it to themselves. And if they fail in it, again, no one needs to know. IF there is anybody they ever need to impress with their wealth, it should be their immediate families. I believe Achebe learnt a lesson from the tragic end of Unoka and decided to live a simple and quiet life. Till his death, nobody knew whether he was rich or poor. All we ever knew was that he has blessed the world with his works. That is all about we need to know.

For those who are intimidated and inspired by the display of wealth by our artistes and consequently want to be like them, please be informed that life shouldn’t be about glorying in anything other than the things of God.

Written by Tobe Osigwe @ikolondigbobling-bling-golden-ring

Advertisements
Leave a comment

12 Comments

  1. chukarudy

     /  November 22, 2013

    My senior has spoken#Gbam….

    Reply
  2. Ary

     /  November 22, 2013

    Okay, okay. But I believe the flashy-flashy life is just the nature of the entertainment industry. Unlike writers and composers of chamber music whose art is an art of solitude, the entertainment industry is a social one, bustling with the vibe and the clubbing, blah, blah, blah. So, I guess it’s just their way of expressing themselves. And then on the reason Chinua Achebe loves Unoka most. Well, Unoka, with Obierika, has been my favourite. In addition to your reason, there could be a case made for his simpleness of mind, his choice of happiness over material well being, so that even when faced with ostracism, he goes along with that one thing that brings him joy- his flute. And he is really a man who doesn’t subject himself to society’s definitions of what success should be. He is a deeply content man, and I think it is this simple contentment that we all must aspire to. #my one kobo worth#

    Reply
  3. Well articulated

    Reply
  4. Awesome Writeup, I found it very deep, Now I get d idea behind Uloka’s character n also d connection to d present day so called ‘stars’. I totally agree dat ur success or/and failure shuld be kept to one’s self.

    Reply
  5. david

     /  November 22, 2013

    Hmm…tobe (my namesake) is smart and WISE…perks of the name…hehe…well said mate, very well said. @ary, I disagree with you when you say that flashy is the nature of the business. No its not. Its a statement they’re trying to make evident in their lyrics (“now I don make am, oluwa don bless me…haters die!”…”See my babe now fine pass your own…my car 10million, my ‘real’ gold chain realer than your own”). They have a complex, they feel the need to be seen. They don’t need that…its a little pathetic…and tobe the wise has seen that..many of us see it. They should try to impact society positively, the society surely needs that.

    Reply
  6. Well written. Loaded with truths. As a law student, I am already regretting my choice.

    Reply
  7. Vera Asagba

     /  November 22, 2013

    Na wah o

    Reply
  8. Chisom12

     /  November 22, 2013

    This Osigwe mister shows time and again that he has something inbetween his two ears- a brain! Intelligent deductions and extrapolations I must say. I would like to know if you write elsewhere more frequently. Definitely would want to read the products of the churnings of your mind.
    Well done!

    Reply
  9. chibueze

     /  November 22, 2013

    Tobe my seat mate and class mate in our prestigious and the best school in Nigeria,am happy to be reading your article/write ups,keep it up,the lord is your strenght. Things fall apart is one of Achebe’s novel that i love so much and am glad that you pointed out somethings out from there,kudos my guy,we are always the best in the world F.G.C OKIGWE.

    Reply
  10. ifeanyi

     /  November 23, 2013

    Thanks Tobe. I recently red about KC of the Limpopo fame and the rate he acquires exotic cars. He has a BM X6, Range Rover. and just picked up a Porche. An old boy that just broke into the market after being there since long time ago.

    Reply
  11. Yemie

     /  November 23, 2013

    I have been reading through your writings and have thus come to the conclusion that you’re a really deep thinker. One cannot but have some minutes of sober reflections whenever one reads through your pieces.

    This write-up reminds me of the great Fela, who was sent abroad to go study medicine but instead opted for music. I’m also reminded of that sweet fifteen year old boy (once upon a time), Justin Bieber who shot to fame and became unrecognizable with his weird and strange antics. On the brighter side, one cannot but give it up for Tu-face, who has remained grounded and humble amidst all the wealth and fame he’s amassed. Double thumbs up to you bro, keep it up.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: