By Sa’id Sa’ad
Earlier this year – when Bello Galadanci’s videos were becoming popular on digital platforms – a colleague posted a video of his skit on his Whatsapp status. From what might be a simple curiosity, I asked him if he knows who the person is – of course expecting him to at least know a bit – but replied as to not knowing him beyond his not-so-much-funny recent “Comedy Skits.”
That was weeks after the publication of my recent essay; A Crack on Hadiza Gabon’s Wall: Humanizing Northern Nigeria Storytelling, where I described what the show meant to storytelling in Northern Nigeria and the impact of what I called “hypocritical-denial and intentional lack of acknowledgement” from the northern community. As it has always being, I bumped into a tweet where a young person from “northern” Nigeria condemned the entire comedy skits made by Bello Galadanci.
If I wasn’t from the north, I would have wondered why northern consumers always find a way to devalue northern creators, in whatever discipline. But I didn’t, because I understood the game. So. Well. It is nothing to raise a brow at especially for the fact that as creatives, criticism as such are often expected, “Thanks for the PR,” was the regards Galadanci gave him.
Even with the recent trooping of young creators into skit making industry in Nigeria, majorly due to its financial and digital-popularity lakes tunnelled by TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, one could guess accurately – as most other useful or even useless “developmental” growth – that adoption of content creation as a business by young people in Northern Nigeria, came very late, as well. It is difficult to mention by name – the northern skit creators who began early – and still maintain same consistency, as one would mention Taoma or Aproko Doctor or Mr. Macaroni. Except for Galadanci and other few who still maintained their craft, consistently.
A lot of young people in northern Nigeria continue to comment, criticize, or label Bello Galadanci and his skits in multiple ways.
Aside unpopular northern Nigeria population that perceives his skit for the “working-for-the-white” theory (or the painting north black belief), and the many who – due to educational standard and exposure – fail to comprehend the satirical nature of his contents, most of those who do not find him funny do so due to Broda-Shaggying or Sabinufying Galadanci’s skit.
Unlike most skit makers in Nigeria, whose focus is majorly only to sow laughter and entertainment into the market and reap their golds, built on creative juice – Galadanci’s contents are meant for social and political commentary using humour and satire. Backed by a journalism, creative, and educationalist careers, perhaps it might seem almost impossible for Galadanci – even by himself – to create non-questionable or fluid contents that are only meant for laugher. Because creatives are muscled with the hunger to correct and change using their arts. His could be simplified as addressing serious problems without being too serious.
Therefore, this makes it difficult for those Broda-Shaggying and Sabinufying him to comprehend the content as thus, they expect a consciously endowed full-length comedy. This is not in any way belittling contents created by skit makers whose conscious aim is to create a hundred-percent comedy piece. However, expecting an all-comedy-induced piece from a skit maker whose purpose is challenging social and political ills using humour could be as good as expecting something from nothing.
While writing this essay, I shared on Whatsapp Status a short clip from an Interview Bello Galadanci granted CGTN where he sat on stairs with three other Chinese, in a swagger-spirited looks with polished accent and blonde hair. Most GenZ’s (respectfully) responded to have known him only through his comedy and never “expected” him to be this “polished”, so far away from what they expected Dan Bello (his character) to be.
That means, most of those who denigrate his content would have been from their “expected lens” at which they measure him to be. As argued in my previous essay above – could this also be what I called “hypocritical-denial and intentional lack of acknowledgement” of northern population for contents and creators coming from the north? Because, of course, what Bello Galandaci is doing for northern Nigeria-specific social and political issues is what Aproko Doctor is exactly doing for Nigeria’s health sector and health related issues.
Though satire could emerge in a professional, amateur, elitist, and popular forms, those who do not comprehend his satire might also be due to their individual level of comprehension rather than the perceived educational standard or exposure. However, personally I believe both plays a role here. Of course, satire is meant to use humour and irony to criticize as in the case of the Nigerian Writer Elnathan John with his famous book Be(com)ing Nigerian.
However, because Galadanci focuses on the “North”, he is easily labelled with the “working-for-the-white theory”. Perhaps if Elnathan John’s book was a digital piece as Galadanci’s – and produced in the same form and language – same label could have been blanketed for him too. Sometimes the theory sounds a lot like a comedy skit as well because even a deported northerner fighting the cause of his people – in any way different from the (usual) northern norms – would be considered as brainwashed to work for the white.
More so, those who do not comprehend the satire in the contents are often blindfolded from seeing the patriotism in these pieces. Because, if not for a deep love for a people, I wonder how one would continue to create these provocative contents that questions deep political ills in the region. While also soaking insults from young people in the same region who barely understand the depth of what his craft were uprooting.
However, looking at his piece of art critically (beyond Broda-Shaggying them), how they are deeply immersed in satire and sheer creativity, one could vividly tell how varying it is from the contents created by other skit makers. If other skit makers called theirs “contents”, a creative could easily describe Galadanci’s as “piece of art”. The beauty in the work is so immense that one could smell creative fragrance all over the place.
Imagine if the digital-youths in the north focus on – if not creating – promoting creators from the region rather than policing social media in the holy name of the north. Imagine if we all question the system in the individual creative juices deposited in us. Imagine if we learn to place a market value on the creators and contents from the north rather than wasting our time watching these wayward girls crowd-chasing nonsense on TikTok in Hausa and serving them to your screen back-to-back. Imagine if we focus on the problems rather than those who help us understand the problem. Imagine if we don’t call for the heads of those who create alphabets to remind us of where we are. In reality.
Galadanci didn’t just find questioning the ill social and political system for Nigerians in Nigeria. He has lived with the system, experienced the system and carried dozens of scars from the system to wherever the world took him too.
If these pieces of art is what comes out from creatives, who have been wounded by the ill Nigerian system, then very soon the Bello Galadanci in all of us will prevail.
Sa’id Sa’ad can be reached via [email protected]