BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
I lost faith in MTN Project Fame a while ago. What started out as a well-meaning musical reality TV show has over the years turned itself into a cliché. It has slowly become a parody of itself and in a nation where audience feedback and viewer data are taken seriously, the organisers and sponsors of the show would have been asking themselves if it’s all still worth it.
Multiple factors are responsible for the decline in the show’s pull these days. Apart from the fact that there are other rival music reality shows, there is also the lack of emergence of superstar success stories since the Chidinma/Iyanya/Praiz days. It seems contestants just fight for recognition for the duration of the show and fade into national irrelevance once the show ends.
There have been a thousand and fifty-three articles about the rarity of Project Fame products who have gone on to claim a tangible space on the Nigerian music scene. This article does not intend to be the one thousand and fifty fourth. Rather, this is a dedication to the show’s big bully, Ben Ogbeiwi AKA Uncle Ben.
Years ago when PF still had my attention, I was never a fan of Uncle Ben’s coaching methods. They always came across as dismissive, overbearing and arrogant. He always reminded me of that lecturer or teacher who bullied you into respecting them. They naturally do not command respect so, they beat you with fear into submission. But when you find yourself on the brink of some success, they are quick to appear and suggest that they had a big role to play in your journey.
I watched the video below and I felt it is a reminder of our educational system failings where students are made to prepare for exams and not life after it. Students fear to fail at exams but a week after, they forget basically all they studied.
Making contestants feel less of themselves all in the name of training them is not how creativity should be nourished and harnessed. There’s no better atmosphere in which creativity can thrive than a relaxed one. Bullying contestants will not relax them. Neither will they build the required self-assurance needed to survive and fly post-Project Fame. They will give you what you want because they want you to bully them less. But the emotional put-down they suffered will last far beyond the end of the academy.
I watched this video, Uncle Ben and I was angry. Angry on behalf of the contestants and angry on behalf of Nigerian students who get bullied by those who are supposed to build their mental and psychological confidence. Hundreds of thousands of others will watch this video. This means that these acts are no longer witnessed only within classroom or academy walls.
If we want the alarming decline in the all-round educational quality of the young people our institutions are turning out, teachers need to change their styles.
Here’s an interesting video I saw recently on Facebook of how Finland turned around the fortunes of their educational system. I wish our educationists can take a cue.
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