By Wale Bakare
Let me first confess – I am not a fan of Kemi Olunloyo. I find her to be vacuous, obnoxious and a self-serving fame-monger, bringing the profession of journalism into disrepute with her self-appointed claim to be a journalist. There, that is all cleared up. Now to the matter at hand.
As it has become her stock-in-trade, Kemi has once again needlessly created a totally pointless controversy with herself squarely in the centre of it. While the hullabaloo surrounding her ill-advised unveiling of the identity of the accuser of the alleged rapist pastor and her blatant lies against the Dakolos is yet to die down, ‘Aunty’ Kemi (as she is derisively referred to) has gone and done it again. This time, however, her silliness is threatening to have much wider implications beyond further tarnishing her non-existent reputation. She has initiated a storm that could very well have wider consequences for Nigerians living in or visiting a country with which we have always had such an excellent relationship.
For some unfathomable reason, ‘Aunty’ Kemi decided to start a fight with Kenya. It wouldn’t have been of concern but for the fact that she has almost 100,000 followers on Twitter and Kenyans who don’t know her might think she actually speaks for us, Nigerians. No, Rafiki, she does not. She speaks for herself and those who, strangely enough, think she has something of value to say.
As a frequent traveller to Kenya, I have found the people to be some of the warmest and most courteous I have met in my many travels. I always look forward to visiting East Africa and Kenya in particular. Aside from the tourist attractions like the game reserves, the beautiful beaches of Malindi, Lamu or Mombassa and the idyllic Rift Valley that runs through several countries in the East of Africa which you can see when you go up to Eldoret, the nightlife in Nairobi is something else entirely. The K Club in Westlands has a themed event for every single day of the week. Other entertainment venues abound and you are usually spoilt for choice if you know where to look. The hotels don’t cost an arm and a leg and you will get decent accommodation, even in Westlands, for as little as $50 per night.
I have been out on a few nights after running training for two weeks at a stretch to unwind and the mood is always electric, wherever we might end up. One thing that never fails to get me pumping with pride and eagerness to announce my ‘Nigerianess’ is the fact that the party only really comes alive when the DJ drops the first ‘getter-upper’ for the night. This would inevitably be something by Davido, Wizkid, Tekno, P-Square, Burna Boy or 2face! And once it kicks in, there’s no going back. It’s Nigerian hip-hop all the way with a smattering of East African songs, but definitely 90% Nigerian. The crowd singing along to every track, despite not knowing the meaning of the lyrics and I have to spend half the night serving as an interpreter which I usually do happily. I remember once teaching a class about crowd-control in a mall and I used a Kenyan artiste as an example of what would happen if he showed up for a picture-taking event without a proper risk assessment having been carried out. I was immediately stopped and told to replace the artiste with Yemi Alade if I really wanted to make things interesting. The appreciation and love for Nollywood is another story entirely.
In all my trips to Kenya, and Nairobi in particular, I have never felt unsafe. I have never felt threatened and have received nothing but good vibes from my hosts. They have never made me feel as if they see Nigerians as anything other than fellow African brothers, though maybe with some peculiarities, as with every other people. They call me ‘Oga’ playfully (or Nwalimu, more respectfully) and it’s almost always with nostalgia that I think of Kenya. I have had a couple of unpleasant experiences with some corrupt immigration officials but show me the frequent traveller that has not had the experience in a third world country, whether in Africa, the Americas, or Europe. A barber once cheated me of $5 dollars. So what? It’s all part of the travel experience.
So, my Mwenzi, ‘Aunty’ Kemi is not an ambassador for Nigeria (as I doubt a lot of her followers are). She does not represent who we are and as someone said in one of the tweets in response to her, she should be sent back at immigration “on account of insufficient IQ”, which is something you all acknowledge Nigerians possess in abundance!