The dawn of the day saw him fetching water from the well and singing at the highest pitch of his voice which of course could wake the dead in the house. As if that was not enough, the lyrics of his song would have surely made the dead laugh. He was singing of his enviable future of dropping out of school because he wanted to be a musician, composing a hit song, making millions of dollar, building mansions, buying cars and becoming God’s gift to women. A future the Nigerian entertainment industry has sold to its audience should have to be recognised. A future seen in popular Nigerian songs and movie. A future Nigerian entertainers are living or shown to be living. Presently, the entertainment industry has the loudest voice in the lives of youths.
We could the blame social media for creating the avenue for entertainers to display their affluence, we could blame the entertainers themselves for showing off on social media or we could blame the youths for being gullible enough to believe all they see on social media is real. Yet, the blame game cannot stop the cankerworm called materialism still eating deep into the hearts of the Nigerian youths. According to the English dictionary, materialism is a state of constant concern over material possessions and wealth. A state where every other thing seems secondary save physical possessions one has such as cars, houses, gadgets, phones and even money. While these possessions are of benefit to man, a constant concern over their absence or eagerness to possess them at any cost is detrimental.
The Nigerian entertainment industry has since time in memorial favored individuals with material possessions and wealth at the expense of wisdom, arts and crafts or education. Interviews granted are mostly of young people who have made millions at an early age and have material possessions to show for it rather than youths that have made world record in inventions or education. A musician that just bought a vehicle worth millions is celebrated while a person who won an international writing competition may not be known. Lives of entertainers are being watched or followed on the social media where they show the world their newest acquisition almost every day. Today, youths spend more time on social media, are more materialistic and less involved in hard work. An example can be seen in youths preferring to sit in a house for 90 days and come out with millions of naira instead of working.
A ripple effect of this cankerworm is unhealthy competition. Nigerian youths have begun competing with one another as to who has more material possession. In bid to take after their models in the entertainment industry, most youths seek to possess materials even beyond their capacity. It is of no wonder one could see a jobless youth using the latest I-phone product or buying latest clothes or shoes and would involve themselves in fraudulent practices just to acquire them. This can be seen as the percentage of young Nigerians involved in scam, drug trafficking and sexual misconduct is on the increase. They would stop at nothing to be able to rub shoulders with Nigerian entertainers and be recognised by the industry.
While forgetting that human wants are insatiable, one of the effects of materialism is dissatisfaction. As the Nigerian entertainment industry encourage the acquisition of more and more possessions, youths become dissatisfied with their current state and want more. Whatever they possess at a particular time becomes obsolete and they want whatever is the latest. They want whatever is being celebrated at the moment.
Inferiority complex has become a burden pledging lives of Nigerian youths that for one reason or another are unable to join in the rat race of materialism hosted by the Nigerian entertainment industry. Also, as life does not always go as planned, some youths in this rat race may realize that things seem not to be working out. The two parties may fall into depression and become anxious of the future. With a lot of news on suicide and suicidal thoughts of youths, one could trace it down to a need not met at a particular time and might further trace it to a material possession not acquired.
With unhealthy competition on one shoulder and dissatisfaction on the other in this race, Nigerian youths have little or no savings for rainy days. Every dime earned is immediately spent on purchasing the latest gadgets so as to look good in the eyes of peers. The lack of delayed gratification has thrown many into a state of dilemma during rainy days such as loss of job.
To cut the snake by the head, the Nigerian entertainment industry should endeavor to promote more educational shows, celebrate achievements in relation to hard work and inventions. Little milestones reached should be hailed and not just those that have it all. Songs and movies that encourage contentment and legal means of becoming famous should be made popular. Effects of materialism should be curtailed in Nigerian youths before they become incorrigible.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com