Friday night last week, I had just settled on the couch to apply myself to some TV. Between watching Revenge Body on E! and some pseudo-comedy show whose title I can’t remember on FOX, something caught my attention on MTV Base: Yoruba Demon Week, written in white lettering and positioned at the top right corner…
Friday night last week, I had just settled on the couch to apply myself to some TV. Between watching Revenge Body on E! and some pseudo-comedy show whose title I can’t remember on FOX, something caught my attention on MTV Base: Yoruba Demon Week, written in white lettering and positioned at the top right corner of the screen.
I found it funny at first, as I skipped to a different channel then I brought it back to MTV Base and realised it wasn’t funny at all. I wasn’t sure if MTV Base were celebrating popular Yoruba male artistes like Olamide, Adekunle Gold and Falz by predominantly playing their music videos. And even if they were, why call it Yoruba Demon Week?
At the time of writing this article, I tried to contact persons associated with the music channel for clarity on the purpose of Yoruba Demon Week, so that I can present a fair and balanced report. But my attempts were unsuccessful.
In any case, it doesn’t excuse what the MTV Base brand has done: popularizing an offensive tribal slur and normalizing it into the Nigerian pop culture canon. On the surface, this seems like a non-issue, but therein lies an undercurrent of the negative tribal stereotyping that is acutely familiar. When I went online to do some research on Yoruba demon, I was surprised to see the tons of articles explaining what it meant, some of them with slightly contradictory explanations but still collectively affirming that Yoruba men (demons) are to be avoided within the dating pool.
This particular article published on Zikoko goes further by supplying a guide on how to be a Yoruba demon, but not without stating from the beginning that the term “Yoruba” describes a heartless, cheating, lying person. Usually male,” and not from the Yoruba tribe, as if a heartless, cheating, lying person and usually male can’t be found in other ethnic groups.
Partly Yoruba myself, I’m familiar with the tribal profiling of Igbos as stingy money-lovers and Calabar women as domesticated sex machines. MTV Base has a huge platform with a large viewership from the youth demographic. Their content is wholesomely youth-centric but their recent fetishisation of Yoruba demon for entertainment value puts their integrity into question. They were profiting, by way of viewership traffic, from the glamourisation of a mythology that we should all be dismantling instead of fueling.
At the end of last week, MTV Base video jockey Ehiz (who I suspect isn’t Yoruba), did a voice over to showcase the channel’s content, accompanied by a wide range of shifting visuals. In one display, a group of agbada-wearing men were clustered together. Ehiz called them “Yoruba demons,” his voice light with a self-satisfied amusement.
To respond to this, I will borrow a quote from popular Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from a recent interview she had with The Atlantic. “I don’t think stereotypes are problematic because they are false. That’s too simple,” she says. “Stereotypes are problematic because they are incomplete.” I’d like to read your thoughts on this topic, please share in the comment section below.