The Problem With MTV Base’s Yoruba Demon Week

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…

Share

Share
Text size
+

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.

Responses

  1. Mesozoic
    Nice article. I saw the hashtag and I didn’t know what to make of it at first; if it was a week of celebrating Yoruba acts, content or heartbreaks, with the music that followed I was left further confused. But when I did a quick google search I saw that it was about the later, heart-breakers aka the Yoruba Demons.

    Although a lot of persons don’t see it as a tribal slur but it is and MTVbase content creators need to be told.

  2. *kira_writes*
    Well I guess someone could say the depth of the post might be unnecessary, even that its making a fuss over nothing simply because the slur “Yoruba Demon” started out as a joke, one of the many social media hashtags we all used for fun taken on a light note.

    At least that’s what i thought.

    …But..

    I guess you might be on to something, being that the main crime here is “stereotyping”, Although i wouldnt mind if we used another word instead of “Demon” Still I dont think people are offended by it. In-fact this is the first time I am seeing someone condemn it.

    I still think its one of those things we laugh about, something we use to ease ourselves among friends, but I have also learnt that sometimes jokes tend to be offensive.

    Would this post be justified if the Yoruba populous were offended by the slur? otherwise it could be said that its a joke taken with too much salt.

  3. Arthur Bizkit
    I agree with you wholeheartedly.
    It’s amusing how some comments here are actually making light of this topic. It is better incomplete assumptions like these are nipped in the bud and not even allowed room to propagate further.
    Case in point, just a few days ago, my Colombia friend shared scores of YouTube links on why you should never date a Nigerian because of their haunting infidelity status or take another example the recent xenophobic attacks in S.A. It reaches a tipping point and it might not be you that pays the full price for these assumptions, but perhaps your children or children’s children, miles away from your umbrella of protection.

    #Fin

  4. Bernard Dayo
    I thought it was a week celebrating Yoruba male artistes as well. And the reason most people don’t see it as a tribal slur is because tribal profiling/stererotypes have been so normalised in our society that it is difficult to think out of those stereotypical boxes.
  5. Moroxi
    We undoubtedly have millions of issues more than enough to cause insomnia, panic and heart attacks…all you see is this? Talking about stereotypes, you are the perfect cliche man! Writing about mundane things with a literary twist.
  6. Zoe
    Who ever put you in a position to call someone creative or not? What ever happened to constructive criticism? You’ve got a lot of negative energy and you’re wondering why you were blocked? Bruh, go and reevaluate yourself.
    1. Moroxi
      lol..its Zoo again!! Pele my dear, i must have struck a nerve. Or two but i gotta let you know that i never said he wasnt creative, i simply asked him to tap into his full potentia (which he did…have you read the albeism post?) i simply didnt want him to give us sub-standard articles. i never insulted Dayo, constructive criticism was the set goal..but i guess i was misunderstood. I feel indifferent about people like Zoo who are just not articulate enough to grasp these facts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+