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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My passion for football

After the absolutely delicious defeat of Brazil, yesterday. I feel a little happier about the Ghana loss. Yes, football fans are irrational and l no less so. Does the world not love Brazil? Yes, we do but we also love a good story and that was one heck of a story. France worn with her BLACK heart. The French team is almost entirely African in origin and personally, l fell in love with Zidane, Barthez and co in 1998 when l saw them win the finals live in 1998. The joy of that nation on that occasion is indescribable, that France as a country still has its deep divisions that led to the kind of arson, riots and chaos of recent history is unpardonable. Thierry Henri close up is not just a beautiful human being physically (like a fine tuned, lean, string musical instrument) but a deep thinking, funny and levelheaded person. Besides, its about time someone demystifies this current Brazilian team. Now let us not even go on to the English team. The noise, the media, the supporters and the WAGS (wives and girlfriends, to the uninitiated)..Bye-bye mate!

As per the Ghana match, the black stars played with their heart and spirit against a much more superior and experienced team but their hearts failed at crucial moments. If only Ghana had got the devil may care confidence to go with that heart and spirit, they would have gone down fighting, scoring at least a goal against the truly talented Brazilian team (come, how does brazil do it, l mean, do they have a factory producing these wizards of the ball? Note that the average Brazilian woman in her string bikini on a beach can juggle the ball without dropping it longer than most men anywhere in the world). My heart bled for Ghana and Africa but my irrational mind points to an all African French team and wonder if our collective football fortunes would not be formidable if we had the systems and processes that work. That is, thriving and vibrant leagues, functional infrastructure from community to national level (i.e. pitches that are level with a lush bed of grass so players can play better and the games can be more attractive to film for TV which will generate more TV viewers and better fees for TV rights etcetera).

Non-interference of government except with provision of infrastructure specifically at community levels or for international competitions.

Let me make you laugh, l saw a Mont Blanc pen with Nigeria 2012 inscribed on it yesterday. Apparently, Nigeria is bidding to host the commonwealth games in 2012 and so to secure the bid, a country with erratic power supply, almost non-existence mass transportation system whose police AIG recently declared that he cannot guarantee security with the limitations he has, buys God knows how many Mont Blanc pens as souvenirs to prove what point to who exactly? As Fela sang “he he he he ha ha ha. Why l dey laugh? If l no laugh l go cry”.

Back to the black stars. My mischievous football mad girl friend whom l was watching with swears that the match showed the main difference between Nigerian and Ghanaian men. I quote her “What were all those indecisive short passes near goal for? Shoot man! Go on, be a tiger! You see how Ghana men dey like to do sme-sme at crucial points heh? I swear if na Eagles on a good day, emphasis on good oh, Brazil must concede at least one goal, common Charlie, shoot for f…ks sake”. Yes my brothers and sister-sporting language is colourful regardless of gender.

For me as a broadcast professional, l must raise this point especially for the Nigerian ALIs. Between the half time break and final studio cue out, there were about 18 adverts during the Ghana – Brazil match. Only two of those adverts were not from Nigeria! The two others were l think from Kenya, none except the sponsor’s message from ABSA and Vodacom were from South Africa, the parent country of DSTV.

So what you wonder? So this. DSTV has roughly about 150,000 subscribers all over Africa a number of them inactive. NTA is seen all over Nigeria. Even if only 1% of Nigeria’s population own TV sets and have power during the matches, we know that there are up to an average of 20 viewers to each TV set (there are no effective media rating system in Nigeria), do the maths. Even for the independent stations like AIT and Silver bird, their viewer ship run into millions. If majority of the people watch terrestrial TV because that is what they can afford and that is where the issues, stories and events that concern them are raised and aired, why does so much media spend go to DSTV?

Because most of those who make these decisions in corporate Nigeria do not watch terrestrial TV and seemly cannot connect on a deep level to Nigeria’s true reality. Even if legitimately, they do not want to give support to a propaganda machinery like NTA whose abject neglect, rampant corruption and appalling programming is a turn off what about AIT, Silver bird, Channels and the good independent productions on TV? These are people who are struggling to grow and build capacity, those who if they became powerful and financially independent can be better members of the fourth realm invaluable to strengthening democracy and good governance.

Note the role of AIT in the anti 3rd term campaign and that the two recently bailed journalists who asked legit questions about the presidential jets are not from CNN, BBC, SABC or DSTV but from barely surviving independent Nigerian media houses. But then how will the corporate buyer know who is doing a good enough job so they can give, not charity but buy into a growing process that more adequately services and represent a larger mass of the people and their own present and future consumer base. Or is it that like in governance, only the minority matters as long as they are not from the Niger delta! Cue the laugh. I have no problem with DSTV who must be happy to have Nigeria’s money growing a non-Nigerian entity, they are not the only benefactors of our perennial stupidity, and l am glad Ghana doesn’t seem to have such afflictions, certainly not South Africa. Not even for Big Brother Nigeria did you find major south African companies struggling to advertise, they know that most South Africans watch SABC, ETV and such and that those stations service their local economy so that, my brethren and sistren is where you will find their hard earned Rand.

Next long sentence l write with humility because as Wole Soyinka wrote in his new book “you must set forth at dawn”, l am a closet glutton for tranquility. It therefore never ceases to amaze me that after wining all available broadcast awards in my category, having the largest local TV show internet forum, not being able to walk incognito in any Nigerian community locally or in places as far flung as UK, USA, SA and Greece and typically having just been questioned about my last guest or show by every one from security man at the door to the ushering secretary, l walk into a corporate types’ office and he or she asks “so who sees your show”? He does not because he cannot, worse he imagines that everyone else cannot. He is watching Larry, his wife, Oprah and his daughter, Tyra. All good and wonderful people. None would ever raise the issue of the 200 people who just perished on the Aba road, the robbers on the Lokoja Abuja road, the fall out of banks consolidation, Tunde Kelani’s excellent new movie of Wole Soyinka’s new book. So I continue to struggle as does the great Tunde Kelani whose skills and art would probably die with him unable to make the great Nigerian film that the people on the streets and the international professional in his field knows he is fully capable of making. Why not? Because, No local content please, we are Nigerians.

Pastor Funmi stops here. Insha Allah l shall be in SA come 2010, my face painted green and white, and my little talking drum under my arm, drumming and dancing in support of the Super Eagles, Nigeria and Africa.


Anonymous said...

Funmi, you never cease to make me laugh. I thought you were Aunty funmi? when did you become Pastor Funmi? (LOL).

Anyway, I will always read it, if you wrote it. Talking about Larry's wife, I chose to watch new dawn some weeks ago as against watching Oprah (even though i had to bully my sister to do that)twas then i knew i'm addicted to most things Funmi Iyanda. So, SA 2010 it is. Hope you're an arsenal Fan O! You better be. Waiting to see what next you will write. Also, you'll see somethng i wrote about you soon

Anonymous said...

Hi Funmi,

I read your blog for the first time today and I really enjoyed it. You go girl


Anonymous said...

The truth about life is getting to know your calling and using it in the best way possible. Your are doing just that and may God keep you going in Jesus name Amen. Its also my first time reading your blog and twas everything expected and more from someone who has realised her calling keep the fire burning my lady and kimdle it with care. Cheers Chioma

Anonymous said...

Hi Funmi,

i am one of those addicted to your pgm and New dawn! As a matter of fact i have been on your show once to talk about insurance.
Anyway i just heard u say on your show that you do not like your nose!I surprised you did not mention your legs!Anyway it is Funmi now!
I am very proud of you and what you have been able to do for yourself and TV.

Pls keep it up, but remember we are watching! Like the big brother!

Best regards


Anonymous said...

Hi Funmi,You are refreshing and REAL.i wan crase when i heard about how much it was to see the concert with Beyonce and co.That was absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary.And to think they had separate gates please dont get me started on that.I am happy i found your Blog.YOU GO GIRL ALL THE WAY......

Unknown said...

I'm loving ur blog funmi!! A breath of fresh air!!!

Anonymous said...

just found your blog. i agree with you on the naija mentality with regards to media buying. it would be possible for the idiots that rule the place to place an NTA minumum spend policy on the big businesses they are granting licences to.
businesses go out of their way here to do that for channel4 in england in what they call gentlemen agreement. that is the only way out.
but i am shocked to see NTA advertising for people to call for sponsorship on air. there must be a proactive and agressive marketing office at NTA to compete for business with other stations. on air ads wont do. it is laziness and shortsightedness