Talent Hunt, Reality Shows: Creating Equal Platform For Nigerian Youths

(By Adiyan Babatomi Philip)

It is only on a couple of occasions that we have seen reality TV featuring, aside the usual singing or dancing, programmes with entrepreneurship or business content, to bring out potentials in youths.  In giving people a chance to unfold their talents and realise their dreams, it is important to ensure attention is given to, and avenues are provided for, all who possess inherent abilities apart from those regularly featured in the media to the point of over exposure.

ONE thing that has definitely become part and parcel of the Nigerian system which is, indeed, becoming a frequent phenomenon, is the proliferation of what we all know as ‘Reality TV shows’ and the so-called Talent Hunt programmes. This has now become a regular feature of television viewing for many Nigerians. The programmes generate tremendous interest among viewers. Good as they may sound, the objectives and ideas behind reality shows in our country are laudable. Undoubtedly, they were copied from the Western world, similar to what we see in the music industry. There have been cases of some talent shows organised in the United States and Britain being staged here in Nigeria, courtesy of their organisers and local partners.

  In recent times, however, there has been a seeming increase in the number of reality shows adorning our screens, and this is beginning to assume a worrying dimension, both tangible and intangible in form.  One begins to question how real some of them actually are. Looking at the advent of reality TV shows in our sphere takes one back to sometime in 2003 when the first-ever of its kind was introduced. That was the Gulder Ultimate Search and it was widely accepted by TV viewers being the first of its kind at the time. This opened the floodgates for more of such. It has to be said that many of the shows have, in a way, transformed the lives of many youths to whom the programme was targeted in the first place, especially the winners. These went away with substantial financial and material rewards.

   This is made possible mostly through the support of some major multinational companies that sponsor some of the shows. This leads us to the major point of this reflection, which is the over emphasis on a particular industry which, no doubt, is gradually becoming a contributor to the GDP: Entertainment.  Taking a look at some of the shows one finds that they are skewed in the direction of entertainment and this is where my challenge lies.

   Yes, the programme seeks to unearth the inborn talents of the teeming youths who constitute about 60 per cent of the entire population of our country. However, in doing so, the stakeholders among whom are the organisers, promoters and more crucially the sponsors, should begin to explore other areas besides the entertainment angle. As much as there are young people with abilities to dance like the Kaffys of this world, great rapturous voices in the mould of the late Whitney Houston or even those who can enter the character of a ‘Jenifa’ in a Nollywood movie—all of whom enrapture us with their performances; there is an equal number of others with cognitive abilities who can make great artists like Michelangelo, the intellectual brilliance to develop into modern-day Chinua Achebe or even hold a large audience spell bound through their speaking prowess. These are just a few examples of so many other areas yet to be given a chance to showcase talents.

  It is only on a couple of occasions that we have seen reality TV featuring, aside the usual singing or dancing, programmes with entrepreneurship or business content, to bring out potentials in youths.  In giving people a chance to unfold their talents and realise their dreams, it is important to ensure attention is given to, and avenues are provided for, all who possess inherent abilities apart from those regularly featured in the media to the point of over exposure.   Understandably, there is self-evident boom, and there is irresistible glamour in the entertainment industry at the moment. One can, therefore, not blame them for the attention to this aspect of life. Many young people suddenly discover that they have one singing talent or the other, thus making event organisers and promoters to pay more attention in that direction. Big companies also see this as something to leverage on in sales of their respective brands.

   While credit must be given to corporate organisations that sponsor the shows for their sense of social responsibility, as this is a way of enhancing overall development of this country by providing different platforms for the youths to exhibit some of their potentials, the point also needs to be made that it should be a broad-based concept.  The much older generation makes us believe that ‘the youths are the leaders of tomorrow’, a statement I believe can no longer stand the test of time. Tomorrow of yesterday is today and if our nation is still in this present state that means our tomorrow starts right from today. All efforts must be made for all with those covert gifts to achieve their aspirations. The good Book states that a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.

   The multinational and indigenous corporations should begin to put weight behind more educative programmes in whatever form, whether it’s in reality shows or talent discovery. They should be such that will add value to the mind and intellectual capability, to enhance creativity and engender more discoveries.   As things stand, I’m yet to see a TV reality show focusing on young inventors, creative fashion designers or even talented painters. These are some of the areas that need to be looked into in order to create an equal footing for talents and develop better ideas that will transform the lives of our youth and make the Nigerian dream a reality.

(Adiyan Babatomi Philip)

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