UK NEWS: PLAYRIGHT BLASTS BBC’S ‘WELCOME TO LAGOS’

A scene from Welcome To Lagos

Via Digital Spy

Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka has branded a BBC documentary about the slums in Lagos “condescending” and “colonialist”. Aired on BBC Two, three-episode mini-series Welcome To Lagos tracked people living in the poorest areas of the Nigerian city to celebrate their industriousness.

Speaking to The Guardian, Nobel Laureate Soyinka said that the documentary was “the most tendentious and lopsided programme” he had ever seen.

Despite the series receiving critical praise in the UK, Soyinka said that it demonstrated “the worst aspects of colonialist and patronising” attitudes towards modern life in Africa.

Soyinka, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, said: “There was no sense of Lagos as what it is – a modern African state. What we had was jaundiced and extremely patronising. It was saying ‘Oh, look at these people who can make a living from the pit of degradation’. Continue Reading….

[Thanks Kaydine]

Well said Wole.

I knew from the very start that the BBC’s three-part documentary Welcome To Lagos wasn’t going to show Lagos (Nigeria) in a positive light.

Why would they bother to make a documentary about affluent, educated and successful Nigerians or at least show a balanced view.

No they would rather continue to just show the world the poverty and degradation. E.g. people who live on top of a rubbish dump (see pic above).

Congratulations goes out to the BBC. A job well done! You should clean up come awards season!

I now look forward to watching your next unbalanced three-part documentary, Welcome To Kingston.

25 replies »

  1. Sorry,
    I so disagree with this.
    I loved the show and find it amusing that people don’t like to see the reality that is in much of our countries. The fact remains that 2 thirds of the population resdide in the slum in Nigerai NOT the nice parts that I dwell in when in West Africa or most of my friends.
    I ddn’t feel that it was patronisng and thought that many people here could learn a thing or two from the honest hard working nature of the people. If I had of seen cheating fraudsters possibly I would have been annoyed.
    If black people are to progress with all rounded programmes about ourselves, we must take the rough with the smooth.

  2. What smooth? So far all they’ve exposed us to throughout the years is the rough.

    If it was well balanced out then I wouldn’t have a problem.

    “If I had of seen cheating fraudsters possibly I would have been annoyed.”

    Well the last part will air tonight. Lets just hope they don’t take it there.

  3. I watched it and the general feeling i got after watching it was the personality and resilience and determination of the people who live in these hard conditions.

    The fraudsters, LOL! did you miss the student who was battling the traders in an attempt to sell his logs for his tuition and how he handled the traders? But there are fraudsters everywhere, some just do it neatly and get away with it. LOL!
    I personally enjoyed it. The sense of community and family was all in there even if the conditions were not the best. It is like when i watched ‘the lost children of zimbabwe’, it was hard hitting but real. It was not an easy watch at all but was worth a watch.

  4. I think sometimes it depends on who and why a documentary is done. There are some that are done and you just get the feeling that the journalist is detached from what they are doing and it comes off as purposeless (pointless).

    I watched ‘sahara with Micheal Palin’, and that man was so in tune with what he was doing and presenting that even if he showed some things that were or are seen as babaric or uncultured by some folks, it did not show. It all came off as an appreciation of the culture he was in and he respected that and tuned in.

    Ok i need to watch welcome to lagos again and see what Wole is seeing. lol

  5. I see where Janice point, We get these documentaries that focus on the ugly only.

    BUT, like Lati, what I saw was determination in the midst of such poverty and I was challenged by it. I lived in Nigeria for 20 years and I kept asking myself as I watched the doc’ “Does this place really exist?” as in, for real?’

    I think some of us (including some who currently reside in Nigeria) live in a bubble and we assume that everyone else lives the same life only a few percentage of the people live or simply close our eyes to the reality of a lot of the poor people. With the resourses we have in that country there is no reson why anyone should be living in the dump. (but I guess it is not as black and white as it is)

    It would be interesting to see if part three will focus on the otherside of Lagos. (Something tells me it would be another dump feature)

  6. I was watching expecting to hear the a typical condescending narrator describe the barbaric and uncivilised conditions these people were living under instead, like Lanre and Lati i saw resilience and determination, I saw confidence and strong sense of family.

    I didnt feel bad for them, because they were never shown feeling bad for themselves. You could see the strength, and I honestly heard more than an iota of respect in the narrators voice.

    As much as I would like them to at least show the contrast of living and people in Lagos, I was glad to see this side.

  7. I haven’t watched this, but have been told about this by several people. Th difference in classes is so great that economists say that a middle class doesn’t exist (although it does). Yes, there are rich parts in Nigeria, that make their Western/Eastern counterparts look like they’ve been playing with Monopoly money.

    Yes, the truth needs to be told/shown. Although, it always seems to only be the bad. Sometimes, something made with the best intentions, just ends up looking condescending. But lets be frank almost every country has its slums, yes even the British, the Americans, the Chinese, the French, the Russians, all the biggies. Just because they don’t show, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    I remember when someone discovered I was born & bred in Nigeria, he was surprised with my English. Then I pointed out we were colonised by the British, it’s our first language & its the only language I know, he went quiet.

  8. “I remember when someone discovered I was born & bred in Nigeria, he was surprised with my English. “<— I know waht you mean by that. lol

    I was on a train and a west african made an announcement, and an old english lady said 'speak english', now i didn't know what to think of this old lady. It's one thing not understanding an accent, its another not being able to identify your own language. LMAO!

    Anyway, back to the topic!

  9. I think that there is a level of embarrassment that makes for slightlly uncomfortable viewing to some, but I second the comments that I never felt that way about it.
    For readers who have lived back home or travelled enough there to know, they should easily recognise the two young boys who left their villages to find work at the timber yard. They should do, unless they are one of the rare families who don’t have a house boy or house girl living within their compounds.
    Once again, I take the moral highground here because I never had or use this kind of cheap labour to elevate my lifestyle there simply because I have dollars and can exploit this market where state education is not free and there are no welfare associations to house the poor.
    If Africans don’t wish to witness the harsh reality of what a vast disproportion in wealth amongst themselves create then they should try washing their own clothes, cooking their own food, driving their own ‘big cars’ OR employ ppl and allow them to live off their properties to empower the poor to leverage themselves. Funnily, not a lot of my aunties and uncles would like that I think- real talk. The fact is that middle class Africans enjoy a VERY nice life which ironically if documented would to me only highlight the obscenity.

  10. Loved part 1 – big up to Vocal Slender/Joseph and family. Loved them !!!

    I didn’t think part 2 was particularly gr8. The guy they focused on in particular was not worthy of a documentary, he came across as a clown and played up consistently to the camera.

    I don’t agree with Wole and don’t have a problem with the BBC’s portrayal of the poverty…IT EXISTS, people are SUFFERING & SMILING.

    Will it embarrass the government into action ??? hella no, they’ll continue to rape the country, whilst the poor man lives everyday with no consistent electricity, no pure water, open gutters etc etc etc.

    What I would have liked to see is a balance within the program, not just focusing on one part of Lagos and NOT necessarily the more affluent parts. Lagos is huge, they could have played with a lot of different factual scenarios. The second part especially could have been so much better.

    Looking forward to part 3, tonight !!!

  11. Part 3 much better. Loved Esther.

    My only crtiticism, it finished too quick 😦

  12. Going through some of these post, all i see is yearning for ‘BALANCE’ i wonder what other balance we are yearning for…….i thank bbc for this. This i know, if bbc gives in to the so called balance view of Lagos, then the well to do/elite/ruling class will be seen for what they really are…..insensitive, ineffective, inefficient, greedy and uneven distribution of public wealth and resources. By the way, waiting for outsiders to portray us (Nigerians) in a green light is a futile effort. The best that happens in this scenario is where the outsiders keep num when great things happen. It’s high time we as a people take our destiny into our hands……….for those of us who have been down this road been covered by bbc, we yearn for change not balance view……..change. For the elite they will always yearn for balance view. MAY BE IF ‘AM I ENJOY THE AFFLUENCE THEY ENJOY I’LL SAY THE SAME BUT I DON’T. Rather I’ve seen and felt the cold hands of hunger and lack even in a country as blessed as Nigeria. May these so called leaders be touched by God.

  13. Personally i am tired of the ‘helpless image’ that has been portrayed for donkeys and is still portrayed for the benefit of some folks eg the charity and aid image has done so well to plant that image in people’s minds. I don’t care whether people sell mangoes and tomatoes on streets or whatever that is underlooked, i know people who have built houses, looked after thier families and paid tuition or school fees by doing this knid of work. And by committing themselves to this kind of work, the quality of life of each generation has improved as a result. I am not saying that it happens perfectly like that to all, but there are many success stories of that nature.

    It is was refreshing to see hard working folks who seemed happy and getting on with life and surviving without government help. There are many folks who live that way in Africa and many have succeeded fortunately. Too many rags to riches stories, forget the ones that are concocted in some societies.

  14. Ok, maybe the title ‘welcome to lagos’ might not have been the best considering the content of the documentary. That way i can see Wole Soyinka’s point.

  15. The documentary should have been given another title. I agree with Wole Soyinka that it is lopsided. Lagos is not only about slumps. The producers have not pass any useful message across other than to make the uninformed audience think Lagos is all about slumps and dumps.

  16. the first thing i thought when i saw the programme was .. huh!!!!
    this aint the nigeria that i see and I AINT EVEN RICH……. but then i sat down and watched the programme from beginnoing to end ( first episode ) and i was impressed with the interweaving stories and tha perspective.. cos its one i had not encountered!!!
    THE PROBLEM WITH IT I FIND IS IT DOESNT EXPLAIN TO THE VIEWER THAT THIS IS NOT THE WHOLE OF NIGERIA VERY WELL..
    you would have to be a seasoned veteran of africa to not be fooled into thinking that THIS WAS all there is to offer!! and thats my problem!!!
    but i have not seen the other two episodes yet!!

  17. Ty, you may not be rich in yoor terms but let’s face it when you go back, I doubt you live in a corrugated room. I thought that the premise of the show was to highlight the creative ways people deal with adversity ultimately…Funnily, it is only black ppl I have spoken to seem a bit horrified…anyone else who I have spoken to has enjoyed it-but maybe the non-black ppl I know are the rare few who don’t think that one mini documentary can educate them completely on an entire country….

    And really, what woould be the selling point of showing the opulence of the oil rich minority say ? Ppl who only know Africa for the sake of safari or charity are not worth educating anyway. Africa is on the rise and it would be better that we kept our sweet secret to ourselves- I mean, LOOK WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME 🙂

  18. I can not believe that some people are viewing this program as an expose on the bad and ugly side of Lagos. I have watched many such “exposes”, but you can call this particular series anything but that, at least in my own opinion. Some people even go as far as calling it “biassed”!! Just what aspects of it were biased? Did BBC orchestrate any section of it? Did they use any make ups and actors/actresses? Did they make any negative, impartial comments? Did they use any props other than their cameras and other communication equipment? Were the participants reading from a script? NO!

    This was a refreshing and absolutely captivating look at hard and honest people who make a living under the very harshest conditions and seem perfectly happy and content about it. Is it just me, or did anyone else notice how content and happy these people were, given the almost impossible position they find themselves?
    Let me tell you this, I came back from work very tired and happened to stumble on the program. But that tiredness flew out the window as soon as I started watching this incredible story of resilience. Even the narrator spoke with absolute awe and respect at the plight of these industrious and enterprising Lagosians who would not be daunted by any hardship!

    Foreign media have been guilty in the past for portraying negative aspects of 3rd world countries like ours, but on this occasion, I have to hail the BBC for appreciating the plights of the real Lagosians, the hard-working poor man who can make something out of nothing and still not complain.

    After watching that program, I felt warm inside and it made me realise how lucky I was to be able to even have a decent roof over my head and still have the luxury of complaining that fuel prices are up!

    I am an ardent fan of Wole Soyinka and have great respect for him, but on this occasion, I have to disagree with him. I don’t think the series was “condescending” and “colonialist” at all. I thought it was incisive, truthful and celebrates the ingeniousness of the ultra-ordinary struggling Lagosian and by extension, a Nigerian.

  19. I had a smile on my face by the first minute, then a huge laugh by the 8th, with that onye oshi calling Joseph a good man. From the way it’s been delivered, it doesn’t have the usual condescending tone, we’ve come to expect from the usual fanfare.

    Like I tell people over here, there’s no welfare system, no government is going to bail you out. You work your ass off by any means necessary. Where else are you going to find people, who use a “go-slow” or the closing of a major church convention to its full potential?

  20. I have no problem with “Welcome to Lagos” other than it doesn’t tell the full story of how it is that the poor are that poor, the backdrop of their poverty is how the government have been raping the country for years and looting the country of it’s resources. I mean the question of why a country that is as oil rich as Nigeria has such overwhelming poverty, poor infrastructure and such a lack of distribution of wealth is not really asked talkless on answered.

    I am happy that people featured have been given a chance to tell their story that most would’ve never heard, I have lived in Lagos and I am aware of places like Mushin, Ajegunle and other slum areas. The thing is the title “welcome to Lagos” is slightly misleading because those stories told don’t reflect Lagos in it’s entirety. However those stories are true and the humanity of the people was reflected and I found it inspiring although if more radical voices were given a chance to speak it wouldn’t be all smiles. Anger at being left for dead by a corrupt government would be heard.

    It makes me appreciate Fela even more because he would’ve given more truth and attempted to answer the question “why?”

  21. Great to see this debate on here. Have to say I don’t think Soyinka was right, and I’d love to know what he made of programmes 2 and 3. Yes it’s not the whole of Lagos. Of course, it’s not the whole of Nigeria. But what it is, is 3 hours of prime time TV on the BBC which does not focus on misery, but uses hardship as a backdrop to allow ingenuity, resilience, humour and humanity to rise to the fore. I found it refreshing and I hope we see more programmes like this. And if the authorities don’t like it – well so what.

    for what it’s worth, I liked part 3 the best, then part 1. The 2nd didn’t work so well for me in TV terms, but maybe that’s because the other two were so strong.

    One point though – did anybody else find some of the soundtrack massively off-putting? The start was great, but those scenes with very English ‘country garden’ music were just weird…very odd indeed.

    That gripe apart – great stuff – is the worm finally turning?

  22. IT BEATS MY IMAGINATION WHY D EUROPEAN MEDIA STILL BASK IN THIS NEO COLONIALIST HORROR AND CRUDITY. WHY HAS BBC, CNN AND OTHERS NEVER AIR ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT NIGERIA AND AFRICA GENERALLY? DOES THIS AUTHENTICATE THEIR OBVIOUS DISPOSITION AND UNCONCEALABLE HATRED AND UNCANNY DISGUST FOR AFRICA. NEVER HAS ANY OF THEM AIRED D MANY SUPER BILIONAIRES AND THEIR FAMILIES IN D SAME NIGERIA. OR DONT THEY KNOW ALIKO DANGOTE, MIKE ADENUGA, BABANGIDA, OBASANJO AND OTHERS WHO GRACE D FRONT PAGES OF FORBES MAGAZINE.DON T WE ALL KNOW D MANY SLUMS IN LONDON. CANT DIS SOCIAL CANNIBALS DOCUMENT THAT AND AIR ENGLISH PEOPLE’S INDUSTRIOUSNESS IN D FACE OF MANY HYPOCRITIC GODON BROWN AND HIS COHORTS. WAS OSAMA BIN LADEN NOT USED BY AMERICA TO FALL RUSSIA DURING D WARS.
    PLEASE SPARE AFRICA OF DIS BULLSHITS AND CRAPS. AFRICANS DONT NEED THE EUROPEAN PATHETIC EXPOSURE. IT WOULD FARE MUCH BETTER WITHOUT IT

Follow MAD NEWS UK on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow me on Twitter

Instagram

Instagram

Archives

April 2010
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  
%d bloggers like this: