BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc., has an international arm, BET International, that broadcasts its content across Africa.Therefore, one would presume that after doing so for the past seven years, it can and should be able to identify and distinguish the features of one African talent from another. Apparently not.
Case in point? Today happens to be the birthday of Olamide a popular indigenous recording artist from Nigeria, West Africa. His music is known across the continent and in the diaspora. BET decided to be a part of the festivities by joining his fans and other well-wishers to wish him well. How did they execute it? BET posted (a talent) with a guitar on its Twitter page that they claimed was Olamide, accompanied with the following message:
“Sending positive vibes and birthday wishes all the way to #Nigeria to @Olamide_YBNL.”
The problem is Olamide is a rapper and is yet to display true singing abilities, much less guitar skills.
Now, Nigerians and other Africans would probably let this “All Africans look alike” situation slide if BET didn’t raise as much noise when other networks/personalities misidentify or serve some of that ignorant all blacks look alike messaging. So, of course, Nigerians/Africans had to go in. (You can see some few responses and memes below).
In my view, I believe BET has gotten away with what I deem to be shoddy coverage of the African experience and Africans in general, for too long, even when BET operates on African turf on the continent. The relationship is always one sided and a “take, take, take,” type in favor of BET, regardless. It appears the only time Africans in the diaspora or on the continent really see themselves on the network in a meaningfully visible way is when they adopt the Black-American culture, language (Ebonics) etc. Even then, what viewers see is everything but a contemporary African experience.
My message to BET, “you can do better. Step up your game, on all fronts, when it comes to how you handle and cover the continent and its citizens.”
In other news, Olamide celebrated his birthday by releasing a new music video titled ‘Journey of a Thousand Miles’. (You can watch it below).
Watch Olamide’s latest music video ‘Journey of a Thousand Miles’ released today