Nigerian celebrities need to move past chills and vibes to building an authentic brand towards National Development

Social media went agog a few days ago when the assurance crooner and music executive, David Adeleke AKA ‘Davido’ raised 200million naira from friends and fans in preparation for his 29th birthday in what started as a joke on his Instagram stories where he challenged his friends to a 1-million-naira gift and in less than 48 hours over N150M was raised from his friends and fans

Davido has over the years been known for his cheerfulness, free-spiritedness and benevolence which he publicly shows amongst his team members and fans on social media with other social causes he contributes to such as scholarships etc…

We all have this soft spot for Davido not just because of his large heart but also for his consistency in remaining relevant in the industry with several hits to his name, despite his constant need to change the narrative of being ‘lucky’ and privileged.

Davido is the most followed artiste in Africa boasting more followers than two of Nigeria’s biggest musical artists, Wizkid and Burnaboy; this isn’t far-fetched from Davido’s ability to connect with his fans not just monetarily but also his show of humility and connectedness which ultimately has earned him a spot in their hearts.

There is no ambiguity in determining Davido’s star power which was made evident in the 200-million-naira fundraiser for his birthday; this is also a social fact that a noticeable category of behaviour exists in the public domain that I and others can call ‘celebrity advocacy’.

Celebrity advocacy refers to any work by popular people in service of some cause other than themselves.

Celebrity advocacy can vary greatly, but most commonly it involves speaking out, and being seen to speak out, for a cause, collaborating with an organization, typically an NGO, or non-governmental organization, which fights for that cause. Such advocacy can involve fund-raising, making films, writing articles, meeting supporters, attending rallies, meeting politicians or policymakers.

Citing Mark Harvey’s celebrity influence, politics, persuasion and issue-based advocacy book he took a close look into the phenomenon of celebrity advocacy in an attempt to determine the nature of celebrity influence, and the source and extent of its power

He focused on two specific kinds of power- The ability to spotlight issues in the media and to persuade the audience, Harvey searches out the sources of celebrity influence and compares them directly to the sources of politicians’ influence.

In a number of case studies—such as Jolie and Ben Affleck drawing media attention to the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Bob Marley uniting warring factions in Jamaica; John Lennon networking with the new left to oppose Richard Nixon’s re-election; Elvis Presley working with Nixon to counter anti-war activism—he details the role of celebrities working with advocacy groups and lobbying politicians to affect public opinion and influence policy. A series of psychological experiments demonstrate that celebrities can persuade people to accept their policy positions, even on national security issues and more.

In a series of write-up on my WhatsApp, I highlighted that Davido is a FORCE and shouldn’t be an ambassador to just brands but also a representation and voice for the people on critical issues that affect us as a nation/people

It’s high time Nigerian celebrities go beyond chills and vibes but rather make good use of their influence not just for social causes but for pushing a culture especially within the digital/media space that can create the kind of attitudinal changes we want to see in our people; the soil isn’t the problem the people are.

Is there a more constructive way to put to good use celebrity influence in Nigeria? Davido’s case was a clear representation of the effect celebrities have on their fans; Davido received money not just from his rich friends but also from fans who gave out of their widow’s mite- this goes to show that celebrities are capable of effecting a change!

Tunde Success a mentor said to me ‘Nigerian youths cannot rule Nigeria because we waste influence’ this was a deep reflection especially seeing the kind of culture being propagated by our celebrities and people of influence within the social media space….

A culture of materialism, wastage and frivolities is one that cannot lead us to the vision we have for our dear nation in comparison with saner climes.

Celebrity culture is an aspirational culture regardless of how much we don’t want it to be (Paloma Faith) and would blow up on our faces if we do not begin to question the impact these superstars have on young people if we do not push conversations that questions the essence of their impact/influence especially towards national development.

Celebrity advocacy is a great tool that needs to be channelled better in Nigeria towards culture, politics, and meaningful engagement; I urge us to make findings on how celebrities in saner climes have made a vital impact upon politics within the first 2 decades of the 21st century.

Conclusively, it is pertinent that we also ask ourselves if there is a more qualitative approach in determining who a celebrity is and should be especially with the advent of social media.

Written by https://www.linkedin.com/in/tofunmi-akinseye-ba2009136/ 

CEO/Publisher, Savvy Media Africa

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