Nigeria: Gambino's This Is America Vs Falz This Is Nigeria

Photo: Screenshot/YouTube
This is Nigeria by Falz

American Singer, Donald Glover who goes with the stage name Childish Gambino on the 5th of May 2018 released a video "This is America".

The video which as at Monday, 4th of June 2018 has garnered over 230 million views on YouTube is a satire on Gun violence epidemic, racism, terrorism, black on black crime and so on in America and how despite all these life goes on as people either easily forget, or move on to the next big thing or are oblivious of the facts that such issues and vices are happening.

Several media houses, vloggers and writers attempted to offer or explain the carefully choreographed elements, symbolisms, analogy, and allusions used in the video, however Childish Gambino has kept mum over it. Allowing the viewers to watch and interpret it themselves.

The video which was shot in what looks like a warehouse opens with a an empty chair, a man walks into the frame sits down and strums a guitar, meanwhile Gambino who was behind a pillar dances to the fore and shot a man who was sitting with a bag over his head.

The posture he took before shooting the man has been described to be the famous Jim Crow caricature.

The video's foreground is generally dominated by Gambino and the dancing students, however the background has a lot of activities going on.

A viewer, Hawker Hurricane, explaining the effects of the distraction caused by the dancing students and Gambino wrote that in "2:13 Man throws himself to his death. This is something you have to watch time and time again if you want to see everything in the background; but some people will be too focused on the dancing to realise what's going on, the point this video makes. People are too distracted by trivial things and ignore or forget about the serious issues."

Still on the distraction Super Troll said that in"2:56 in bible apocalypse follows the white horse, which is the police in the video".

One viewer, Donald McKinley Glover, wrote that the singing choir was the Charleston Dylan Roof church shooting, the black men are blindfolded because it makes them almost nobody. Also, the bags resemble the kinds of gunny sacks put over black men's faces when they were lynched.

McKinley noted that "The cars are referencing the fact that black man buys expensive cars and pointless stuff, for show, that become old and worthless when they have cash."

He added that "Everything is a distraction for the madness in America. At the end the terror of the black man running from the patrol/slave-catcher/Paddy rollers/police means they have money and status and yet because of your skin complexion and hair they still are just like that slave running in terror knowing he can be killed any time."

A lot of the viewers explanations were similar however they seems not have agreed on the ending as a viewer with the screen name New Day Guidance wrote "Final scenes were to imitate the sunken place from Get Out. If you've seen it you'll know what I'm saying."

Another viewer Joel Farrelly "I thought the end was a prediction of America's people finally turning on him. A warning of how things will go if the cycle continues to persist."

Megan Mer asking a question said "Aren't all the people at the end chasing him white? I thought it was a reference to escaping slavery through a forest as well as a general metaphor for escaping the cycle of violence and consumerism in America".

THIS IS NIGERIA

A few weeks after the release of "This is America" Nigerian artist Falz released a version of the video called "This is Nigeria".

Adey Alake, had written in the Youtube comment section that "The first remake I have seen that is not of comedy but is about serious matters instead loved it"

Instead of just making a cover to the song or a parody to the video as often obtainable Falz took the opportunity to highlights some problems in Nigeria.

In a BBC interview Falz said "I didn't anticipate the magnitude of reaction"

"I thought it will be amazing to tell the Nigerian story in a similar fashion so I decided to do a cover of both the audio and video" He explained.

He added that "I also thought it is very important to stir up a heightened level of political and social consciousness."

This is Nigeria opened with the title written in a cursive font in small caps, moves to a shot of Falz from behind listening to a radio programme, the scenes moves to a man wearing a Fulani attire playing a local instrument, the very energetic dancers in video are garbed in a Hijab resembling those worn by the abducted Chibok girls in a video released by the Boko haram insurgents.

The video showed the electricity problem, Youth "Yahoo boyz" trying to get rich by scamming and "Runz Girls"- Call girls flocking around these boys. It also showed the alleged harassments that led to the #EndSARS Campaign and how those with money can easily buy justice and freedom.

It also highlighted the cases of drug abuse, persistent farmers/herders clashes, Nigerians religiosity and how clerics make congregations build schools, facilities that they can't afford to send their wards.

It also made a parody of the Big brother Naija show, which he represented by a cheque showing Big Sister Naija. This could also be interpreted to mean the wave of feminism across Nigeria where women are often seen asking for equality and parity on issues they perceive to lean toward patriarchy.

Unlike Gambino's video where concentration is needed to notice all the activities in the background, Falz and the female dancers didn't dominate every frames, as they didn't pose much of a distraction.

Falz video is straight forward while different a scene from Gambino's can be subjected to a lot of interpretations because his creative and artistic use of symbolisms .

A viewer, Allwell Amadi write that "Everything Falz said is true and spot on."

He went on to explain what he feels the controversial line in the lyrics "Everybody be criminal" means.

He said "Everybody be criminal simply means that we the masses are treated badly by the forces in Nigeria as criminals, but my favourite part was at the end of the video, You can see a cut on the white part of the Nigerian flag which signifies NO PEACE...people die every day."

Anita Ihesie, another viewer talking about the Falz video ending noted that "The end part just hit the nail on the head. It's so annoying that Church members would contribute for a particular purpose (eg to build a school) and the leaders of the church would build the school and fix the fees so high that majority of the people that contributed to the success of the project can't afford to send their children there."

However Not everyone feels that Falz took a right step in the right direction.

A viewer with the screen name Rich T wrote that "I really can't respect copy cats . You didn't have the creativity to address Nigerian issues before childish bambino did it. It's really nothing to be proud of mate. You even use the same characters and depictions."

Another viewer Vee Gy wrote "People are acting like this is original artistry."

Nevertheless Falz since the release of the video on the 25th of May 2018 has been getting press time it has been on YouTube trending NO 1 in Nigeria for over 7 days.

This is Nigeria is 3:42 minutes long and was directed by Iyobosa 'Geezy' Rohoboth and the Video Producer is Wande Thomas

While this is America is 4:04 long and was directed by Hiro Murai while the producers are Jason Cole of Doomsday with Ibra Ake and Fam Rothstein of Wolf + Rothstein.

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