Opinion: We need to stop the jack-of-all-trades mentality in Nigerian music & movies

by Segun Adekoye


I know you are coming to read this article probably out of vex. In your mind, you bellow “I know i’m jack of all trades but how dare he tell me to my face”. Well, oga abeg no vex, it’s just a title. I haven’t said it’s a good or a bad thing. Most of us in Nigeria are jacks of many trades. Problem dey o.

This is not an emerging trend in the country. In fact, it is the norm. We are all to our businesses from start to finish. Mostly in the entertainment sector. Take a look a this  for example. You sing in your bathroom. It sounds  nice to you. You listen to the radio and pay the Nigerian-idol-judge attention to the voice that is singing “You’re just an Oliver… Oliver… Oliver Twist” and it doesn’t hit high notes at all. You yell to yourself “Bloody Hell! I can sing better than this guy”. You pick your pen and you’re inspired to write a song “I can do better than your guy”. You believe it will be a hit cos you even recorded and mastered your single and the fact that it’s on eternal replay on your phone means others will be as obsessive about it.  Now you are a MUSICIAN.  You hit the streets and realize that you want airplay so you try to sell your song to the radio stations. Well done MARKETER. You beg the bloggers to put it online for free and tweet 100 times about your new single everyday. SOCIAL MEDIA PUBLICIST. You pick your calls and negotiate your price for events you’re called for. MANAGER of yourself. You know nothing about videos or you would have shot it yourself. Shebi na to cut costs. You replicate this act and come up with  full album. You know a few things about graphics, so you’re the GRAPHIC DESIGNER. They use your camera so you get the PHOTOGRAPHER’s credit. The album is about to be launched and you become RECORD LABEL OWNER of a label only you will ever be signed upon.

The same can be said of most Nollywood movies. You find movies that are WRITTEN, EDITED, PRODUCED and DIRECTED by Otu Abuo Ato (DGN).

Why are most Nigerians all to themselves?

  1. No money: A lot of people struggle to keep their dreams alive. Even when you find people who can assist in doing some of these things, they charge exorbitant fees. But then a young man’s dream gotta be born. So you learn a bit of this and that in order to balance up. Taking myself as a case study. I always wanted to own a multi-media studio so I learnt animation, self-taught myself in motion graphics and video editing. I do photography. I have always written film scripts and soaps (and I was paid for them). I had always been a web designer. I learnt graphics design to support my web design  and make it look more appealing. So I can do all. But I don’t.
  2. Don’t wanna spend: Some people have the financial capabilities but don’t want to pay other people for expertise
  3. Don’t want to be exploited: For me, I’d say I learned web design because I didn’t want to be exploited by web designers because I had a lot of web projects. So when you start talking balderdash about 1 Million Naira hosting and design, I’ll tell you what to do and how to get it right with not-as-much. It’s called frugality.
  4. No support: Most companies don’t take your proposals seriously because you don’t have a name or reputation. So you have to do what you can by yourself to show you can do it.


What are  the downsides?

  1. Mediocrity: You are not a master of anything. Basically, so you can’t speak authoritatively about anything. Your voice is crap because you have no voice training. Your image quality is bad because you don’t even know the composition rules in photography or cinematography. You record label dies before you die because you didn’t set up systems. You know nothing about management. You do not grow above a certain level. That’s why we  see poorly edited movies and bad scripts in Nollywood.
  2. Slander, Misinformation about your brand: You didn’t employ a PR expert so you don’t know what to say or present to the press. Everything you say is being used against you.
  3. Corruption: Because you are not quite versed in a lot of things, you are willing to take shortcuts. Thereby, helping corruption thrive in the society. Who said corruption was only widespread in the public sector.

How can we curb this mentality?

  1. Specialise: Let each man, take a field and become an expert in it. If you are going into editing or countinuty or set design or costuming, take it and be there best that can be found. If you will be a musician take vocal lessons. A rapper should writes raps like everyday. Our creative writers are usually the best worldwide because they take time out to read and learn. Take a cue from Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Adichie.
  2. Develop Ecosystems: The government will not create ecosystmes for us. We would have to create environments that will help the creative entertainment industry using our synergy. The stakeholders and people who are already at the top should create forums or environments whereby they can educate the upcoming. There should be more fora where people who are experts within different fields can meet and seek for creative collaboration
  3. Help one another: Money answereth all things but is not all things in itself. There are other forms of partnerships beyond money that can help to create help to make dreams come through. Help is key at this level.

 *This article is reproduced with the author’s permission


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