Video skits have taken over social media and why not, they are fun, hilarious and a great pastime for internet addicts. This contributes to the huge number of likes, shares and comments that they are able to garner. Due to the magnitude of engagement surrounding these short hilarious sketches, comedians and filmmakers have resorted to a consistent production of these skits to amass a good number of followers or fans. One of such skits is Nneka, the Uber Driver, produced by Nigerian-American filmmaker and programme director, Fum Fum Ko.
Published a little over a month ago, this skit details a brief, but hilarious, narrative surrounding the types of conversations an average Nigerian mother will have with her child given the circumstance. The video features a female protagonist, Nneka. Nneka is a young Nigerian American Harvard graduate, who’s taken up a job as an Uber driver. The entire video is of her in a car, breaking this seemingly sad/unfortunate news of her new occupation to her mother.
“Oh okay, you got the job. That’s good! That’s good!” exclaimed her mother in excitement, when Nneka told her she was headed to work. “Is the Google one naw?” the mother asked in a Nigerian accent. To which Nneka responded negatively.“Is it the apple one then?” enthused the mother. “No, I didn’t get the apple job either,” Nneka replied. “Where did you get your job na?” At this point, Nneka hesitantly and tactically informed her that her new occupation is being a cab driver. From then on, the conversation takes a nose dive. Her mother is visibly not pleased. “Nneka you are driving a cab. Nneka why?” cried her mother. Nneka, we sent you to Harvard, and you’re driving a cab. Ewo!” Unfortunately for Nneka, the car, a Mercedes, being used as a cab was gifted to her by her mum, who asks her to return it in the throes of anger.
While the video is hilarious as it was intended to be, it does highlight a deeper cultural issue that is common with African parents. “This skit was so real, it made me sad and upset. Because I know many people who go through this,” reads a Facebook comment. “When it comes to trying to live their lives and figuring it out, they really need their parents but, instead, the parents become selfish thinking it’s all about them.” In truth, African parents can be selfish. And since most of them are responsible for their children’s financial welfare, they dictate and enforce their personal dreams on the child, instead of supporting the children’s. And when the child dares to follow his or her own path, they are labelled as the ‘black sheep’ and even disowned in extreme cases.
This does not happen anymore, you might say. We have evolved, you think quietly. No, we haven’t. Barely two days ago, a friend of mine narrated to me how one of her friends is currently in a battle with his father of his choice of career. The young man, a graduate of Civil Engineering from the highend Covenant University, Ogun state, had veered of the engineering path that his father mapped out for him to open a photography studio, because photography has been his passion. “Why didn’t he communicate that to his father earlier?” I asked my friend considering the amount of money his father must have spent paying for him to study engineering in a private university. “He was young, and afraid,” she answered. And being the last child of the family, he couldn’t dare challenge the decision of his father. According to my friend, Bukola, his is a family of professionals. All his siblings were trained professionals; a doctor, a lawyer, a pharmacist and he was supposed to fit perfectly in the beautiful family ‘portrait of professionals’ that his father was painting by becoming an engineer.
But the young man clearly couldn’t continue with the lie and the struggle of not living for himself, but for his selfish father. So once he got a little older, he ventured out on his own. The same can be said of a number of children out there. Often you will hear young Nigerian undergrads say, “I’m just studying law, medicine, or engineering to please my parents. Once I’m done, I will hand them the certificate and go on to do what really interests me.” This should not be the case but, sadly, it is.
As hilarious as it is, Nneka the Uber driver, is simply the true depiction of real life issues. Of young African men and women at home, and in the diaspora struggling to live dictated dreams and with so many high expectations. In this video, the young lady had clearly tried to get a job with top organisations like Apple and Google, but couldn’t. She had decided on the next best move to take control of her life and time, yet, all her mother could see was wasted resources and a failure, also, probably, how Nneka wants to ruin the family’s reputation by being a cab driver.
Dear African parents, you’ve had your chance(s) at life, let your children live theirs. It is highly unfair and selfish to force your dreams on your children. The best you can do is to guide and support them. But to intimidate them with your parental and financial status, to live a life that will please you, is a huge no and an infringement on their fundamental rights of freedom, and expression.