The Lagos Big Boy
So I recently concluded the 1st season of Ndani Television’s Lagos Big Boy web-series, the premise of the show revolves around the come up of the main antagonist mixed with examinations on friendship and the proverbial ‘Lagos Hustle’. Now this isn’t a critique on the show (that may come later). However the show like almost every other medium, has fed off what is currently being served to the current generation of young Nigeria: The Legendary Lagos Big Boy
It is my opinion that the label ‘Lagos Big Boy’ has been doled out a little bit too generously in recent times. Football fans may understand what I’m getting at as this could be said of the word ‘Legend’ or ‘World Class’ when referring to a player. So based on the fact that I really don’t have any other thing to do at the moment, I’m going to attempt to define the Lagos big boy or at least define the parameters. There are several ways I could approach this.
If we take the literal/simple definition approach then, he must first hail from Lagos: that means either by birth or he spent a significant part of his life in the state of excellence. He must be big (are we talking about stature or status?) and he must definitely be a boy or could it apply to any gender, let’s just agree on young person. Obviously, taking this approach is lazy and in all honesty not that interesting.
Putting my philosophical hat on (rolls eyes), let’s try and assess this conceptually, in my imagination we are clearly referring to a mythical gentleman that has a perfect balance of all the necessary ingredients to justify the status 'Lagos Big Boy'.
Wealth is certainly an important factor but I tend to think if you’re too wealthy, you might not qualify, in my opinion there’s a certain level of wealth like Dangote or Adenuga that excludes you from consideration. At that level, they’re international big boys so this discussion isn’t really about them....
Before we go any further I ask my female friends whether looks have anything to do with it. The general consensus of my limited survey is that you can’t be ugly and there’s even degrees of 'ugliness' that may be acceptable. This is a subjective element so the coming to scientific conclusion may not be possible but I think we get the gist...
Also can you be anti-social and also be a Lagos big boy? My guess is that you have to be seen at the best restaurants, hippest shows, and exclusive galleries and still be present in a religious establishment either on Sunday or Friday.
Business activity or let’s say source of income. Personally I find this category very crucial when bestowing an individual the crown of Lagos Big Boy, The defining consideration. If he’s clean, he’s good however, if he is too clean then, it might sound odd. Can’t imagine a LBB saying he lives a double life as a forensic accountant for PWC or something like that, maybe the tag would fit an entrepreneur in the entertainment or hospitality business. The sort of people with wealth that’s largely clean but may come across some questionable characters once in a while and make those characters feel very comfortable around them.
In truth the fact that I am writing about this and you reading and thinking of your own parameters is quite ridiculous. It’s a reflection of our warped value system where wealth and status simply make you feel better than your fellow man. Yes, wealth and legacy are important aspirations in life and I personally hope I would one day be considered a ‘Lagos big boy’. But that is what bothers me; I have fully bought into the ideal just like many people in our society that you’re either wealthy or almost irrelevant, no middle ground. This thinking has caused young Nigerians put insane amounts of pressure on themselves, which is ridiculous as well as, unhealthy. Frankly, we don’t need it.
I never intended for this piece to get so pessimistic, as I initially intended to make light of a silly belief, but it dawned on me that this virus like idea of a particular way of living has spread across our society like an epidemic. The ‘Lagos Big Boy’ tag can be a good motivator if we all aim to attain such status the right and fair way. However going through my social media accounts, I get that the general public don’t really care how this status is attained and that is the real SHAME!!!
Shame? Yes it’s a shame. But I don’t blame the majority for buying into it. Nigeria as a whole is inherently corrupt. From elected officials in places of power to secondary school students conniving with their teachers to buy favourable results in their WAEC and NECO exams. Why would anyone care about the consequences when there is no observable punishment for such actions (known internet fraudsters ride around with police escorts for goodness sake)? Last year, a friend of mine ran a poll on twitter asking this question, “Who would you rather hang out with on a night out? Stolen Government money or Yahoo Yahoo (online fraud) money?” The result favored hanging out with stolen government money as opposed to Yahoo Yahoo money. I believe the poll would have provided a different result if his social following was a slightly different demographic but we’ve become so comfortable with both that we have no problem choosing.
Yes, there are 'big boys' in this Lagos that acquired their wealth lawfully or seemingly legal means and I applaud them and encourage them to be examples to others. But these people seem to be the exceptions to the general rule. So let’s keep our focus on the matter at hand. Lagos Big Boy status isn’t unattainable but if we are being realistic it’s not for everyone. It’s not something that an individual should aspire to be in all honesty. What qualifies one to be a Lagos Big Boy? How much money does one need to make to be considered one of the big boys in Lagos? How much does he have to spend? What are the steps one goes through to be a Lagos Big Boy? Do we aspire to be a Lagos Big Boy to satisfy our egos or to impress people who do not really care for you? I think these are poignant questions we need to ask ourselves.
Because there’s no proven formula to being a Lagos Big Boy and how there’s really no method to the madness (like 9ice croons on his song ‘wire wire’ “kin sha ti lowo" [let me sha have money])”, I feel people are now willing to go uncertain and extreme places to attain status that may not bring them the satisfaction they crave. So what happens if a situation arises where you can only live up to that status momentarily? What do you do? Do you spend what you don’t have? Keep up appearances? Or do you steal? Or do you get depressed because of it? A small part of me wants to justify this ‘hustle’. I'll be the first to tell you that Nigeria is not an easy place, and that the normalcy of other nations does not operate within our borders, so maybe i shouldn't be so harsh on those that would do anything to make their standard of living better. Fundamentally, I would advice that we all have a choice and we must live with the consequences our choices.
Damn, this got dark real quick.
So lets try lighten this up, crack a joke about Hushpuppi & co, relegate the real issues to the back of our minds and accept our fucked up society, its what we do best as Nigerians. Just ignore everything I’ve said in the last five paragraphs and lets pretend like everything is good with the 'Lagos Big Boy' mentality.
“Besides, me sef won become Lagos Big Boy’’
Please lets continue this discussion in the comments section.