When Activists Get It Wrong: The Case Of Basket Mouth

Basket mouth is a Nigerian comedienne who got into the wrong lime light because of a joke that he placed on his facebook page. Please note, that the joke isn’t an original one but rather one that had been forwarded by several people before he placed it on his page. I actually believe that the joke must have started off on a blackberry (which is a mobile phone tool that many Nigerians are fond of and that they use for such forwards) , then moved to twitter which is probably where he got it from and then moved to facebook. I saw that joke about 5 days before he placed it on his page.

Now, the joke is a crude one. One that talks about the difference between an African girl and a Caucasian one. One that states that with a Caucasian girl, after a few dates, it is very easy to have consensual sex. It is actually expected. But, with an African girl, after several dates, spending so much money, often times, nothing comes of it and some men then force their attention and then non consensual sex might occur. Basketmouth’s mistake was that he left the joke hanging he didn’t state where he stood on the issue. He left it as a funny occurrence/ a might happenstance. Activists saw this joke on his facebook page and before he could say ‘jack Robinson rabbit’, he became the man who is in support of rape.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, Basket mouth is a comedienne. That is what he does for a living. His job is to go up on stage, and make jokes about any and everything. Sometimes, the more irreverent the joke, the funnier it might be and of course, the more money he gets. If he wants to, he might use his joke to talk about something that he has seen occur within his society. But, remember the bottom line is to make you laugh for that moment and forget your worries. Now, a great comedienne is one who gets you to laugh and then when you leave that arena, you actually think about the issue that he has raised. I will have to say, only few comediennes have that ability.

Should Basketmouth have been crucified by social media activists ? Actually no, he should not and for several reasons namely:

a) It isn’t an original joke which he created. He just copied and posted.

b) He didn’t support rape with this joke. He didn’t put his personal opinion. He didn’t even respond to the comments. I repeat he just copied and posted.

c)He is a comedienne. His job requirement is to make people laugh and if he is using his job to talk about something that occurs in Nigerian societies, then he should be applauded. He should not be crucified by activists who are looking for a popular scapegoat to make a point. Rather, his copied joke should be looked at as a tool to further enlighten people about rape and its impact, what could lead to rape and create an open dialogue with both men and women about consensual and non consensual sexual activity and its impact. His joke gave activists a tool to continue the discussion but many were so caught up in the idea of punishment that they lost that golden opportunity.

What can we learn as activists from this faux pas?

a) Social Media is very powerful. It connects a lot of people and can create a negative or positive impact

. b) Before using such a powerful tool, we should make sure that we understand all sides of the issue. Is the person that we are going to make the scapegoat really the one that should be punished or are we using his/her ‘clout’ as an avenue to bring other issues to light?

c)Understand the issue. In many cases of activism, activists are talking about social issues. In this case, they are talking about how men believe that when they’ve spent money on you then you should pay back in sex and kind. This mentality goes beyond the dating scene and actually goes into the marriage ceremony and beyond. We have men who pay the brideprice in Nigerian society and believe that because they’ve spent that money, then the woman’s life belongs to them. As such, they treat the woman as a house girl/slave, sexual and otherwise.

d)Rather than look for who to punish, see if the situation has created an avenue to actually educate and illuminate.

Finally, I believe that Basket Mouth should be left alone to go about his business and his work/job which is to make people laugh. Activists should go about their work to create change, create a discourse or a conversation and to challenge the status quo. 

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