It now became a commonplace practice among many political scientists to refer to at least a good half of African countries, as ‘failed states’. After all, it is not only that, after having gained independence, these countries failed at improving the living standards of ordinary citizens, but also many of them in fact regressed back into the primeval savagery, while being turned into nothing short of a battleground for the never-ending tribal warfare.
One of the reasons for that, is that regardless of what happened to be the specifics of their political views, African leaders do not seem to understand what the concept of ‘statehood’ stands for, in the first place. In my paper, I will explore the validity of this suggestion at length, in regards to the Nigerian film Do or Die Affair, while explaining my reasons to believe that neither of the characters of politicians, featured in it, can be considered a good model of leader for African countries.
Probably the main psychological trait of a true leader is his or her ability to prioritize the interests of nation/people above all. This is the reason why ordinary people tend to think of individuals who exhibit such a trait, as being somewhat odd – even in their private lives; these individuals tend to spend most of their time thinking how they can contribute to the well-being of their co-citizens.
Film’s politicians, however, represent an entirely opposite breed of people. All they do, throughout the course of the film, is trying to seduce each other’s wives and figuring out the ways to blackmail their opponents.
The very external appearance of these politicians (with the possible exemption of the character of the President), betrays them as being just about anything but leaders, as they are clearly overweight. This is because those who expect that they will be able to serve their people, while in the position of a leadership, must be capable of keeping their animalistic urges under control – including the urge to turn consuming food into their main preoccupation in life.
Another trait of a true leader is his or her ‘existential sovereignty’. That is, people who aspire to become leaders must not allow their relatives to affect their opinions, when it comes to decision-making. Unfortunately, neither of the politicians, featured in Do or Die Affair, appears to be capable of thinking independently of what happened to be the opinions of their wives/mistresses.
In it is specifically the film’s female-characters, who seem to be in the actual charge of what is going on in the country, because unlike what it happened to be the case with their husbands/lovers; they know how to take advantage of other people’s psychological weaknesses.
After all, Do or Die Affair features a plenty of scenes, in which supposedly secondary female-characters masterfully endow men in high governmental offices with the sense of jealousy – hence, causing these men to act as buffoons. It is needless to mention, of course, that a person that can be easily blinded by the sense of jealousy may hardly be considered a responsible leader.
Individuals, who aspire for the position of leadership, must necessarily be endowed with the sense of modesty. This simply could not be otherwise, because in order for would-be-leaders to be able to win the respect of ordinary citizens, they must adopt the posture of humility. In the film, however, the characters that aspire for leadership are shown driving around in luxurious SUVs, which cost $100.000-$200.000 apiece.
That is in Nigeria – the country where the overwhelming majority of employed citizens is paid no more than $100per moth. This alone disqualifies the featured politicians from being considered leaders, because such a way of acting, on these people’s part, exposes them as such that are being deprived of even the rudimentary sense of nobleness – not to mention the fact that, just about anyone who drives a luxury car in the country stricken by poverty, is automatically assumed a corruptionist.
In order to have the moral right to lead people, individuals of a high social prominence must necessarily be ‘self-made’. This is because, their reputation of ‘self-made men’ will naturally inspire the potential followers to hold them in high regard, as persons who successfully addressed life-challenges, which will automatically legitimize the claim of leadership, on the part of these individuals.
However, even the character of Osondo (the self-proclaimed candidate for the Presidency) clearly does not fit the criteria. There is the memorable scene in the film, where he states: “I have business-interests in fifteen countries. All due to my brain and my guts. Of all fifteen, I only inherited six from my father” (00.46.33).
This remark, on Osondo’s part, points out to the fact that he does not have the right to be considered a ‘self-made man’. There is even more to the above-quotation – it implies that it is specifically moneymaking, which represented Osondo’s foremost agenda in life. True leaders, however, cannot be affiliated with money-generating pursuits – that is what businesspersons do, and not those who consider themselves being in a position to inspire trust in people.
True leaders always rely on the support of the majority of people. Therefore, in order for would-be-leaders to be able to ensure such a support, they should be spending most of the time socializing with ordinary citizens.
However, neither of the featured politicians does it. Instead, they are being shown sitting in their luxurious palaces and conspiring against each other. The only representatives of ordinary people, seen in the film, are security guards. The validity of the earlier suggestion can also be illustrated, in regards to the scene, in which Osondo proclaims his intention to run for the Presidency, in front of curiously dressed tribe-elders (00.10.50).
Apparently, Osondo could not care less whether ordinary folks would support his candidacy or not. All he cared about was ensuring the support of elders. Yet, in the scene where he is being interviewed by journalists (00.20.05), Osondo never ceases to repeat over and over again that, by having decided to participate in the Presidential elections, he acted on behalf of ‘common Nigerians’.
True leaders are expected to radiate intelligence. After all, in order for just about anyone to be able claim that she or he has what it takes to lead people towards a particular goal, the concerned individual needs to understand what accounts for the full scope of affiliated challenges.
It is understood, of course, that while running for President, the potential candidates, featured in the film, will be claiming that they indent to set Nigeria on the path of progress (throughout the course of the film, many characters make a deliberate point in referring to Osondo as a ‘progressive leader’).
At the same time, however, they are all represented wearing Nigerian national men’s costumes, which look rather ridiculous, to say the least. Obviously enough, by doing it, these individuals strived to accentuate the sheer strength of their commitment to the Nigerian ‘traditional’ values. Apparently, it never occurred to them that the notions of ‘progress’ and ‘tradition’ do not quite correlate.
The reason for this is apparent – an ongoing progress necessarily results in ritual-based traditions being exposed as obstacles, on the way of the society’s betterment. This is the reason why, those who simultaneously praise both notions, can hardly be referred to as intellectually advanced individuals.
The validity of this statement can also be shown, in relation to the fact that the semantic content of the featured characters’ conversations implies the sheer primitiveness of how they perceive the surrounding reality. Even while discussing politics, they tend to do it within the framework of their clearly tribal worldviews. This, of course, once again points out to the fact that there are simply no good models of leader in Do or Die Affair.
I believe that the earlier deployed line of argumentation, in regards to the discussed subject matter, is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis-statement. Politicians, shown in Do or Die Affair, are not any different from those that have been ‘leading’ African countries for the duration of the last fifty years, while contributing to the process of these countries becoming progressively less affiliated with the notion of civilization.
Therefore, it will be appropriate to conclude this paper by reinstating once again that there are no objective reasons to believe that either of the main characters, featured in the film, can be referred to as such that is being endowed with the qualities of a true leader.
NollywoodLove. “Do Or Die Affair.” YouTube. 5 Jul. 2011. Web.