Citizen journalism is spreading like wildfire and the latest victim is Nollywood star, Funke Akindele, whose film ‘Jenifa’ set a hard-to-beat record years ago in the Yoruba film genre. Rumour has it that her one year marriage to realtor Kehinde Oloyede is crashing, and pedestrian blog writers and social media addicts who can’t secure newspaper by-lines yet, are all feasting on the gist.
The story is that Oloyede had posted the following notice on his Facebook page: “It’s with heavy heart that am announcing the separation of me nd ma wife Mrs olufunke akindele, we’ve both agreed to go our separate ways coz of irreconcilable differences. We still best of friends nd we 4ever remain gud friends.”
What kind of husband would do that and even refer to his wife in her maiden name without divorce? When a real man is done with a woman for whatever reason, he simply moves on, not seek attention to a failed or failing marriage. Nigerian men need to wake up. Society writers need to get wise.
The post streamed my way on Facebook in the early hours of Monday July 15, 2013 and I couldn’t help but investigate it. It is my turf too. Without being immodest, I have strapped myself to entertainment journalism for 24 years and I have had my flashpoints too; moments when adrenalin pumped through my veins to my brain and then to my columns.
Back then bad gist was good gist for me as long as there was something exciting to publish. My passion lived through my society columns – from ‘People’ in Vanguard newspapers through ‘Toast’ in the rested Fame magazine to ‘Champagne’ in Thisday newspaper and the 48-page lifestyle title, Glitterati I created for Thisday Group to ‘Manuscript’ in Independent newspapers and now ‘Hamiltonstyle’ in the Saturday Sun newspaper. I made the columns the centre of societal attraction.
The major difference between what society writers like me did back then, and what today’s soft sell cubs now do is PhD – pull him/her down. No developmental journalist should be happy pulling a celebrity down. Let’s not be too hasty to publish bad news when people’s lives and personal happiness are involved.
In marital matters, everyone knows that it takes two to tango, and as fair umpires, lifestyle journalists should go beyond the inverted pyramid structure of news writing because they deal with the sensitive issue of people’s personal lives.
Soft sell journalism is great journalism, and so is citizen journalism via social media. But when semi-literates, untrained minds, blackmailers and sadists gain access to mass media tools, soft sell journalism can be a massive pain in you-know-where!
Oloyede’s Facebook post remains controversial for several reasons. Some say he posted the message about his separation from his wife, but that within 12 hours he deleted the post after ensuring it had gone viral on social media. Others argue that he closed down his Facebook page and blamed the post on hackers.
My query is this: What manner of man would announce on Facebook a separation from his wife instead of just easing himself out of the marriage? If it is true that mischief makers hacked into his account and sent a post he had no hand in, then he should quickly denounce the announcement. If he doesn’t do that, then the admission is clear.
For the bloggers on private blog spots, face-bookers on Facebook, tweeters on Twitter et al, I understand where they are all coming from. Many of them may not necessarily want Funke’s marriage to Oloyede dead, but I sense there are different strokes for different folks.
Incidentally, I attended Oloyede’s wedding to Funke on Saturday, May 26, 2012. It was an all-star gathering of Nollywood’s best. While Sugar band blasted popular oldies and hit tunes, wedding guests had a field day ogling the celebs. Funke (Jenifa) Akindele looked happy while Oloyede equally looked fulfilled.
But in just 14 months, social media have gone viral on them with bad news, purportedly fed this time by a Facebook post by the husband.
Seasoned journalists who bother with stories like this should be development oriented not destruction focused. All over the world, it is the unstable journalists with shaky relationships or failed marriages who rush to press with half truth as news.
In all of this, I think Funke Akindele’s stoic silence is best. Petty posts like this getting viral so quickly such that a major newspaper would be quoting a blog site as its source leaves a silly taste in the mouth, but it only underscores how big a brand Funke Akindele has become.
The Nigerian media should protect and encourage real talents and hard working brands like Funke Akindele, and not get opportunistic over family trash. I hope her husband rises to the occasion like a man, recall his dirty linen (if any) and wash them in private.