As a child, I idolized Hanks Anuku. He perfectly interpreted the Jandon (A person who just returned from America to spend a few time before traveling back) role, and when he played the gangster role, he was simply the best at it.
So, it hurt me when a video of him trended on social media. In the video, he was in a filling station, ranting incoherently in an absent minded manner. Someone posted the video with the caption “Hanks Anuku is on his element”, in what was obviously a demeaning and derogatory caption.
Someone else in the comments said “This is another one of Hanks Anuku’s drug induced rant”. That hurt me too, but I had to look away, I had personal issues I was handling, plus getting into unnecessary social media arguments is something I try my best to avoid.
That said, I have a simple question, why does it feel like Nigerians rejoice and are overwhelmed with glee whenever there is terrible news from Nollywood actors and other industry players? Apart from being national heroes, these people are also humans like us, and are our compatriots.
While we may speculate about the causes for his seeming “mental disorder”, we cannot actually say for sure what is wrong with him, because even if you are an expert psychiatrist, have you examined him? However, what we should address is the tendency of Nigerians to lock and harassed their artistes who are down.
A Facebook friend of mine wrote about his travels to a few East African Nations earlier this month, and he said Nigeria’s biggest export to these countries were our art and music. During the just concluded African International Film Festival in Lagos, Nancy Isime exclaimed that Nollywood stars are finally getting the global recognition they deserve. She recounts being pleasantly shocked whenever she is recognized in faraway Latino nations like Mexico. This weekend, social media users dug up BNXN’s old tweet where he solicited for airtime and money on twitter, with some mocking him.
This is sad because it is almost as if we are waiting for our stars to fail, and then beat our chests and gloat, instead of helping. I am sure witches would not even do this in their covens.
Back to Hanks Anuku and other Nollywood stars. There are a number of reasons for their supposed poverty in old age or as soon as they are out of the limelight. Chief amongst this is the nation’s economy. Compare the income A-list artistes in America and the Schengen Nations earn, and what they generate per movie in Nigeria and you will see why it is easy for them to slip into penury. Furthermore, issues like poor artiste management, poor investment and savings culture can also affect artistes as soon as they fade from the limelight.
We can also talk about the fact that many actors refuse to unionize or show up for industry activities such as festivals and galas. The honest truth is that, many industry players, journalists and investors find out about these issues at the same time the rest of Nigeria does, on social media, after it has been shared, retweeted and reposted countless number of times.
The truth is, our economy is poor and weak, and an artiste who has not had good roles in years would find it very difficult to pay bills and sustain themselves. It is worse if they have children and other dependents. You could see from Anuku’s rejoinder video that he was obviously in need of money and rehabilitation, and as good people, we owe it to him to help him.