Beyond the Laughs: Comedy & Good Citizenship [with Frank Donga]

 Bekeme Masade-Olowola (Host):     Good evening everyone! You are listening to me Bekeme on the Good Citizen radio show. I am  the hostess with the “mostest” as I like to say and the show is funded by the one and only ACT aka Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation which is a grant making organization established in 2016 to support regional and local non-profits and through funding for activities in health, entrepreneurship, education and leadership. Basically its clear why they fund the radio show it is because we are focused on driving conversations around active citizenship, we owe our country this obligation to make sure that we are the best that we can be, the same way we expect transparency and accountability that is how it is expected of us which is also interesting because today I was actually on sun rise daily this morning and for the first time in three weeks I literally had to wake up and apply make-up and dress up to be on the live interview on Sun Rise daily and I was talking about “COVID -19: Accountability and Probity” and I pointed out the fact that many countries round the world are taking time out to prove to their citizen that they mean big business and they are not joking at all when it comes to dealing with this issue and it is arguably that developing countries like ours you see a country like South Africa saying whatever funding we get we are using it to research and create opportunities for access to health care, we are taking ownership and not waiting for people to come around to help us nor are we mismanaging funds. We have country like brazil developing a transparency portal that allows people to see how the federal government is spending relating to COVID-19 and we also have a country like Panama where they are taking transparency to a new level, the government actually converted the citizens national identity card into debit card in other to provide them with economic assistance so that they can buy basic items yet we have in our country a situation where we are still struggling. Like I said on the show we are not doubting the government but anytime the government choose not to speak to us we get ideas and instead of the government trying to curb social media the government should focus on providing more information because for as long as we are not being spoken too there will be all sort of conspiracy theories floating about the place for instance we don’t know where many leaders of our government is but we watched the UK Prime Minister announced that he is sick and he had to go to the hospital and on their own volition they showed us when he was being wheeled into ICU and wheeled out and he is back on and he is keeping us in the loop of what is happening and it would not kill anybody if we try that, at least let’s try that and then see whether it will work or not we don’t want to guess if people are getting funds or not but we want to know which people are getting funded and all of that.

            Now speaking of this in terms of using different platforms to chase corporate citizenship, corporate governance, good citizenship we have the funny man Frank Donga on the show today to talk about using laughs to elicit good citizenship so the topic today is Beyond the laughs: Comedy and Good Citizenship. Did you know that laughing burns more calories than you think? Actually no joke just 10 to 15 minute of laughing in a day can burn up to 40 calories according to Vanderbilt University study, so if you laugh a lot by all means go ahead besides it makes you look young and you what the says sorrows dries up the bone but being happy just keeps you being youthful and we know that as parents for those of us who are parent one way to encourage good behavior from our children is by making it fun for them so you sing a song to a toddler to brush your teeth and the same thing applies to adult as well as you see lots of comedians take advantage of this and says all sorts of things to public officials in open spaces and you see them goofing with laughter when it actually pertains to them.

            A reference actually to show you that it is not just hearsay, a reference can be made to an initiative by the Swedish Division of Volkswagen which did a test around this fun theories so they wanted to get people to use a set of stairs over the escalator for health reasons of course and what they did was that they transformed the stairs into a piano style key board which produced notes as they stepped on it and it made it fun for people and they found out that 66 percent more people actually used the stairs as a result of that so it just tells us that the fun theories can change people for good and that’s why we are talking to Frank Donga welcome on the show Frank.

            And Frank birth name is Kunle Idowu, he is an award winning actor, comedian and digital content creator, his career started in the media as a producer, reporter and actor at Network News 24-NN24 (a CNN affiliate) where he made news reports and documentaries for the station, he actually has a Master’s Degree in Genetics from the University of Ibadan, and a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Olabisi Onabanjo University so it is not just about making jokes and laughing he has something up there as well and is strong love for digital content creation, acting and creative expression has led him to create different contents including the  viral comedy series called “The Interview” for which he got an AMVCA nomination  in 2015. He currently runs Maxani Films- a Production outfit that makes cooperate videos and documentaries, films and brands around the world. As a result of the COVID-19 lock down we cannot have Frank in the studio so what we have done is, we have done a virtual interview which I am sure we will all learn from and there would also be no calls during this session of the Good Citizen Radio show, so please listen and enjoy.

 So let me ask Frank, as a comedian what are the perks if any of being a comedian in Nigeria?

Frank: Generally in the world over, being a comedian kind of endears you to the people because everyone likes to laugh. I have always said humor or comedy is a coping mechanism in Nigeria to distract us from the massive challenges we have from politics, healthcare and security. I wouldn’t say there are particular or peculiar perks of being a comedian in Nigeria. I think it’s just what you have in other part of the world where people see you and say hello and even wants to buy you lunch maybe not to everyone but I think being a comedian gives you the opportunity to speak the truth about the society most times without necessarily getting hounded for it because you are able to use humor as a vehicle to project the feelings and voices in a humorous way that even the targeted recipient  the authority would laugh to the joke before they realise it, even after delivering the joke people see you as worse case as an unserious person or a joker but it’s not the same for other profession to be that blunt about issues as they would call attention to themselves by the authorizes.

Host:    You have made valid point Frank about being able to use humor because like I said earlier you just hear this guy’s goofing when actually comedian is telling them that they have been badly behaved and we see it all the time, so my next question would be around what happened, what I watched in late January this year when you made a skit on bribery and in that skit you were seeking a signature to a contract that have been approved for you but the man was still asking for a percentage whilst all of these was happening his ceiling fell off and damaged his laptop because he had collected bribe from the carpenter who was supposed to have fixed the building and the ceiling and that is just one of the many skits that you do to promote decent values and it is all very funny but it makes me wonder what drives you to communicate good citizenship through your comedic skit

Frank: I think basically for my own personal values or value system I see myself as an “edu-tainer” I love education tremendously and I have an insatiable appetite for learning and I believe everybody opportunity you have Is a golden opportunity to be ceased and I also know that learning is a challenge for many people as they find it boring, I believe learning shouldn’t be boring or be a stress, people learn better when they are having fun so that is my mission and intention and making content that is socially conscious, encouraging good citizenship and good leadership through my comedic skits and comic songs and memes and all this materials is my own way of encouraging people to realise that and also not only are people laughing they are also getting some kind of value beyond the laughs as it is call to action and a reminder of some sort, I try as much as possible to include that, it comes to me naturally as I have said my value system personally and maybe because of my background as a journalist, so yes I once worked as a journalist at Network 24 and I was an assignment editor, reporter, special effect coordinator and cinematographer and that is what I do right now also beyond that I also do content creation, so it is my own way of reflecting on the society and encouraging positive change from leadership and followership.

Host: So I learnt a couple of things from what you just said now Frank, so you are an edu-tainer and it is conscious and what you are saying is we have to find a way of making learning fun, we all have to be socially conscious.  How do you think or to what extent do you think the current COVID-19 pandemic offers lessons to the Nigerian government do you think they are taking note? And what do you think they should take out of it.

Frank: The corona virus disease or the  COVID-19 pandemic as it is called is a huge lesson to all of us and the world, it has reviewed and exposed a lot of weaknesses in different health institution, research organisations, in politics or policy making, preparedness for chaos and emergencies. In Nigeria in particular I think it is a huge eye opener on how unreliable our health sector is, all of a sudden they realise we don’t have ventilators, the next question is what exactly do we have? What exactly more don’t we have that people are dying due to lack of it I think it is a huge eye opener. The last budget a huge lot of money was devoted to the presidential clinic and even with that the first citizen of the country still travel out for treatment. Also this disease is also an eye opener to ask ourselves questions what are the leaders doing to securing the health of the citizens do we have good health insurance system in place? With all the funds devoted to research do we have any research happening in our health systems? Do we have any indigenous or locally developed solutions to health challenges peculiar to us? It’s a lot of questions being asked and I think it’s a huge lessons to the Nigerian government to learn from that we need to work on the country. At the end of the day places where the privilege can run to for treatment they are like that because people paid attention and they prepared for emergencies and treatment of their citizens, those things where not created for African leaders who have access to funds either legally or not but they were created for their citizens and then our leaders go there to enjoy so now that the crap had hit the fan everybody is back home, nobody wants to go there for fear of catching something and now back home you haven’t done well so I think it is a big eye opener for us to realise that at the end of the day we need to work on the country we need to work on our systems.

Host:    My take out from this Frank is that government should learn from its past failures because right now there really is nowhere to run too and we are all stuck in this mess together and if we don’t have good healthcare institutions then we are all going to die here: I don’t mean to morbid but that is actually the situation so we don’t have indigenous and local solutions to problems we keep on relying on others and we are asking all sorts of questions and all of that but I am hoping that the fact that people In authority see the morbidity and what can happen and the fact that they are not immune to It would make them take appropriate actions.

            We are actually going to take a short break on the good citizen radio show and we would be right back.

            {break}

            We are back on the Good Citizen radio show, this is Bekeme and I have been talking too the funny man Frank Donga and he has been telling us about how he consciously drive good citizenship good morals through edu-tainment and it is no surprise considering his background with NN24 and all of that and basically Frank is telling us that we have a responsibility as citizens to say he takes is responsibility seriously and we have to find ways to educating our self now Frank do you think there is a conscious connection between production of comedic skits and social activisim in this digital age.

Frank: I don’t think there is a conscious effort in activisim and comedic skit, I think most Nigerians just want to laugh and have a good time, if you now happen to be the kind of content creator that is able to pass a message along humor then that just makes it better but again like I have said comedic skits have a way of penetrating and going viral very quickly and being generally acceptable unlike hardcore content creation because it will give you mostly laughs with a take home lesson as well. I guess more and more we would get to see the use of comedy sketches in terms of social activism.

Host:    So while you don’t think people are doing this consciously your take is that it is still a way to drive activism so let’s just keep on honing out our funny contents and basically reminding ourselves to do laughs as the things that we most do. So as a parting note what or how would you advise you followers to behave to buttress the values of good citizenship beyond the laughs.

Frank:  As a parting shot, I would first like to thank all my followers, but beyond you that just make sure in whatever you do ask yourself if I was the person on the receiving end would I be happy? Before you throw that thrash out the window as yourself if my mum, brother or sister are the one sweeping the road would I be happy that people are just indiscriminately throwing out thrash? If you are the kind of person that talks anyhow on social media ask yourself this kind of rumor and fake news I want to peddle if I was at the receiving end would I be happy? If you are a leader a before you misappropriate that fund or collobi it for your personal use ask yourself if COVID-19 pandemic happen and I need to be rushed to hospital all the money that I have chopped that was meant for hospital would it not come back and bite your bumbum? Think carefully before you make an action or a statement or a move or even refuse to take an action.

Host:    So people if you know that you do not want something done to you please do not do it to somebody else and awon leaders as you are misappropriating funds and collobing things for your personal use when a situation like this happens you do fund that we are all fallable and everything else that we strive after is vanity, all of us would die one day how do we want to be remembered when you die? What do we do in our lifetime to express the one thing that our creator expects of us which is love, how do we intend to do that. Thank you so much for coming on the show Frank and you too are doing a fantastic job.

Frank: Thank you for having me on the show, I appreciate it you guys are doing a great job, please keep it up. Thank you very much.

Host:   Thank you our listeners I hope you listened to that conversation closely and you heard all of the fantastic titbits that Frank had to give us, this is not a joke the world that we live in today would only be shaped by our behaviors and we must take it personal the things that we do. We have been doing a food drive and CSR-in-Action through our good citizen initiative has given tens of families food packages in the range of 10 – 15,000 per family and although we had decided that we had decided that we had reached our maximum for the period but we actually have funders coming on board saying that they want to support in some way so we actually have funding for 10 more families but our funder this time Mrs Odegua and Bonu wants for the family to be made up of not necessarily families but women, she wants to fund vulnerable women, pregnant women who have children, so if you fall into this category please send your name, your address and your number to 09062364111, thank you to everyone like the young child Vera who wanted to send a message to the government wanting to know how she can contribute and everyone who is contributing in some way or the other and if you want to support this drive, if you want to feed families you can send us a message at gc@csr-in-action.org or you can send us a message on 09062634111 information of every family that you give too will be provided it’s all being transparently managed, whatever category you want them to be off we will make sure it is done. Our aim is to make sure that the purse of the poor are looked after this period and that nobody feels any desperately to do anything, I have heard of families who have decided to poison themselves this period but as a result of the relief we have managed to give they were able to have hope to live through this period.

            Thank you all again for listening to the show and keep on following us @goodcitizenng for giveaway questions and you can answer the questions through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram like and tag every Monday we normally give those giveaway questions but remember that past winners are not allowed to participate again and if you try to answer using a different social media handle we will not only not give you when we find out but we will block you and I am inclined to say that you are not ashamed and it is wrong to do that. So tune in every Friday 8pm in Inspiration 92.3 FM to listen to the show and find out if you are a winner and then leave your feedback and comment by visiting bit.ly/gcsurvey to answer questions. I am your host Bekeme, you have been listening to the good citizen radio show brought to you by CSR-in-Action and proudly sponsored by ACT Foundation. Have yourself a wonderful evening and remember we still are on lockdown maintain social distancing and look after yourselves as we will surely come out of this because I know we will.

            Bye Bye.

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