Saturday, May 7, 2016

Finding Orisa in unlikely places

                    This morning I was confronted by yet another issue that plaques my mind. I have been pondering on the image I was directed to by Charles Lean Stewart. Image portraying Sango and Ogun in what seems to be a drinking game. I was conflicted on how I should feel or react to the image. I don't want it to be here she come again . (lol) . Anyway, I said I will write about it anyway and see through others point of view.
                                 The first question I was asked was if this would have been peaceable by other religion counterparts, should their God be portrayed in such manner. My respond was absolutely no, mainly because I feel most religion hypocritically condemns alcohol intake and usage. Even though majority of their follower heavily indulge in it. Should that been beer commercial, it will never be allowed.
                 That been said, element relating to African image have been on media front line for a while
now including could it or not been reaction of people to Beyonce lemonade video. I digress
                        The bitter truth is the fact that I know we need mass media and all its components and tools. We need a very good PR movement to polish our image. We need to reintroduced our self to the whole world in our own language as oppose to various misrepresentations that have been put out there.
                        At the same time, knowing how mass media work, and now social media, could also be mass destruction. Certain things cannot be put out there. Before I go any further, I know culture is not static; it grows out of a systematically encourage reverence for selected customs and habits. Holding on to " custom and habits" and relating it to the image that is suppose to be Sango and Ogun. Yoruba culture/religion do not frown at alcohol consumption per se. It is the abuse and excessive usage that it condemns. frivolous uses are also discourage. Need to be noted that alcohol then is made out of fruits and other edibles. It is totally different from what alcohol is today. Maybe that is why the Orisa were use.
Having said that, I don't know the extent this should be condemned or perhaps what yardstick to measure this depiction with.
                           Owing to their own consciences, art are an important component of the anthropological element in teaching the target culture. If weigh on this scale, Using Orisa image to portray frivolous drinking will be seen as disrespectful. Because what is it teaching?
 There have been commercial of alcohol company like Seaman Schnapps in Nigeria which showcase Yoruba culture/religion in retrospect to alcohol usage for libation and prayers. That will not raise eyebrow.
                        If we are to excuse the fact that our celebration an rituals involve gins and all, how do we think people around the world from various religion counter parts will react if this were to be Jesus and Mohammed in the picture. Especially religion that sees themselves as the apostle of morality and high priests of all things godly. Would this have been tolerated?
                        Placing this on a global platform, using the Arab Nation and Arabic language as reference.   There have been situation where protest have been made and products been recalled due to usage of Arabic language where the Muslim community felt it was used in an offending manner. Take for instance cartoon image of Muhammad that generated protest and enrage the Muslim community all over the world.
                         On a social scale, what does this mean for children seeing the Orisa in that image. This is an alcoholic beverage in question. There are families that have been destroyed because of alcoholism. Not to offend anyone or be judgmental, but relating the gods to something that is deem destructive seems off.
                       This is not a Guinness ad or image supported by them ( I hope not).  Because as far as I know product maker must at all times consider all kinds of cultural and language barriers in their commercial. This is just a fan act/art. Someone who probably didn't give it much thought as to the sensitivity of the Icon been used or perhaps what it means to others. Maybe because it was never an issue where saying anything about Orisa have been questioned.
                      As Olorisa  we have Image problem already, I don't know what the intention of the artist was or is for making this. This could be a good gesture to some extent, the Orisa been represented. But in what light?. The gods are still relevant and I think all things related to religion and its sacredness should be showcase positively and taking serious. This can be done by anyone irrespective of their religion orientation.
                        David Rudd, a vice president at ad agency Axis says "Just as each ad should be viewed on its merits, every group has a right to be sensitive to the manner in which it is portrayed in mass media..Memorable art and funny art can be accomplished without insulting anyone.
The questions now are;

  •  Are we been denied the privileged enjoy by other popular religion?
  • Is this meant to be derogatory or celebrating culture?
  • Is this image appropriate?
  • Should we just chill and sip on this as a mere comic image?

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