Written by Funmilayo Amusan
Valentine’s day is the time for grand romantic gestures. For long term couples it usually involves private events like dinners and getaways, while for younger couples it usually involves valentine gift packages. These packages sometimes called love boxes can contain any romantic item from chocolates and cakes to partially romantic kinds like, clothes and gadgets. The new trending gifting involves money towers and saxophone serenades. Its popularity is fast rising because the presentations are usually done in public or shared online—#GodWhen.
There is no better time to take a look at Nollywood and their depictions of love, romance and relationships, that they have served us with in recent years, most especially, as web series. I will be examining series like Skinny Girl in Transit, Phases, The Men’s club and Game On by taking a look at the types of relationships, how they usually start and typically progress over time.
Skinny Girl In Transit tells the story of the relationships of a woman, Tiwa (Abimbola Craig) working in the media company while Phases follows a man, Sukanmi (Tosin Ibitoye) building his tech startup.
The Men’s Club shows the lives of four male friends, Louis (Baaj Adebule), Aminu (Ayoola Ayolola), Tayo (Efe Iwara) and Lanre (Daniel Etim Effiong), in different stages of relationships – married, dating and single.
Game On is a relatively new series that portrays a couple Mayowa (Ebenezer Eno) and Leye (Eso Dike) of over three years, facing misunderstandings as they try to move their relationship to the next level. Do they follow the trend of our everyday reality or just elicit “God when” from us by toying with the mini strings attached to our hearts ?
Where to Find Love
How are relationships in Lagos,a bustling city where everyone is trying to make enough money to live comfortably, found?. There is a conception that most single Lagosians are too busy and stressed out with work to be committed to a relationship. This happens especially when the partners aren’t in the same working class conditions.
A lot of the long lasting relationships I have seen started in university. I can only assume that this is because most people start discovering who they really are and what they want in life during their university lives. So going on this road of discovery together—from their weird food combinations (indomie and bread) to things they do to cope with stress— might be what helps to strengthen their relationship. Osas and Tega, the married couple, in Game On have this story of at least knowing each other from their university days. As it can be noticed from their relationship, finding love in university doesn’t solve all future issues because there is still so much to figure out even by oneself. However, it still offers the benefit whereby you’re in a relationship with someone you know to a larger extent than a person you will meet after university, in the workplace or recreational centres.
Workplaces are another common place where relationships commonly start. I’m not only referring to offices but also events relating to one’swork like conferences, launch events, summits etc. Since a lot of young Lagosians, especially those in the corporate world, spend the most significant chunk of their time at work related events, it limits their dating radius. They are more likely to date someone in their work environment as they can spend more time together since their schedules might align— like Tiwa and Mide in Skinny Girl in Transit.
Some people hate or are simply not interested in dating people in their work environment due to various personal reasons. Parties, gyms, worship centers, malls and other recreational centers are other places where relationships start. When dating someone in your sphere of friends and you just want to meet new people, these are the best places. It is easier jumping into a romantic relationship, skipping the usual friendship phase that may occur in other cases because there is little fear of awkwardness, and ruined friendship if the relationship goes south. It could also involve friends setting you up with their friends, group dates or meeting people on social media. Sukanmi and Naomi in Phases got together because Tunde set them up together, ignoring all the drama that occurred in between. Going into the digital sphere, online apps like Friendite, Bumble, and so on, that match strangers together are slowly entering the scene, but haven’t caught on with the public yet.
Blame it on the Media
The progression of relationships have been slowly changing and there could be assumptions that this is caused by the media. An example is cohabitation before marriage. Lagos as defiant of culture as it may try to be is still largely affected by the ‘modesty’ of our culture. Cohabitation has been shown a lot in Nollywood web series like TMC, with Aminu and Jasmine; Game On with Mayowa and Leye and so many more. We know that when things are shown a lot on TV it becomes normalized as ‘how we do it now’ since life imitates TV and vice versa. This isn’t the situation on this topic, however, I think cohabitation has been a common thing in Lagos for a long while and the media is just translating reality. What I do think is that people have become more confident about making it public without the fear of culture backlash, which shows how TV affirms and normalizes norms.
Basically, most Nollywood web series are true representations of our lives in Lagos. The fact that most of us can relate to the numerous situations depicted in the series is what makes us really stuck on them. The arguments they elicit when characters act in a way we wouldn’t in situations we’ve experienced, the understanding, when characters act how we would have or already have in other situations and the arousal when it is an extreme act of service we also covet in real life.
Nollywood web series are definitely making us proud around the world but I’d like to see the industry focus on wider age groups and themes too, not just mid-twenties to thirties. Maybe the upcoming Netflix series focusing on a teen might prove to take a different route. There are more stories to tell about Nigerian teens, even if they argue that we have seen a number of stories focusing on older adults, typically parents, in the past. What do you think?