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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Linda Ikeji and her glass of Lemonade

By Joy Isi Bewaji

Schadenfreude. Pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. There is something about Linda Ikeji that seems to bring out this morbid emotion, even in people you wouldn’t ordinarily consider to be of the morbid sort. Something about the No. 1 blogger in Nigeria, West Africa, Africa that people seem to always expect her to be a constant Freudian slip; a perpetual error of sorts for their entertainment; a gladiator who upon slaying all adversaries, squelching their ruin beneath his sandaled feet, proceeds in order to meet an insatiable bloodlust, to hack himself to bits to the rousing applause of the constantly cheering crowd.

Her slips are patented, with the keenness of a 90 year old museum director, methodically curated. In a multiverse of bloggers, that contemporary vocation now practiced by hundreds of thousands, Linda Ikeji alone and always, is held to account for the excesses of the trade; scapegoat, saddled with communal sins and driven into the wilderness to perish.

Her moments of oversight, which aren’t any more frequent than any other blogger, are exaggerated, acts of unforgivable heresy that unites, pitchfork flailing around the raging pyre, the cyber-angry, the cyber-frustrated and the cyber-deprived.

Apart from her faithful followers, not too many a favourable word has been written about her in our public spaces, in praise of what is surely one of the most important crafts of our increasingly digital times.

No. Linda is always wrong.

She is wrong because she is rich, her gains gleaned off of peoples misfortunes, and hell and horror, with very little creative effort required on her part. A concept that pulverizes the minds of the sort of people who believe your back must be scarred, your ligaments torn before you can get ahead in life, and even then, we all know the ultimate reward lies for us beyond the grave.

So how dare she have access to riches here?

How dare she squander hers here? On a bag, on a Range, on a House, on her business, on a private jet…

Not in this lifetime and definitely not in a crushing recession will people be able to reconcile their innate schadenfreude – the need to be caught in this collective monsoon where everyone is getting drenched, with Linda’s steadily burgeoning wealth, presence and influence.

They want her to be wrong. They need her to be wrong. To feel a constant guilt set to the sway of their suffering, to be perpetually deferent, and eternally mortified.

So yes, we’re going to call them haters, not necessarily because it is wrong to question the system that throws up these “monopolies”, but because they go about expressing this angst in the most ridiculous ways, like all the other things most Nigerians do; without much thought or a careful consideration.

A hue and cry at the latest outrage, followed by a frenzied cyber lynching, then a momentary consolation that settles for a moment our Linda-angsts, and then a sudden remembrance, the opiates worn off, of a collective and personal lack and desperation. Cue renewed outrage.

Rinse and Repeat.

How can they not see that this necromantic practice is a futile endeavour?

Linda wins. She has been winning for more than four years; slamming the balls thrown at her with the kind of fervour only gods can confer. This fight is done. It is not worth fighting anymore. Your time would best be utilised in finding another pastime to well…pass the time.

The intellectual fraud her detractors perpetually moan about has become commonplace practice even among corporate entities who you’d normally expect to employ a little tact and judgment during creative executions.

Many have called out, too many times, network companies who in broad daylight steal tweets with the hope they will not be discovered. A noodles company was caught a while ago doing that. Monies and lawsuits were flung at them. But it never gets as sensational or as frenzied as when Linda picks up a post or tweet lying around to publish on her blog.

This is in no way meant to excuse the crime, by all means let all who feel aggrieved seek justice in the right quarters, but the now tired and overplayed routine of marinating, frying, dressing and then having Linda for lunch and casting about the cybersphere allusions to her marital status is lazy, unoriginal and really getting quite irksome.

It is impossible to survive the successive waves of cyber lynching the way Linda has. Then again, it shows the impotence of our digital rage; its disappointing flaccidity because Linda might as well be sipping a glass of lemonade whilst her name is dragged around by people who really should be spending their time in creating something – anything in a country that lacks everything.

Enter Lindaikejisocial:

It has become a fashionable thing to hate Linda Ikeji. You would struggle to find more than a handful of people who would publicly declare their love, or admiration for her. There’s an online pseudo-intellectual community that stays “woke” by making pompous assertions of her ingenuousness to wealth and success; like something she tripped over, unplanned, and undeserving.

But Linda is here, with wealth and with success, and with a new project that admits even haters.

If you’ve never been sure what winning looks like. This is it.

She has launched a genius of a platform, a social site that condenses and combines the strengths of Facebook, Blogger, and Ebay. On day one of the launch, the site was stuck by thousands of bees. The rate of signups per second was overwhelming. Shocking? Not really. Hate and love have always worked for good for this woman. Linda, like every smart woman, knows that a tall glass of lemonade is all you need through a rumpus. Don’t even sweat it.

I do not dismiss her offences, just as much as I do not dismiss those of network providers who plagiarise single tweets, or websites who lift entire bodies of art without credit to the creative slave behind its perfection. But I have always questioned the motives of cyber mobs.

There’s no barrier to entry, no fee required – monetary or intellectual, to register oneself in this pack of slathering hounds. It is too much of an unstructured process to mean anything, to drive any meaningful reforms, and is especially absent when a truly dire situation in need of intervention appears; like the rape of a child or the theft of public funds or the monstrous excesses of an unscrupulous religion.

Linda has built her success on the stories of people who cannot keep their mouths shut; and in most cases, she did not need to send a SWAT team to clarify why they couldn’t just keep their mouths shut. I have on occasion stood in judgement of her, but it is time to focus on the social/media empire she is building loan-free that will employ Nigerians, thus giving hope to many families, lend an added voice to social discourse, unveil many young talents, and promote even further the entertainment business.

And that’s even before considering her TV and radio stations getting set to dish new and exciting programmes.

It’s a new season for Linda, and new beginnings for many people just by this singular act of expansion.

It is something worth commending from a woman who sits on a swivel chair, staring at her laptop, TV permanently on CNN, only half interested in anything else around her, with nothing but pure determination, and an unbridled desire to succeed to keep her coming back. Again and again.

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