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Why Ebuka is so effective on the black box interview

Why Ebuka is so effective on the black box interview
March 04
09:44 2021

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu hosts Rubbin’ Minds on Channels TV (Sundays, 3 pm-ish), since 2013. And since the return of Big Brother Nigeria in 2017 (season 2), Ebuka (who participated in the first season in 2006, has been hosting the show which is now renamed Big Brother Naija. No doubt, there’s a much longer list of his body of work. However, my focus today is the Black Box Interview which is hosted by Ebuka on Bounce Radio. I watch the show on Youtube and so far looks like it’s on a monthly schedule.

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I became aware of the Black Box Interview when Ebuka interviewed musical star Davido (David Adeleke) self-acclaimed OBO on September 30, 2020. It was cut and aired in parts. This was followed by the Tiwa Savage interview on November 2, 2020.  Then came Falz (Folarin Falana) on December 25, 2020. Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie featured on January 1, 2021. On February 14, 2021 the Black Box Interview hosted Flavour N’abania (Chinedu Okoli).  Save for the Chimamanda interview, I’ve watched all the Black Box interviews.

Ebuka was able to control the Davido interview even as the musician was sometimes hyperactive. Davido was asked if he thought his father’s money was more of a curse than blessing or words to that effect. This question was prompted by insinuations and taunts from some quarters that it’s only due to his billionaire’s dad’s wealth that he’s succeeded in the music industry. Of course, that’s not true he declared. However, he conceded that the money does help. He cleared the air on the marriage plans and what happened to ‘Assurance 2020’ which was to be his wedding to Chioma, his fiancée and mother of his son (he also has 2 daughters from previous relationships). COVID 19 got in the way, he said. He also talked about how Chioma responds to news of his alleged shenanigans by the blogs and tabloids: “So what?” perhaps “And so what?” sounds more Nigerian.  Now, in the wake of a video of Davido holding hands with Mya Yafai a few days ago, it’s possible that, in spite of Chioma being ridiculed and ‘dragged’ on social media, she may have just shrugged it off with “And so what?” as the chef went about preparing OBO’s favourite food.

As far as breaking the internet, it was the Burna Boy beef that generated the most heat.  Davido had released his single FEM (sometime in September 2020) off the album A Better Time. With lines like: “Tell Odogwu say we like to party,” many concluded it was a reference to Burna Boy who calls himself Odogwu. Davido was only agreeing with the obvious when he confirmed that the song did have a Burna Boy connection. And that so-called beef was what the news headlines picked on. In fact, this column asked: “Is the beef between Davido, Burna Boy and Wizkid real?” There’s no doubt that there’s some commercial opportunism happening.

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After the Black Box Interview with Davido, Tiwa Savage was next. I was struck with the realisation that Tiwa Savage, the Original African Bad Girl has since turned 40. Yet, nothing about her is dated as there’s no hint of her true age: Not her physical performance, not her general carriage and certainly doesn’t reflect in her music. That interview also allowed some more insight into Tiwa-to see what makes her tick, her spirituality, why she’s not worried that at age 40, she’ll be upstaged by younger female artistes, in fact, she’s besting many a younger woman. It became easier to respect her ‘hustle’ after that interview. The same goes for Falz.

Perhaps the interview that I have been affected by the most is the one with Flavour on the Black Box interview. I was so engrossed that I watched the two parts of the interview, 2 hours plus, at a go. I don’t know where I got the impression he couldn’t hold a conversation smoothly in English or even in Igbo. There was a lot of new information: For instance, Flavour was a virgin until 24 when an older/more experienced woman decided to relieve him of it. Who could’ve guessed that Flavour the man who oozes sex was somewhat of a late starter? He trained and worked with a band, started his solo music career in a bar where he performed other people’s songs… His relocation trip to Lagos which was initially to test the waters will make a blockburster Nollywood story. The fact is I could write a full column on each of those Black Box interviews.

Nonetheless, the point of this rather long (hopefully not winding) introduction is to talk about Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and give a few points why I think he’s so (insert superlative adjective of choice) as host of the Black Box Interview:

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  • Ebuka’s really interested in the people he’s interviewing and what they have to say. I meant for this to be my last point but if you get only one point from this, it’s this. Ebuka is at once a gist partner, a friend, someone who’s in on the joke… It’s no mean feat for an interviewer to be really into his/her subjects.  Not everyone can manage that.
  • Ebuka’s not intrusive: Although he’s interested in who he’s talking to, and what the person is saying, he lets the conversation flow. With little nudges here and there, sometimes a look, a chuckle, a one liner… I know it helps that he knows his guests outside of the studio, but he’s not trying to smother the viewer or the guest with this familiarity.
  • Ebuka makes himself not the focus of the interview. The Ebuka you get on the Big Brother Naija stage with the Mai Atafo pieces is not the same Ebuka in the Bounce Radio studio. He’s not trying in any way to make the interview about him.

All said, the next edition of the Black Box Interview must be close to dropping.

Taylor Swift Vs. Netflix

Is she right about sexism or just “thin-skinned”?

Ginny and Georgia is a Netflix series featuring daughter Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and mother Georgia (Brianne Howey). There’s also Austin (Diesel La Torraca) the 9-year-old son but it’s really the antics of the 15-year-old Ginny and her 30-year-old mother Georgia that drives the series. On the Sunday February 28 episode, Ginny said to her mom: “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” Taylor’s fans caused a storm on Twitter. By Monday, the star herself decided to weigh in on Twitter: “Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back. How about we stop degrading hard-working women by defining this horse shit as FuNnY.”

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Taylor Swift was smart in turning what’s obviously a personal take into something that sounded altruistic. She’s attempting to distance herself like some stateswoman who’s more concerned about the female gender. Commenting, Wendy Williams was of the opinion that Taylor was being thin-skinned. She advised Taylor to let things slide as long as her name remains in people’s mouths. Being Wendy Williams, she did remind her audience that Taylor swift had been through at least 13 relationships at 30 years old. Which makes the Ginny and Georgia joke not so untrue? But some might argue that men are not held to the same standard. Although Taylor herself is the one who has turned her broken relationships into an art form which she’s not afraid to exploit through her music.

I think there is perhaps some white privilege going on here. No doubt Taylor Swift is talented and is generally treated like royalty.  Naturally, Taylor must feel some form of entitlement. There are times she’s used her power for a greater good, but this is not one such times. I get that she might find the joke offensive but turning it into a sexism row is being clever by half.

Onoshe Nwabuikwu, AIRTIME columnist is a renowned TV/Film critic, and Film scholar. She also has experience in Advertising as a senior Copywriter and Corporate Communications as Communications consultant.

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