I recall vividly an argumentative competition I won during my two hundred level days in the University. During the competition, all the contestants had to speak impromptu on randomly selected topics and I was asked to speak briefly on “Social activities on campus as a major source of distraction for undergraduates”. I did my best in supporting the motion but my opponent made some punch-lines in his retaliatory response. “The University”, he said “is a place for self-discovery and not necessarily for sitting tight with books”. He went on to make allusions to the possibility of students finding out who they really are and what they were born to do. This, therefore, begs the mind-boggling question; are the social activities on campus not doing more harm than good?
Having spent over four years in a federal university, I have attended tens of events cutting across the academics, career development, capacity building, music shows, talent hunt et al. Truth be said; these activities are designed to bring to the fore the innate potentials of our undergraduates and the organizers deserve kudos. But, how much is too much? One particular type of social events is the talent hunt show that is trending on our campuses nationwide. This has spread like wild fire through the length and breadth of Nigerian universities due to the generous acceptance that greeted their introduction. Whether it is a musical talent show where the new Asas, Tufaces, D’Banjs are expected to rise from from, or beauty pageants where another Agbani Darego is believed to spring from or a comedy talent hunt from which platform another Ali Baba, Basket Mouth or Seyi Law should emerge from, there have an ever increasing excitement amongst undergraduates about every one of them. Does it not pose a serious concern that so many Nigerian students in tertiary institutions are turning to these shows and events as a means of escaping academic rigours and finding quick fame and riches? The thrill and frills that fill the air of such shows speak volumes of how much of an attraction they are. This writer got speaking with an undergraduate student of the University of Lagos, Allen Ekwuru, who won a Macho contest on campus and eventually got nominated for the Mr Universe Nigeria Pageant which he eventually won. Allen got to represent the country in Spain in the Global contest last year. He said, “I have been receiving calls from fellow students as to how they can get to where I am”. He even bared his mind on the challenges he has had to confront, one of which being that he receives anonymous calls from women asking to be visited with promise to pay for his return tickets. However, unlike many others, this undergraduate student remains focussed.
This writer once attended a musical and theatre art talent show on campus and was mesmerized by the confusion that many of these undergraduates have about what really their talents are. It is absolute futility to try to be what you are not or venture into a career because someone else has made it via the same route. It was obvious that many of these contestants had no business with music, singing or acting but only want the fast lane to stardom.
However, in a frank sense, many beautiful talents are being discovered by the day at these shows and the bearers of these talents were born to use them to get to the point of greatness. Another Nigerian undergraduate only recently made Nigeria proud by clinching the spot of World Miss University Africa in faraway South Korea. Your guess is right – Tobi Phillips was discovered at a social event competition on campus and the list is endless.
The fact remains this trend has been a distraction for many undergraduate students who have nothing in common with talent hunt shows. Perhaps, those in this category need be reminded that their primary responsibility on the campus still remains their academics and full concentration must be given to this. Each one need s to know what his talent is and work assiduously towards developing same for their benefit other than blindly attending one campus event after the other at the sore detriment of their studies. There is no worse path to frustration.
By Prince Oyeniyi