Pulse.ng's Joey Akan looks through celebrity charity motives, and finds reason why they are not obligated to give to charity.
We live in a world of imperfections, where everything is flawed and dying. Yet in our heads, we hope for the ideals of life. Like seeing the sun every day, having cold water running through our throats, listening to the ringing laughter from desperate playful children, and having the rich give to the poor and less privileged.
Our celebrities are generally regarded as rich people. In Nigeria, the pervading belief ruling the thoughts of the masses places popular people are millionaires and billionaires. Sure on many counts, they are right. As is the common rule in life, popularity is a precursor for wealth. Why become popular if you cannot find a path to monetization? Isn’t that the endgame of it all?
With the belief of immense money comes a demand for charity. Nigerians possess the unshakeable belief that celebrities ought to be generous. They are believed to be products of luck and blessings from God, so their wealth should be put back into the general collective, for the common good. That’s why they are harangued in public for money, in private for various forms of help.
But what really is, is different from what is seen. First celebrities are not as wealthy as they seem to be. Only a select few from the thousands of popular people have wealth enough to be classified as rich. Many aren’t billionaires. They are surface billionaires. When you skip past the Instagram updates, twitter brags, movie roles, wanton lyrics, and PR stunts, our celebrities are as normal as the guy next to them. In many ways your possession far outmatches theirs.
And the rich ones? They are too busy making more money. They make up 1% of the general celebrity pool, and they want to stay that way. Whatever they did to rake in so much money, they’ll rather it remains that way for all of eternity. 1% is really elite stuff.
Celebrities feel the way you do. They believe in the same ideals as you do. They want to see the wold healed, have more kids with education, have the hubgry fed, and the poor elevated by goodwill and noble kindness.
A fair number of them are in organised charity. They own and run their foundations. For others, they put their name and their voice behind a cause and constantly push for growth and effect. Banky W, D’banj, Niyola, and many others have their names in front of foundations and charity firms. And they do good work.
But a lot of factors mitigate against this. First, pro bono work is tasking. It takes up time, and holds you down emotionally, psychologically and financially. You need gigantic conviction and desperate determination to be actively involved in active charity. Then you have to deal with all the paperwork and open yourself up to a number of dynamics. Getting funds is in itself, an art, dealing with public scrutiny and apathy is a heavy weight.
The others who skip organised charity will have to be content with the odd, sporadic burst of charity from their bleeding hearts. Special days are built for this. How many birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations have we seen with a touch of human kindness to it. Countless.
Celebrities who engage in this, have to face the lambasting cynical public who view every act of kindness by an individual as a ploy to gather good press. This holds true. I have sat in many celebrity press meetings and PR planning where charity slots were given for deeds. The crucial aim might be to get the press talking, but how about the affected subjected individual?
His life has been touched positively, and made brighter.
In an ideal world, Nigerian celebrities will be able to give in secret. Many celebrities do this, and it is still ongoing. I have privileged stories to share.
But as a brand and business, they need the press too. Major corporate firms, who delve into charity, spend huge money to promote and publicise their act. It is a fact of life. Give and tell.
With all these in view, here’s something we are forgetting. Celebrities are normal people whose line of work has put them in the glare of society. They are walking, breathing, petty entities like you and I. they have basic hopes, fears and aspirations. They too have problems that need financial solutions.
When OJB needed money for his kidney complications, 2face Idibia was travelling between states raising funds for his father’s prostate complications. He needed funding badly to deal with medical bills.
Would you give all your money for charity? And when the rains come, you will be left to drench in the cold? Rich people stay rich because they don’t give all their money away. Would you give all your financial security for some lofty ideal? No.
Celebrities are human too. They are under no obligation to give to charity. Worse still they have an expensive lifetime to maintain.
Charity is an afterthought. Making money is the main thought.
How much have you given to charity as a normal human without the lights, cameras and action?