For those who do not know, Osagie Alonge is the chief correspondent of entertainment newspaper, Nigerian Entertainment Today, and he could be considered an ‘authority’ on matters regarding entertainment in Nigeria. He recently wrote what he termed an ‘open letter’ to actress Omotola Jalade-Ekiende regarding her (Omotola’s) message to bloggers who labeled her 14-year-old daughter “sexy”. Here is an excerpt from his letter:
“Last week, Omotola Jalade-Ekiende went on a rant on social media in response to entertainment bloggers who described her daughter Meraiah Ekeinde as ‘hot and sexy’.
“The Nollywood actress and 2013 Time Magazine icon barked at online media, chastising them for visiting her 14-year-old daughter’s Instagram page, culling her photos and spreading them all over the internet”.
“’Thanks to everyone who wished Meraiah a happy birthday. However, going to a 14-year-old’s ‘private’ online account to post her pictures for public viewing is totally inappropriate. Her father and I are horrified as parents and guardians that a minor’s picture can be paraded online as ‘hot’ ,’sexy’ etc.,’” she wrote on her official Facebook page.
“It should be noted that as at the time Meraiah’s photos were posted by bloggers, her Instagram account was set on ‘public’. Dear Omotola, I’d like to say that the media has done nothing, absolutely nothing wrong and do not owe you an apology for publicising your daughter’s photos. You should be the last person pointing fingers, as it clearly shows you’ve scored a ‘D minus’ in raising this cute kid.
“Meraiah Ekeinde is four years away from adolescence but by merely studying her Instagram page, you’d be amazed at the kind of photos a 14-year-old girl puts up – we are talking sexualised selfies, showing off her ‘curves’, pouts, using hashtags like #StaySexy and posting memes containing vulgar language like the word ‘F***’.
“I’m sure Meraiah means no harm and she is in the early stage of youthful exuberance, but, dear Omotola, do you approve of an under-aged [girl] turning up her sexiness in the eye of the public? Why hasn’t she been cautioned to take down these sexually suggestive photos? Why is it that you have failed to understand that Meraiah, a minor, has no business trying to act like your fellow desperate Nollywood actresses on social media?
“Instead, you choose to be horrified by the media’s label of ‘hot and sexy’, accusing them of intruding on you ‘poor, little girl’s privacy’. Madam, you’ve got it all wrong. Are those photos ‘hot and sexy’? Oh my, yes they d*** are! It’s a shame that up till now, these photos haven’t been deleted. It’s a shame that you’ve asked the media to ‘behave like adults and draw the line’ when you’ve not acted in the same faith.
“In February 2012, US rapper Nas’ 18-year-old daughter Destiny Jones posted a box of condoms on her Instagram page. The media community attacked Nas and his baby mama, Carmen Bryan, for the post which was subsequently taken off. Nas didn’t come out defending his daughter or attacking the media, he rather blamed himself on his song Daughters.
“Dear Omotola, you always talk about ‘changing the world’. It’s time to start from your house; clean it up.”
To some, Osagie scored a touch-down with his letter. But others have come to Jalade-Ekeinde’s defence, claiming that her reaction is very much like that of any ‘sensible parent or guardian’. True, Meraiah is still a minor but that does not mean that blames should be traded back and forth in this matter. Shouldn’t parents keep better watch over their children’s activities on social media? Also, shouldn’t Nigerian bloggers consider all angles to their stories before publishing? The questions can go on and on. The bottom line is this: the right thing should be done both on the part of the media and parents.