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Tonto Dikeh: Role Model Or Nuisance?

Tonto Dikeh

If you haven’t heard of the name Tonto Dikeh in the Nigerian entertainment industry then you are so 2000 and late. Tonto Dikeh is one
name that has penetrated every household in Nigeria. Tonto as she is
fondly called is popularly known for her acting prowess and came into
limelight in 2005 when she competed on a reality TV show The Next Movie
Star and emerged the first runner up; since then, there has been no
stopping her.

However, the issue here is not Tonto’s acting career but her recent
venture into music. The star actress turned singer has been in the news
lately for her sojourn into the world of music. She has released songs
like “Hi”, “Itz Ova”, “Jeje”, and is set on releasing another titled
“Carriage”. All of these songs have met with mixed reactions and
opinions from fans and haters alike. While some have praised her
efforts, some have been quick enough to tear her down. Negative
criticism both verbal and written have trailed her attempt at music
while there have been few also admiring her doggedness and determination
to get her music accepted.

I have come to notice that we Nigerians are fond of the habit of
stereotyping our celebrities. Once someone is famous in one particular
field, we refuse to let them grow out of that role. Even when they try
to move out of that box, we continually cage them in and refuse to
change our perception and mindset about them. This trend can be found in
Nollywood where particular actors are known for a particular role and
without having to see the movie, one can tell what the movie is about
and the character played by the actor just by the appearance of that
actor in the movie. Producers and directors alike refuse to give them
roles outside this particular one they are well known for and this has
stunted growth and killed diversity.

It is this same mindset that has affected our orientation and
mentality about many things. If a musician suddenly decides to turn into
an actor, the intention is received with so much apathy that if such a
person is not careful, it may mean the end of their career or their will
being dented. The same goes for an actor that decides to dab into
music. The public out of their microscopic mentality are unable to view
the person in any other light apart from the already established one.
Even before the release of the music, there would be so much controversy
about the whole affair that one would wonder how people could be so
negative.

I have heard talks and comments about how whack Tonto’s music is and
how she lacks talent. Numerous advices have been given about how she
should focus on her acting rather than wasting her time with music. I
read a particular write up in which the writer claimed that Tonto Dikeh
was a nuisance to the society because of her music. The writer must have
had his reasons which I fail to see. All I see is someone trying to
entertain you and if you don’t like it, simply turn away. If I don’t
like a particular actor, then I don’t have to watch a movie he is casted
in; it is as simple as that. She has been lambasted time and again for
trying to ‘force’ her music down our throat and I wonder to myself how
possible that is. If you don’t like her song and it plays on your radio
or television, it is a free world, simply change the broadcast station.

Just as much as you don’t like her music, there are those out there
that do enjoy it and appreciate her efforts. The writer further went on
to talk about how there are thousands of people out there and how the
likes of Tonto are stopping them from shining. According to him, she is
using money to push her music and this brought a smile to my face. How
possible is that? Each man to his lot and if she uses money to push her
music then why not let them push their music with talent?

Tonto isn’t the first actor to turn musician but of the lot she seems
to be the only consistent one. The likes of John Okafor, Genevive
Nnaji, Jim Iyke, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Nkem Owoh (Osuofia), and some
few others have all at one time or the other ventured into music only to
meet with negative acceptance.

Her music may not be the super-fly sounds of the likes of Chidinma,
Omawumi, Mocheddah, Waje, Tiwa Savage, etc but her efforts should be
commended. I for one particularly like her creative video for ‘Hi’ which
looked like a Nigerian version of Katy Perry’s ‘Last Friday Night’. Her
determination despite the trail of criticism and negative reviews
should be emulated by young ones in pursuing their dreams.

We all should learn to open our minds to people exploring themselves
and living their dreams. The example of international teen star, Miley
Cyrus is a good example; she is well known and respected for her acting
and music skills. Even the sojourn of female musicians like Beyonce and
Rihanna into acting was met with much appreciation.

Perhaps if we learn to give people a good chance instead of
stereotyping, then we may make head way. In the end I leave the question
to you, is Tonto Dikeh a role model or nuisance?

Beyonce and Rihanna
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