Playing with politeness
When Adeola Fayehun was 19 she moved to the US to study. There she saw proper roads, running water and stable electricity. It dawned on her that what she was used to as "normal" growing up in Nigeria was in fact not. Something wasn’t right with the political system in her home country and she wanted to call out the “scammers” – the corrupt officials – who had lied to and stole from the people. But Adeola wasn’t in a position to freely speak the truth.
In Nigeria, it’s important to respect elders. You kneel to greet them, you don’t say they’re wrong, nor do you call them liars and thieves. So when there’s the dynamics of established traditions and social and cultural expectations, as well as a corrupt political system at work, how do you circumnavigate all that?
For Adeola, the answer is satire. “I try to make people laugh in the show – they find it entertaining. My goal is to reach them ... I don’t want them to be turned off before listening to what I have to say.
“As a sign of respect, I would kneel for them on the show, make them laugh and call them thieves. You can’t say I disrespected you when I just kneeled for you.
“You want respect, I’ll give it to you, but I’ll also speak my mind."
"There is actually something about moving away from the frame of objectivity and speaking indirectly, which audiences recognise as authentic," adds Julian Morrow.
Remarking on the subtle power of satire, Professor Umberto Ansaldo, Head of the University’s School of Literature, Art and Media, says, "All human cultures have humour even if they choose to focus on different areas and express it in different ways.
I think one of the things it does is give us relief when things don’t make sense or when things are plainly wrong."