He paced around the lawn in front of the British council, Port Harcourt- with a face that seemed as if he was ready to fight, yet he looked very gorgeous and intimidating in a trendy suit. All around him were other youngsters soliloquizing, pacing around and making hand gestures as if there was a feast of madness.
It was just a few minutes to the August auditions for The Debaters TV reality show, the last of it scheduled for the Port Harcourt zone. About 40 youngsters between the ages of 21 and 30 assembled for the event of which 10 intelligent minds were to be selected for the finals which would take place on the end of August in Lagos.
At the end of the day, the trendy looking young man was not selected for the show. Some other young stars looking muscular, well built and spotting good faces for the TV did not make it too. One young man complained bitterly; he felt he was wrongly dropped, even stating that the fellow he was paired with at the auditions remarked, “I will be surprised, if you do not make it. I admit that you are so good.” The complainer spoke with a heavy Efik accent. Perhaps, his Efikaic English was the reason why he lost out.
Twelve youngsters were eventually picked for the finals. The number was increased from 10 to 12 because of the impressive display of talents as well as the shortfalls the organizers experienced at one of the zones where only 4 contestants were chosen instead of 10. The ladies and gentlemen who eventually made it beamed with smiles as they exchanged their phone numbers and email addresses with other contestants who did not make it.
A few hours earlier, the producer of the show who identified himself simply as Owolabi had addressed the contestants telling them the mechanics and techniques involved in the selection process. He said that professionals were brought to handle the auditions, stressing that his own area was the production of the show which will be a combination of intellect display and entertainment. 60 contestants were expected to be auditioned at the Lagos finals, out of which 14 contestants will be eventually selected for the Talk Academy.
At the show, the contestants will be involved in all manner of debate, where their art and skill in debating will be accessed. It will help to mould future leaders and orators as the contestant’s speaking, listening, thinking and argumentative skills will be developed and enhanced. There will be a panel of professional judges while the audience will be the viewers at home who will vote for the contestants. After a series of evictions, two contestants will be eventually left in the Talk academy from which the winner will be chosen. The winner stands to win a whooping prize of 3 million naira and car.
The show is brought by Inspire Africa Productions who are the creators of the immensely successful talk show, Moments with Mo. Guaranty Trust Bank is the major sponsor of the reality show. While the maiden edition of the show may not be devoid of technical and logistic issues, Nigerians and the rest of Africa who were recently inspired by the oratory abilities of their own Barrack Obama who held the world spell bound by his manner of speech presentation and eventual emergence as the winner of the US Presidential elections; expect a show different from the ones they have been seeing.
For now, it appears a few TV stations including Silver Bird Television will broadcast this show which is expected to come up sometime in October. One hopes that the show will captivate the audience and inspire our youths who have been much exposed to the influence of pure show biz in the areas of music, movies and sports which have become attractions because of the popularity, money, brand endorsements and respect that musicians, movie and sports stars are getting.
Only recently, there were complaints at certain quarters about how some of these shows could be a bad influence on our youths. This was likely as a result of some scenes which were broadcast in the Big Brother Africa show which were believed to be sexually explicit. Apart from the entertainment value of some of these shows, one wonders what our youths learn from such shows.
The Debaters TV reality show is indeed a welcome development in a society where mediocrity is often upheld. Issues that will transform the nation such as leadership, corporate social responsibility, corruption, child labour, female empowerment, the economy, consumer protection, rebranding Nigeria, the Niger Delta issue, civil responsibility will be discussed among others.
It will not be a show of muscles, beautiful faces or voices. It will not be a show where we expect the macho man to win. It is going to be a forum where the intelligent minded who can combine facts, figures, clarity, logic and conviction to buttress their points will be showcased.
Nigerians hope that this show will be interesting enough to make them stay glued to their televisions, empathize with the contestants and even participate in the show. If it ends up boring and more of a monotonous talk-talk show, then it may succeed only in moving the bookworms and nerds in our midst. The show should have a good entertainment value and should carry everyone along, thus the producer, camera crew and writers of the scripts will have a lot of technicalities to manage and properly put in place.