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Michael Afenfia: People Watching, Commercials & Hospital Waiting Rooms!

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A couple of days back, while on a visit to the hospital with my kids, we had to endure a long wait because of the number of patients ahead of us. When I asked why the process was that slow, I was told there were only three doctors on ground and they were taking their precious time with each patient. But this piece isn’t about the hospital, its three doctors and their very slow turnaround time; it’s really about something else.

By the way, now that I think of it, maybe my fellow visitors to the hospital that day weren’t really in there with the doctors for that long. But you know when you’re waiting for your turn in a queue, it always feels like everyone else ahead of you is taking forever sorting out their business even if it only took them a minute.

So, back to that day when my kids and I were number 34 on the waiting list. As at the time we entered the waiting area, they had just called in the thirteenth person into one of the consulting rooms to meet with a doctor. Twenty more people and it’d be our turn so we tried to make ourselves as comfortable as we could on the metal chairs.

My kids had their phones with them, so I didn’t have to worry about them being idle or impatient until our number was announced. As for me, as I usually do when I find myself in situations like that, I entertained myself by watching the people around me – I had heard enough of Donald Trump’s latest tweets and updates on the Jamal Khashoggi’s saga on repeat on CNN.

The first set of people that caught my attention as I looked around the waiting room was the young couple beside me with three naughty children that wouldn’t stop screaming and running around. I know little kids are wont to get unruly in public places, but this trio were just out of control, and not even their parents could make them calm down.

An elderly lady behind me was on a long telephone call. She was really loud, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying in Yoruba. I so desperately wanted to beg her to tone it down, but she struck me like the kind of person that would tell me where to shove it. Then I turned my attention to this really tall guy who had an air of importance around him. His focus was on his laptop and I was really curious to know if he brought his work to the hospital or if he was just watching a movie.

It was at that moment the CNN news anchor announced a break in the news and the commercials began. The moment the first advert came on, I noticed everyone’s attention shift to the television set on the wall. It was that GLO advert; you know the one where Sola Sobowale and Patience Ozokwor are not friends but are attending a lavish ceremony where King Sunny Ade performs. You should have seen how everyone burst out laughing when the advert came to an end.

You do not want to know how happy I was, knowing that advert had the same effect on other people too. Seeing how the people in the room reacted to that particular skit reminded me of how hard I laughed when I saw it for the first time myself. It was the same way I felt when I watched the other version where they are feuding traders struggling for customers in the market. That moment at the very end when the guy says “O ti get me” cracks me up every time.

The only other advert that brings me that much joy is the “selfie time” one that features Small Doctor’s Penalty song. Ngozi Nwosu and Iya Rainbow (Idowu Philips) nailed their performances, and if you ask me, I think Airtel scored big on that one. Now that the telecommunications companies are in an apparent battle for advert supremacy, I am looking forward to seeing more of such witty, great quality and well-produced adverts on our TV screens.

As much as I’m a proponent of largely fresh faces on TV, like when GTBank shot its 737 music video last year with random customers of the bank, and Coca Cola only recently brought out the Idibia kids on the Mama Di Mama advert, I am kind of happy that the producers of the GLO and Airtel adverts dug out the veterans for their new campaigns. I think they have given us something evergreen, fresh and funny.

Wait a minute; I think it just came on again–

If you no get money hide your face

You can call me Small Doctor, Omo Iya Teacher

Won ti gba penalty lo throwing

Gbe n gbe gbe, gbe n gbe gbe…

 

A proud son of the Ijaw nation and lover of Nigeria, Michael Afenfia associates with everything good and exciting about Nigeria. His ongoing work, the Mechanics of Yenagoa, is published on his blog every fortnight. So far, he has authored three critically acclaimed novels and a number of nonfiction writing, including a biography. He is @MichaelAfenfia on social media and can be reached via [email protected]

2 Comments

  1. Taiwo Oladele

    November 16, 2018 at 10:24 am

    This was just as delightful as close to home for every one. Those adverts were brilliant, kudos to the media team of Airtel and Glo. You need to see the reaction of people when it comes on during champions league half time breaks in a viewing center. Beautiful post sir

  2. AdeOlu

    November 18, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Amazing how much these adverts influence culture. I used to look forward to the announcements of the best adverts throughout each year. Hope that is still done to celebrate the Creatives.

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