The problems with Jason Njoku’s flip flops
Earlier in the week, Nigerian Twitter was agog with debates about Jason Njoku’s flip flops and “irresponsible” dressing. It was less of a debate and more of general consensus.
On Wednesday, TechCrunch an American online technology media company held Startup Battlefield Africa, its startup pitching event in Lagos Nigeria. Jason Njoku showed up in some weird looking three-quarter pants, t-shirt and flip flops.
Recently, Jason who is CEO of IrokoTV was spotted at the just concluded Startup South Conference held in Owerri, Imo State in the same styled ensemble. This was beginning to look like his go-to style. Which would not be totally strange.
Techies or tech aficionados and the startup culture generally is known quite popularly for casual dressed down looks. Jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are the fashion statement the world over. Mark Zuckerberg and his one colour shirt is the most popular exemplification of this. Why then did Nigerian Twitter dig into Jason for daring to dress like that?
It makes me a little sad in 2019 we are still debating dress codes in the tech community. This morning I gave the opening session for Stanbic IBTC Capital team on 'redefining the race'. 👇🏿me smiling with the Capital CEO Funso Akere and Stanbic IBTC Group CEO Yinka Sanni pic.twitter.com/vxa9IgJUf3
— JasonNjoku (@JasonNjoku) December 12, 2018
As the head honcho of IrokoTV; one of Africa’s largest video on demand (VOD) platforms, they say the flip flops were an overkill even for the techie fashion style.
It is common knowledge that most people prefer comfort over conforming to any fashion standards. But this should not even matter, because an adult human being should have the freedom to choose and decide how they want to look without being badgered and bullied on social media, whether s/he is a public figure or not.
As irritating as this whole issue is, it is indicative of far-reaching problems bigger than Jason, his flip-flops and Twitter.
Firstly, the opinionated badgering of people on Twitter is representative of the turn social media has taken these days. It is a field that seems free but totally isn’t to a large extent. Dissimilarities in opinions are shut down and bullied into silence; very Orwellian in nature.
Even after the man came out to write an explainer in a Twitter thread, which should never have had to happen, people dug in harder.
This matter is also a brutal reminder of how stuck in our ways the average Nigerian is. In the Nigerian/African culture, some things including fashion are considered alien and irresponsible.
“Our forefathers did not accept this so we must not.”
But his particular line of thought smacks of obvious hypocrisy. Did our forefathers or culture permit, know or ever understand phones, mobile money, aircrafts and medical technology? NO
But we thrive on them today. It’s like cherry picking cultural anomalies and discarding those not completely satisfying preconceived notions and mindsets. Very hypocritical.
Recently, singer Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade popular known as Mr. Eazi was called upon to sit on a panel to talk about Nigeria’s creative industry.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele allegedly said his first impression of Mr. Eazi was irresponsibility, just because the young man has a dreadlock. We never found out if that impression changed or not, but halfway through the young man’s presentation, Mr. Emefiele was probably distracted by his hair and 1,000 ways to cut it.
Like Mr. Eazi’s ‘irresponsible hair’, Jason Njoku’s flip flops and ‘irresponsible dressing’ are a large antithesis and threat to this hypocrisy that Nigerians hide under the “our culture” tag.
Lastly, these infamous flip flops and conversations around them show the value system of the average Nigerian youth in 2018/2019. After Jason tendered an ‘explanation’ for his own dress code, Nigerian youths filled up the mentions and were replying like people from the 70s. Most of them sounded unbelievably like blasts from the past.
His explanation asked concerned people to focus on more important issues at hand, but they were not having it.
The replies were scary and revealed where the mind of the Nigerian youth is set; on dressing to impress and conform to set standards when their peers have left them generations behind.
Jason’s flip flops and Mr. Eazi’s hair all mirror the adamant nature of the Nigerian society.