Kim Kardashian who is pregnant out of wedlock for Kanye West, a foremost American Rap/Hip-hop artiste, arrived Nigeria on Saturday, 16 February, 2013, preparatory to the show, amidst heavy security. But on the day scheduled for the event, she made a short appearance during the red carpet event wearing a short casual black leather dress, had a group photograph with some of the artistes billed to perform at the show and disappeared backstage. She later re-surfaced on the stage during the show proper, and with an impish grin and a shrieking voice, bellowed into the microphone “Hello Naija!” and finally disappeared from the event. In all, Kim Kardashian spent no more than 40 seconds on that stage, or 45 minutes at the entire event on that day. Although her fans were thrilled to catch a live glimpse of her, still, many were disappointed that she did not co-host the show with Darey Art-Alade, as earlier advertised and confirmed by her tweet. Many Nigerians were taken aback when reports became rife both in the mainstream and social media that she was paid US$500,000 appearance fee by the Nigerian sponsors of the event, for that 45 minutes passing glance. Some reports even claimed that Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State paid the said appearance fee, though up till the time of writing this piece, I have yet to sight either a confirmation or rebuttal of that claim by either Governor Fashola or his representative.
For me, this Kim Kardashian charade which looks more like a pecuniary expedition to Lagos, gives rise to so many yet unanswered questions, like, who and what is Kim Kardashian? It is pertinent to ascertain her social status before attempting to situate her as that towering celebrity that can positively influence and motivate our teeming youths who might need a little pep talk or encouragement from accomplished and actualized personages, to motivate and spur them on with a focused attitude into their chosen careers and vocations. However, the little I have been able to elicit is that this was a girl who became popular in America not for any exceptional talent that she possessed or any other good cause, but because she was involved in a sex tape that went viral on the internet. The explicit content of the tape is better imagined than encountered. Thereafter, she became notorious for going in and out of many short-lived amorous relationships with several men, including a recent marriage to one Kris Humphries that lasted for only 72 days. We also discovered that her entire family made up of mother, sisters, step-sisters, brother, step-father, husbands and boyfriends together, star in their reality TV show called “Keeping up with the Kardashians” which the First Lady of America, Michelle Obama, was reported to have said she does not allow her two young daughters, Malia and Sasha, to watch, because it has a negative influence on growing minds. Also, her egregious mother called Kris Jenner, who abandoned her lawyer father (Robert Kardashian Sr.) after 11 years of marriage for a younger man (Bruce Jenner), was said to have encouraged and prodded her, because of the amount of money involved, to pose nude for “Playboy” magazine owned by the world’s No.1 Casanova, Mr. Hugh Hefner, by first posing nude herself.
With the foregoing revelations about Miss Kardashian, I therefore wonder what celebrity value or quality the organisers of the Lagos event thought she would add to their show that warranted inviting her at such a humungous cost. Assuming we were to assess eligibility for her visit based strictly on the task they claimed she was coming to perform at the event, i.e. to co-host the show, one wonders if there’s any record of Kim Kardashian ever manifesting or exhibiting such a talent or any other creative act in her native America. It appears the organisers of the Lagos event were living in the fool’s paradise, by overlooking the moral burden that Miss Kardashian constitutes, while over-rating her presence as a likely money spinner for their show. It is a moot point to ask whether the total ticketing proceeds realized at the event was up to the US$500,000 appearance fee allegedly paid to her – bad business, it would appear to be for the organisers, with the benefit of hindsight. But beyond money matters, we are more concerned about the psychological damage which the act of idolizing and glorifying such a character with loose moral fibre would do to our frustrated younger generation who are in direst need of both moral cushioning and career counselling.
It may be of interest to note that even the foreign media as far as the UK and Ghana are outraged and awash with consternation at this misplaced and inexplicable transaction with Kim Kardashian. How could anyone pay out such amount of money, whether from public or private purse, in a country where over 70% of the population live on less than US$1 a day, where public utilities are non-existent and where the health and educational institutions are comatose? How can such profligacy be rationalized in a country where its burgeoning entertainment industry is struggling to develop due to dearth of adequate funding and paucity of seed capital? The point must be made here that it does not matter whether the money paid to Kim Kardashian was from a private or public source, as even private businesses are believed to owe their survival to their local environments, hence, bear both a moral and legal burden to their immediate locales under the well entrenched principles of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Finally, I fervently expect that Governor Fashola would hastily debunk the rumour that he has a hand in this perfidy, to assuage our collective sense of public accountability and decency.