Towards Nation Branding: Photographic Roles of the Nigerian Youth

By Ajibola D. Fowowe

In the words of ― Idowu Koyenikan, author of Wealth for All Africans “Show me the heroes that the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the future of your country.”  This may look familiar but the expression of each word transmit a greater message beyond its mere meaning.

The act of pointing out some groups of young heroes in a country demonstrates an unquestionable attitude of trust, which the writer of the above quote is willing to challenge since the youth of a nation represent its strength and the apex of its achievement beyond any natural resources or wealth it can boast of. All of this is because the youth is the face of a nation, the reflection of its pride, the demonstration of its power among other nations.

For example, the name of Antony Oluwaseni Joshua,  Boxing Heavy weight champion becomes a chorus in the lips of Nigerians because of the great exploit he is making in his career, although he throws his gloves in the colours of Great Britain. Recently the young man, Joshua demonstrated his true African – Yoruba culture when he prostrated before Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting in London, shortly after he reclaimed his World champion belt.

The premises that must be upheld is the relevance of our true African culture and its peculiarity in building a brand of excellence for the nation.

Picture of Nigeria’s future lies in the hand of the photographic artists of the Nigerian youth; how are they handling the camera!? What sort of angles are they looking to capture? Is the camera lens in good shape? How can they maintain focus despite distractions from different sector? What can they do to eliminate unwanted background of corruption? These questions really need answers from both ends of the photographer (Youth) and the object of capture (Nigeria and its crises).

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Its time for Nigerian youth to see themselves as the Saviour-the photographer who will ensure the picture of the nation comes out bright and meaningful. The picture must be able to attract different suitors because the glory will definitely return to the photographer. Most of the time, the celebrities are the focal point towards this end. This has been proved by the cultivation media theory- which suggest that young people tend to behave like the celebrities they watch on TV and they model after them.

What is nation branding? Nation branding aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries (closely related to place branding). In the book Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, the authors define nation branding as “the application of corporate marketing concepts and techniques to countries, in the interests of enhancing their reputation in international relations.” Many nations try to make brands in order to build relationships between different actors that are not restricted to nations. It extends to public and private sectors in a nation and helps with nationalism. States also want to participate in multilateral project.

Some approaches applied, such as an increasing importance on the symbolic value of products, have led countries to emphasize their distinctive characteristics. The branding and image of a nation-state “and the successful transference of this image to its exports – is just as important as what they actually produce and sell.”This is also referred to as country-of-origin effect

Nation branding is a developing field in which scholars continue their search for a unified theoretical framework. Many nations aim to improve their country’s standing, as the image and reputation of a nation can dramatically influence its economic vitality. They seek to attract tourism and investment capital, increase exports, attract a talented and creative workforce, and enhance their cultural and political influence in the world.

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Different ways that nation project their nation brand include export, foreign direct investment, and tourism. One example of exporting products is that the country Germany is known for their motor industry because famous car companies like Mercedes, Audi and BMW are German companies. An example of foreign direct investments that help the nation brand are US companies building maquiladoras and other European countries having factories in different countries.

The statistics below shows the rating of nations and their worth in dollars.

United States 27, 751; China 19, 486; Germany 4, 855; Japan 4, 533; United Kingdom 3, 851; France 3, 097; India 2, 562; Canada 2, 183; South Korea 2, 135; Italy2110.

Actually, this nation branding starts from the youth of a nation, before it spreads to the nooks and cranes of such nation. In Nigeria’s pre-independence era, the nationalist and Pan Africanism activists were young people who saw the need for independence from the colonial masters; the were young leaders who stood the ground to defend their cause of bringing their nation out of “White slavery”.. these Young Awolowo, Azikwe, Macaulay, and many of them strive to deliver the nation with their sweat, blood and imprisonment.

What did we have today? Young internet fraudsters, rapist, armed robbers, political thugs, kidnappers we can go on to mention many atrocities been committed by the youth who end up producing a negative image from their dented cameras. Embassies around the world are on the outlook for Nigerians, they see us as criminals a proper representation of BLACK EVIL

Our brothers and sisters are killed in diaspora! Yet, Nigerian youth strives to run out of the nation.

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It seems the glory of Nigeria has faded, yet there is hope, even when the nation is experiencing hardship, unemployment and insecurities.

We can reposition Nigeria to the rightful place it belongs!!, we can make it up through our camera lens, by adjusting and correcting the impression of people outside of the nation.

The crisis we face in the nation as youth is not justification for criminal acts. Truly we have huge rates of unemployment, economic recession, educational degradation and security challenges. We can make out values out of these challenges, which will provide the money we all desire. Looking through histories, it can be said that the success of European and American was as a result of facing the challenges they came their way those times, which led to industrial revolution, with the likes of John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford emerging as world beaters in their field.

Although Rome wasn’t built in a day, yet the consistent level of efforts and determination was the key that led to the strong city we see and appreciate.

Nigeria is an ‘America in the making’. It is destined to become a great nation, if only the youth can see these challenges in the nation as an opportunity to become champion through focusing on the camera lens, eliminating the distractions and unwanted background to capture the beautiful damsel called Nigeria, because ‘Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’.

By Ajibola D. Fowowe

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