We couldn’t have been older than eight and eleven years old at the time; children who loved treats, just like any other kid. So when we laid eyes on them at the supermarket just outside our estate back gate, our eyes lit up and we chattered excitedly about how we would love to have them. They had to taste divine. A combination of the attractive blue and red wrapper that caught the eye from afar and our deep-seated love anything that had the semblance of chocolates or candy had us vowing we would soon be back to buy them.
We must have gotten the funds for our anticipated treat via a generous visitor or by saving from the stipends our parents gave from time to time; and soon enough, we were at the store. “Cocomel marshmallows!” we kept squealing to ourselves, the name alone gave us chills. And thankfully, the fear that they would have sold out upon our return was unfounded as they sat pretty on the same shelf we had found them weeks before.
Our excitement reached a feverish pitch when we huddled together to take apart the packaging that had now become an unwanted barrier to our treasure. The cylindrical-shaped confectionary couldn’t have looked more appealing…quickly we popped one each into our salivating mouths, licking and biting into it all at once.
Followed by a contortion of faces, and then a slowing down of the mastication process—it tasted horrible—a complete incongruity from our expectations. I cannot remember who spoke up first, but the expression we both mirrored was enough testament to our utter disappointment. We knew we had just thrown our scarce funds down the drain.
It was painful, but as young as we were, the experience was a significant learning curve for us. We resolved never to be swayed by fancy names or attractive packages ever again. If we were going to buy anything new from then on, we would make sure we sought out someone who had tasted or used it before to get a heads up on what to expect. Needless to say, till this day, we still reminisce and tease ourselves about how silly we were.
My sister and I’s little adventure with the marshmallows came to mind when the Kupe Boys became an instant sensation on Instagram. Four good-looking young men swaying in rhythm to a pop song was a display that could never escape notice on a platform reputed for having an insatiable appetite for the glitzy. Audiences were not curious to know them beyond the paraphernalia of great abs, sharp haircuts and sexy lips. For weeks, girls drooled and fantasised as major blogs and digital platforms featured them. But the “best” was yet to come.
The boys of the Kupe Challenge fame would be flown into Nigeria, it was announced. Really? To do what exactly? Apparently, someone deemed it wise to cash in on their popularity by sponsoring their trip to Nigeria, and like the child I was many years ago, Nigerian ladies couldn’t contain themselves when it was announced. The living, breathing fine specimen of single, gorgeous men would be on our own turf? It was wishful thinking that was about to turn a reality.
Then the boys landed…in all their glory. Not.
Apart from a missing fourth member, whom some swear is the most handsome of them all, there was something unmistakably off about their appearance—the same “Adonis'” who had been gawked at and touted as the next best humans after Superman suddenly looked so ordinary. Curved lower limbs and heads which appeared smaller than bodies showed up.
Before long, the comments wore a different tone—”these are not the same guys we saw on Instagram”—there was no magic in these ones. They were pedestrian; all that impeccable fine boyishness seemed like a distant memory. The utter let down could be likened to the perpetual disappointing administrations that have governed Nigeria since her turn to democratic rule. The Kupe Boys were a “scam”. Apparently, their good looks had been enhanced by Instagram filters, the result being the underwhelming presence they exuded in flesh.
For the discerning, it’s a reminder that oftentimes, shiny objects are more fluff and less stuff. And many times, it’s safer to withhold strong opinions or perceptions of individuals or concepts until one has interacted with them closely.
Besides, able-bodied young men who have no claim to fame beyond some silly hand gestures to a song that isn’t even theirs should not be taken that seriously. It would have made far more sense to let audiences know the boys beyond the fleeting showmanship that brought them into the limelight. How about telling us what they do for a living? How about giving some kind of background about their passions and interests…anything at all that will imbue them with some much-needed substance?
Maybe a few of us will learn from this. The Kupe Boys are a metaphor for our marshmallows; attractive on the outside, but offering little inside A child might be forgiven for being deceived by such grandeur, but no adult should be falling for surface showmanship in 2018.