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Monday, August 15, 2016

A Conversation with the WJGB Girls





29th of March 2016

My friend, Temitayo (aka TMT is mad aka TMT is weird) of the Submarine and a Roach parish was making an appearance on the We Just Got Back ( WJGB ) podcast. Somehow, a couple of us end up following him to record the episode. Upon getting there, he introduces me as "Mayowa who runs Culture Custodian." The response? "So you're the he who shaded us?" Thanks Twitter. I find a way of making it clear that while I'm a fan of the pod, I didn't like "the perks of misogyny" episode. More on that, later.

Sometimes, life does that thing where you make your plans and it makes its own plans. Eventually, it all comes together to make sense. The WJGB girls were on my list of prospective interviewees but at the time I wasn't ready to make it happen so I kept it on the backburner. Effectively, the experience provided some access.



27th of May 2016

It's finally time to get the interview done. Upon getting to the office in Lekki where Tam and Cam work, there's a bit of a game that's played to get the other girl in the office to another room. She doesn't agree to leave so Tam takes the law into her hands by dropping her laptop and phone outside and locking the door. Boj shows up, complaining of an arm in a lot of pain. The rest of the girls quiz her on what she's been up to. You should know how that conversation ends.

I turn my audio recorder on;

First of all, I feel like I know you guys from listening to the podcast without actually knowing you. Tell me a bit about yourselves. Like, who's who, what do you guys do, all that stuff.

Boj: Let's start with Cam, since we're in your work place.

Cam: I'm King Cam. I'm 16, 18-21 on weekends. I'm Brand Manager at XYZ.

Tam: Is that your title?

Cam: Yeah! I think. I also do digital marketing on some days.

Boj: What else do we need to know about you?

Cam: Nothing.

Boj: She likes horses. And Aunty Maria's moi moi. My name is Boj and I'm unemployed at the moment. Very sad but I'm trying to start up a couple of things at the moment. What else is there about me? When I'm drunk, I can't speak English.

Tam: She's very short. She's like a little mushroom person. Who am I? I'm Tam. 21 forever. Writer. Screenwriter. I used to freelance, but now.... Probably write a movie some day. That's it.

Boj: Are you freelancing?

Tam: Well, I am. I don't know if I'm legally supposed to say that. I haven't signed a contract yet.

The podcast medium is a growing medium in Nigeria. Why did you guys decide to get into that space?

Cam: We all used to work together and this might sound pompous but we just enjoyed our conversations and thought they were super lit. It started as a joke.

Tam: It didn't start as a joke. One day, Boj was playing a podcast and we thought it was dead and I was like "We're more entertaining than this."

What podcast was it?

Boj: I think it was an episode of The Read.

Tam: No, it wasn't. It was something you just started listening to. I think it was Guy's We've Fucked.

Cam and Boj: Yes, that was it!

I listen to that.

Tam: There was this one particularly boring episode.

Boj: I feel like we sat down and planned a year's worth of episodes.

Tam: We found a studio in like an hour.

Cam: It was one of those things where we had to keep saying "I'm not joking o. I'm not joking o" but then, we were not joking.

Tam: I thought you guys were going to chicken out.

Cam: I thought Boj would.

Tam: Yeah! I thought mainly Boj. I thought you would give me "I'm too busy."

Boj: Why did you think that?

Tam: I thought you'll wake up that morning and be like....

How long did it take you guys after having the first conversation to start?

Cam: Wednesday. Saturday, we were in the studio.

Boj: That night, we went to the The Orchard with Ajebutter and then he was like "I know this guy who has a studio" so we went.

Tam: I called him.

Cam: Then you guys went to see the studio and left me in the office.

What was the first episode?

https://soundcloud.com/wjgb/wjgb-e01

All: Valen-Times.

Tam: Oh! That was the weekend before Valentine's. That was the weekend I broke my vagina, guys! I just gauged. That was a magical day.

Boj: There were so many things happening.

Cam: I loved how at the end of the day when we recorded the first podcast, everybody started clapping.

Tam: Yeah! So Ajebutter, Mode 9 and one other guy were there.

OH! So they were there when you were recording?

Tam: Yeah!

What did they think?

Cam: They were laughing.

Tam: They liked it. They were giving us life. 'Cos at first we had no idea what we were doing.

Boj: I feel like the thing that made me go "Okay, this is actually viable" was that they were literally, stifling giggles so I thought "Okay, we're actually trying." You know how you think your conversations are actually funny and interesting and other people are like "Bleh"?

When creating the podcast, what was the objective? What was it supposed to mean to people?

Tam: I think we'd been having a conversation about, we were talking about how it is when you move back.

Cam: We were just talking about something and we were like "why don't we start a podcast about moving back?" and then we started playing around with names.

Tam: The aim was to be like, this is what Lagos is like.

The podcast is titled WJGB and it seems to be moving away from the moving back theme- did you realize it'll be this difficult to keep up to that theme?

Boj: I feel like we've left that behind.

Tam: We've very much left it behind.

Boj: This is how I personally feel, I don't know about them. I feel like it gives us a platform to talk about things- some of which there might be stereotypes around. For instance, the Konji & Me episode, there were mixed reactions. Some people loved it. And then people were like "You're talking about sex." You are all knacking in your houses so what's the problem?

Tam: The main question was "What are your parents going to think? What's your boss going to think?" My parents knacked and made me so I think they know what knacking is. And my boss- the job I just got. The babe was talking about a podcast and she was like "there's this one with this pink thing" and I'm like "Oh my God! That's mine". Boom! Job.

Boj: We just use it to express ourselves. I feel like, we're unintentionally trying to break barriers and stereotypes.

Tam: If I think about it, I wish I could change the title.

Cam: When we came out with Konji & Me, someone, Boj was like, "Guys, I'm not sure". I said "We've done it. We knew what we were getting ourselves into." We move.

Tam: Cam is definitely the fuck it, don't think about it person. Boj is always worrying.

What podcasts do you listen to religiously and how have they influenced you?

Cam: The Read, Brilliant Idiots.

Tam: I literally only listen to The Read.

Boj: I'm a fan of the fictional ones. I listen to a lot of Fashion Business podcasts but that's because that's what I'm into.

Tam: I liked Serial.

Cam: Recently, Submarine and a Roach.

Tam: That's the only one apart from us. Is there any way we can get Kojo's number cos his voice does things to me?

You all grew up in Nigeria and went to school/lived in different cities.......

Boj: It's actually interesting. I feel like this is fate 'cos we all went to the same primary school and the same secondary school.

Cam: Stop saying you went to Corona. Stop!

Tam: We went to Corona but at different times.

Boj: That's why it's fate. We all went to Corona at different times.

Tam: She left in Primary 3. And I came in Primary 4.

Boj: Yeah! And then we all went to Lagoon. I only remember your feet- from your waist down. I didn't remember your face. You were so tall. And then we met again when we started working here. You were the one who called me and said "Do you want to come in for an interview?"

Tam: I saw her CV and thought the name sounded familiar. Then Dunni went "It's Bolaji from Lagoon". I didn't even remember Dunni went to Lagoon. I thought I'd probably remember when you got here. When you came in, I thought "I've seen this face before"

Boj: I was done with the interview and just sitting down with the interviewer and then I just saw these two people I hadn't seen in forever.

Tam: Oh! Yeah. We were like "Oh my God! Hi". Do you know what killed me? Your face when I said "Hey Mum". You were like "Ehn".

Cam: I reconnected with these two bitches because of Dunni. We were out. It was the day you (Tam) were telling everyone you're single to stupor. That was the day.

So where did you go to Uni? Boj- America, Tam- Edinburgh. Cam?

Boj: Cam went to Uni everywhere.

Tam: You know your educational status really confuses me. You did like 3 months here, 6 months over there. You have a Law degree over there. Pretty sure you did a year in China.

Cam: If you're reading my résumé, it's actually really confusing.

Tam: Yeah! I saw your résumé and I showed it to my Mum and both of us were like "So what does she do?"

Cam: I started out in England and I didn't really like it. I went to France for 2 years. Then I wanted to go to New York so I found an internship and went there for 6 months.

What do you think that has had on your sensibilities and subsequently, the podcast?

Cam: I feel like if you live in a certain place all your life, when you go outside of the country, you actually have to step out of your comfort zone. I wasn't one of those people that were Oh! Because I live abroad, when I get to the UK, let me be friends with all the Nigerian people. So, I kind of, learnt to enjoy other people's cultures, to be more accepting, handle situations differently. Your mindset changes. In the podcast, we talk about random things. So, in My Konji & Me, we could have been like "Don't have sex. You'll die or go and meet Satan and have 8 kids with him."

Boj: Growing up in Nigeria, I cared a lot about what people thought or said about me. I would be like "I can't do this because this is what they're going to say." You know how there's this Nigerian mentality of If you're a girl you shouldn't go out or go clubbing all the time 'cos no one will want to marry you. When I got to America, it was a massive culture shock. It took a year for the culture shock to hit. The turning point was when I studied abroad- in the Czech Republic and I was meeting people from different cultures and different places and I was just like "You can talk about what the fuck you want to talk about. If you don't, who's going to?" So I moved back to Nigeria and was a bit apprehensive and felt like "Ah! I don't want people to say this about me" and then I met these ones and I just thought "I don't care".

Tam: Is that so? Big, Bad Boj. Boj Released.

Cam: Boj Uncensored.

Boj: Literally, that's what happened. I moved back and thought if I want to talk about sex, that's what I'll talk about. If I want to talk about Feminism, that's what I'll talk about.

Do any of your parents listen to it?

Boj: My mum knows about it. She knows when I go to the studio.

Tam: My mum knows it exists but I told her "For your own good, you might not want to listen to it."

Cam: The first time my Mum heard about it was last week and I guarantee she can't even remember what I said.

Do you guys feel like there's an element of drama to the podcast- like you're playing into characters?

Boj: No. Not really. This is literally us.

Tam: This is our real face.

Boj: Let me tell you something. This one (Tam) this is her real face. I feel like you can see the progression. We started one way and as we've gone on, we've opened up. Whatever comes out, comes out.

Tam: The first episodes when there were people there, we were aware there were people there. But when it's just us. I feel like Frosh Girls was when shit just got real.

Boj: I feel it was My Konji & Me. We just let the shit fly.

https://soundcloud.com/wjgb/my-konji-and-me

Sex- You guys are very open about the sex you're having or lack of it- Nigerian culture would have you believe that women shouldn't be so open- What's the rationale behind this? I get that, obviously it's something we're all doing and talking about but I guess it's different talking about it with your friends as opposed to actually recording it and putting it on the internet for 20 million people to hear.

Tam: You know the thing is, when it comes to talking about sex- I did not even think twice. The whole point of the podcast was to talk about things we do. We have sex.

Boj: And we come to the office and we talk about sex. We have this friend, Ehi. And Ehi would come and we'll just sit down and he'll give us a guy's point of view.

Tam: I'm not even going to lie. I love sex. It's lit. If I could, I'll have a sex podcast but my father will throw me out. I love it. I love talking about it. I love doing it.

Cam: I don't see the point in hiding it.

Boj: Yeah! Your fathers do it. Your mothers do it. They had their own scandals.

Cam: You judging me about it does not make you better than me. I mean, you guys have met my boss. What were we talking about before we came here?

https://soundcloud.com/wjgb/what-the-f-is-a-perk-of-misogyny

Okay, so let's talk about the Perks of misogyny episode- looking back now, what do you think about it? What would you change and what was the general reception like?

Tam: I don't regret it.

Cam: I don't regret it.

Boj: I don't regret it.

Tam: The only problem I have that they don't is that I know her and I warned her it was coming out but I didn't warn her about the degree. I think what I told her was "We talked about you and we didn't agree with what you said. End of." I didn't paint how negative it was. One day, I want to release the unedited version.

Cam: My thing was.. People don't know this but the day we recorded the episode, we ran into her and we spoke about it. We had a huge debate and it was very heated. The way it ended verbatim was "You guys have your opinion. I have mine." and that's the way we left it. There was a whole bunch of shit she said that I'm not going to say. Up until today, I don't regret it. We saw her after and she said "I think you guys owe me an apology" and I refused.

Boj: I said "You put out your opinion on the internet. We put ours. Why should we apologize?"

Cam: If you feel like me saying you sounded like you failed common entrance- if you didn't fail common entrance- why's it annoying you?

Boj: The thing that pissed me off about this whole thing was she didn't listen to the episode. She doesn't know what was said.

Cam: Why are you forming your opinion on something you didn't even hear?

Tam: I don't think we came for her the way we could have come for her. We were joking. We were laughing.

Boj: We took our time with it. The day we saw the article first, we said what we really felt. By the time we did the podcast, we had kinda scaled it back. Apart from the fact that she was saying those things, the thing that irritated me was that she was saying this is how women are.

Cam: She changed mouth too. When I said her choice of words were poor, she agreed. Then when her friend came, she said she chose it to be controversial.

Boj: The thing I find ironic about the series is that it's called 'Etcetera Woman' and it's supposed to be about women who embody all these qualities. And past women who were featured aren't women you'll expect to say perks of misogyny. And then, she comes talking about perks of misogyny and wanting to be someone's side piece in the club.

Tam: Perks of misogyny rings like STD in my ear. I can't understand it. Where's the perk?

What are the most common criticisms you guys get?

Boj: I don't know about common criticisms.

Tam: I had someone say to me that it seems geared towards people who just got back and it's not fair. What if I've just been here all my life?

I think that's a weird thing to say. If I didn't have a similar background, maybe I'll listen to it and say "These rich kids have come with their rich kid problems". But it's who you are, I don't know how you can help it.

Boj: I find that the experiences we have are common.

Cam: We find that a lot of our listeners are from outside Nigeria.

Boj: Like someone sent us a message talking about how they heard about us from their friend in Kuwait. She left a comment on iTunes.

Tam: I can't really think of any criticisms.

Or is it that people don't tell you? As part of my research, I did a Twitter search and there's nothing bad. And I ask myself: is this really what people feel?

Boj: I think it's cos we're quite new so it's extended to our social circle.

Tam: And the people who can be bothered to tweet anyway, are probably fans. But we got a lot of negative feedback on Perks.

Yeah! I think I tweeted about it.

Tam: Yes! You did!

Boj: I remember. She brought it to the WJGB groupchat and was like "Why did he say this?"

I've had this conversation with you already.

Cam: Yeah! When I attacked him.

I felt it was a bit Mean Girlsy.

Cam: That's 'cos we were 3 vs 1. We had the same view so it felt like we were attacking her.

Boj: It was 4. 'Cos Omono was on.

Cam: But Yeah! Remember when I used to talk about how concerned I was about people outside Nigeria. "Would people listening outside Nigeria get it?" I have a friend, she's Jamaican-American and she listens every week. She said it's very easy to follow.

Tam: That's why I try to explain everything.

Boj: I have a friend who's super hippie. Shout out to her. Her name is Emily. Whitest girl you'll ever meet and she listens consistently and she said she gets what we're talking about.

https://soundcloud.com/wjgb/feminists-cant-menstruate-so-instead-we-got-drunk

The latest episode is on Feminism- a cause that should be a no brainer but is fundamentally understood by people. Why do you think this is so and what do you think is at fault for this pattern of thinking?

Tam: Well, Yes!

Boj: Well, not really Feminism.

Well, you guys went for the people tweeting dumb things about Feminism.

Tam: Yes! We didn't want to do a preachey Feminism episode.

Boj: It's been a thing on Twitter where people don't understand the difference between Feminism and misandry. I feel like a lot of people do it for the retweets.

Tam: That's why I said, just tweet "I like Jesus."Don't tweet on things you don't know anything about. It's like me going to tweet about AIDS tomorrow. Why? What do I know? Keep shut!

Boj: Yeah! A lot of people do it for the banter and the retweets but a lot of them really have no clue. A lot of people don't know. Like, I saw a tweet today that said "If you're a feminist and pregnant and you're having a boy- you should have an abortion. #NotAnotherMonster #Feminism". That's Misandry. That's where a lot of this BS comes from. They don't know the difference between Feminism and Misandry. Feminists don't hate men. If you want us to cook for you, we'll cook for you. Our point is that we want equal pay. We want all the same opportunities that you guys get. We haven't gotten that yet. That's it.

Cam: One thing I hate and I make it very clear, anything stupid is a big peeve of mine. Anytime I hear anything stupid.....

Boj: She comes out in a rash.

Cam: It irritates me. When people start tweeting nonsense- not even for just Feminism. General nonsense irritates me. Why would you be talking like you were born upside down? Why would you be talking like they gave birth to your brain after you?

Tam: On a daily basis, I go through our Twitter to delete some of the angrier things Cam tweets.

Cam: It takes nothing, absolutely nothing to Google.

Boj: As Kid Fury said "Google is Free 99".

Cam: Even that 99 is costly. It was a pro feminism but more anti stupid episode.

On a surface level- who do you regard as the quintessential feminists and why do you hold them to that level?

Tam: I literally want to show you the notes I made for that episode. One of the questions was "Who's our ideal Feminists?" and I had to cancel it.

Boj: I feel like you want us to say Beyonce.

That's too predictable.

Tam: Emma Watson, probably. Her speech at the U.N was amazing. It touched my soul.

Cam: That was fucking amazing.

Tam: I'm not going to lie. That "We teach girls" everytime I hear it. Bruh! I want to go out and do some mad shit.

Cam: I was going to say Chimamanda but....

Tam: Same. But I felt like it'll tie back to Beyonce.

Boj: For me, it's elements from different people. I like how this one (Tam) doesn't give a fuck what people think about her. And then my Mum who I wouldn't even say is a Feminist because some of the things she has said are not very Feminist. By her actions though, she's a Feminist. The way she's gone from working at a hospital and leaving her position as the Principal Female Dentist. She left there and started her thing. That whole business angle. And from Cam, when she's like "I don't take bullshit from anybody."

Tam: I would say my Mum too but then, she actively says "I'm not a feminist. I'm not among."

Boj: I feel like that's a lot of Nigerian women.

Tam: Hers is "Don't ask me until I've googled it."But she's so strong and she's drilled it into me.

Last question, what's next?

Cam: We're just taking it one step at a time.

I don't like that answer. Like what do you want to get out of this? Do you want to do a TV show in the future or something ?

Cam: I feel like Nigerian TV is too censored.

Tam: Haay! It's changing.

Boj: Tam is trying to change the industry.

Cam: We'll see.

Tam: We're working on a few things. Per chance, we could come to the screen.



This interview has been edited and condensed.




Originally published by Culture Custodian on the 2nd of June 2016.

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