From the Editor: Plagiarism is a profession as old as time, at least that’s the impression one gets particularly in Nigerian cyberspace as bloggers ‘borrow’ (often and consistently) articles and photographs from other blogs or websites without attribution or payment.
Ms Linda Ikeji, a former model turned blogger made millions from her gossip and entertainment site which was getting over 500,000 hits per day. Ms Ikeji had been accused by several writers and photographers, of simply ‘copying and pasting’ stories and pictures from different blogs and websites without permission or even an acknowledgement.
Things, however, came to a head earlier this week, (after Ms Ikeji posted the picture of her latest expensive car on social media and had done some more copying and pasting on her blog) when, beleaguered writers and bloggers asked why she couldn’t pay for stories if she was making enough to buy an expensive jeep, they took it a step further by reporting her to Google (there are even rumours of a class action suit) and her blog was taken down.
9jafeminista however got interested in the story when a literary critic, human rights activist and cyberspace troublemaker, Ikhide Ikheloa joined in the fray, instead of calling for her head, as would be expected, Mr Ikheloa joined his voice to the multitudes DEFENDING Ms Ikeji’s actions.
Below is the interview conducted with Ikhide Ikheloa (you have to pardon his too much grammar):
9jafeminista: Why have you been defending Linda so loudly on social media? As a writer you know very well that plagiarism it’s a really big deal and as you’ve pointed out, you’ve also been a victim of intellectual property theft, so why then are you coming to the defense of a woman who built her wealth from other people’s hard work?
Ikhide: To be clear, I do not condone plagiarism, acts of intellectual brigandage and the notion that writers, especially Nigerian writers, should write for free. Indeed my position on this matter is best articulated by Ayo Sogunro and Mr Mobility.
I salute them for articulating their views on the Linda Ikeji saga with deep introspection and rare integrity.
What I am up in arms against is the rank hypocrisy and lack of self introspection by some of the major howlers. I detect class
condescension and sexism in this issue. Where were they when the men of Premium Times garroted the credibility of Nigerian journalism for pennies? Some of them are in cahoots with Dele Olojede in the NEXT saga. They hurt many young people. Where were they when Chris Abani took Africa’s dignity to the cleaners for pay? Nigerian intellectuals protect their own.
The abuse many of us have suffered in the hands of pretend-publishers in Nigeria is well documented. I am owed thousands by NEXT. I am lucky; some people were not so lucky, no one has held them accountable because there are no accountability structures in Nigeria that work. If you need relief, count on external intervention. That is what happened in this case. Google took care of business. The characters in NEXT, Premium Times, etc. are still walking around giving us phony lectures about corruption in Africa. Some of them want to hang Linda. The hypocrisy is galling.
I adore Linda Ikeji. She is gutsy, brilliant and market savvy. She has survived the unnecessary roughness that stands for life in Nigeria and has made a name for herself. She also is a leader with more following than those of all the African bloggers combined. We should study her business model and use it to propagate our ideas instead of begging pretend publishers to publish books for us that only our relatives will pretend to read.
9jafeminista: There’s no denying that Nigeria is patriarchal, and there’s double standards whenever a woman is involved in anything considered scandalous. For example Ynaija, the Sun Newspapers etc are known for the kind of copying and pasting journalism used by Linda, they have been called out on several occasions by the linguist Kola Tubosun,
But like the case of Patricia Etteh, the first female speaker in the House of Representatives (who was later cleared of corruption charges leveled against her) while men literally get away with murder, a woman would be singled out for execution, if possible, if she plays the men at their own game and appears to be winning.
Ikhide: Exactly. Linda has done some sketchy things, but she is head and shoulders above the men that ruin Nigeria daily. She survived their dysfunction, a scrappy single woman, who found a way to tap into a hunger and make a real living from it. Why start with her?
I am disappointed that many did not see through the numerous self-serving agendas at play here.
9jafeminista: That being said should writers because of this ‘forgive’ her for stealing their intellectual property? Already there are rumors of a class action suit being brought against her and Ms Ikeji has not helped matters by going the way of corrupt Nigerians blaming ‘enemies’ and raining curses on them, instead of offering to make reparations, or at least offer an apology and start paying writers.
Have you been in touch with her? What solution are you proffering?
Ikhide: Linda and I are not personal friends. We have never communicated privately, ever! I am in this on principle and because this one evening, to the chagrin of her haters, ML had sent me to the doghouse and I had a lot of time on my hands, lol! I rarely read her blog, but I know that she has half a million followers at the very least and unlike most Nigerian writers, she has parlayed that into money. I would love to have her problem.
What solutions do I have? Great question! I have been in the forefront, as you know, of vociferously demanding accountability from African intellectuals, they are THE problem. Those who want to lynch Linda Ikeji must learn to be consistent and honest. Do not look the other way when your friends, men by the way, do 100 times what Linda has done and then start writing preachy tweets when Linda does her own. More importantly, many of us actually make a living from the lack of accountability in Nigeria. We should join those who have been speaking up to force leaders to build these structures. Nigeria and Nigerians only listen when the Washington Post and Google bark. In the absence of accountability, you will not get any apology or reparations from Linda Ikeji, Dele Olojede, Premium Times.
There has to be a motivation for folks to behave. You see what happened with Basketmouth when we went after him? He apologized. Quickly. Who wan die?
9jafeminista: Because we are totally irreverent we need to ask one last question, two sef… Do you consider yourself a feminist? Do Nigerians fall in love?
Ikhide: I think the term feminist is fast becoming a pejorative, so I am reluctant to dump yet another label on myself. I consider myself a human rights activist and will fight to the death for the right of another human being to be human in all respects.
And do Nigerians fall in love? DSD What a question! Please release all the love poems I have ever written to you and make Neruda blush in his grave. Of course we fall in love. Right now I am on the rebound. Again. Free me, Olokun of my seas.