Omawumi and Tiwa

The interview with Omawumi on Da chat segment on Hftv is currently causing turmoil all over social media. Just like the case with Tiwa Savage whose interviewer was asking rather “tasteless” questions over the situation with Tiwa and her husband, Omawumi’s interviewer was alluding a lot, to the certainty of rumours and allegations which it is said that if she had even couched in certain other ways would have been better responded to.

It is understood that though these celebrities have their lives out there, isn’t there a line to be drawn in an interview with them? Shouldn’t there be some respect? However little. Shouldn’t the questions asked be with finesse and well-polished, making the celebrities comfortable?

Though the interview started off well, Zinna the interviewer’s “first slap” on Omawumi’s face was with the question of the paternity her first child. According to Journalist and writer Molara Wood, the question betrayed extreme rudeness, insensitivity and lack of tact.

The actual question was whether Omawumi’s daughter was fathered by her manager. Her reaction on this was based on the fact that she had known Zinna for a while. She admitted that since it was Zinna that was asking that she would respond politely.

The chat took an extreme turn after she was asked about her alleged smoking and drinking habit. Amid visible anger and heightened tone, the singer maintained that the presenter does not wish her well for bringing up such object in an interview destined for the internet, where it is capable of damaging her image before fans and minders.

“You see me as an artist; I am contributing what I can. I make music the way that I should and I come here and honor your invitation and then you sit down and talk about my smoking & drinking to people that are listening. And you’re supposed to mean me well, when these people are supposed to be the ones that are buying my music. Now, when you say that sort of thing, do you mean me well? You can’t ask me to kill a rumor that you are not sure about…as a rumor, you need to go and dig and get your facts right before you ask somebody something …and that is the end of this interview,” Omawumi said as she walked out of set.

The question on social media has been, is it right for Zinna to have asked that question? Was Omawumi’s response appropriate? If it was a male celebrity, would he have been attacked the same way?

In response, Omawumi flared up and kept asking, “have you ever seen me smoking?” If she’s never been seen or photographed falling down drunk in a club, why is the subject of drinking (or smoking for that matter) an issue? Is there a suggestion that Omawumi has a reputation for being unreliable due to being under the influence of something? If not, why ask?

Then again, why does the interviewer ask how Omawumi reconciles smoking and drinking and with motherhood. According to many, this is disrespectful as it is only women who get asked these kind of questions. Men would never be asked such. Molara Wood said: “I don’t even know the half of what the likes of Olamide sing about smoking. 9ice sang ‘pass me the ganja’. He’s not asked about fatherhood”.

It will be recalled that after Tee Billz made several admissions to the state of marriage with Tiwa Savage, social media condemned Tiwa for going yet ahead to air her dirty laundry.

It is not news that women are not the most favored class of people. Gender roles are shoved down their throats and with the slightest mistake they are attacked. However with a woman in the public domain, as with a man, there is little or no difference. Fans, critics, journalists want to peek into their lives to know what is going on. This so called disrespect is not exclusively for women. Men are attacked just as women are. They are criticized and publicly bashed. It is said that in a sit down with Michael Jackson in 1993, Oprah Winfrey asked indelicate questions. Aren’t this just part of being a journalist or one of such people that wants truth and information spread? In the interview she asked him a question based on a rumor. The United States was paranoid about MJ’S Sex life. However the way MJ reacted to the question is nothing compared to the way Omawunmi answered hers.

Watch clip from Oprah’s interview here:

It would seem that whatever the circumstance, journalists need tact. They need to ensure that the celebrity they are speaking with is comfortable with them. Also, the celebrities, be them men or women, need not overreact. They should remain calm regardless of their grievances, or inhibitions. Whether the journalist bears some malice against the celebrity should be set aside in the mean time.

After all, their life is already on the public domain. Though this does not excuse what Omawunmi did or how the journalist said it, there should be a meeting point, a compromise between journalists and other people in respecting the private lives of male and female celebrities.

Author: Ope Adedeji