By Orisemeke Afam
May 19, 2019 was the day the last episode of Game of Thrones was aired. Mixed feelings crept into fans on a global scale as this TV series steadily came to an end. Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama, which is an adaptation of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ written by George R.R Martin.
For a show that first aired 17 April, 2011, it was not until the build up to the start of the final season (eight years later) that I took an interest – and why wouldn’t anyone? In 2018 alone all over the US, according to IndieWire, 2545 babies have been named Arya, with Khaleesi coming in as a distant second with 560 babies, both of which are Characters in this epic TV series.
It is true that Season Eight ushered in so many talking points and even divided its diehard audience, but take nothing away from the show – It was and has continued to remain a behemoth among other all-time TV series. Game of Thrones is a beautiful mixture of everything (from action to drama, fantasy to humour, all garnished under the thrills of suspense). A strong cast all round, and a remarkable success on the journey towards excellent delivery, the VFX mastery was fully on show as seen in the enhancement of several locations and depiction of the three dragons.
I was particularly intrigued by the coming to life of ‘Ghost’ and the other pack of Wolves, confirmed to be a mixture of real animals and computer-generated Imagery (CGI). The whole experience was such a delight to watch and of course, the numbers confirm this with about 12 million viewers in the US (32million across all platforms by Season Seven), having risen from a mere average of 2.5million viewers back in 2011 when the show started.
The final season aired, however, leading to a bittersweet ending, which seemed unbefitting for a TV show that had risen to stardom over the years. The story development felt rather rushed from a general standpoint; for one, Khaleesi, who was all about freeing people from their despotic leaders immediately started to show flashes of the same cruelty she fought against. Just one display of her growing mercilessness by burning King’s Landing to the ground got her killed – and by someone, who she truly loved in the person of Jon Snow. Brandon Stark, who never seemed interested in ephemeral things and apparently played no visible role in this regard, finally gets to sit on the throne – very strange!
In my opinion, the writing at the later stages seemed suspect. The show also felt too sexist sometimes and demeaning to women; not forgetting a higher-than-average portrayal of nudity and the use of profanity, which could have been toned down a notch in the interest of the wider audience. I refer to this because contrary to general opinion, I believe art can have moral content. Art in itself is rarely meaningless and therefore, has every power to influence its audience either positively or negatively.
Other than these concerns of mine, Game of Thrones is a remarkable piece of art overall.
So, shutting myself out of all the excitement generated by fans everywhere on social media, I decided to quietly binge through the entire seasons after the dust settled. I was quiet about it for one reason – to safely escape from the jaws of prowling ‘Spoilers’ around me!
Now having watched it, I can say my five most loved characters in ascending order are; Daenarys Tagaryen (for her desire to chase her destiny and free the oppressed), Arya Stark (for her show of doggedness and general growth, despite her travails), Jon Snow (For putting first the interest of humanity), Tyrion Lannister (for his wisdom and use of words) and finally Lady Mormont of Bear Island (for her portrayal of young feisty leadership and her overall impact within the limited screen time she got compared to the rest on the list).
Ramsay Bolton for me has to be the undisputed king of villainy in the entire show and for all Cersei’s evil deeds; her death was rather cute and unconvincing. However, I have to say it was gratifying to see Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton poisoned to death and ravaged to smithereens by his human flesh-eating hounds respectively – oh well, do feel free to call me Wicked on this one.
Aside from the excitement this Show brings, there are a lot of life lessons to draw from it, but ultimately there are SIX (6) things Nigerians can learn, given the present state of our affairs.
Education is Gold
“I read it in a book” is a line fondly accredited to Samwell Tarly, who wasn’t exactly a Fight Champion but sought answers in the fine prints of books and emerged with critical information that helped in winning the ultimate war against the Army of the dead. Tyrion Lannister also talked about the mind needing books like the sword needs a whetstone to sharpen its edges.
Education gives an advantage of perspective and the Nigerian Government must build capacity that equals its people’s love for learning.
Given the financial value of our budget, about 20% should be ascribed to education for maximum impact. The average of 7.5% in the last 10 years is a sad situation that is sure to take us nowhere.
The Common Enemy
If any Nigerian must take only one message from this article, it has to be this one. The Night’s Watch despised the Wildings. The Targaryens, Baratheons, Lannisters, Starks scuffled one way or the other for the Iron throne in a bid to rule the seven kingdoms – they all had their differences dating back to generations. However, when it came to defeating the White Walkers (Army of the Dead) led by the Night King; Jon Snow understood early on that the existing bickering among the several kingdoms meant nothing in comparison to getting annihilated by the White walkers. They recognized that it was the battle of the living against the dead, so they put their differences aside, fought side by side and won the War.
Yoruba, Efik, Igbo, Ijaw, Hausa, Tiv, Fulani, Benin, Igala and the many other tribes in the Country really do not count for much in the larger scheme of things, because our socioeconomic problems are common to all of us. Majority of us, regardless of our tribes, suffer; bad roads, lack of electricity, defunct healthcare, insecurity, and all other in-country vices. We must separate divisive politics from good governance and win the war as a collective. Of course, some of perpetrators of these divide-and-rule schemes come as supposed friends, but in truth, they are actually white walkers belonging to the Army of the dead.
General Interest supersedes Personal Interest
It is not enough to ‘dey your dey’ as fondly promoted these days in our local parlance. Rather, we must think about the consequences of mindless self-gratification first before taking further action.
The gory events that took place at the Red Wedding, where the Starks were massacred would have been averted if Rob Stark acted in the interest of his Kinsmen by honouring the agreement to marry one of Walder Frey’s Daughters. He ‘followed his heart’ instead by marrying someone else – Talisa; making Lord Frey a laughing stock among his pairs and we all know what happened next. Another important lesson here is to remember that People never forget how you made them feel, because as humans, we are emotional beings.
Today’s seed can become tomorrow’s Forest
The undoing of the Starks on many occasions was as a result of their penchant for spreading their trust way too thin. Ned Stark’s absolute trust that King Joffrey will stand by his word cost him his head.
He may have been beheaded very early in the show, but his values left larger traces for the future, spreading across every member of his Household. From Jon Snow to Brandon, Sansa to Arya; House Stark came out the ultimate Victors.
Every Giant you see today was once a toddler. Another example was Khaleesi, whose seed of determination got her two strong armies (the Dothrakis and the Unsullied) as well as three dragons.
Do not consider Nigeria’s problems too weighty to resolve. You have your role to play, regardless of what you think – in the words of Lord Varys; “A very small man can cast a very large shadow”.
Positive impact is not the only tangible that multiplies, Vices can equally spread quickly leading to disaster if not curtailed – just like the grayscale plague, and not everyone will be as lucky as Jorah Mormont, who recovered. Everyone one of us should learn to be accountable for our actions; caution our tongues and be mindful of our social media posts to reduce the chances of other people latching on to any form of destructive energy.
A Pawn is always at a disadvantage
I couldn’t help but feel pity for the young bride of Lord Frey, who had a knife held to her throat by her Captor. Here was what Lord Frey did the one time she needed someone to stand up for her; he shrugged in consent and said, ‘…I will find another”.
To our Paid Publicist, Twitter Warlords and Electoral Offenders, who remain willing pawns, groveling at the feet of unscrupulous Politicians; be aware that their quest towards gratifying their insatiable urges for wealth and power will likely be sponsored by your calamities. When things go wrong (and they usually do), you will simply be yet another victim caught in the crossfire; and just like Walder Frey, they will move on to the next ignorant ‘you’ on the streets ever willing to do their bidding. Be guided!
And to the self-absorbed leaders out there, who get the children of others to commit their fingerprints to many atrocities and then of course, when their fingers get burned, they go on to the next set of fingers, because their greed must come to fruition, regardless – a classic ‘littlefinger’ move. Sounds smart but in Ramsay Bolton’s voice, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention”. Your scheming can only go so far and believe it when I say, just like Lord Baelish, you will be your own undoing.
There is Power in Numbers.
Strength is such as asset to have but having the number can be far greater an asset.
The White Walkers (a.k.a The Army of the dead) were not exactly skillful fighters, yet they posed a problem to the living even as they soldiered on in massive numbers. At the battle of Winterfell, many fans of the show will not forget quickly how the belligerent Dothrakis (in their tens of thousands) charged towards them in droves and got extinguished in a matter of seconds.
There is power in numbers and to a greater degree, much more power when dealing with well-trained human capital. Except for UAE and Saudi Arabia, eight of the ten most powerful Countries in the world are in the top 50 most populated Countries. Nigeria may have its challenges but can be formidable by virtue of its number and diversity. One can only go so far but a group of people can go the distance.
“Let me tell you something about wolves, child. When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives,” – Ned Stark to Arya Stark.
Yes, Nigeria has some unresolved problems, but these issues are skin deep rather than deep lying contrary to the narrative of self-centred ‘pseudo’ Nationalists among us. The chaos we see today in our Country is not a product of happenstance. It is premeditated and designed to perfection, to the benefit of a few greedy lot.
So for those of us, who believe we can co-exist as a Nation under the right framework; what do we say to those people, who are hell bent on plummeting Nigeria to the depths of irredeemability?