I recently downloaded Showmax, an app similar to Netflix, except in that it streams a much wider variety of African Movies and TV shows.
I think I installed the app because after seeing so much conversation about BBNaija online, I was tempted to watch the show. I was looking for a place to stream it and with a little research I found the Showmax app. Upon installing it though, I found all kinds of African shows and movies available to stream and Riona: Fighting Fate caught my attention for all the right reasons. I binged 237 episodes in like 2 weeks, so as you can imagine – I’m hooked
You can read a brief plot summary here
One of the many characters on the show is Tsato (pronounced Sha-tow). Tsato is a wealthy man from the Omajaja community, owning multiple farms and properties in Oyomere, some inherited, others obtained by his own dubious means through his connections to the royal council of Oyomere.
Tsato is NASTY. Like, the worst. I think he’s my least favourite character on the show.
Anyone who has watched the show may wonder why that spot isn’t reserved for Ogiame Ofotukun, seeing as he is one of the main characters and drives a good chunk of the evil that plagues the kingdom of Oyomere and plays out on the show, but my answer to that is this: from the series depiction, Ogiame is foul, but he also strikes me as an insanely narcissistic man with low emotional intelligence. Tsato however, though shrouded as a power-hungry man with a foul personality, has incredibly low self-esteem. He is your average bully, and I cant stand bullies.
His low self-esteem is evident in his manic desire to protect and maintain the status quo in Oyomere.
Tsato distinguishes his own value in society through his wealth, status and masculinity, all things he either did not earn or cannot control. Even so, he understands the personal agency afforded to him by having those three things and makes a point to exercise that agency against those with less than himself, namely Omajaja less wealthy than himself, women and Ireale.
Tsato’s values are threatened by the changing dynamics of Oyomere during the reign of Ogiame Ofotukun after the prophesied ending of his rule and life. The original event that triggered the Tsato we see in the show is the promotion of social class of Jolomi by Royal decree after Jolomi used his gift of prophetic dreams to aid Ogiame in predicting the night of the ‘dark moon’, under which the one destined to end Ofotukun’s life would be born as told in a previous prophesy by another.
Despite himself being an Ireale falling upwards, Jolomi’s upwardly mobile social status represented a threat to the system that placed Tsato above Ireale and many Omojaja. And worse still, Jolomi was afforded this off the back of his own gifts and talent, things that no matter how badly Tsato may have wanted to, he could not take away from Jolomi, nor could he manifest a talent of equal value to the King or the kingdom.
Upon Jolomi’s elevation of social class from Ireale to Omajaja, it is immediately clear that Tsato is out to get Jolomi.
Even though they do not know each other and are not introduced to each other until later, Tsato’s hatred for Jolomi was made obvious in his various attempts delegitimise Jolomi’s newly elevated social status:
- Despite not having any love for her himself, Tsato sniffs out weakness in Jolomi’s wife Alero, and actively aids the breakdown of Jolomi’s marriage to her. In a society like Oyomere (not unlike many other west African societies) marriage is an important part of the culture and can often be looked at as a rite of passage, with married men and women being more highly regarded in the community than their ‘boy’ and ‘maiden’ counterparts. In choosing to engage in an affair with Alero, Tsato was consciously attacking Jolomi’s social currency, not just in the Omajaja community, but in the kingdom of Oyomere as a whole. Having Alero leave Jolomi for him served not just to punish Jolomi, but to publicly shame him by sending the message that even the person who knows Jolomi the most, sees Tsato as a better choice.
- Tsato also went out of his way to prevent Jolomi from gaining wealth as a new trader in the Omajaja market, and later went on to prevent him from obtaining royal farmlands gifted to him by Princess Abiyere as a reward for helping her (or something). Tsato, being a wealthy Omajaja knows that not all Omajaja are equal. There may not be a distinction in the group on the basis of social class, but economic class is a whole other matter. Tsato knew that as a new Omajaja, Jolomi may now be in his social class, but was not in his economic class, as Ireale are unable to make or hold wealth under the oppressive system of Oyomere. He may have been elevated from the Ireale, but Tsato did not want Jolomi to gain any wealth that would elevate his status amongst the Omajaja, believing this to be a threat to his own status.
- Finally, we see Tsato devise a scheme to frustrate Jolomi’s marriage to Princess Abiyere, an event which if not for Tsato’s scheme, would have further elevated Jolomi’s social and economic status, giving him more power and influence than Tsato could compete with, now being the husband of a Royal. Tsato’s ego could not cope with such and upon successfully tarnishing Jolomi’s reputation by killing Alero and pinning the murder on him, Jolomi’s marriage to the princess was called off and he was imprisoned.
Even though Jolomi was a one-off case, to Tsato, if anyone can become Omajaja and rise through that community, then being Omajaja no longer has the same value, and therefore neither does he.
Tsato and Women
We see that more often than the average man, Tsato relies heavily on gender respectability, particularly when engaging with women who make him feel threatened by openly disagreeing with his behaviour or logic. He places immense value in his manliness and actively dismisses and silences the women around him, even though his ideas and opinions are often the least logical. He does this because he recognises the power he gains from stripping the women around him of their agency. He relies on women being seen and treated as second class citizens to elevate his own status in the perception of those around him. More than the average man, he frequently reminds others around him that he outranks women purely on the grounds of being a man. An idea he frequently beats into Alero, until he ultimately beats her to death.
Being a man allows Tsato to feel more important, to compensate for his deep insecurities around the public’s perception of his value in society, and while the origin of these insecurities is not known, its clear from his behaviour that they are there, they literally run his life.
Tsato is an insecure, entitled bully who met his downfall because his insecurities were so severe that they prevented him from minding his own business, even though doing so would have cost him nothing at all. Even the kingdom of Oyomere left Tsato behind. Don’t be like Tsato. If you can only be big while others are small, you likely aren’t so big at all.