So the London protests held on the 6th of January, largely organized by the Students’ Association of Nigerians in Diaspora, a body seeking to unite Nigerian students at whatever level of study in England. I think the body is necessary, and even though I wonder about the tenures of its leaders (since I assume they’d have to be students), this post isn’t about that.
A little background information/explanation; I got into London early, and just as I got on the Northern Line to Charring Cross (the supposed meeting point for the protest), my Blackberry went off, and refused to come on again, regardless of anything I did. Then it started showing the error message that we BB owners dread. That literally meant I had lost contact with everyone, whether online or offline. And so this is a public apology to @Ynaija, their followers (and mine), and everyone else who expected me to tweet from the venue.
I found a phone store, dropped it to be fixed, and rushed to the Nigerian High Commission, where a little crowd had gathered. Was great to finally meet @RGAMeyer, and I must commend her for the work she did behind the scenes. Maintaining order, directing people to sign the petition, even helping with the litter, you rock Sisteh!
I also spotted @ogundamisi, @walegates, @DJAbass, @delemomodu, @futurekash (who I’d only met on Twitter a few days before); I also spotted a journo Twitter buddy whose name I won’t mention because I don’t think he’d want me to. But you know yourself, and you still owe me that introduction!
Big thank you to @4tega, who even though was meeting me for the first time outside Twitter, gave me his iPhone to tweet from. Thank you sir.
Ok, high points of the day? People were early! I think I should start from people showing up at all. If memory serves me correctly about 320 people signed the petition on the day; that’s a lot of people. Could have been more, but it was a good turnout. More impressive were the people who came in from outside London just to be a part of it.
So people came out; posters, banners, and placards of all shapes and sizes. Some of them were thoughtful, thought-provoking, add any positive word incorporating ‘thought’ to the list. While I was struggling to take pictures and tweet from @4tega’s phone, I saw two Nigerians nearly descend into fisticuffs over something I don’t even remember now. Made me smile, the nostalgia of people back home who’ll play at shadow boxing till their friends ‘hold them’. You can find the pictures I took here.
Back to the reason we were there; it soon degenerated to people taking pictures with celebs on ground, ‘occupying’ new babes, or making up new songs denouncing the government of the day. I wondered for a bit if the Egyptians at Tahir Square had time to take pictures but hey, that’s just me.
At some point there was a lot of media present, an idea popped into my head and I spoke to the organizers about it; said this was a brilliant opportunity to hold a makeshift press conference and send out ONE message since it was obvious the Nigerian High Commissioner wouldn’t be coming out to address the protesters. There wasn’t any plan to that effect so that didn’t happen so when our allotted ‘protest time’ was up, we left.
Was it successful? Yes. We were there to lend our voice in solidarity with Nigerians at home, and lend our voice we did. A few things though…
Lessons from the protest?
- Have a plan. I wish I could say this in more languages than this, but in the name of everything good, have a plan! Strategize, prepare for contingencies, and have back up plans; what if A doesn’t happen, is there a B? Passion is the fuel that sees a well thought out strategy through….. it is never enough on its own!
- Whether we like it or not, where ever two or three are gathered, different agendas will be present. Gatherings will be manipulated by different people for different reasons; you make it easy for them when you don’t have a concrete plan of your own!
- Information is key. If you are not sufficiently informed (about anything), you will be swayed by ‘any wind of doctrine’. It was wonderful, the fliers the organizers distributed, educating people on the reason we were gathered there. I just wonder about the guy who in answer to my ‘why are Nigerians protesting’ question said, ‘they said we should protest’.
Mighty thank you to everyone who made it to the protests in London; your labour will not go unrewarded.
- Occupy Till I Come! (fairygodsister.wordpress.com)
- A Nigerian Spring? Fuel Subsidies fuel the fire of protest and anger (artikleblak.wordpress.com)
- Viewpoint: ‘Nigeria Spring’ here to stay (bbc.co.uk)
- Exclusive #OccupyNigeria -London PIX (teesdiary.wordpress.com)