Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Nigeria’

My best definition of social media is people on the left, people on the right, and technology in the middle. It is the democratization of information and content, the convenience and equal opportunity to share and connect with others, and the fulfillment of “the world is a global village” prophecy.

For some, social media is a magic wand to be wielded as they please, whether positively or negatively. It is at the heart of discussions around the world, from boardrooms to houses of parliament, marketplaces to bedrooms. It is alternate reality for some, and a mask to hide behind to perpetuate falsehood, bully, or exact vengeance against others.

Social media is many things, and does many things for many people. It is the voice of the common man, the route to recourse for offended customers and the immediate audience for the citizen journalist. Depending on where you are, local and international case studies abound of people deploying their networks to bring about a desired action or reaction. Social capital has a new field of play, and the rise and rise of influencers is ignored at the peril of the social media manager or strategist.

Credit: hr-gazette.com

Credit: hr-gazette.com

In Nigeria, the advent of social media broke and is still breaking many ceilings as far as communication across board is concerned but especially as it affects power. As a people we’re traditionally wired to follow or submit to constituted authority, whether in the home, in our communities, at school, at work or via our various religions; our embracing digital however disrupted all of that. The proliferation of media has provided access to global thinking, cultures, new streams of thought on the one hand, and courage for expression of existing streams of thought on the other. Questions have arisen where people weren’t questioning actions or inactions before, and those already questioning became equipped to be even louder and more visible with these questions. We are tasking government and public officials in a manner that was simply unthinkable before.

Love, relationships, and marriages have also had their share of disruption thanks to an audience constantly in need of a good ‘awww-worthy’ moment. Public displays of affection are no longer public enough if they’re not broadcast to friends, family, enemies, and complete strangers. We’re here for those moments though, egging on lovers to push the boundaries of rationality in expressing just how much they love their partner.

On the flip side, the pressure to claim that significant other and shield them from potential competitors or replacements is real, and there are studies that say social media has bred a new level of paranoia and mistrust in relationships. From sliding into private messages (also known as Direct Messages on Twitter and Instagram), to the curse of the misinterpreted emoji left as a comment, to spats that end in publishing nudes that were exchanged in times of peace, even to pedophiles grooming and then abusing teenagers (and thankfully getting their comeuppance), there’s just as much evil as there’s good online.

A little while ago, poverty porn was an issue, with international organizations attempting to clutch at our hearts (and purse) strings by depicting suffering across Africa. I was always embarrassed to watch those calls for help, especially when there would be three in a row (in whatever order); one to raise money to provide water for an African child, another to adopt a pet tiger, and another to stop cruelty to dogs. I was never comfortable with them, probably will never be.

Say hello however to Poverty Porn 2:0, the new version enabled by social media. We are in the age of philanthropy that must be broadcast to the world. And so without recourse to the dignity of the human beings in question (adults and children alike), people feel it is acceptable to film and broadcast their acts of charity. It is arguable that the publications inspire others to do good but is that really why we do it?

What is social media to you? How has it changed your life from the first social network you subscribed to?

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The last time Jaiye was in London, we were supposed to meet up to catch a movie, and I got to him late. The way he scolded me eh! Wow… but that’s just the kind of person he is. Big brother, super writer, someone I really look up to. After all the scolding, we had a great time watching Thor 2, and then munching on wedges and potato skins!

I don’t remember how we first met, but I remember catching up at lunches in Abuja, and Jaiye being gracious enough to do an interview for a class project during my Master’s Degree. I’m super excited he could write, I literally bullied him into doing this on a weekend he was very busy! What else are big brothers for?

My name is Jaiyeola Jeffrey Ifihan, I’m a Geoscientist and I’ve been set up.

Life for a writer with long-standing memory block becomes extremely daunting when alter-egos are suspended just for the real person to show up.

Outside my Nine to Five, I have/had pretended to have a life as a writer, Poet and I’ve been to the studio to record severally, most of which found their way to some lone archives in my computer while some made it to blogs. A video made it to TV but was ‘too revolutionary’ to last on air. Come to think of it, who does a video about Nigeria’s dark history when there is an unwritten gag order on it? (Four years after, it would be the turn of Half of a Yellow Sun to receive a post-dated unwritten memo on this gag order).

Okay, focus Jeff. Your alter-egos are not here to help you.

I lost faith in the Nigerian project sometime somewhere. Perhaps there are species of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (yeah, keep the two) who go to bed full of Faith and wake up Atheists, I think mine was a slow process.

The emotional drain of the Occupy Nigeria protests of January 2012, the disdain the green passport attracts almost everywhere in the world, the realization out of the blue that Nigerian Youth have morphed into ‘uber-divisive’ beings. Somewhere in-between, my Faith got lost.

When it comes to the Nigerian, the 3D body scanners just won’t do. I once travelled in a track-down to avoid the pull-your-belt syndrome, but that was the very day that I got an extra security-smooch in Schiphol. It hurt when I observed people with a lighter tone of skin underwent lighter scrutiny.

It is a paranoid world.  Everywhere you go, you are constantly reminded. Dogs willing to sniff out the bush meat in your baggage, airport P.A Systems warning you not to crack jokes with airport security, buying TSA padlocks because the requirement for visiting Yankee is to surrender the privacy of your baggage. Yet, the Airport Terminals connecting Flights to Nigeria are super crowded. No love shown outside, we return, to a Nation that shows us no Love, just MMIA (Murtala Muhammed International Airport) heat.

Somehow, the past 6 months had me crossing more time-zones than I have in a life-time, and passing through more Airport Terminals. Each experience fuelled my despondence about Nigeria.

Imagine we had the Underground Rail in Nigeria. Imagine we had a Country that issues 14 day Visa just for tourists to visit and spend their hearts out. Imagine our Airports had Museums where you can catch a glimpse of our ‘Heroes Past’. Scratch that, who are our heroes?

Our heroes are regional household gods who become villains once their names cross their geopolitical zones.

Read the blogs, then try and read the comments that follow and watch your heart bleed.

The car bombs in Afghanistan used to sound strange until few years ago. In the last six months, I have tried to clutch at sanity by avoiding headlines…but then there are blogs and micro blogs (tears non-existent hair)!

I used to find therapy in writing, channelling the anger and passion for change through my blog and the vocal booth. All of a sudden, that passion vanished.

Change came, but it is that kind of change that changes the change maker.

Lest I forget, I am Nigerian.

 

Jaiye Jaiye!! (That's what I have stored on my phones for him!)

Jaiye Jaiye!! (That’s what I have stored on my phones for him!)

Jaiye went hard!! Love it! I told you he was a super writer didn’t I?

When Miss @AbangMercy rang to tell me she’d be in London for a few days for the Green Deal event, I was excited! Not only because it would be great to see her (or because it was the making of a proper ladies weekend), I was finally going to get a first hand handle on Heinrich Boll, and what all the fuss about Nigeria going green ‘immediately’ was about.

Then I heard @xeenarh was coming too, sounded good – from the days of the Occupy Nigeria protests when she and a few others got tear-gassed and beaten by the Police (and/or military), I knew she was of a different ilk from the clanging  cymbals but no action type on Twitter. And I wanted to meet her too!

@Omojuwa was billed to come too, met him for the first time in May this year, we’ve been friends since. Weekend shaping up nicely huh?

Friday morning I popped to Kings Cross to meet up with the girls. After waiting a bit Mercy appeared, I dropped my overnight bag (do we still call them vanity cases) and then we were off to Finsbury Park. Three hours, some tears (of joy) and loads of shopping later, we headed for Westfield (Stratford City) to meet @aninoritse and @Tomi_Ola. Do I have memories of Westfield or what!!!

We met the ladies, and the craziness began! In and out of shops, we chattered, laughed, and just had a wonderful  time poking fun at ourselves! Can I mention that Tomi was meeting Mercy and Anino for the first time? I remember her saying, “Anino, you are really your tweets”. Social media moment, lol.

Back to the hotel, where we joked about everything under the sun, and then got a call from reception telling us to ‘please keep it down’. Of course it was them, I wasn’t even making noise at all!

Yep! Then we remembered we had to eat, and popped to Indian House for dinner. Meal was really good, Biriyani I think. I remember Mercy complaining about the jug of water with slices of lemon inside. “The water I know doesn’t have anything inside biko”; hilarity for days!

Next day we were up and out of the house by 7.40am, headed for? You guessed right, Oxford Circus! Shopped till 11am, ran back to the hotel and I nearly collapsed from hunger! By the way the ladies totally ruined my diet (not that I’m complaining *smile*)

Got changed and it was off to the Green Deal event. Awesome presentations by Xeenarh, Mercy and Omojuwa, was so proud of them! Robust discussion too, all of that’s captured in the ‘Green Deal: The Real Deal’ post.

We all had cake (further destroying the diet), and we took loads of pictures!! Whoop!

From left to right, @FidelisMbah, @Abangmercy, @DoubleEph, @ChiomaChuka, @Tomi_Ola, @Omojuwa, @aninoritse, @forakin, and @Operko. Don’t know the name of the guy behind Mercy…

Headed to Emukay for dinner with @forakin (what a gentleman); we got there about 7pm and were a little worried because the place was empty. Started filling up about  8.30pm and by the time we left, it was packed full. No wonder Nigerians have pouches, we eat so late! And see people guzzling beer! *Le sigh*

Last night of noise making, @Omojuwa dropped in for a few minutes with one cute guy like that. More gist after they left, and then we slept (more like we dropped off)!

Mercy took this picture of us in the morning, I absolutely love it!

And I love you girls, thanks for the most amazing weekend!

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