The spark that ignited the solidarity of the Nigerian voices in continents across the globe, came from a heated car chase by a citizen who had just witnessed the death of a young man at Wetland Hotel Ugheli, allegedly at the hands of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). This random and organic form of capturing an event is akin to the recorded video of the killing of George Floyd, which reignited the Black Lives Matter protests.
The strength in recording a moment in history is one of the purest forms of storytelling. It is unplanned, organic, and emotes the most from its viewers because it transports them to the environment of the event.
This spark turned into a flame when the likes of Debo Adebayo known as Mr. Macaroni, and Rinu Oduala known as Savvy Rinu, documented their experience of the 72 hours of peaceful protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly. Once again, the seamless use of social media to share your stories was their strength in connecting with a larger audience.
This flame continued to kindle as the likes of Runtown and Falz took to the streets the next day to march from the Lekki Toll Gate to Onikan. For every step taken, they shared their journey with an even large community on social media.
As the days progressed, media houses began reporting on what would be one of the biggest protests in Nigeria’s recent history.
For years, we have undermined the power of the Nigerian voice in telling our own stories. Anyone who has access to a camera phone and any social media app can do the stories once left in the hands of journalists.
The rapid shares of our stories from Nigeria spread. All over the world, Nigerians in the diaspora could identify with the feeling of frustration, helplessness, and oppression as it concerns the ruling government. This feeling led to simultaneous protests in several countries, and this solidarity in the voices was unexpected, as the protests held the commercial city of Lagos down for two weeks.
The stories moved from platforms to platforms, albeit rather slowly. Birthed on Twitter, it moved to Instagram, then Facebook and WhatsApp. Every platform used by any class and demographic in Nigeria could relate and lend their voices.
Yet, the most powerful of stories that emerged from this protest was done on Instagram Live as DJ Switch documented the shootings and killing of peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate. This courageous effort has caused a ripple effect in a system filled with webs of corruption and lies.
Over the past few weeks, and despite the restrictions of media houses by the National Broadcasting Commission, the voice of the Nigerian youths has created a ladder to our ideal state. A government is accountable to its people. It forces international media houses and governments to pay attention to a voice that is otherwise stifled by its motherland.
So, when next you question what your voice will do in the grand scheme of things? Remember that you are just a pixel in the bigger picture. Remember, every story documented is a story worth sharing.
PS — I attended the protest for 2 days and I vlogged my experience.