From #S*xForGrades to #SayNoToXenophobia, we have seen the rise and fall of hashtags in 2019. Some of them, like #EndSARS, resurface again and again due to repeated situations that provoke the reaction of social media users.
Indeed, hashtags have become a weapon in the new media era, wielded mostly by Twitter users especially. This double-edged weapon can either be used to advocate for a cause or fight against it.
In retrospect, as the year winds down, Plat4om takes a review of social media in 2019 by looking at some of the impeccable forces and undaunted voices that reigned supreme on social media, with Twitter being the focal platform.
1. “Game of Thrones”
Winter has come and gone. GOT as “Game of Thrones” is popularly called, was the most-watched TV series in 2019. The eighth and final season, which contained six sizzling episodes, was released on 14th April 2019 and generated intense conversations every week. Having a GOT-themed party even became the “in” thing.
Of course, spoilers on Twitter and WhatsApp statuses can be annoying. Some viewers had to go to the extent of blocking keywords on Twitter (or their contacts on WhatsApp) to avoid spoilers.
Characters like Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, the Night King, and Brandon Stark consistently made the Twitter headlines. What about the Lannisters? Jamie, Tyrion and Cersei were on our lips and in our faces almost every week.
There was no particular hashtag to associate with GOT. It was a hydra-headed movement with different talking points. Kudos to Home Box Office (HBO) for such an epic series, even though a lot of viewers were not so impressed with the ending.
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2. AFCON 2019
Football, as we know it, is the most loved sport globally. For Africa, countries like Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast, are always looking to state their dominance on the pitch. Re-igniting old rivalries was all part of the action too. Nothing could stop it.
Nigeria finished in third place, and every match they won, drew or lost became a major Twitter trend. For example, you would see hashtags like #NGARSA for the Super Eagles match against Bafana Bafana of South Africa. Even without watching the match live, you could always catch up on Twitter or Instagram.
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3. “The Lion King: The Gift” Album
When Beyoncé released the 27-track album for the remake of the classic film, “The Lion King”, it met the expectations of listeners. The album, which contained 14 original tracks and 13 interludes, featured a host of African artists like Burna Boy, Shatta Wale, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Tekno amongst others.
“Brown Skin Girl”, a track which had Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, and Wizkid on it, was the rave on social media. The song eulogised the beauty of the black woman. This then gave it some emotional attachment as Beyoncé preached self-worth through the relatable lyrics of the song. The conversations were endless; from jokes about ladies who have bleached their skin not being able to sing along, to fans sharing their pictures online in a #BrownSkinGirlChallenge.
Watch Plat4om’s review of “The Lion King: The Gift” album below:
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4. Busola vs COZA Saga
Hell broke loose on 28th June 2019 when an interview of Busola Dakolo by Chude Jideonwo surfaced online; the former accused COZA’s senior pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo, of r*ping her years back. The reactions spread like wildfire both online and on the streets, as some protesters marched to the church’s headquarters in Abuja the following Sunday.
As expected, people took sides, with a lot of Nigerian celebrities on Busola’s side. The hashtags #IStandWithBusola and #IStandWithCOZA were like digital placards held by both sides. #PastorStepDown was also led by Akah Nnani, a then-member of the church who openly revoked his membership and rebuked Pastor Biodun.
Names like Ese Walters, Kemi Olunloyo, and Aisha Buhari also featured in the grand scheme of things. Remember the wonders of Krest? That was equally part of the conversation. The saga lasted for some days (though it resurfaced later) until #BBNaija2019 took over.
The 2019 edition of Big Brother Naija lived up to its theme, ‘Pepper Dem’. This time, the housemates were hosted in Lagos, Nigeria. Names such as Mercy, Mike, Khafi, Seyi, Omashola, Frodd, and (you guessed right) Tacha stood out on social media.
Honestly, all the housemates were fired up, especially during the Saturday night parties. It was easy to know the DJ playing for that week. Just check Twitter.
For over 90 days, Nigeria’s biggest reality TV show flooded our timelines with content ranging from the funny ‘barking dog-chihuahua’ battle between Tacha and Omashola, to the tense moments in the build-up to Ebuka’s evictions, and the love story of Khafi and Gedoni. BBNaija 2019 host Ebuka’s fashion statements were also too amazing to ignore online.
BBNaija 2019 gave viewers a lot to talk about, even after the show ended. Remember the night Tacha got evicted? The only moment to be compared to such wild celebrations is the day Abacha died. Not even the night that Mercy won comes close. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s debatable.
6. Tacha and the Titans
There is no Tacha without her Titans. The former said so herself during her interview with Do2tun and Kemi Smallz on CoolFM. This is a love story between Port-Harcourt’s first daughter, and arguably the strongest fan base on Nigerian Twitter. This love story involved Jaruma at some point until matters went from sweet to sour. Was it a case of audio money or just a communication gap? You can decide that.
The embattled Tacha (the first BBNaija 2019 housemate to get verified on Twitter) was and is a force to be reckoned with, be it on Instagram or Twitter. Titans have made their goddess trend on Twitter almost every day since the show ended. Scratch that. Tacha has been trending since she got evicted after her famous fight with Mercy. Even during the BBNaija finale, Tacha was trending.
Rumours on the streets of Twitter even suggest that Titans ensured Zlatan Ibile did not clinch the next-rated award at Headies 2019 by voting massively for Rema. What was his offence again? He released a pseudo-song to diss Tacha. Ayiiiiiiiiii… What an abomination.
Hate her or love her, Tacha is well-loved by her overzealous fans who would go to any height or depth to defend their queen.
7. MI vs Vector
In a series of cyphers and diss tracks, MI Abaga and Vector the Viper battled for rap supremacy, and social media was the battlefield.
It all started ‘as we know’, with #ThePurification by MI, Blaqbonez, A-Q and Loose Kaynon. Vector then responded with #ThePurge which had rappers Vader and Payper (almost sounds like PayPal).
MI later uploaded the track on his YouTube channel and captioned it: Upcoming Rappers. Afterwards, he released “The Viper”.
MI Abaga demonstrated his lyrical strength on “The Viper”, as he bashed Lanre (Vector) viciously. There are rumours that Jesse Jagz could have had some input on that track. #NoSnakes was trending at the time as MI had the stage at #BBNaijaFinale to sub Vector with a ‘No Snakes’ shirt.
Vector was not done though, as he released #JudasTheRat using Biblical narratives, similar to what MI had done with #TheViper. The long history of the feud between these two birthed a lot of social media attention for rap in Nigeria. Some big boys even staked ₦40million in October for MI and Vector to do a live rap battle, but this never happened. “That would be a suicide mission for MI,” some said.
About two months ago, Nigerian media personality Kiki Mordi, through a BBC Africa Eye Documentary, beamed light on the unscrupulous activities of university lecturers. The undercover operation exposed some randy lecturers in the cold room at UNILAG and their counterparts in the University of Ghana.
7th October 2019 was judgement day for these exploitative tutors. On Twitter, #S*x4Grades was the rage for days, with the conversation spreading to other social media platforms as well. It was time to voice out. It was time for the Universities to purge their system through more stringent measures. And, finally, it was time to reignite the conversations around the anti-s*xual harassment bill.
This was undoubtedly one of the greatest social media movements of 2019, causing reactions and emotions from every quarter.
9. Naira Marley and the Marlians
A company’s top executive was asked to describe Naira Marley. He said with some affirmation, “Naira Marley is a movement.” How true is that?
Suddenly, everyone is now a Marlian. Just look around you. It’s like a religion. How did we get here? Just asking…
Tacha and Azeez Fashola (a.k.a Naira Marley) are two controversial figures in 2019 who have been able to miraculously turn bad publicity into a strong following. Naira Marley’s testimony began when he was arrested by EFCC on 10th May 2019, alongside Zlatan Ibile and others. Marley had earlier released a song, “Am I a Yahoo Boy” before then. Some suggest this may have provoked EFCC’s action.
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“Am I a Yahoo Boy” came during a period when government operatives were on a serial crackdown of cyber-criminals in a country where little to no information was required to nail a suspected ‘Yahoo boy’. You just need to have a certain kind of look and perceived personae. If you are caught with a laptop, or you are a young man driving a Mercedes Benz, you are in for an unpleasant show. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Naira Marley did some time behind bars. Afterwards, he released “Soapy”, and it became an instant hit on the streets, riding on the publicity of the matter at hand. He has since released other songs which have made his fan base grow, and placed him on a pedestal as the current king of street music. Everything he touches trends, and there are more celebrity Marlians than you think. Marley is also getting bolder by the day; so bold he said his legwork is bigger than Headies 2019. Crazy right?
Legwork bigger than headies2019
— nairamarley (@officialnairam1) October 20, 2019
The biggest Marlian, Wizkid, alongside Naira Marley on Twitter, recently declared 30th May every year as Marlians Day. Do we need to say more?
10. Say no to xenophobia
Xenophobia in South Africa is a major crisis that has lingered for years. However, this year’s attacks formed the last straw that broke the camel’s back, as other African countries could not hold back the resentment.
Meanwhile, Nigeria was largely affected as angry citizens stormed and raided businesses like Shoprite and MTN in retaliation. Videos, some of which were old misleading clips, were all over social media and angry comments followed suit.
This time, several Nigerian celebrities voiced out. Burna Boy ended his social media break to reprimand South African rapper AKA, with MI Abaga taking some knocks in the process. Toke Makinwa, Iyabo Ojo, Do2dtun, Peter Okoye, Uche Jumbo, and Ali Baba among others expressed their displeasure on the mindless attacks on foreigners in South Africa. At the same time, the likes of Trevor Noah appealed to his countrymen in South Africa to stop the killings.
Allen Onyema of Air Peace was instrumental in the return of Nigerians to their homeland. Now, there is a calm after the storm, but the scars of animosity remain. Meanwhile, South Africans have not forgiven Burna Boy for his remarks.
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We have seen this trend more than once this year, with different levels of intensity at different times. SARS operatives have been ruthless in their operations, harassing young Nigerians, with celebrities like Ikechukwu not left out. We lost friends and relatives, and this sparked chain reactions on Twitter.
The closest Nigerians have come to victory was when Yemi Osinbajo, while acting as the President, instructed that the SARS officials be withdrawn from the streets. He also ordered a complete overhaul of the unit. People sang praises of Segalink on Twitter who has been very instrumental in the #EndSARS campaign. However, the dreaded police force returned after a while, operating fearlessly and killing mindlessly.
At some point, the Nigerian tech community on Twitter cried out. Programmers were constantly harassed when seen with a laptop, and there was no way to explain one’s way out of the situation. You had to pay.
However, Nigerians are not giving up yet, and are ever ready to voice their discontent.
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Did you miss Plat4om’s podcast on the SARS menace in Nigeria? Listen below:
In essence, social media continues to prove to be a worthy platform to drive conversations and possibly effect changes in the larger society. 2019 has been busy, and we anticipate an even busier 2020.
Finally, this list won’t be complete without you, dear Plat4omers. Do you think we missed out something? Drop it in the comments section below and stand a chance to win the InFocus Vibe 2 phone.
So go on. Let’s talk about it!
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