During the Black Lives Matter movement that broke out in America and quickly sparked off a chain of global protest and condemnation for police brutality and racism after the unjust murder of George Floyd, the world saw a glimpse of what happens when a community is fed up with oppression and ready to double down on their efforts to fight that oppression. Not that anyone should have to exist in a constant place of negotiation with their humanity to begin with.
A notable part of those protests and why it continues to factor into the conversations America is having around race, and police brutality today is the radical means to which these protests were organised. In addition to this, the celebrities as well as popular members of the American society (with immense social power) who went all out, marching, protesting, raising awareness, donating and playing an active part in the movement.
It has been a long time coming, but we are seeing the same narrative play out here in Nigeria with the #EndSARS movement that kicked off in several parts of Lagos today. Many of the people’s faves like Runtown, Falz, Tacha, Toke Makinwa, Rudeboy and several others were out on the streets of Lagos marching against SARS brutality. This move is an important step away from the online awareness they are known to either be an active part of, or have kick started themselves. If social media awareness is important in its power to give voice to the voiceless in real time and shoot up awareness around a nation-wide issue, then physical protests are a more definitive means to speaking against a harmful system.
— Bop Daddy (@falzthebahdguy) October 8, 2020
There has been a growing conversation around the importance of increased participation from Nigerian celebrities; away from the screens of their phones and this recent protest proves that importance.
Celebrities have the power to lead by example and encourage their fans to mobilise and stand up for good causes. They have the influence needed to push pressing national conversations to where they need to be.
It is not glamorous or fair that everyone be political, but it is necessary if we want to still have the option of being apolitical.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.