These moments were so huge, they seemed like all that mattered.
The #10YearChallenge had people sharing pictures of themselves from now and ten years ago, comparing appearances. The challenge was widely shared on both Twitter and Instagram and has been associated with various hashtags including #10yearchallenge and #GlowUp. Everyone got in on the action and soon Facebook was forced to fend off rumors that the challenge year was an elaborate ploy to collect facial recognition data. You can’t blame us for getting paranoid now can you?
ASUU strike (again)
In February, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) called off a three-month-old industrial strike action which the union embarked upon the previous year over revitalization of universities, academic earned allowances and issuance of Universities Pension Management Company. For the first two months of the new year, ASUU was constantly a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter as Nigerians kept up with the saga.
At this point it is pretty much clear that every year comes with it a viral season of Big Brother. The #PepperDem season had everything, from record crowds turning up to audition to controversial housemates obsessed with staying relevant via trending hashtags and toxic fan battles spilling over into the real world. The organizers must be smiling to the banks. Nigerians were glued to their screens.
Biodun Fatoyinbo’s past comes calling
This paper started an avalanche via an emotional interview with Busola Dakolo where she accused Biodun Fatoyinbo, founder of the trendy Commonwealth of Zion Assembly of raping her repeatedly when she was a teenager. Other women came forward and YNaija was on top of the story, pursuing it to wherever it would lead. And it led to places. Shady pastors, corrupt policemen, intimidation of plaintiffs. All of these and more were recorded in one of the biggest news stories of the year.
Cardi B’s homecoming
American superstar Cardi B visited Ghana and Nigeria on a mini West African tour and inadvertently stoked the fires of a long running culture beef between both countries. Televised live on her Instagram feeds, Cardi B didn’t just come to perform, she took a feel of the cities she landed in, stepping out of the protective cocoon, meeting local celebrities and even throwing in some philanthropy along the way. Naturally the internet became a warzone and even Cardi B herself was caught in the crosshairs.
Jack Dorsey visits Nigeria
Taking a cue from Mark Zuckerberg before him, Twitter founder/chief executive Jack Dorsey was in Nigeria, as well as Ghana and Ethiopia. Dorsey who is also founder of Square, a fintech payments company, was welcomed with countless selfies with the tech community, taken on a guided tour to CC Hub in Lagos and even managed to piss off half the Twiterrati when he wouldn’t pause to answer their questions in a press meet and greet. He insists he will be spending more time in Africa too.
Kizz Daniel’s #FvckYouChallenge
What did it take to get Nigerians excited this year? The singer formerly known as Kiss Daniel certainly had some ideas. Sex, infidelity and the bitter dissolution of a romantic relationship. For added effect, he threw in some name calling, slut shaming, a hint of colorism mixed with generous doses of the F- word and a new trend was born. He called it the #FvckYouChallenge and invited everyone to share. The industry took the bait and before long, a genuinely viral sensation was born.
Nigerians went to the polls this year and even though Muhammadu Buhari claimed a second term in office, the battle was brutal and victory hard fought. The online armies were assembled from all the interests involved and in the weeks leading up to the elections, the attacks were as forceful as they were constant. Ethnicism, ideologies, religion, all the cards were on the table and it wasn’t always the case that the best person won.
O jewa ke eng/Scopa tu mana
It is the age of oversharing and getting in our feelings and two phrases brought the internet to a meltdown this year. The first, O jewa ke eng, adapted from the Sesotho language and translated loosely as what’s bothering you opened a dam as people found it therapeutic sharing whatever it was that came to mind. From sexual hookups to marital problems, nothing was sacred. Scopa tu mana followed shortly, this time from Ghana and the floodgates continued. They still come in trickles.
Wole Soyinka seat gate
One of the most bizarre incidences to rock social media in recent times, it is a wonder we actually made out time and space to engage. Sahara Energy founder Tonye Cole came to Instagram to detail a story of a young gun who insisted on taking his assigned seat on an aircraft and wouldn’t give it up for no less a person than Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. The entire country was immediately divided into two sides with passionate arguments for and against flying around. There was an added case of clout chasing and identity theft thrown in the mix.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.