#NaijaTwitter has been helping young people express themselves on strong and sensitive issues.
I joined Twitter in February 2009.
I was curious about the new social media app was generating around the world.
Twitter then was a hollow landscape for an average Nigerian like myself. There were no bants, customised trends, hash tags for me to jump on. I deleted the Silicon Valley creation real quick.
A few months later, Twitter started popping as a few celebs like eLDee, Banky W and M.I came on. The Nigerian community on Twitter started forming from here.
There is no data that tells how many Nigerians are on Twitter. According to a 2015 study titled 'How Africa Tweets' Nigeria ranks second in most geolocated tweets- 360 million.
Nigerian Twitter does not have an official name like #BlackTwitter for African-Americans. For this article, I would use #NaijaTwitter for the Nigerian community on Twitter.
#NaijaTwitter has grown from a handful of tech-savvy, young and hip Nigerians expressing their thoughts in 140 characters. It is now a large community with a strong cultural identity of Nigerians who express their thoughts, opinions and views on topics unique to them.
This has created trending topics relevant to Nigerian pop culture from the superiority of Nigerian Jollof Rice to rape culture. When you come on #NaijaTwitter you won't see a bunch of disjointed self-expressions but a series of connected cultural experiences.
Nigeria is a country of humour, we see the brighter and lighter side of things and life. #NaijaTwitter is heavy on bants, epic comebacks dragging and humorous quips on how hard it is to live in Nigeria. Let's not talk about the memes and how actor Odunlade Adekola is our contribution to the global meme community.
Even on weighty topics such as marriage shaming, unemployment and religion, Nigerians on Twitter have found a way to tell the shortcomings or peculiarities of our society in funny threads.
The existence and popularity of the Twitter account Trailer Jam Show prove how much Nigerians love a good dragging and epic comebacks. These comebacks have also gone international as #NaijaTwitter has gone on bant wars with Kenya and Ghana and have won.
As #NaijaTwitter has grown, factions and cliques have sprung up. Just like a secondary school social set-up, the Nigerian end on Twitter has its sub-groups which vary from interests, sports and lifestyle. And what is a secondary school without the resident bully and gossip? The now rested subdeliveryman account acted as both with its alleged exposure of the dirty secrets of many Twitter cliques.
#NaijaTwitter isn't all jokes. It has become an enclave for young Nigerians to talk and argue about topics that they wouldn't have had the chance to publicly. Sex, politics, marriage, tribalism, feminism and sexism are the hot topics that have over the years engaged the minds and fingers of #NaijaTwitter.
These open discussions initially started on Saturday and Sunday mornings but they have moved to any day of the week. These discussions quickly become trending topics and last for the better part of the day, sometimes two days.
Twitter has become a healthy outlet for Nigerians to express their minds on topics that are normally hidden under the carpet in public. Sexuality, homosexuality are some of these topics. The cross-dressing sensation Bobrisky is more of a star on #NaijaTwitter than on the roads of Lagos.
And this brings up another feature of #TwitterNG. It is more liberal than Nigerian society most likely more young people use the app. Shedding the conservative makeup of mainstream society, #NaijaTwitter is a rebellious and very expressive community of young Nigerians.
#NaijaTwitter has helped in raising funds for the sick who are need of surgery or expensive treatment and students who can't afford tuition. As the education and medical sectors have almost collapsed, #NaijaTwitter comes together to help people who fall in between the widening cracks created by ineffective administrations.
#OccupyNaija, #OtodoGbame #Change are some examples of politically tinted hashtags championed by #NaijaTwitter over the years. Young Nigerians might not be actively involved in politics yet but they are surely talking about it a lot.
#NaijaTwitter is a talk show, reality show, confession booth, neighbourhood party, and comedy central all rolled up into one entertaining and never dull timeline.
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