John Boyega, Oli Ekun, Lekan Kingkong & the ethics of social media success

John Boyega

Yesterday on Twitter, Nigerian born actor and director John Boyega released a short skit. The premise was simple, the Coronavirus had caused a rift between John and his barber and like many black men, he wasn’t dealing well with the separation and decided to make a short skit about it, inspired by Mark Hamill. As is with most things John Boyega, the skit quickly went viral, gaining thousands of retweets and engagement, especially from Boyega’s very large Nigerian following. Inspired by their reactions, the actor put out this tweet, which would spur a chain of reactions that would divide Twitter into distinct factions around who gets to capitalize on an opportunity and the ethics of social media optics.

 

The minute the tweet went up, there was only one person Twitter felt had the right kind of brand to pull it off. Twitter user @Oli_Ekun, who has built a brand around a principal caricature of a Yoruba casanova, has captured the imagination of Nigerians on social media, even building a rapport with a number of high profile Nigerian celebrities like Tiwa Savage, Niniola and Teni the Entertainer. Once alerted to Oli Ekun, Boyega followed four minutes later with a direct mention to Oli Ekun to take up the mantle.

Seemed pretty cut and dried yeah?

Well, you’d be wrong. Turns out Oli_Ekun isn’t the only social media entertainer who has their mastery of Yoruba as integral to their brand. Olalekan Olaleye, known to users on Twitter and Instagram as Agba Inaki or Lekan Kingkong is known on Instagram for his mastery of Yoruba dialects and his ease with Oriki, a praise-singing art form. Olaleye who is based in South Africa has ties to former Big Brother Africa contestant Tayo Faniran and an Instagram Channel where he teaches Yoruba. Fans of his style of delivery tagged him to Boyega’s original tweet, which he responded to sometime after Boyega had tagged Oli_Ekun and quickly followed up his initial response with a translation of Boyega’s original video in his unique style.

Put in a tight spot by Olaleye’s fanbase who wanted Boyega to revoke his original charge to Oli_Ekun and promote Olaleye’s ‘submission’, Boyega chose diplomacy, honouring his original commitment to Oli Ekun and promoting the eventual video the voice-over artist made, before also giving Kingkong props in an attempt to quell the in-fighting that had broken out between people demanded Boyega honour his original commitments and others who felt Boyega’s request was a free-for-all and Olaleye was within his rights to throw his hat in the ring.

What this highlighted, that while the platform might have moved to social media, some things never change about being a creative.

How different is what happened with Boyega from the process of pitching to clients, where the call for pitches is delivered publicly and one bidder is announced as a winner.

Does a public announceement mean other bidders should ignore an open bid still attempt to court the client? At what point in the bidding process does an attempt to win a client shift from healthy competition to sabotage? Is the battle for a commission really over until the product has been delivered?

Does honour matter among creatives?

 

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