When Olaloye Bunmi made Origami-esque paper art of animals and figures and posted pictures of them on Nairaland in November, 2016, the reaction on the forum was quite positive. “Will be posting more of my creations here,” he said on the platform, an immediate response to a user called “Jujunaty” who had advised him to use white paper all through and look for a good painter. Olaloye calls his art “Paper Life,” twisting and torquing a material as basic as paper into interesting, fascinating shapes. It’s good recycling, also. And on February 23, 2018, the self-taught artist would later give life to a hashtag on social media to expose other Nigerian creatives like him, and for the purpose of changing perceptions and stereotypes about the Nigerian youth.
Starting a hashtag to celebrate and appreciate Nigerian creatives✊🏾
— Olaloye Bunmi 🎨 (@gangwolf360) February 23, 2018
Yesterday, the hashtag went viral on Twitter, used over 50,000 times by Nigeria-based Nigerians and those in the diaspora. Though I didn’t plan to spend close to an hour on this hyper-specific Twitter trend, I found myself poring over creative, impressive works from hyperrealistic art and 3D animation to photography and fashion illustration. The staggering abundance of creative Nigerian minds on display was a like spell I couldn’t break from. Along the way, I was feeling that the hashtag was limiting and skewed towards the visual arts until I saw pictures of well-tailored suits from a fashion designer, and award-winning Nigerian-American sci-fi author Nnedi Okorafor posting her previously published novels with the hashtag.
We usually don’t get to see this vastly, creative aspect from Nigerians, and what Olaloye has done is commendable and shouldn’t be discarded in a hurry. “I just felt it is high time the outside world saw the beautiful and creative side of Nigeria and give all creatives a platform to showcase their craft, a process to do away with the stereotype that Nigerian youths are only known for bad things like fraud.” Olaloye told Business Insider SSA.
Check out tweets from the #WeAreNigerianCreatives trend below.
— Gbenga E Ajetomobi (@HBd_Animations) February 26, 2018
— princess kay (@princess_kay__) February 28, 2018
— mohammed agbadi (@mohammedagbadi) February 26, 2018
— HaRri (@tyinfaowei) February 28, 2018