On Nigerian social media, influencer culture has since crashed into unbearable monotony. Don’t get me wrong: social media influencers have changed the world of marketing, offering brands with rapid market penetration due to their large followings. But a large number of their operations are so profit-driven, and when these influencers aren’t clustered around in promoting a company’s product, they are bludgeoning us to death with the ass/boob question or routinely asking: “What would you do if your mother-in-law and pregnant wife both want to sit in the front seat in your car?”
Just send me back to primary five, you silly loonies. Last week was a perfect example of why these influencers deserve the “influenza” moniker: they stole warmly intimate pictures of an African American gay couple and grafted it into their social media feed, catnip for homophobic Nigerians to devour. But last week also showed us how social media influence can galvanise public participation and all for a good cause. Introducing hashtag #OjuelegbaShawarma, pioneered by Eguavoen Matthew or @badt_BOI_, a portrait artist whose social media persona verges on savage replies that go viral. It all started when Eguavoen bought shawarma from a stand close to Ojuelegba bridge, and because it tasted really good and went for N500, he tweeted about it with the picture of Dolapo, the guy who makes the shawarma.
This guy legit sells one of the best Sharwama I have tasted. Sells for N500 only, has a stand close to Ojuelegba under bridge, I don’t leave ojelegba without buying one pic.twitter.com/qTioKUt9Qd
— Portrait Artist (@badt_BOI_) November 12, 2018
Lmao there’s literally a queue at this Shawarma guy’s place in Ojuelegba. Mad!
Nigga just goes on with a huge smile on his face. It’s wonderful to see, tbh.
— T. (@TheLazySchmurf) November 14, 2018
The tweet has since gone viral, rippling into a new, frenzied mass of customers for Dolapo’s shawarma and swept Twitter into a contagious excitement, wherein people patronised Dolapo and shared pictures of their shawarmas, even if they had to wait for an hour. In the thick of it, other details about Dolapo began to surface. The shawarma business isn’t his – he’s just a contract staff under his female boss, and receives a meagre sum of N1000 if he sells twenty shawarma per day. The turning point in this enrapturing, social media-driven tale is the outpouring of financial support towards Dolapo. Donations have totalled beyond N200,000, with also the promise of a business plan, business website and app, flyers and banners to increase visibility of his Dolapo’s shawarma.
— WhizQueen (@Whiz_Queen) November 15, 2018
Unsurprisingly, Dolapo now has a Twitter account, and I’m frankly inspired by how social media brought him into prominence and how he is leveraging on his wild popularity. But it won’t have been possible without Eguavoen, who is neither an influencer marketer or celebrity. He has a relatively large followership number tipping over 50,000, a digital influence that greatly guaranteed that Dolapo would get exposure. And, to quote the Spider-Man phrase, with great power comes great responsibility.