We could not stop talking. Or Tweeting (until they stopped us.)
Coronation of Olu of Warri
There wasn’t a lot of good news to unite Nigerians across differences on social media this year but the splashy coronation of the 21st Olu of Warri Kingdom, Ogiame Atuwatse III managed to do just that.
Streamed live on YouTube, the whole of Nigeria was for a few hours in Warri as the dashing, youthful monarch claimed the throne of his ancestors.
For a spell, the pomp and pageantry of the event sparked a resurgence in royalty, tradition and ancestry among some young Nigerians with the young king impressing with his progressive attitude and aptitude for leadership.
Davido the ultimate influencer
In what was in turns a social experiment for raising funds online and strategic endorsement of a bank, pop singer Davido- who needs no last name- ahead of his 29th birthday, opened a new Wema Bank account and posted the details on all his social media platforms while calling on his friends to donate at least one million naira each.
At the end of the Naira (and crypto) rain, streamed live on Instagram, Davido had raised over N150 million from his high-net-worth friends. He promptly announced a donation of all the funds to charity. Omo baba olowo did we hear you say?
On a dark day in October, the unthinkable happened. A six-hour outage took the company now known as Meta offline. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp, and OculusVR by the way. The company says the downtime was the result of a configuration change to its routers — not of a hack or attempt to get at user data.
Apparently, a routine maintenance mistake basically disconnected Facebook’s datacenters from the internet. Good luck to whoever was responsible.
This was Facebook’s worst outage since 2019, leading millions of people heavily dependent on the company’s platforms at a helpless loss. Imagine a world without Facebook. Unthinkable!
“It’s Obscene!” aka the word according to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Literary beefs usually feel like they have low stakes attached to them but this one ranked high in that it wasn’t just about culture wars, it had to do also with sexual/identity politics and social media usage, all hot button issues of the time.
Adichie, shortly after burying her parents dropped a bomb of essay that reverberated across continents. Two former mentees in particular had drawn her ire for basically treating her like shit.
One of them, Akwaeke Emezi fired back almost immediately in rambling, messy dispatches that called for the cancellation of Adichie but came nowhere near Adichie’s gifted- and practiced- eloquence.
Isa Pantami minister of extremism
Social media justifiably demanded the resignation of Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, when it emerged that in the not-so-distant past, he had serially expressed views sympathetic to groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
Pantami also a renowned Muslim cleric, once preached that he considered the late al-Qaeda founder, Osama Bin Laden a better Muslim than himself. Not surprisingly the presidency stood by Pantami calling him the victim of a calculated cancel campaign. Shame.
Itunu Babalola and the value of a Nigerian life
The already tragic case of Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian incarcerated in Côte d’Ivoire on charges of human trafficking somehow hit rock bottom when she died in prison in November. Babalola reportedly got entangled in a legal battle when she reported to the police that her house in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire, had been burgled.
She was charged, accused her of human trafficking and then convicted and sentenced to a reduced 10 years in prison. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, boss of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has since been on a media tour explaining away the failure of leadership at all levels involved in this case.
Murder on social media
The collective power of social media for good was deployed sometime in April when a nationwide search for 26-year-old Uyo based graduate Iniobong “Hiny” Umoren began on Twitter after a concerned friend cried out about her disappearance under suspicious circumstances.
A #FindHinyHumoren hashtag started trending and one Uduak Frank Akpan was identified as the prime suspect. Sadly, these heroic efforts arrived too late as Umoren was sexually assaulted and murdered by Akpan who had invited her for a job interview. He is awaiting trial and remains in police custody.
Nigeria bans Twitter
In June, the federal government of Nigeria placed an indefinite ban on Twitter, restricting it from operating in Nigeria after the social media platform deleted tweets made by president Buhari warning Igbo people of a potential repeat of the civil war due to insurgency in the South eastern states.
The government claimed that while the deleted tweets factored into their decision, the ban was ultimately based on other problems “where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences.” The meltdown was instant and played out beyond Twitter into other platforms.
Obi Cubana and the most ostentatious burial you ever saw
The undisputed social event of the year played out in the unlikeliest of places, in Oba, an otherwise sleepy town in Anambra state. The lavish burial ceremony that ultra-wealthy businessman Obi Cubana (born Obinna Iyiegbu) and his siblings (but mostly Obi Cubana) put on in celebration of the life of their matriarch Innyom Ezinne Uche Iyiegbu was the talk of the internet- and country- for days on end.
There were celebrities from all walks of life, musical performances, money sprayers, money pickers, and cows. Lots of cows, 46 of which were supplied by one of Obi Cubana’s proteges.
The Sad death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni
Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, a Junior Secondary School 2, student of expensive but shifty private school Dowen College, Lagos died under controversial circumstances. The school authorities claim Sylvester sustained injuries while playing football, but his family says he was tortured by school bullies.
The 12-year-old student succumbed to the wounds allegedly suffered from this violent beat-up triggering a massive outcry and condemnation. Following the incident, the Lagos State government sealed off the school pending the outcome of an investigation into the case.
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.