Since the turn of June, social media has become a bed of activism, rage, call-out culture and cancel culture. On one side, Black Lives Matter is triggering a movement of allyship and protest across the world. On the other hand, the deaths of several Nigerian women at the hands of cruel Nigerian men have triggered #MeToo across Twitter NG.
While Africans and African-Americans don't exactly see eye to eye on race-related issues, we are united on the sensitive issues of rape. But in this case, the matter of Seyitan Babatayo vs D'Banj has nothing to do with African-American women - Nigerian women will take the lead and the victory on this front.
Since the Seyitan Babatayo's friend, known as Action Ben accused D'Banj of raping her friend on Instagram on June 3, 2020, it's been a case of using Twitter NG as a tool of justice, truth seeking, fund generation and checks and balances against abuse of office. Jola Ayeye and Feyikemi Abudu have raised over N10 million from crowdfunding.
Stand To End Rape (STER) has been at the forefront of monitoring the legal steps and the abuse of office by members of the Nigerian Police Force as regards Seyitan Babatayo. Kiki Mordi was one of the first people to notify Twitter that the young woman had been allegedly arrested by members of the Nigerian Police Force for no reason.
As she revealed in her statement dated June 23, 2020, she spent 48 hours in a cell without proper documentation or charges. She was then forced to sign a gag order and then released into the hands of unknown men who intimidated her into retracting her accusations on social media.
According to the aforementioned statement, it was again these brave women - with a great following on social media - that used satellite mapping to trace the location where Ms. Babatayo was being held, removed her and took her to a safe location.
Asides that, Twitter NG bandied together in one voice to decry the reported rape and maltreatment of Seyitan Babatayo at the hands of D’Banj and members of Nigerian law enforcement.
In March 2020, Nigerian comedian, actor and rapper debuted the maiden skit of his now global trend, #DontLeaveMeChallenge. By April 2020, it had been recreated by several people and the origin of the pun-based comic trend was thrown to the wind.
Between Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21, 2020, a Twitter account known as KnowYourMeme wrote an article where it wrongly attributed the origin of #DontLeaveMeChallenge to another creator. Nigerians on Twitter NG sprung to action with rage possibly stemming from the continued gentrification of African creation, calling out KnowYourMeme.
Within hours, KnowYourMeme had rewritten the piece and given credit where due. This was the second global trend created by Josh2Funny. The man with as much alter egos as James Wendell Crumb had created the All My Guys Are Ballers skit in 2018, and it became a viral trend.
The link between two ends of a spectrum
In a 2019 article about #RedFlag, a rare moment of gender unity on Twitter NG, this writer wrote that, "We converse regularly and banter with friends on Twitter, [but] those can easily turn to moments of 'call-out' and shaming. On a good Twitter day, a regular conversation about sex could turn into a gender war."
Twitter is known as the quintessential ground of post-modernist toxicity. In its bid to actualize the egalitarian dreams of race, gender and sexuality, it constantly kills itself with copious doses of hypocrisy, tribe allegiance and bigoteering in its imitation of an echo chamber. Most times, the points get lost in transmission and cynicism becomes the result of well-meaning activism.
In-between these moments, allyship then connotes the concept of a perpetual war. But in moments like the one involving the fight for Seyitan Babatayo, Josh2Funny, MarketMarch or the popularization of the concept of consent that upped the ante in 2016 on Twitter, it becomes apparent that social media activism and Twitter NG can be used for positive things.
Not just positive things either, these are impactful events that will leave a lasting effect on people. We can criticize each other, but we can also fight together in times of terrible wrongs. We must also remember this when we decide to silence each other because we have dissenting opinions.
As Ayishat Akanbi told Triggernometry, “If you're not talking to people who think differently, then you're speaking to the choir. And that doesn't make sense, because the world isn't made up of people who think like us..."
There is so much we can do together, we need each other and only together can wars be won. In those moments of unity, a lot was achieved. The rage machine became a pressure group that checked and balanced wrongdoings involving Nigerians.