Here are five things I learnt as a young Nigerian working in media, living in Lagos, who actively participated in protesting, and providing media support.
- Nigerians love and care for each other.
I have never seen such outpouring of love for one another. People took it upon themselves to help during the protests in various ways, from feeding each other to using their skills to educate others. Even the diaspora showed immense support through donations to those at home. It shows that before we are of a religion or a tribe, we are all human and Nigerians first.
- The phone is mightier than the pen
If there is anything the ‘pressing phone’ generation has shown, it’s that their phones are indeed powerful. Through social media, we were able to document the END SARS movement and draw the attention of the world to Nigeria. The #ENDSARS hashtag related tweets accumulated over 29m posts on Twitter in the month of October and it remains the driving tool to demand accountability from the Nigerian government.
- Young people are resilient and determined
The protests tested the strength and capacity of everyone. People were coming out every day for 13 days in Lagos and other states in Nigeria. I personally stood at a protest for over three hours and all I could think of was, “Those who have spent days and nights here must be superhuman”. They made it work despite work, family engagements and so on.
Even with the physical protests in Nigeria on hold, Nigerians are still going strong online to make sure that justice is served. And those in saner countries are still taking to the streets. Just look at that!
- Nigerians are everywhere
Believe me when I say there are Nigerians EVERYWHERE. Pictures and footage of END SARS protest taking place in India, UK, the US to Germany. And all of them came out in their numbers to show solidarity, calling for an end to police brutality and extrajudicial killings in Nigeria.
- Young people are not criminals, just victims.
Lastly and most importantly, the average Nigerian is not a criminal. We are creatives, thinkers, doers and achievers. For too long we have been victims of a terrible system that has been created by those in governance who have allowed their greed to empty this nation of what could have benefitted the millions of people living within its borders. We are young, hardworking, driven, and ambitious. We’ve done a lot to make the country a better place. And we can still do more if our only government would stop killing us.