In the past week, we have seen young Nigerians amplify their voices in ways we didn’t think was possible. All across the country, protesters across the nation are in the streets or online demanding justice and so far there have been demonstrations in at least 20 states and more than 50 cities. We are part of them.
Several members of the SociaLiga staff and community have attended some of the protests and we sat down with one of our community members to discuss, in her own words, her experiences at a protest at the Airport Toll and why she feels this movement is different.
I have attended a handful of small protests in the past and honestly, this movement is one unlike any I have ever experienced.
At the protests, you don’t have to be anyone in order to speak. Even the few media houses who showed up to cover the protests respected this model. A typical protest has whoever is handling the megaphone at the time lead chants with a series of engaging aluta on the fly, and when this person becomes tired or in some cases, lose their voice, someone else takes over just as loud and strong as their predecessor. On and off the protest grounds there are no leaders, just people.
Something else that stood out for me was the representation of the average Nigerian youth at the protest grounds, people who on a regular day would be profiled by the notorious unit which they are now fighting to be brought to an end.
Also, you can see in realtime the impact Social Media has on the protests. We were getting instant information from other protests around the country. This feels super important because, in the past days, a number of the Nigerian mainstream media have been accused of either underreporting or blatantly spreading fake news, making people dependent on majorly social media and International mainstream news channels such as CNN and Aljazeera.
For me, the best part of the END SARS movement is that there are no sole organizers. For the first time in decades, Nigerians have adopted a decentralized protest model, making it totally unpredictable in real-time. What I felt at the protest was the passion among the people out in the field and their sense of a renewed faith backed by a fearless drive and refusal to back down.
So far about 20 people have been killed and even more injured by law enforcement during peaceful protests across the country. On Sunday the 11th of October, news spread across social media of protesters being attacked with tear gas, hot-water cannons, and live ammunition at Abuja. Other parts of the country where protesters have been attacked include Lagos, Ogbomosho, and some parts of Enugu.
So far all these attacks have proven that this generation of younger Nigerians can not be discouraged. It appears most people are visualizing a bigger picture, which they finally have the Nigeria of their dreams.
Right now the #EndSARS movement has proven, both on the protest grounds and online, that Nigerian youths are connected in power and more united than ever.
As we stand together, protesters are advised to keep looking out for one another. Together, there has been a collective restoration of hope for a better country and world.