Democracy and Development: Journal of West African Affairs, Volume 5 No 3: #EndSARS and Beyond - Protests, Politics, and the Public Sphere
The four papers in this issue address the themes of youth participation in the protests, the use, power, and increasing importance of social media, and the ticklish question of the utility of violence. The first article by Akinyetun Tope Shola “Social Media, Youth Participation and Activism: An Analysis of the #EndSARS Protests in Nigeria” argues that increased social media use by Nigerian youths has also increased youth civic participation, thus necessitating activism. The next article is titled “ Digital Africa – from youth movements to government bans” by Nwachukwu Egbunike. The number of digital users in Africa has been on a steady rise and the numbers are predicted to spike even further by 2025. Young people across the continent are employing digital media in many aspects of their lives. This paper argues that official high handedness is unlikely to rein in an enterprising and digitally savvy African young population. “Twitter as a veritable Public Sphere: A Habermasian Perspective on the #EndSARS Protests” by Nnaemeka Ijioma is the next article. Following widespread use of social media to raise awareness and aggregate public opinion during the EndSARS protests in Nigeria, this paper discusses the status of Twitter as the epitome of the Habermasian public sphere. The paper argues that Twitter has become a veritable public space, in the mode of the Habermasian public sphere, playing host to enlightened citizens, journalists, activists, politicians, government functionaries and agencies, the international community and the media. The last article “ A Hashtag Revolution in Nigeria” by Ebenezer Obadare examines various elements of the protests to advance hypotheses about the culture of social media, the weakening of old forms of solidarity, and the rise of a new generation of activists steeped in new rules and technologies of civic engagement.