Young Nigerians rise up to demand a different kind of freedom

Two days after Nigeria celebrated its sixtieth year of independence, a video of a young man brazenly killed by a member of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad or SARS caught the attention of netizens. The Twitter user who posted the viral video claimed the man’s body had been left at the side of the road and his Lexus stolen. It sparked a wave of protests across most of Nigeria’s urban metropolises. Under the moniker #ENDSARS, the protests have garnered support from Nigerian celebrities, Nigerians in the diaspora and even international stars such as John Boyega, Mesut Özil, Kanye West and Cardi B.

The protests could be said to fit neatly into the ongoing global campaign against police brutality, especially against black people. One could even argue that the restrictive context of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to tensions behind this sudden civil eruption. Whatever the case, one thing is sure: Nigerians have been driven up the wall by an autocratic political system disguised as a liberal democracy.

I argue that the protest placards demonstrate the idea that #ENDSARS on social media and on the streets is as much an expression of a will to modernity by Nigerian youths as it is a yearning to be treated with dignity.

-by 

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