Africa has always been a great storytelling continent. The variety of stand alone and built in social media services currently available introduce the challenges of definition; however, there are some common features: Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet based applications and they are been updated on a daily basis.
Social media are interactive computer mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.
African culture as an Idea of Community
The connection between African culture and social media cannot be overemphasise. From the past, Africans have always championed the concept of collectiveness in their trading, sharing, and even storytelling. In the 21st century, with the number of internet users growing rapidly, as well as the introduction of high speed fibre and 4G internet in most African countries. In coming years all countries will embrace controversial 5G network.
Olajide Olusola is a Lagos based businessman who sells branded cups for parties and corporate functions. He launched his business on Twitter and uses the same platform for promotions. By creating related content and asking people to retweet for awareness, Olajide has managed to grow his business even to cities that he would not reach had it not been for Twitter. “Social media makes it easier to build brands and trust,” says Olajide, who strongly encourages other entrepreneurs without a lot of capital to do the same.
But there are still more ways Africans are cashing in using social media. On platforms like YouTube, content creators with large followings are cashing in bringing forex into their respective countries. For example, in 2014, Kenya’s NTV had over 155 million views, resulting in an estimated bracket of $15,300 to $127,100 annual earnings, while a South African YouTube star is estimated to have earned about $400,000 that same year. Now, whether it is YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, it is encouraging to know that many African content creators are using their skills to earn good money.
The Magical WhatsApp
Over 1 billion people in over 180 countries use WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family, anytime and anywhere. And yes, the name WhatsApp is a pun on the phrase What’s Up. It is a cross platform instant messaging application that allows iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia smartphone users to exchange text, image, video and audio messages for free.
Social media has been influencing the rate at which people find fault in African leaders ideology and policies which is quiet encouraging. From the angle of politics to religion and whatever other spheres any African leaders may be, they have now realised the impact that social media has and are attempting to use it to communicate. As at 2017, Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, erupted social media when an image of him attempting to do the dab (a hip hop dance move) was released. Even though Kenya’s Twitter reaction was mostly negative, one could not help but notice the power social media.
YouTube (The African easy Access TV)
NollywoodLove is a YouTube channel launched by Jason Njoku in 2011 and became the first major internet channel to share full length African movies. In less than a year, this channel attracted more than one million views from over 200 countries around the world. YouTube gives anyone with a camera the power to share their content. YouTube’s slogan: “Broadcast Yourself” is exactly what millions of young and not so young people around the world do every single day! In this world, anyone can be a YouTuber.
Tweeting using Twitter
Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, “tweets”, restricted to 140 characters. Twitter the micro blogging platform also is about discovering interesting people online and following their messages. Registered users can post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them.
The Dynamic Conversation
With hashtags like #FeesMustFall in South Africa and #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria, Africa now has a place for herself, her leaders, and the rest of the world. Africans are increasingly taking advantage of social media to convey and press out their perceptions, anger, hopes, and dreams through these uncensored platforms. The rapidly rising magnitude of authentic and complex voices brings up new and innovative ways for accountability from our governments, donors, companies, and religious leaders. It also brings about endless opportunities for knowledge to the masses.
The #Hashtags algorithm
Now you can find hashtags across all social media platforms including Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook. Any user can create one simply by adding it to their own message. A hashtag is simply a way to categorise a tweet’s topic. When hashtags first started being used, it was a very organic process that worked simply because of a group mindset that people like to categorise topics and this was one way to make it easier to do so.
Massive Online Collaboration
Chatting is talking to other people who are using the Internet at the same time you are. Skype is one of the most popular chat programs in the world and has millions of users. Popular mobile messaging apps in Africa include Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Mxit, and don’t forget the already mentioned, Whatsapp. In the world of technology and the internet, online collaboration lets a group of people work together in real time over the internet without needing to be in the same room at the same time.
Creating more African Originated contents
Platforms like NdaniTV, a Nigerian online television channel, have not only gained popularity but have created authentic African content for both Africans and the world to see. It is with such material that assumptions that may have prevented foreign investors from investing are shattered. The late Ghanaian BBC news anchor, Komla Dumor, once said, “The key to reporting on the continent is to let Africans tell their story without imposed assumptions.” As more and more Africans gain access to social media, the demand for original African content will also increase. Though others are creatig their own new platforms, many are choosing to use the already existing social media mediums to tell Africans their own perspectives as Africans.
The Future is Now
The connection between Social Media and African Culture is more than ever before, we now have an opportunity to shape our own narrative, partner with each other, and in most collaboration, make money while at it. In this age, there is no gainsaying that social media and African cultures are revolutionising our young continent for better.