AMPLIFYING MY VOICE
What’s my community? Nuclear would be Abuja, the city I lived in before resuming at Birmingham City University, and the extended is my beloved country Nigeria. Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory and seat of government for my nation. It is where ‘everything’ happens, where major, life-changing contracts are given, where young people are referred to as ‘upwardly mobile’, an overused cliché (in my opinion).
That established, there are two challenges: First is people thinking that social media advocacy exists only online, promptly forgetting the real world, offline interactions that actually drive these projects. Second is that in my community, there are still too few people using social media platforms to actually constitute a sizable enough force, at least numerically. (Having said that though, a lone voice may often achieve more than a mob!)
I have been a blogger for about four years now and because I have a decent following, it has become my voice, the strongest tool for pushing/publishing causes I believe in. For example, in January a few friends put together a ‘bowling for boobs’ event to raise money to run subsidized breast and cervical cancer tests in Abuja. I had recently lost a colleague to breast cancer so I wrote about it and used it to publicise the event. There have been several other instances before and since then but most notable for me was the incident with the April 2011 elections in my country. There was this horrible outbreak of violence in the Northern part of the country, and most people were quick to say it was a Christian/Muslim ‘war’. I was in Birmingham at the time but I had read that it wasn’t a religious issue so I got in touch with a native from one of the troubled areas and interviewed him for my blog. It was a totally different perspective, with a historical bent and coming from a native, was a lot more plausible. By tweeting the link and putting it up on Facebook, LinkedIn etc., not only did we start a knowledge based discussion on the blog, but we disabused people’s minds from the religious angle to the crisis. Again, I got the highest number of visits to the blog on that day.
The way I see it, the more ‘relevant’ online communities I belong to, the stronger my voice is, call it amplified even. Rhonda's story is enlightening but it was Sheila's account of breast ironing in Cameron getting picked up by CNN, that not only inspired but encouraged me to keep campaigning the way I do now, not forgetting of course the place of offline collaboration as well.
Statistics show that of the 150 million people in my country, 70% are within the 16-40 bracket, and that is the same demographic of the online community. With World Pulse, my voice is amplified and believe me, I've got a lot of causes to shout about.