Regardless of what we choose to say or believe about Africa, and more specifically Nigeria, informational content has not, and does not, hold a premium in this part of the world. It’s not just our thing.
And that’s okay. Or is it?
The thing is, unlike the US and Europe and the rest of the ‘developed’ world, the realities people deal with this side of the globe are very different.
Generally, Caucasians can be quite ignorant, but some kind of information is still very important to them. Could be news about a shooting in their county, or a new kebab spot that just opened close to the town library. It could even be whatever the person in the television says, but they are generally familiar with some steady supply of information that has nothing to do with basic everyday interests.
Why is this so, you ask?
In my opinion, I would say that it is a testament to the greatness and efficiency of “White media.” You see, everything that the ‘western world’ knows about Africa, for the most part, have been what their media told them about our beautiful continent. If FOX says Africa is a continent filled with flesh-eating savages walking around stark naked with leaves dangling from their buttholes, then that is what it is.
Fox is even still big fish. If the Wilmings County Herald does an article saying all the poor people in the world live in Africa and eat their own shit for dinner, eight times out of ten that will be taken as fact. (I'm not certain this is an actual publication but you get the point).
Information and content have this much power in these places because there is a top-to-bottom channel that, to be honest, is quite incredible. Media is extremely hyperlocal, so much so that an American running for president may have never heard, or read, that Aleppo is a city in Syria basically ravaged to the ground by his own country's bombs, and no one would see that as ridiculous.
There’s coverage at every level, from national to even grassroots level. Every single community has some form of journalistic information point. Whatever social, material, financial, or racial class you fall into, the media can get to you.
Now that we have that out of the way, let us come back to Nigeria (and Africa). All of that media presence and hyperlocal information channels are basically non-existent. This is not because people here can’t afford to build or set up their own radio stations or local magazines. Instead, the consumers dictate what information becomes important, and what is deemed as newsworthy.
Take the average Nigerian millennial (they make up the majority of the population, by the way). Due to socio-cultural factors, the average Nigerian millennial believes that he/she does not need to know who their local government chairman is or who is representing their constituency in the Senate — it’s just not a priority.
They prefer to consume information on a broader scale compared to their counterparts in the ‘western world’.
Example: An American millennial that listens to punk rock music will probably never consume musical information outside of that space but a Nigerian millennial that listens to primarily Nigerian pop music will probably also want to consume information about UK pop and/or good old American R’n’B.
By that analogy, someone in the US, for example, will probably know who the local sheriff is, and not have an inkling that the US ranks 49th in the world in terms of life expectancy. In contrast, a Nigerian will probably know Nigeria’s ranking on the global happiness index but have no clue who the Divisional Police Officer is at the local police station or what senatorial district their place of residence falls under.
The reason for this? You guessed it. There is no Lekki Herald, or Ogbomoso Daily, or Gwarimpa Telegraph. No Bodija FM delivering content mainly on happenings around the Ibadan suburb. Content creation, and distribution, in this part of the world, is just not that hyperlocal yet.
And while that may be okay (it is what it is, right?), it has far-reaching consequences. Nigerian Twitter, in glimpses, has been questioning the absence of millennials (read: youths) in Nigerian politics. Some people (like me) have also wondered, publicly, why there are no proper Nigerian-made documentaries of people like Fela and Wole Soyinka.
Why is there a gigantic information gap in almost all facets of Nigerian life? Why is there no information channel to tell me that I have to change my route to work for the next three weeks because the local government finally decided to fix the major road running through my neighbourhood?
The answers are simple: hyperlocal content — information about my immediate and larger environment is not available. I mean, I can get whatever content I need, in Nigeria — if I try hard enough — but we can all agree that almost anyone would rather not bother if it is going to be too much of a hassle. And you can’t blame people for wanting easier access to content.
Ideally, this will be the point where I talk about my almighty formula and how to solve the problem of Nigeria’s lack of hyperlocal content (and maybe all of Africa’s). But I don’t know what the solution is. I know the peculiar problems Nigeria (and by extension, Africa) has and I also know that its people are some of the most resourceful on the planet. That’s what makes it even more difficult to find a solution to a somewhat generational problem.
But you may know. You could have it all figured. And if you do, I’d like us to have a conversation. The comments are open — or just tweet at me: @TheFolarin.
Cover Photo Credit: Snapaya