Occupy Nigeria and the Inception of Online Visual Mobilisation of Street Protest
In this paper, we use audience interpretation of images and their accompanying comments relating to the Occupy Nigeria protest and retrieved from Facebook to examine the beginning of how activist circulation and interaction around images on social media materialise into real-life protest in Nigeria. The Occupy movement triggered by the government‟s removal of fuel subsidy on 1 January 2012 was then the largest in Nigeria. More recently, the #EndSARS protest which outweighed Occupy Nigeria broke out in October 2020 in agitation against police brutality and more broadly, the failure of the government to bring sociopolitical and economic transformation. As grandiose civil movement enacted in the geographical space but driven by online visuality has taken root in Nigeria, it is crucial to reflect on the inception of this culture. We analyse the visual dimension of Occupy Nigeria to explore how it established a pattern of online-offline mobilisation propelled by internet-based dialogic visual practices that would mark subsequent social movements. Online images, from symbols to cartoons, photographs and videos are used to conscientise citizens about perceived injustice. When the virtual mobilisation sets off the spatial protest, images keep feeding back on the demonstrations, sustaining and intensifying them. The visuality of Occupy Nigeria has been previously explored in literature, but due attention has not been paid to how the images in themselves constitute a space of interaction among the networked public, both prior to and during the street protest. We draw on the work around civil discourse of photography that sees the image as a site of conversation.
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