Lesson of the Day: ‘Why Nigeria Is Now Erupting’

Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

Featured Article: “Why Nigeria Is Now Erupting” by Rick Gladstone and Megan Specia

“Tens of thousands of Nigerians have been demonstrating for weeks against a notoriously brutal and corrupt police agency, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad,” Rick Gladstone and Megan Specia report. Young people have been the driving force behind this movement, which has coalesced on social media under the hashtag #EndSARS and spread around the globe, with prominent actors, musicians and sports figures sharing the posts.

In this lesson, you will learn about the events leading up to the protests and the ways that young people have been leaders in organizing the demonstrations. Then, you will analyze and evaluate the social media campaign behind the movement.

Part 1: A Quiz

The featured article explores the current events taking place in Nigeria, as well as some of its history. What do you know about this African nation? Test your knowledge with our five-question quiz: “How Much Do You Know About Nigeria?

Part 2: Share What You Know

Have you seen the hashtag #EndSARS or read anything on social media about the recent demonstrations in Nigeria?

Create or print out, a K/W/L chart with three columns: What I Know, What I Want to Know and What I Learned. Use the first column to write down what you already know about Nigeria and the recent protests. Add anything you learned about the country from the quiz to the last column (you’ll return to this section later).

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Finally, use the second column to write down one or two things that you want to know about the protests and the movement to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. What was the original purpose of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)? How did its purpose and actions change over time?

2. What prompted the recent protests? As the movement has grown, what are some of the additional critiques and concerns about the government that protesters have expressed?

3. Why did President Muhammadu Buhari’s response to the movement not satisfy protesters?

4. How have Nigeria’s age demographics influenced the way this particular movement has grown?

5. How is the movement to end SARS in Nigeria similar to the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States? In what ways is it different?

6. What are your key takeaways about the protests in Nigeria from this article? Add the most important things you learned to the last column of your K/W/L chart from the warm-up.

Have you seen the hashtag #EndSARS on your social media feeds? What kinds of messages have you seen related to the protests in Nigeria? Whom have you seen posting about them? Peers? Politicians? Celebrities?

How do you think social media can be used effectively to support a social justice movement? In this activity, you will attempt to answer that question by looking at three social media posts created to support the #EndSARS movement.

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As you study each post, consider these key questions of media literacy, adapted from the Center for Media Literacy:

  • Who created this message? Why do you think they created this message?

  • What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • How might different people understand this message differently than me?

  • What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • Why is this message being sent?

1. Tiwa Savage, a Nigerian singer and songwriter, posted this message to Twitter:

2. Rihanna, a Barbadian singer and businesswoman, shared this image and message on Twitter:

Now, return to the question from above: How do you think social media can be used effectively to support a social justice movement?

As you look back on the three posts, what do you notice and wonder about the ways that celebrities and aid organizations use social media for distributing a message? Do any of the posts resonate with you more than others? What seems to be the most effective way to educate people about a movement like #EndSARS?

Now that you have analyzed several messages about #EndSARS, you will create your own social media post informed by what you have observed.

What message do you think people in your community need to hear about what is happening in Nigeria? Choose two facts and one quote or phrase from the featured article or your own research. You might start with these Times pieces to learn more about the movement and hear from Nigerians themselves:

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Nigerians Demand End to Police Squad Known for Brutalizing the Young

Opinion | We Dared to Assemble. For That, We Were Killed.

Opinion | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Nigeria Is Murdering Its Citizens

Be sure to credit anyone whose words or ideas you are using.

As you create your piece, pay attention to the use of color and language in your post. You might want to browse the hashtag #EndSARS on Instagram or Twitter to see what kind of content organizers in Nigeria are creating.

Then, create a video or use a graphic design website like Canva to design your post and share it on your preferred platform.

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