Negotiating change: Images as sociopolitical currency in the 2020 #EndSARS protest in Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Fine and Applied Arts


Drawing on #EndSARS, the recent protest against police brutality in Nigeria, this study examines how photographs, political cartoons and videos circulated on social media during the protest construct new conditions for reading Nigeria’s socio-political environment. In terms of organizational power, level of participation, use of social media, transnational spread as well as the global response it engendered, #EndSARS underlines the changing field of online civil struggle in Nigeria. Using discourse analysis, the study interrogates how the rhetorical power of the image is used as a transactional tool to negotiate power and position, project individual and group identities, and also inspire collective social action. Also examined is how incidences of fake news, misinformation and disinformation impact on images circulated during #EndSARS and how this intersects debates on freedom of expression and censorship. Iconicity or arbitrariness of images to either memorialize or ridicule the spirit of the protest is equally explored.