Obasanjo’s Internet – Anthony Azekwoh

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Did you know that there are approximately 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide? Can you imagine all the different ways in which we all use the internet? Obasanjo’s Internet is our interview series where we speak to some of our internet favourites on how they relate to the Internet and what it means to them and their work. This week, artist and author, Anthony Azekwoh, talks to us about how he uses Obasanjo’s Internet

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Right now I go boxing. Just because of life and Lagos in general there’s always pent up aggression and stress, but the minute you start boxing the first realisation you have is “this is fucking hard”. It takes a lot out of you and all of that aggression is felt physically. It also makes you think maybe violence is not always the answer and I can take a more peaceful approach. I think that’s the one thing boxing has taught me, that you know what? Sometimes be calming down.

How do you use the internet for work or pleasure?

I would say both but of course primarily work. For me the Internet is this crazy advertising tool and it’s really just about promoting my work and showcasing it, then of course connecting with my friends sometimes. But in my head the social media accounts are like brand accounts, Anthony Azekwoh is a brand name I guess but unlike a musician I just didn’t pick a fancy music name.

What moment or episode in your life would you say captured the essence of the internet?

I have many. Sharing work publicly has always put me at the edge of what was possible and what wasn’t. But I think the first one was definitely when I began writing and sharing my work. Always being able to connect with people who weren’t in my geographical location and people who ordinarily would not have seen my work. That was so crazy to me at the beginning. Then of course when I wrote the Covenant University essays I realised that the voice I have as an Internet nomad can also be used to pass along this message or story I’m trying to tell. From my Visual arts it was a painting of mine going viral for the first time and being like “yo, this is insane”. 

Your favourite social media platform and why?

That word favourite is so interesting cause it’s like the one I use the most is Twitter but I hate it so much. It’s this very weird push and pull. Currently I am being dragged on Twitter because I said children under 17/18 shouldn’t be allowed in universities. 

What’s funny is that I’m used to these tweets because I don’t care. At the end of the day if you’re saying things that are worth saying and hearing, there’s always going to be a particular set of people saying “what do you mean drinking water is good? My uncle got killed by water”. It’s a weird thing. My most used one would definitely be Twitter but I wouldn’t call it my favourite. 

What was the last meme you saved?

Do you remember the first time something you posted went viral? What was it? How did it make you feel?

It was the first essay I wrote about Covenant University. It was the first time so there was this feeling of being very conscious because a lot of things are happening, and of course I was young so it was like “oh my God these people are shouting at me, what’s going on?” It felt very scary at the time but now when I go viral I just mute the tweet and continue my day. 

What’s the most outrage you have ever generated over something you posted? How did you react to it

When we’re talking about outrage, maybe not negative but critical receptions, I would say the Covenant University essays. It was crazy because when I wrote the first essay you could tell I was trying to be nice and on the fence, but as I got older I realised that the situation was really fucked up in Covenant and I was like “yeah, you guys are all insane actually, fuck all of this”. 

In the first essay everybody was like “what is this guy saying? My cousin went to Covenant and she’s like the medical doctor of the world now”. The second essay was a lot more personal and stronger as a piece of work and because of that people were a bit more receptive but also primarily unwilling to call the situation what it was. I wrote the third one after I dropped out and their reactions were like “woah woah woah, what has been happening? Let’s actually let’s have a conversation.”

It’s crazy to see how people’s public opinions change and shift because when the last essay was published the responses were majorly positive. Everybody was like “damn we are so sorry, our bad”. But I remember when I was 18 and they were roasting me for days and nights. 

It was very vindicating to see that 3, 4 years later, the response is completely positive. Covenant University had a scandal last year and a lot of people were bringing back the essay saying “you know what guys, this thing is completely fucked up, this guy has been saying this for years. I think he’s on to something”. And I’m just there like “mehn, fuck you guys but I guess thanks.” I’m happy we’re all on the same page now after 5 years. 

What rules do you live by on the internet?

I think there are particular things you shouldn’t share online especially when you’re coming from a place of privilege because everybody is living in a different sphere of reality. Just say it in your group chat or keep it to yourself. Stuff like your childhood and the struggles you had. In particular instances say it vaguely especially if you’re Nigerian because you’re talking to people who have far less and have suffered a lot more. These things can come off as insensitive even though you don’t mean to.

Second rule: if there’s too many negative reactions on a tweet, it’s just to mute it and continue with my day. I don’t send. 

I traditionally don’t reply DM requests unless they are  important. I barely look through it sometimes because I don’t know what’s there, they could be trying to scam me. 

Don’t tweet or post your live locations

What is your guiltiest online pleasure?

Scrolling through the TL. I know it’s one of these things I shouldn’t like so much but it’s just so fun sometimes. I’m always looking for gist. I don’t watch reality TV but at times it feels like mine ’cause it can be so entertaining.

Would you say you have an online persona?

For sure. A lot of children and my parents follow me and majority of what I’m trying to do is be an ambassador of digital arts so there are particular things I don’t do or say publicly. My online persona is still me but a lot more serious and courteous. Almost every day there’s a tweet that makes me want to cuss people out or go “Bro you’re an olodo, just think and use your head” but apparently you can’t do those things anymore because this could be somebody you’re going to have a meeting with tomorrow. 

Funny enough this has happened to me. I had called this guy a stupid guy – and in fact he is a known stupid guy – so he blocked me. Later on, there was this job I had where I was meant to be on Twitter Spaces but he was the host and because I was blocked I couldn’t get in. I had to go through this awkward thing of telling the brand that I was unable to join ’cause I was blocked so they had to tell him to unblock me. There’s probably lots of people that have blocked me because in my earlier times, especially because of how I view authority, everybody could get insulted. And there are a lot of grown people on that app that don’t seem to know how to think. 

What’s your favourite emoji and why?

Interestingly I just started using emojis about a year ago. I hadn’t used them in like 5 years because I was trying to improve my punctuation to become a better writer. Right now I’m liking 💅🏾 because it’s really sassy then 🥺 because it’s very cute.

Are you particular about your feed?

Yeah, sometimes I unfollow a lot of people because there’s just too much of everything. Social media can be an extension of your workspace and you don’t want it to be clogged up. I’m very particular about who I’m following and what kind of content they post. I’m trying to do the same for Instagram but it’s just so fucking long unfollowing people there. 

Youtube or TikTok? Which do you prefer and why?

I don’t think I understand what happens on TikTok. It looks cool I guess, but then it’s honestly overwhelming. I’m even trying to post more content on it but just too much is happening there. So I’ll say YouTube. 

Which Nigerian creator do you think the world needs to see and hear more of?

There are so many. Chinasa Is definitely someone who comes to mind. She’s just so hard-working and skilled at what she does. 

Duro Arts. He’s so crazy, his work, his designs, and his attention to detail is *chef’s kiss*.

Omini. He has a brand called Common, he’s a brilliant designer and his work is just crazy. 

Who is the coolest person you follow and the coolest person who follows you?

Sam Spratt, is an artist who did Kid Cudi’s album, all of Logic’s covers. 

There are quite a number of cool people who follow me, JAE5, Winston Duke, and Lesley-Ann Brandt. 

What is your favourite Nigerian podcast?

I’m not really a podcast person but I’d say ‘I Said What I Said’.

Have you ever hooked up with someone you met online?


5 people you’d love to see answer these questions

Omimi, Duro Arts, NK Juls, Renike, Chigozie Obi.

Read previous Obasanjo’s Internet entries here.