The Rise of Meme Culture in Nigeria

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Laughter is said to be the best medicine and Nigerian love to take their dose every day which is why short-form mobile video platform, TikTok, has continued to grow in popularity amongst locals. Instead of its content focusing purely on traditional comedic skits, TikTok has taken its entertainment up a notch by providing a platform where creating videos based on popular memes is a huge part of users’ experience.

In the past TikTok has mainly been associated with dancing trends, however, the platform is now home to a variety of viral content and of late has especially taken hold of the meme space. Meme culture has grown so rapidly on TikTok compared to social platforms because of the global audience a video has the potential of reaching which in turn increases the possibility of that video going viral. Some of the most viral global meme videos include #dontleaveme, #DNATest , and #Haribochallenge.

So what is a meme?

While there is no outright definition of a meme, it’s safe to say that memes have become a new way of cultural expression that comes in the form of an image or video portraying a particular concept that is then spread through the internet. Memes are described as cultural shorthand with original ideas being replicated, altered, or built upon to evolve into something else that fits into the context within which it’s being shared.

Boniswa Sidwaba, TikTok Content Operations Manager, Africa, says TikTok has been a breeding ground for dozens of clever, funny videos that have turned into memes. “The platform’s innovative tools and special effects enable users to create powerful storytelling scenes based on a specific topic or relatable hashtags. A few good local examples include challenges like the #africancheck and #warningsignals – these challenges birthed incredibly funny videos.”

Sidwaba adds that currently, 30% of the viral meme trends on the platform are effect-based.

Meme culture in Nigeria

Since then, meme culture has evolved and has become an indelible part of Nigerian culture. There is never a dull moment as local content creators are constantly capturing interesting incidences, trending topics, educational information, and current affairs in hilarious ways that can only be expressed better through memes. Today’s tech-savvy generation coupled with cultural, social, political, and economic diversity has all made memes a greater part of our culture.

Popular Nigeria TikTok creator Ademola Olaitan, is full of praises for the informative quality of memes. “They’re so informative that they become a trend,” he says. “Everyone gets to know the new lingo in town with the help of trending memes. Memes are so informative that without saying a d, the expression or sound gives you an idea of the action.”

For another TikTok creator, Davies Oluwayose, memes reflect the actual experience of people in today’s world. “I think memes have become a massive part of how we relate in this day and age. The meme culture on TikTok has helped improve the whole concept of the app, people being able to create their own viral meme trends and the whole world partaking in it just shows how important and powerful it is. For example, the #dontleavemechallenge by Josh2funny just shows how fast a meme can send a message across to the whole world in just a little amount of time,” he said.

Locally, trending memes include imitating troubles experienced during the ongoing lockdown, facts about COVID-19, politics, social, trending music, being a Nigerian mother, school and showcasing fun memorable moments.

Here are some fun videos that have recently trended:

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