SL Twittersphere: from obscurity to the public sphere

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On September 21, Sierra Leone’s twittersphere will be stepping out into the public sphere thanks to Girl Up’s Yasmine Bilkis Ibrahim and a team of equally enthusiastic SL tweeters. In days to come, Insight Media and Communications will be asking Yasmine why Twitter, and what this initiative aims to achieve?

For those of you who are not on Twitter, there’s been over recent years, and this last year in particular, the quiet emergence of a SL Twitter scene that is politically, professionally, socially and economically influential.

Several weeks ago I asked FBC’s Mass Media students about their social media use. All bar one were on WhatsApp. Most were on Facebook. Twitter came much further down the list. In my view, I told them, Twitter is probably the most influential of the three. Furthermore, its significance among Sierra Leoneans is only going to rise, particularly because Tanu Jalloh, State House’s cerebral Director of Communications is an avid Twitter user and Umaru Fofana – our home-grown news hound and another Twitter fiend, had announced his intention to privilege Twitter over Facebook, after someone hacked his FB account.

The beauty of SL Twitter is that it’s clever, quick, witty and subversive. With its 140 – now 280-character limit, SL Twitterati is where the country’s literati go to show that brevity really is the soul of wit. Twitter is where they banter, exchange views, discuss politics and importantly promote their country. Significantly, it tends to fly below the radar of the occasional political sweeps against social media and hasn’t yet become a platform for the real political propagandists. (Seen Insight’s op-ed – INFORMATION, DISINFORMATION AND MISINFORMATION – POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND WHATSAPP IN SIERRA LEONE)

What differentiates Twitter from other social media. Well firstly, SL Twitter is the master sniper to WhatSLApp’s scattergun approach. With some notable exceptions, S.L. Facebook tends to S.L.fies, S.L.f-obsession, political propaganda and that particular S.L. debating technique in which crowds of people pursue a point blindly until it escapes them all.

I can’t begin to do a top 10, or even a top 100 for SL Twitter. VSL’s Bimbola Carrol asked the question some time ago and received some interesting responses. The most notable from my point of view are those that have a unique character or provide an excellent service. The following is a completely un-researched random list, off the top of my head, of some of the SL Twitterati that have come to my notice (and I’ll be adding to them as the day goes on). I’d love it if you could suggest some more.

News, news, news: @UmaruFofana, @jalloh-tanu, @VickieRemoe, @LamranaAmadu

Wit (often savage): @tonkolili, @MinaBilkis,

Geeks and techies: Salton Massally @SaltonMassally, @dsengeh, @morrismarah, @MandewaCole, @JKailfala @sonkita

Niches and curiosities: @Red1Rider (a niche in a niche)

Perspectives: @JNBellay @memuna

Services: @eddiebel, @BimbolaCarrol, @VisitSL, @foodies_salone, @thisissalone, @younginfreetown @insightmagsl @BetterBizSL

Creatives: @NickAsgillius; @princeofisreal

Personalities, musicians, celebrities etc: @antoniahoward, @Jiwor_Labador, @Emmbock, @RhageToya, @MGM-Black, @Zebubks

Campaigners, feminists and activists: @Cee_Bah, @ngozimcole, @thefatoublog, @TheAlima

Politicians, public figures, diplomats: @yakisawyerr, @GuyWarrington

Unique: @ObSisay, @cezjah

Professional voices: @kibobofred, @cechikezie

The big internationals: @aminattaforna, @IamIshaSesay

We’re owning you boi: @idriselba, @FreddyForster


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