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How Football Inspired An Awakening In Nigeria’s Young population

 

Soro soke” is a Yoruba phrase that lends itself to emphasis more than anything, in my own opinion. It literally translates to “speak up” in English. But have heard it in practical conversational use over the years, one can’t help the feeling that it means way much more. I cannot honestly dissect it without running into a dead-end in this piece so that will not be the business of this piece.


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I cannot help the feeling that “soro soke” will be the phrase that will define #EndSARS in the way “weti e” defined the riots of 1965 in the aftermath of the parliamentary elections in Western Nigeria. Even so, there has not been anything quite like it in our history probably because there has never been anything quite like #EndSARS. Why? What else but social media. I will explain it.

That phrase has always been in use in every day Yoruba convos but it gained special relevance only last September on Twitter thanks to football banter on the timeline.  You see back in August, Nigerian fans of FC Barcelona had to sit through 90 minutes of a 2-8 humiliation at the hands of FC Bayern Munchen in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. The banter was over the top. You’d ‘8-2’ (hate to) have seen it if you support Barca (pun intended…obviously).

Fast-forward to four weeks later, when Bayern was dealt a heavy defeat by TSG Hoffenheim in only the second Bundesliga matchday of 20/21 season. The Bayern official Twitter handle tweeted the result (1-4) and that was when a Nigerian user tweeted “Soro soke, weyrey. Who get 4, who get 1?

The tweet was a big hit in spite of the fact that it was not the first time the timeline had seen the phrase in use but this time, e enter (in pidgin parlance).


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When #EndSARS geared up from the 9th of October, the tweet was still fresh in the minds of people so when the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, approached protesters on the afternoon of the Tuesday 13th of October, 2020 to somehow pacify and get them to return home, someone in the crowd shout “soro soke werey” in act of defiance and youthful rebellion that has become one of the undertones of this demonstration, the phrase took on a life of its own.

It is true that everything is linked in life one way or another. Soro soke has been the rallying cry for a generation of disgruntled Nigerians that have decided to shake off their docility and demand more from their government. We have only just scratched the surface the way I see it.

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David Okwara

Some call me David. Others, Emerie. Others, (unfortunate fellows) Biggie. I like to think that I have sense and that is why I write too. Otherwise, I draw and paint and sing (in the bathroom) and love to make people laugh. I love to understand how things work and that’s why I love DIY videos and YouTube of course. Follow me on Twitter @EmerieOkwara

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