Exploring the Influence of Celebrities in the Organisation of the 2020 #End SARS Protests in Nigeria

Temple Uwalaka, Bigman Nwala


Unlike early scholars of social movements, and resource mobilisation theories, recent social movements scholars have paid decreased attention to, and sometimes dismiss the role of leadership in the organisation of protest movements. However, studying the importance, influence, and types of leadership in the organisation of social movements is vital in understanding the totality of factors that aid the success or failure of such protest movements. Thus, this study attempts to update the literature in this regard by examining the importance of leadership in the organisation of protests and how leadership types adopted and accepted by the demonstrators impact the organisation of the protests.  Analyses of survey data collected in 2020 during the protests in Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria (N=391) and Facebook contents from the posts with the most reactions show that protesters who used WhatsApp, and Facebook frequently and as reliable sources of information about the protests are more likely to adopt and accept celebrities online or offline as leaders of the protests than those who reportedly used TV and radio, print media, and SMS frequently and as reliable sources of information about the protests. Findings further illustrate that celebrities steered the agenda of the protests by motivating those around them to join the protests. Finally, this study refutes the insinuations in the literature about how celebrities are hated by digital activists.

Keywords: social movement, social media, #EndSARS, Nigeria, techno-enthusiasts, celebrities

DOI: 10.7176/NMMC/101-04

Publication date: April 30th 2022

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3267 ISSN (Online)2224-3275

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