Instagram 👍 2018: Rihanna spots Lagos dancers – and more African hits


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Whether it is to promote new talent, share a discovery or make a statement Instagram is becoming increasingly important in Africa.

“It’s growing really fast,” Diaby Mohamed, founder of digital services start-up Authentic Africa Group told the BBC.

“Instagram is the hype journal for teenagers and a marketplace for designers and creatives. We have seen people building businesses from scratch with Instagram.”

In 2018, the platform has become a place to make, and break, reputations and share important news. We take a look at some of Africa’s most memorable Instagram moments:

1. Rihanna propels Lagos street dancers to global fame

In March, Rihanna shared an Instagram video of a group of young Nigerian girls dancing to the song “Nowo” by DJ Spinall and Wizkid.

The post earned almost three million likes and generated curiosity about the identity of the young dancers.

They were soon revealed as the Ikorodu Talented Kids – a troupe of under-privileged children from the Ikorodu neighbourhood of the commercial capital, Lagos.

The troupe was formed in 2014 to get children from poor backgrounds off the streets.

Filmmaker and choreographer Seyo Oluyole, 26, founded The Dream Catchers organisation to give the children a home while teaching them to dance.

“We’ve tagged [posts] and tried to get the attention of so many people, it never worked. But this one just happened,” Ms Oluyole told the BBC earlier this year.

2. Meet Ghana’s award-winning DJ – aged just 11

At the age of 11, Erica Tandoh, also known as “DJ Switch”, has blazed a trail in Ghana. In June, she became the youngest person to win the country’s annual DJ award.

With 140,000 Instagram followers, she uses social media to talk to her fans and publicise what she does:

She has also shared more socially conscious posts including campaigning against child marriage:

In September, she performed at the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation’s annual Goalkeepers event in New York where she was the warm-up act for French President Emmanuel Macron.

A video profile of DJ Switch on the BBC Africa Facebook page earned over 15 million views earlier this year, becoming one of its most watched videos of all time.

3. Kenyan lesbian film makes history at Cannes

Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu made history in May when her film Rafiki became the first Kenyan feature to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

The feat had all the more impact because Rafiki was banned by the Kenyan government a month earlier for “promoting lesbianism”.

Ms Kahiu made the announcement on Instagram and posted congratulatory messages from Kenyan Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o.

The Kenyan ban was lifted for a week, to allow it be eligible to be nominated for an Oscar, a moment that was celebrated on Instagram:

4. Naomi Campbell gets caught out?

In March, British supermodel Naomi Campbell caused a social media stir in Nigeria after a post on Twitter and Instagram in which she claimed to have been personally invited by President Muhammudu Buhari to the launch of Eko Atlantic City, a new coastal real estate development in Lagos.

After Nigerians took to social media to query the supposed invitation, a representative of the Nigerian government posted a message on Twitter contradicting Campbell’s claim.

The supermodel subsequently edited her Instagram post to emphasise that she was in Lagos for Arise Fashion Week.

5. Shudu – the ‘South African digital supermodel’

In February, British photographer Cameron-James Wilson came forward as the creator of Shudu, a digital “supermodel” designed with the appearance of a slender dark-skinned African woman.

Shudu, who is supposed to be South African and in her late twenties, has more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, and is part of a growing trend of “digital influencers”.

Many have congratulated Mr Wilson on his portrayal. But critics say Shudu is merely a white man’s idealised projection of African womanhood, and that his creation takes away work from real models of colour.

Mr Wilson, meanwhile, maintains that he created Shudu to bring more diversity to the worlds of fashion and gaming.

6. Swedish ‘slum girl’ post goes viral

Kenyan Instagram users were incensed earlier this year, when a Swedish tourist posted a comment about a Kenyan girl she met in a Nairobi slum.

Jossa Johansson was accused of having a “white-saviour complex” after writing that “one of the happiest moments” of the girl’s life “was probably when you met me and my friends”.

She suggested that the girl could grow up to be a prostitute to support her family.

“In two years you are going to meet a grown up man that you have never met before, you two are going to have a child,” she wrote.

“But he will probably leave you alone with your child in your small home made of mud and trees. You will probably sell your body to someone else to earn money for your child.”

Dozens of people criticised the post and “cruel” and “racist”. Ms Johansson eventually deleted the post and issued an explanation of her comments.

“I didn’t mean that… was exactly what her future would look like,” she wrote.

But addressing her critics she added: “We’ve been travelling all over Nairobi… We have spread knowledge of human rights and spread hope to people living in the worst living conditions.

“So yes, I’m probably more hero that some of you are.”

7. South Africa’s ‘favourite’ constable

South African police officer Sanele Sophazi was used to getting attention on her Instagram profile. But after the Durban constable started posting pictures of herself in her uniform, she noticed a marked increase in her number of likes.

The Sowetan newspaper ran a front-page story with a picture of her and a fellow police woman saying: “Police beauties break the net.”

Ms Sophazi said scores of admirers flocked to Pinetown Police Station in Durban where she works.

“When I am out with my friends or even when I am working, I get people looking and pointing at me and asking each other if it really is me,” she told South Africa’s Sunday Tribune newspaper.

“Even during roadblocks, I find people staring and some even scream out: ‘Its her!'”

8. Nigeria’s ‘most beautiful girl’

When Nigerian photographer Mofe Bamuyiwa posted a picture of five-year-old Jare on Instagram in July, the young girl earned thousands of fans and was instantly crowned “the most beautiful child in the world”.

“I want to portray the interception between her childhood and adulthood so both stay timeless,” the photographer wrote.

But the photo did come in for some criticism for sexualising a child.

“I’m sure she’s a lovely little darling girl without the the wig, make-up and filters… not a good message at all,” one person commented on the photo, which has racked up more than 50,000 likes.

Ms Bamuyiwa said she inspired Jare’s mother to set up an Instagram page for all three of her daughters – Jare, Jomi and Joba.

The “J3 Sisters” have already gained 108,000 followers.


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