The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice. Brian Herbert
Attending Social Media Week (#SMWLagos) was a choice; the willingness to learn. It has the capacity to put you in a classroom full of teachers from various backgrounds and give you an education in one week on media and various disciplines. I didn’t have the space and time to attend the full week as I had hoped so only caught snippets of it in person and followed the curated videos via social media feeds. I got an education in music without the crazy videos but enough fodder on lifestyle, some history and how social media is influencing the next music phase. For one who feels ancient and out of touch with global music trends as I am, Social Media week just leveled me with many others.
The strength of #SMWLagos lies in its ability to network and pull relationships to its stage year after year. State Governors, diplomats, fashion bloggers and booksellers, bank CEOs and music legends as well as ordinary citizens were all there.
This year I got to meet co-founder Obi Asika who is also creative entrepreneur. His knowledge of the entertainment industry across Nigeria and some of the African continent, the US and the UK is quite impressive. When you have a panel that features Asika, Mo Abudu, Bonlanle Austen – Peters, Chika Nwobi and is hosted by Zain Verjee you know it will be good. As an outsider, you also have to grit your teeth and admire their pride as they speak unapologetically on how the Nigerian art and music industry has paid its price and is now commanding global attention. There are lots of collaborative efforts now going on in theatre, music, film and Nollywood and Nigerians are
Facebook has ‘noted’ the potential of Africa and has increased its footprint both in terms of human resource and attention paid to the market. Chris Coz, Chief Product Officer mentioned in his opening presentation on Monday that the social media giant is now accepting payment for advertisement in Naira. Makes sense. For every three adverts I see on my Fb feed daily, two are from Nigerian entertainers, artistes, banks etc and it points to the power of a market that cannot be ignored.
I loved the daily themes at #SMWLagos.The impact of Africa’s media landscape – Monday, travel on Tuesday and Women in Tech on Wednesday. Thursday was governance day and A great day in Gidi – celebrating influential digital change makers across the continent closed the sessions on Friday.
On Wednesday I caught up with the Women in Tech and enjoyed the panel the BBC had put together. Miriam Quansah, Digital Lead, Bilkisu Labaran, Editorial Lead at BBC World Service and Anne Soy-Mwendia, Africa’s health correspondent engaged by telling their stories and sharing how to leverage yourself in media. They were hosted by Didi Akinyelure, BBC World Service Reporter and 2016’s Komla Dumor award winner. Her energy is admirable, it’s possible that she’s channeling the former engineer in her but she does good crowd engagement. Stephanie Busari also did great with the CNN panel Monday talking about how social media is changing Africa’s storytelling. Just go to #OneTouchLive and see how these young photographers are showing a side of Africa previously hidden and which must be the new engagement.
Earlier that morning, four women got to pitch their tech-based businesses to the audience courtesy of She Leads Africa and the Dangote Foundation. Great ideas and good luck to them all as they seek angel investors. It is always great to hear the story of ‘How I began my business’ and it is always the idea of a problem seeking a solution.
I will remember Audu Maikori for telling the audience that, “Women are more expensive to promote (because they get married and fall pregnant) and they are also finicky.” The last part was said with a grin but he was all by himself. He was responding to Zain Verjee hosting a panel(manel) on Afrobeats who asked – is the business of music male dominated? D’banj’s views on this question was to say women have come from far in that they are no longer as conservative on stage as they used to be before. He reckons Rihanna taught them a thing or two. Great conversations until this part – particularly on the issue of the afrobeat style and legend, music payments and lip synching things – so I was happy the weird comments came at the end.
Networking – I remember meeting two great friends in 2015 when I first attended this meet-up and I met them again at this venue this year. Exactly two years. From Port Harcout to Lagos doing our thing. #SMWLagos also introduced me to the work of some very important organizations which I follow to date – Seun Onigbinde’s BudgIT, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) and Enough is Enough (EIE). On engaging government and steering the office of the citizen they are doing enough.I first heard Oby Ozikwesili here and realized she is a real soul. This year Kaduna Governor El-Rufai was talking tough when addressing the issue of #FakeNews and touched on the issue of Maikori versus the State. Bottom line is we’ve all got a job to do where verifying news is concerned.
Coffee was in plenty. I love that Nescafe has trained and kept the same team for the last three years. They have their jobs by the side but every March, they come to pour copious amounts of coffee at #SMW. Its nothing to write home about (honestly) but it certainly kept us warm especially because Landmark had decided we needed to freeze inside those rooms. Brrrr! And the girls have great attitude and teamwork.
This meet-up is definitely worth your investment in terms of time and energy. Good luck to the organizers after you hang up your boots when the party ends tonight and take stock of what you did. Great Stuff. I learnt. Again