It all started with an innocuous tweet nearly two weeks ago when Bunmi Olaoye, an artist based in Nigeria’s southeast city of Port Harcourt, decided to start “a hashtag to celebrate and appreciate Nigerian creatives.” The response was stunning with hundreds of Nigerians showing off their artistic talents using #WeAreNigerianCreatives.
Olaoye says he has been “blown away by the feedback” on the hashtag. “I’m trying to reply my non-ending messages,” he told Quartz. Sagir Carpenter, an Abuja-based artist who also participated in the trend, says he’s been inundated with enquiries about his work. “My phone has not stopped buzzing since,” he says. “The #WeAreNigerianCreatives hashtag has given me so much exposure in such a short time with so many people making inquiries. I really think it’s an amazing phenomenon.”
Nnedi Okorafor, the Nigerian-American science-fiction author, also joined in on the fun with a tweet showing covers of her books, including Who Fears Death—a novel HBO will be turning into a television series with George R.R Martin, Game of Thrones creator, as an executive producer. Okorafor, a 2016 Quartz Africa Innovator, is known for her Afrofuturistic fiction novels and has been signed up by Marvel as one of the writers of its forthcoming Venomverse anthology.
Social media has a good history of helping little-known Nigerian artists become famous. Back in 2016, Oresegun Olumide gained internet fame for his hyper-realist paintings . Even though it was not intended, the #WeAreNigerianCreatives trend caps a great fortnight for Nigerian art. Last week, Tutu, a newly discovered, decades-old masterpiece by legendary artist Ben Enwonwu, was sold for a record £1,205,000 at an auction in London.