The first time I vividly remember thinking about the impact of connection was May 29, 1999. As a Nigerian, I was seated on my family couch in Eric Moore Towers, Surulere, Lagos, deeply captivated by the television screen. I imagine millions of other Nigerians were as well. We were about to transition into civilian rule for the first time since I was born.
That's right. I was born into a dictatorship and the regimes I witnessed were oppressive, to say the least. One of my earliest memories was when I was three years old. I heard many cries and groans of disappointment from people outside my family's compound because our recently held democratic election results had been annulled. Moshood Abiola, the man who was democratically elected by most Nigerians at the time, was denied victory; the uproar it sparked was so great that it led to another coup. We watched as another dictator took his throne on Aso Rock, which, for those wondering, is our equivalent of the White House.
Everything I had witnessed up until May 29, 1999 was what many would classify as classic authoritarianism: muzzling of the press, suppression of opponents, and countless human rights violations. In addition, many of Nigeria's 250-plus ethnic groups were vying for ethnic domination because they had been ingeniously excluded from positions of national leadership. Let's call this the gift of colonialism (more about colonialism is in the glossary).
All this led me to wonder what it was like to be seen, ...