Hashtag Youth Activism: Africa’s Millennial are using Technology to Drive Change


The fastest growth in technology is one thing to give double thumbs up. You are reading this in an electronic device, thanks to technological advancement. The youth, rate technological advancement in terms of; improvement of social media platforms and the introduction of new tech devices. In this article I show you an insight into how technology, in the form of social media and the hashtag, is revolutionizing the youth’s push for change.

What are the recent statistics saying

Some interesting statistics from a report published by Datareportal on the 30th January are:

  • At the start of 2020, more than 4.5 billion people are using the internet.
  • Over 3.8 billion active social media users, this is a 9% increase from last year’s number.
  • Approximately 60% of the world’s population is already online.

These data point out one thing, technology (social media) is the new thing. The new platform for not only interaction nor business, but also activism. Yes, activism currently is being done on an online platform. And who are the pioneers of such online activism? You guessed right, the youth, through hashtag activism.

Youth on Women’s Rights activism

The hashtag #HeForShe, is an example of hashtag activism that fought for the women’s rights. Backed by top-notch personalities, Emma Watson and Justin Trudeau; the hashtag ravaged the internet. It sought to involve both men and boys in the quest for equality for women. The hashtag spread far and wide gathering supporters from the US, UK, Rwanda, Mexico, and DRC, just to mention a few. The front row participants were the youth.

More and more hashtags continue to be created by the youth in a bid to ensure gender equality and build women’s capacity. An example is the 2017 Women’s March hashtag that united millions of women in a walk to demand an equal footing in the society.

Fight against racism

You probably have heard of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. This hashtag was as a result of a movement to end violence towards black people. It originated on Facebook in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for killing an unarmed black youth, Trayvon Martin.

The hashtag resulted in the growth of the civil rights movement in the United States and was used 30 million times on twitter. That is an average of 17,003 times a day. Currently there are more than 26 Black Lives Matter Chapters across the US. You bet the hashtag was impactful and yes, it was pioneered by the youth.

Counter-Terrorism fights

#BringBackOurGirls hashtag hit the internet waves after, April 2014, abduction of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Chibok (a northern Nigerian village). The hashtag gained support from high profile figures such as Michelle Obama and Cara Delevingne. The hashtag received worldwide usage of more than a million times in less than three weeks. This pressured the Nigerian government to put more resources to try and rescue the girls.

Currently, combating terrorism through hashtags has been normalized to the extent that in the occurrence of a terror act, a hashtag condemning the act starts to trend almost immediately.

Political Freedom and transparency

Face to face campaigns has paved the way for online campaigns. Politicians nowadays rally for votes through social media platforms. During a campaign period it is normal to scroll past a post or two wooing you to vote for a political candidate. The youth have also followed suit and take to social media platform to condemn poor leadership and governance.

If you are fond of using twitter, you will see many at times presidents being trolled for poor governance. For instance, the malicious acts by politicians easily takes to the light on social media platforms. The youth, through hashtags, demand for transparency, and answers from their governments.

Platform to air their views

Democracy entails electing representatives to go and act on behalf of the people. Frequently, the representatives fail and do not live up to their mandate. Consequently the people need a platform to air their views. Hashtag activism provides this platform.

Through this type of online activism, the youth air out their pressing concerns. Poverty and unemployment are just but a few of the issues normally trending by the youth. The aim is to get the government’s ear and change the situation.

Hashtag activism is not always positive

Despite the milestone achievements the youth are making through social media in the form of hashtags, not all hashtags are revolutionary. Some hashtags are for ill intentions and to tarnish the reputation of high profile personalities. The youth should continue to use this tool to gunner support for a positive revolution.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Having this in mind, imagine the magnitude of change the youth can pioneer through the use of the hashtag.






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