The Nigerian singer, Adokiye, pulled the latest Boko Haram-related media stunt last week when she addressed the terrorist organisation during a TV interview. The 23 year old offered up her virginity for the return of the kidnapped schoolgirls.
It was the counter terrorism version of Indecent Proposal. Ridiculous, attention-seeking and more than faintly disturbing – especially when you find out Adokiye is an UN Ambassador of Peace.
And it’s not even a one-off special deal to tempt Boko Haram. Adokiye is prone to bandying her virginity about. She recently offered herself up in return for a jumbo jet (for her mum). It may have been meant as a joke but I hate to think of the Freudian implications.
For any musician, the wonders of social media mean two things: first, you can look like you care without having to go to the trouble of organising a charity concert or a Christmas cover and second, you can very easily say something rather stupid which you can’t ever really take back. Pop stars should think twice before commenting on political matters. Raising awareness is a delicate matter and shouldn’t be the extent of their social responsibility.
Adokiye was, however clumsily, trying to reignite the online campaign represented by the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. It’s no longer trending, although the girls are still lost.
Even if her intervention did temporarily rejuvenate the hashtag, will it have any quantifiable effect? During the height of its popularly, Michelle Obama tweeted it! Even though she’s married to the most powerful man in the world, he still hasn’t managed to #bringbackourgirls nor stop it from happening again. 60 women were kidnapped and 30 men shot last week in Borno state in Nigeria.
Charitable, social and political campaigns on social media very rarely have a defined objective – partly because a nebulous aim means any outcome can be deemed a success. But this lets off the hook the specific offenders or those individuals who can make change happen. The Twitter campaign #YesAllWoman, which purported to attack misogyny, was considered successful because it trended; it raised awareness. But to what end that awareness? Did it affect policy? Did it change a groper’s mind? Unlikely.
Social campaigns raising awareness only really have one inevitable consequence: more Instagram shots of Cara Delevigne promoting a campaign hashtag while looking earnest (i.e. not wearing makeup).
Do you think Boko Haram care about the fact Delevigne et al. tweeted their disapproval? Do you think it dissuaded those based both in Nigeria and internationally who support and fund this terrorist organisation? No. The lazy publicity provided by these Western infidels probably increased the amount of money pouring into Boko Haram’s coffers from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. In fact it was probably more than enough to buy Adokiye’s mum her jumbo jet.