Lately, I have been thinking about how thin the line between ignorance and the supernatural actually is. A lot of the things that stretch our minds beyond the limits of our imagination, things we cannot explain, rationalize or understand, how often do we place them in the realm of the supernatural? I would imagine that at some point in history illnesses and diseases we have now come to understand and even develop cures for were considered an act of the gods to smite erring humans, how much of mainstream technology today would have been considered witchcraft some 100 years ago. How much of mainstream technology today is still considered sorcery ????
Over the weekend, I became a personal hero to my barber because I did something I would ordinarily consider ‘basic’ 2 weeks ago. My Barber is nicknamed Oga Francis, he’s our reigning barbing champion no other barber around does it like Francis... that is, until recently. ‘Yellow’ another barber has suddenly started attracting a lot of new clientele, a lot of them seem to be coming from outside of the area.
I went for a haircut 2 weeks ago and you would think I went for a therapy session with Oga Francis. He was convinced that this sudden boom in the Yellows business was ‘not pure’ i.e there had to be some supernatural involvement to explain why Yellows business was suddenly getting a new lease of life. He talked so much about it that I decided to find out what was going on.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my little investigation revealed the supposed witchcraft involved in this case was Social Media.
Yellow was deploying a lot of effort into Social Media Marketing. He’s constantly running targeted ads, and including the name of our area in his captions. Literally, If you go on any social media platform and search ‘ogbomosho barber’ you’d find him under your search. His page is always active, pictures of his clients, ‘before, in progress and after pictures’, reviews etc. It feels like an experience. If I was randomly just searching for a place to get a haircut in Ogbomosho, I’d definitely be headed there.
I went back to Francis and explained this to him, he wasn’t convinced; he considered social media as a fun tool to chat and while away time. I spent the next hour explaining social media, how it worked generally and how it could work specifically for his business, it soon became apparent that all the english I was speaking was flying over his head so I switched to pidgin and threw in the little yoruba i knew and we started making real progress. After our mini class, we set up social media accounts for Oga Francis and went over how best to optimize for business. This weekend I went for another haircut and Oga Francis was calling me Prof. he refused to charge for my cut and has even promised me free cuts for the month of September. He explained how his clientele has expanded, he says that most times when he sees a new face he smiles on the inside because he is 90% sure that this person ‘na internet person’. Throughout our conversation he kept saying ‘follow who know road o’
It got me wondering how many Oga Francis’ are out there, people who may have basic knowledge of digital skills in Africa but do not know how to optimize for their benefits, people who do not even have the basic information to start with. All of the information I shared with Francis is available online but it was all confusing to him because it wasn't collated in a ‘language’ that he understands. The need to teach digital skills in diverse ways to cater for our differing realities in Africa can not be over emphasized. Oga Francis says ‘Follow who know road’ but the route for a bird and a monkey are very different even if they are heading to the same place.
While the majority of the world caters to providing content in English, it is important to create other paths to make sure no one is left behind and this is why LearnAM exists. To provide an alternative path for those who may not be able to walk the structured education path, to ensure they still arrive at their desired destination.
Show someone the road today, give them an alternative path where they can flourish, introduce those in your community to LearnAM. You’d be amazed how much impact this little effort can make.
Visit http://learnam.africa or download the app from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.learnam