European journalist and author Trish Lorenz has falsely claimed christening young Nigerian protesters “Soro-Soke”, a Yoruba phrase that gained popularity during the 2020 #EndSARS protests against decades of police brutality in Nigeria.
Documenting the struggles of young Africans in her new book, titled Soro Soke: The Young Disruptors of an African Megacity, Ms Lorenz claimed the outspokenness and brazenness Nigerian youths displayed in the nationwide #EndSARS protests prompted her to name them the “Soro-Soke generation .” Soro-Soke is a Yoruba term that means speak up.
“This cohort exhibits a confident outspokenness and a tendency for creative disruption, leading me to name them the “Soro-Soke” generation (Soro Soke means ‘speak out’ in the Yoruba language),” partly reads a page in Ms Lorenz’s book.
Her claim to naming rights has provoked the furore of Nigerians who said the European author has no knowledge of the Yoruba language and could not have named a struggle she did not experience.
“Soro-Soke” is generally used to scold or nudge someone in Yoruba. For example, someone may be asked to speak up due to poor audibility. It had long been online among Yoruba speakers but only gained worldwide popularity during #EndSARS protest in October 2020.
Months before #EndSARS protest broke out in October 2020, a Twitter user @__Shola famously wrote “Soro soke werey” in a reply to Manchester United after they drew a match with Southampton in June 2020.
An African website DNB traced the origin of Soro-Soke’s recent fame to October 2020 when an angry youth screamed “Soro-Soke werey” at Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who was addressing protesters in an inaudible voice.
In an effort to douse tension during the early days of the protests, Mr Sanwo-Olu, while addressing protesters, spoke in a low voice that caused an angry youth to scream “Soro soke werey,” which means “speak up, mad man. ” The words were then echoed by other protesters who jeered at the governor. The matter subsequently gained online frenzy and was adopted as one of many slogans for the historic #EndSARS movement.
Since #EndSARS, Nigerian youths have used soro-soke as a figurative term to tell government leaders to stop maintaining neutrality national issues and speak on the side of the people.
Ms Lorenz applauded the audacity of Nigerian youths in her book, describing them as the young disruptors of an African megacity. She had visited Nigeria during her research for the book, according to pictures shared on social media.
The author has gained a reputation across Europe for her work over the past 15 years. She recently came ahead of over 600 applicants from all over the world to win the 2021/2022 Nine Dots Prize, receiving US$100,000 and a book deal with Cambridge University Press.
The book was a response to the question ‘What does it mean to be young in an aging world?’ posed by the organizers of the Nine Dots Prize.
Ms Lorenz has seen a deluge of criticism from Nigerians over her claim to soro-soke slogan.
@ikeikedum: “Nigerians, instead of getting angry on Twitter, just head to Amazon and other bookselling apps and rate her stolen Soro soke book 1/5…Lawyers, sue her in International Courts and drain her resources…Make sure she gets nothing from the book.”
@GayleZoie: “Soro soke” was coined for a struggle, a struggle that cost lives, a struggle which is the collective reality of Nigerian youths. What were you thinking? When will y’all stop profiting from African struggles?”
@Donslique1: “Absolutely not!!!!! Soro soke was already a thing on the streets for the youths. People did not die, get shot, some lost hands and limbs, some are still in exile and cannot return home for her to say she named it soro soke. Did she ever tweet about ENDSARS??”
@TobiOlorun said: “This nunce(sic) is making profit over people’s reality, and someone under this thread are supporting her. Why didn’t she make a book about BLM??? She have the audacity to say she named us ‘Soro Soke’”.