Jackie Aina recently released a candle collection that was supposed to acknowledge Nigerian culture, but it did the opposite. The beauty mogul released the collection in four fragrances named No Wahala, Soft Life, Spice of Life and Sòrò Sókè under her FORVR Mood candle line. Everything would have been fine and dandy on social media if the words “Sòrò Sókè” weren’t used. When Nigerians caught on, there was backlash and this is why people are rightfully upset.

SARS

SARS was an organzation that was created under Nigeria’s military rule in 1992. The organization’s name stands for “Special Anti-Robbery Squad,” and was created to address criminal activity like robberies and kidnappings. As the years progressed, SARS officers acted like demi gods and began to unjustly oppress and harm innocent Nigerian citizens. They would profile Nigerians who appeared to be “doing well for themselves,” and harass, intimidate, rob and inflict physical harm on them at random. Their actions increasingly became unbearable, and in 2017, the End SARS movement was officially born.

 

 

End SARS

Although the End SARS movement was created in 2017, it spread like wildfire in Oct. 2020, when a group of 42 Nigerian youth organized a  72-hour protest outside the Lagos State House of Assembly on Oct. 8, 2020. Thanks to social media, the word began to rapidly spread globally. This attracted a lot of media attention and drew solidarity from some of the world’s most prominent figures like Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ye.

 

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A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce)

 

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The 2020 Lekki shooting

On Oct. 20, 2020, members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful End SARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria. Amnesty International reported on its website that about 12 people were murdered during the shooting. The event would also later be called the “Lekki Massacre,” and several Nigerian politicians would later come out to denounce and invalidate the situation, causing an even bigger outrage among citizens.

Sòrò Sókè

In the midst of the End SARS movement, the phrase ‘ Sòrò Sókè Werey’ became a defiant tagline. The phrase means “Speak Up” in the Yoruba language, and people used it to affirm that they would not be bullied into silence by members of SARS who promoted police brutality and corrupt governance. The fact that Aina has used this phrase to promote her new candle collection, despite allegedly being suspiciously quiet at the height of the movement is what has drawn a lot of online criticism.

At the height of the protests in late 2020, many Nigerians allegedly went online to appeal to Nigerian-American celebrities like Aina and others to use their platforms and spread awareness about the End SARS movement, but apparently, they were ignored.

Monetizing Black Trauma

In a recent viral post, Tik Tok user “@pinkolate” asks why it’s so easy to commercialize Black trauma, and that question sums up this entire situation. The End SARS protests, and consequently the 2020 Lekki shooting were traumatic events that left millions of Nigerians feeling hopeless, powerless and angry. Because Aina did not speak up at the time, but instead chose to monetize the situation almost two years later is what is hard to digest. Many people think that she should have known better, and they are right. For the most part, the average Nigerian is not quick to pick offense or become outraged, so it says a lot that many people are upset. It is difficult to imagine who approved the roll out and name of the item, but this is just another typical example of why deliberate thought has to be put into things. Many people feel as though the roll out of Aina’s candle was hurtful and insensitive, and they are not wrong.

@pinkolate

like what were u thinkin girl???

♬ original sound – Pink O

Aftermath

Beyond being ignorant, this  candle situation was ignorant and tone deaf. Aina has since taken accountability for the faux pas and posted an image on Instagram to apologize, and share that the candle has been taken down on all commercial platforms. Hopefully Aina, and others can do better moving forward.

 

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End SarsFORVR Moodjackie ainaSars