THEM NERDS FROM THE SOUTH SIDE (The rise of nerd-culture enthusiasm in the south-south)

Full disclosure, let it be known that ONN is an initiative stemming from the south-south region of Nigeria, (to be specific the city of Port-Harcourt) and we must say, MAN! What a time to be in the local nerd-entertainment business.
       Comic cons, weeb festivals, gaming events, nerdy gatherings commonly found in areas considered to be rather “more metropolitan” than other cities in the country (coughs in Lagos and Abuja), but huzza! the stone that the builders rejected said “Knack out!” and went on to build its very own freaking house, cause na who no wise dey settle for chief corner stone.

 We’re honestly not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden, it’s becoming sorta cool and socially acceptable to be a nerd in the great city of Port-Harcourt, and what’s even cooler is that the virus is spreading to the rest of the south-south region, with confirmed sightings in Calabar.

Ok, maybe I lied a little, here at ONN we always have an idea on all things nerdy, especially if it’s a sporadic geek renaissance happening in our backyard, so without any further ado, lets jump right in to the gist and understand the shifting of tides that have blessed the south with a rise in nerd-culture enthusiasm and appreciation.

First off, a brief explanation of what we mean by “south-south”; For our foreign readers and Nigerians that didn’t pay attention in history class (If eh Dey prick you, na you I Dey talk to). The south-south is one of the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. It was created in the year 1967 by the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, interestingly as a derivative from the western and eastern regions of the country. It is a diverse geopolitical zone with about six states (Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers) and is home to one of the top three cities in the country, PHcity (Port-Harcourt City, Rivers State).

Now, how it all began
Uyo, Benin, calabar, warri. Long ago these four great cities of the south side, lived in perfect geek-freeness, until the pandemic of 2020 attacked. Only the able garden city of port-harcourt, master of the fairly recent craze for all things weebry and geeky (south-south wise sha) had the balls to do something public about it, in form of the first ever nerd event "Otaku connect...connect...connect".
Yes folks, it all started with a weeb event, because at the dawn of the pandemic, everybody suddenly became an Otaku.
Photo Credit: Otaku Connect

Otaku connect was an event brought to PHcity by the collaboration between Otaku tv and Nerdwork (Two Nigerian based Nerd organizations) December 2020; it was a completely free event for anime nerds (aka, otakus) to meet, socialize and share their library of animes and the likes. With a turn-up of over 500, Otaku connect was the first ever publicized nerd-event to happen in phcity. 
This kindah sparked a wild fire in the local nerd-culture community, promoting more involvement in public appreciation of abstract media by fans and indigenous creative companies. 

Photo Credit: Otaku Connect

Otaku connect made it easy for weebs to be vocal about their anime interests, and gingered young nerdy organizations like New Pryme , to take their first steps and get out there. Our sources tell us that the event was actually a sorta Beta test run for something more grand, a comic con to be exact, results from the little experiment reinforced plans to go bigger; and bigger did things go.

The dawn of comic con in phcity
Contrary to popular belief, nerdwork actually did not host the first ever comic con in phcity, oh no. Ladies and gentlemen, on the 29th of may 2021, a certain organization by the name “Hyper creative network” made history by launching the first ever comic book convention, in the garden city of port harcourt. 
Photo Credit: Phcity Comic Con
It was a fairly modest gathering at Splendourz Hangout and Grill, GRA, but it did make history. From a panel session with experienced creatives in the field, to the premier of short animated films, the event had the most conventional of activities expected in a comic con; as far as first tries go, hyper creative network did a good job... and just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, nerdwork came through on their plans, blessing phcity with a second comic con in the same year.
The event went down on the 27th of November at Techcreek, Aba-expresssway. Not gonna lie, this one was a little far from modest; Nerdwork honestly wasn’t even trying to pull their punches with their first ever edition, bringing in iconic local otaku-social media influencers/cosplayers and crowning everything with a bubbling after party at the end of the main event (amongst a number of things that happened that day).
(Ps, none of these events where free, comic cons aren’t free, stop being too Nigerian)

Photo Credit: Nerdwork Comic Con

Another PhCity event worth an honorable mention, is one called “the gathering”. Though not your conventional abstract media celebration event, the gathering is an organization that has been active since 2020, employing the use of their signature event (called “The gathering”) to grow a community for creatives and encourage collaborations. They’re primarily a group of photographers that are passionate about growing a community through their craft, but the lead creative director “Mr Efe Samuel” aka “ The Photo Priest” uses every opportunity to exclaim how the goal goes beyond photography enthusiasm.
Photo Credit: The Gathering 
The Calabar nerd-virus variant
Now, I know you’re wondering, “why call it an expose on south south nerd culture enthusiasm if it seems like all the action is happening in PHcity” and to that I say “be calming down, I never finish na” After much searching, and I mean much searching (that it is eh, felt like some sorta detective on this one), Some semblance of the nature of things down at Calabar (abi up at) was revealed to us. Sources tell us that a certain “weebfest” went down on the 16th of July of this year, at Mirakon event center. 

Photo Credit: Weeb Fest Calabar
The organizers call themselves “Anime city” and from all looks of it, the event was a success, though with a modest gathering, it holds the bragging rights to be called the first ever publicized nerd event in Calabar; it also doesn’t stop there, info from their Instagram page tells us that another event will be going down later this month, the 21st of September to be exact, titled “Anime Binge Fest” where as the name implies, anime shall be binged (the anime in particular is the finale of jujutsu Kaisen)

The crowning thing about this sudden rise of enthusiasm here in the south, is how young people are the ones pioneering it. And no, I’m not just talking about the raging fanboys and girls that have been turning up the place, louding everything about this movement senselessly (shout out to the local anime fandom, y’all are the real OGs), but a majority of the creative organizations springing up here, are owned by people in their their freaking 20s!!! Committed youths, passionate about promoting creativity and encouraging artistic expression, pushing a cause we believe will open up new possibilities in the region.
Benny Asitonka-joe; CEO Nerdwork
Nerdwork CEO, Benny Asitonka-joe even told us in an interview that “this rise of south south nerd culture enthusiasm will prompt more south south based nerd lore and give a better perspective of the region to people outside, breaking stereotypes, showing our creative side

Barida Alawa; CEO H.C.N.

Hyper creative network CEO, Barida Alawa also preached along the same lines saying she Believes the rise of said enthusiasm is the beginning of social acceptance and public interest in creative careers.

I know it may seem like the action hasn’t gotten round the region yet but man, if you’re paying attention well enough, you’ll notice that the rate at which everything is happening is exponential; The movement is crazy bruh! Nerd Events that have happened this year so far, if not anything, show us that south south nerds ain’t playing no more, an the appreciation for abstract media/imaginative works is at an all time rise -–No exaggeration, it genuinely can only get better from here. 
So, if you’re a creator or a nerd in the south south geopolitical zone of Nigeria, I want you to be encouraged, be vocal and passionate about your interests, start that gaming blog, write that comic book, the pool has been stirred, because quite frankly you are no longer in any way (whether spiritually, mentally or physically) alone.


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