Nigerians and COVID-19 humour: Discursivity and public engagement through pandemic internet memes

Bimbo Lolade Fafowora*, Mistura Adebusola Salaudeen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


From the outbreak of coronavirus to the institution of lockdown, and other regulatory measures, digital media platforms have been agog with memes associated with COVID-19 and pandemic-induced policies. Hence, there is a need to understand how the digital community discusses the pandemic through internet memes. There is a dearth of scholarship focusing on the utilization of memes for public engagement during public health crises. This study adds to the understanding of the discursive functions of memes by exploring emergent themes in coronavirus-related memes and investigating the discursive strategies applied by Nigerians to portray the pandemic. A qualitative analysis of 170 purposively selected COVID-19-related memes revealed the prevalence of six overarching themes. It was observed that meme creators employed a combination of humour, non-humour and sarcasm in driving awareness about the pandemic and highlighting existing but less-discussed sociopolitical and socio-economic issues exacerbated by the recent health crisis. The findings identified the utilization of memes to create awareness, highlight the negative impact of COVID-19 regulations on the lives of the average Nigerians and critique government’s handling of the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-293
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of African Media Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Health Communication
  • Humour
  • Memes
  • Sarcasm
  • Thematic Analysis


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