A new app from Nigeria is here to help in the quest for more diverse emojis, and this time the wacky characters have been designed with West Africans in mind.
"Afro Emoji" launched Wednesday for free download on Android and Apple devices. The West African-themed "stickers" in the app consists of a diverse array of characters dressed in traditional African clothing and accompanied by familiar pan-African phrases in pidgin English, including "Abeg no vex" (please, don’t be annoyed), "Chai!" (an exclamation of surprise) and "Akwaaba" ("Welcome" in the Ghanaian language Twi).
Ayoola Daramola, the Nigerian-American team lead of the app, said he believes that the idea is plugging into a key demographic that's been largely ignored in the tech world. In a press release, Daramola explained the desire behind creating the Afro Emoji app:
We, as Africans, definitely have an idiosyncratic way of communicating with one another, and Afro Emoji is really a fun, accessible graphic depiction of that. We are building a modern African hieroglyph that represents us.
While the economies of African countries like Nigeria and Ghana surge, the tech and mobile industry on the continent is also continuing to grow. Over 400 million smartphones are projected to be use on the continent by 2020.
“Mobile is king in Africa," Dramola said. "It is the tool for communication and media consumption, so we expect the Afro Emoji to become a key component in how Africans message and chat.”
Much like actor Jesse Williams' recently launched app Ebroji, Afro Emoji is fulfilling a much needed gap in the market. It brilliantly fulfills the growing need for apps designed for us, by us, which authentically capture the way black people throughout the diaspora communicate with each other. Bravo.
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