Interview With… is a Zikoko weekly series that explores the weird and interesting lives of inanimate objects and non-human entities.

After seven months of being denied entry into Nigeria because of the Twitter ban, the Twitter bird finally regains its freedom. The Nigerian government called off the ban on January 13, 2022. 

We knew the Twitter bird would have a lot to say about its experience, so we invited it to our office for an exclusive interview about its time in exile and how it feels to be back and breathing Nigeria’s polluted air.

[Twitter Bird flies in singing “Bird Set Free” by Sia]

Twitter Bird: 

Clipped wings, I was a broken thing

Had a voice, had a voice but I could not sing

You would wind me down

I struggled on the ground, oh

So lost, the line had been crossed

Had a voice, had a voice but I could not talk

You held me down.

Zikoko: Wow. Is this Sia or her younger sister?

Twitter Bird: [Sings with more vigour]

And I don’t care if I sing off key

I find myself in my melodies

I sing for love, I sing for me

I’ll shout it out like a bird set free

I’ll shout it out like a bird set free

I’ll shout it out like a bird set free.

Zikoko: Wow, wow. Applaudise!

[Twitter Bird finishes singing, surveys Zikoko’s office and hisses]

Twitter Bird: You people are not ready. [Prepares to fly out]

Zikoko: Ah, please wait. What happened, what did we do?

Twitter Bird: I just came back to this your country. I even sang my freedom anthem, and none of you thought to lay a red carpet down for me?

Zikoko: We appreciate the anthem. In fact, we appreciate everything you have done. But we didn’t lay a red carpet because you fly. 

Twitter Bird: You should have laid it on the floor. [Lands on the floor] As you can see, I can also walk. [Flies back up]

Zikoko: Ah, sorry for the lack of initiative. It will not happen again.

Twitter: It better not. Before we even start let me just tell you, if your leaders try to ban me again, it’s goodbye forever. I’ll start a new life elsewhere and forget you.

Zikoko: Nigerians can’t be easily forgotten. In fact, we can boldly say that Nigerian Twitter is one of the best places to be.

Twitter Bird: Then talk to Buhari. I didn’t like being locked away. Every single time Nigerians had to turn on VPN to access me, I felt sad.

Zikoko: Well, you weren’t exactly gone. The VPN was helpful.

Twitter Bird: Yes, it was helpful, but if someone locks the front door and you have to enter through the window, is it still the same thing?

Zikoko: No, it isn’t.

Twitter Bird: Exactly. Anyway, let me sit down. I have a lot of places to be today. I can’t waste my strength staying in the air for this.

[Twitter Bird settles down]

Zikoko: Welcome! We are so pleased to have you—

Twitter Bird: And I just want to say that I hope Nigerians will appreciate me more, now that your government has opened the door for me.

Zikoko: We do oh. 

Twitter Bird: Let’s hope so.

Zikoko: But wait sef, don’t you also send people to Twitter jail?

Twitter Bird: I don’t get your point…

Zikoko: People’s accounts are suspended all the time, and—

Twitter Bird: Oh so, now I am capable of suspending people’s accounts, right? I should speak to the people about putting me on the payroll and giving me a monthly salary. Must be nice to be a bird with the ability to suspend accounts.

Zikoko: Don’t take this the wrong way, please.

Twitter Bird: No, no, it just funny that you can equate me being banned from Nigeria to suspension of spam accounts. What is that jump? The person that tweeted something about Nigerians having analogy usage problems didn’t lie.

Zikoko: Please, hold on what I’m saying is—

Twitter Bird: There’s no point there, Interviewer. Do you know what it feels like to be banned from an entire country? At least when accounts are suspended, many people create another account. Can I create another country where I am unbanned? 

Other social media apps were flourishing here in that period. Trends were distorted, something would be trending in Nigeria and I would see it on the Netherlands trends table. Is that something worth being happy about? Even the day Facebook and the others went down people still used VPN to complain on Twitter.

Zikoko: Sorry you had to relive that awful memory.

Twitter Bird: Please ask tactical questions next time or I’ll fly away. 

Zikoko: Now that you’re allowed back here, what’s your relationship with Lai Mohammed and Bashir Ahmad like?

Twitter Bird: I’d rather not talk about it.

Zikoko: In the last interview we had with you just after the ban was announced, you said they might cage you if they caught you in our office.

Twitter Bird: And now, I know why the caged bird sings. [Twitter Bird gazes into the distance]

Zikoko: [wiping a tear] Come through, Maya Angelou.

Twitter Bird: *chirp chirp* Right now, I don’t think anything can happen. We’re all on the same page. You can’t enjoy me and still be working against me.

Zikoko: Be grateful they are not Lagos men. Those ones will enjoy you and actively work against you.

Twitter Bird: You humans are tiring. I can’t relate.

Zikoko: So, what will the situation be like for you now, especially with Crowwe and Koo in the market?

Twitter Bird: I don’t know she or her.

Zikoko: Haba, don’t be like that nau. They are your fellow social media apps.

Twitter Bird: Are they? Who knows them, does Google recognise them?

Zikoko: Ehen nau. Koo was introduced as an alternative to you, after you were denied entry into Nigeria.

Twitter Bird: Well, here’s a tweet that perfectly sums up what I have to say:

Zikoko: Omo, please speak softly. They just unbanned you; the gates of your prison are still wide open oh.

Twitter Bird: And Nigerians can still download their VPNs back, so what are you saying?

Zikoko: You’re bold o.

Twitter Bird: That’s what seven months in a transparent jail does to you. 

Zikoko: But what about Crowwe, Adamu Garba’s brainchild?

Twitter Bird: [bursts into loud laughter]

Zikoko: Why are you laughing?

Twitter Bird: Brain child suggests the existence of a brain. I wouldn’t say—

Zikoko: Oya, swallow it like that. Don’t put us in trouble. 

Twitter Bird: I like how your government leaders think I don’t know why they decided to give me my back my freedom.

Zikoko: Oh, you do? Tell me, please.

Twitter Bird: 2023 is a few months away.


Twitter Bird: Oh, I’m not mad at it. In fact, I admire the thought process. But there’s one thing I want to say to them. Is there a camera I can look at while I speak to them?

Zikoko: Uhm, Twitter Bird, this is not a video interview.

Twitter Bird: All well and good. You help me tell them then?

Zikoko: Depends on the message o…

Twitter Bird: You couldn’t live with your own failure, where did that bring you? Back to me.

[Twitter Bird flies away, singing its freedom song.]

Now I fly, hit the high notes

I have a voice, have a voice, hear me roar tonight

You held me down

But I fought back loud, oh

No, I don’t care if I sing off key

I find myself in my melodies

I sing for love, I sing for me

I’ll shout it out like a bird set free

I’ll shout it out like a bird set free

I’ll shout it out like a bird set free

[Zikoko turns off VPN]

Check back every Friday by 9AM for new Interview With episodes. To read previous stories, click here.

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