SONA 2018 build up: Memeburn revisits the SONAs of the past

library of parliament south africa cape town sona yeowatzup flickr

While it may be the political highlight of the year, the State of he Nation Address (or SONA) is also a social media event not to be missed. Memeburn has covered the social side of SONA for seven long years, and today we take a look at some of the items we’ve added to the scrapbook.

*wipes away the cobwebs*

In 2011, a drinking game became the best way to completely forget that Jacob Zuma was your president, courtesy of then 5FM DJ Gareth Cliff. That same year, the Presidency asked South Africans on the budding social network dubbed Twitter for “views, ideas and comments” prior to his #SONA2011 speech.

A year later, Cliff was at it again with a brand new attempt to make #SONA2012 bearable. #SOTNundress became a thing, and somehow increased South Africa’s interest in popularity over the span of February.

Then-BrandsEye MD Tim Shier explains:

Yesterday [9 February 2012] we tracked about 45 000 mentions relating to the State of the Nation Address. This is a nine-fold increase on 2011’s data and about 18 000 more than what was achieved during South African Rugby World Cup games. We see this as a clear indication that South Africans are increasingly interested in politics — across the full range of demographics.

We’ve done much better with catchy hashtags since, South Africa. I applaud you.

In the same year that the Harlem Shake became a thing, #SONA2013 saw another big jolt from on social media:

While there was some conversation leading up to the event, most of it took place on the day. Over 41 000 of the almost 49 000 mentions were generated yesterday and 60% of it was taking place on Twitter. Online press sites generated a very small contribution towards the overall total and the remaining 39% of the conversation took place on Facebook.

The top conversation themes among social users included “rape, corruption and valentines”. #StopRape and #anenebooysen — a 17-year-old Bredasdorp teen who was raped and died earlier that month — began trending during and after the address across Twitter.

A year later though, SONA saw a big change.

The EFF was now a parliamentary party, and its leader Julius Malema became one of YouTube’s hottest agents. Now viewed over 800 000 times, it became one of South Africa’s most viewed videos that year.

Malema addressed the Assembly at the SONA Debate as the freshest party leader in the House, with a mouth full of acerbic criticism flung towards then-President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Grab some popcorn. The following 20 minutes are totally worth it.

In 2015, Government tried again to boost engagement with its citizens through actual technology, even though #CommitYourselfie used social media to call on officials to end corruption within its chambers.

In recent years however, SONA has descended into complete chaos more often than not.

At #SONA2016, the Assembly echoed with EFF-led chants of #ZuptaMustFall, as Parliament’s sign language interpreter tried her best to sort through the malarkey.

But #SONA2017 was undoubtedly the year that many South Africans will now likely remember with infamy.

It took Zuma well over an hour to begin his speech, thanks largely to the EFF’s shenanigans. #FearFokol found its way onto Twitter streams countrywide prior to the address, as Malema reminded everyone that his party doesn’t like silence.

When #SONA2017 eventually got underway, the EFF and Parliament security were engaged in a hard hat brawl with chants of “tsotsi” directed at Zuma.

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi and the UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa fought for Twitter’s heart and the nation’s most important title of #ThePeoplesBae. And somehow, someway, President Zuma addressed a technology issue first hand, announcing that data prices would fall for citizens in 2017.

(They still remain expensive for most.)

So what does #SONA2018 have in store for the people of South Africa, now led by a new president? Thankfully, we’ll know in less than 24 hours.

Feature image: Library of Parliament by yeowatzup via Flickr (CC 2.0 BY)

Andy Walker
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