Visual pragmatics and the EndSARS movement

Jonathan Ihunayachi Ukor
Keywords: EndSARS, multimodal communication, pragmatics, visual
Tropical Journal of Arts and Humanities 2022 4(1), 13-32. Published: May 11, 2022


There is a paradigm shift in the study of language use from a purely verbal perspective to a multimodal viewpoint. This is the scope of visual pragmatics; it attempts to investigate linguistic and semiotic features from a pragmatic angle. This study is an attempt of such broadened pragmatic analysis, as it investigates the deployment of verbal and visual elements in the Nigerian #EndSARS movement. Extant researchers have also applied concepts of visual pragmatics in other multimodal discourses. This present study employs Mey‟s (2001) Pragmatic Act Theory and Hoye and Kaiser‟s (2007) Visual Act Theory to analyse the deployment of verbal-virtual elements in the 2020 #EndSARS protest. The data for this study are twenty-seven #EndSARS visual images, obtained using Google search engine. Twenty of the images are categorised into seven memes: stained flag feminism placards neo-nationalism r soke ( peak up) solidarity and analysed qualitatively. The visual practs identified in the data are of describing, informing, lamenting, hoping, charging, appealing, demanding, encouraging, associating, stating, warning, instructing, reminding, commanding, vowing, praising, saluting, condemning, and challenging. The practs identified are of charging, stating, commanding, reminding, naming, and describing. The study observed the use of visual elements such as colour, facial expression, metaphor, inference, reference, shared situational knowledge, symbolism, gesture, contrast, satire, costume, and environment. It revealed that visual pragmatic acts and pragmatic acts complement each other in multimodal communication.