For a couple of years now, there have been calls for emojis that are multicultural and fully capture the diverse global audience that use messaging services. The Afro Emoji application — developed by a Nigerian-American team led by Ayoola Daramola — is the latest addition to the demand, available now on both Android and Apple devices.

 

Different cultures seem to require different emoticons. Western emojis are easy to differentiate from their Japanese counterparts. A behavioral scientist at Hokkaido University in Japan, Masaki Yuki points out that in Japan, people tend to look to the eyes for emotional cues, while Americans look at the mouth. This apparently is the reason why a smiling Japanese emoticons looks like this: (^_^), while a Western one looks like this: 🙂 . We doubt bald, yellow emojis will ever fully capture diverse African expressions.

 

Daramola’s Afro Emojis aim to capture the “idiosyncratic way” Africans have of communicating with each other. It should be noted that there has been another app launched that shows African emojis by Oju Africa. Oju Africa took a different approach, making standard yellow emojis we are familiar with in darker skin tones. The Afro Emoji app on the other hand features Nigerian and Ghanaian expressions next to characters clad in different kinds of traditional dress. However, do these stickers really encompass the way Africans talk?

 

(Afro Emoji)

(Afro Emoji)

With the colorful way Nigerians communicate, Nigerian emoticons will have to be extremely expressive. Phrases such as, “E make brain” (It makes sense), that Afro Emoji employs do capture the way Nigerians talk as opposed to simple emoticons. Yet, we did not find an emoji to denote the popular West African expression of kiss teeth.

 

Merging phrases with artwork seems to be the way to go when it comes to showing African expression. Perhaps in the future, we will see more stickers similar to the ones that can be found on the messaging application LINE, which have assorted characters showing various emotions.

 

Do you think Afro emojis fully capture diverse African expressions? Leave a comment people or let me know on Twitter @rafeeeeta