Nigerian cyberspace was abrim with memes and hilarious updates on Tuesday, following an Internet hoax that Eritrean authorities had compelled men in the country to marry more than one wife or risk jail.
Most newspapers that fell to the hoax paraphrased an alleged statement issued by the country’s Grand Mufti, assuring the men that the country would pay for their marriage ceremonies and houses.
Both on Facebook and Twitter, the story bore the same theme as Nigerians create memes of different shades and style.
While some users updated their status to mean they were travelling to the Northeast African country, inferring that they were travelling to pick one of the beauties, others posted the pictures of some of the beauties, believed to be of Eritrean origin.
But in reaction to the trending issue, Farooq Kperogi, an assistant professor of Journalism and Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University, expressed surprise that some of Nigeria’s major newspapers fell to the Internet trick.
“Nigerians are probably some of the most astoundingly credulous people on planet earth.
“The hoax about Eritrea making it mandatory for every man to marry two wives isn’t just trending wildly and shared excitedly by Nigerians on social media, it has also made it to institutional Nigerian news sites like Daily Trust, Vanguard News, The Punch Newspapers and even Sahara Reporters.
“But it takes just a little curiosity to know that this story is one cheap, easily refutable hoax.
“One, Eritrea is a majority Christian nation. There has been Christianity in Eritrea (and Ethiopia) centuries before the West (including Rome) knew there was a religion called Christianity.
“Although about 40 percent of Eritrea is now Muslim, the country is essentially a Christian nation, as evidenced in the fact polygamy is actually illegal in Eritrea’s Penal Code, and is punishable by imprisonment.
“Second, a quick check at the demographic information of Eritrea shows that it has fairly the same male/female ratio, so the idea that the “new law” requiring men to marry two wives or go to jail was inspired by the disproportionate male/female ratio in the country is utter bunkum.
“A little skepticism and research won’t do Nigerians any harm,” said Professor Kperogi, grammar columnist, author and social media strategy tutor.