That’s “good morning” in Tsonga
The first-ever tweet was posted 15 years and a day ago today.
To commemorate the event, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey opened up an auction for it that closed on its anniversary. The last bid was $2.5 million.
The proceeds from the sale are to go to GiveDirectly, a charity organization that gives cash to families in Kenya, Liberia, Malawi and Rwanda living in extreme poverty.
Through Dorsey and GiveDirectly, scores of people on the continent will benefit from NFTs without having to understand what they are and what the hype is all about.
Selling tweets, come again?
If you, too, are yet to get a hang of NFTs, you’re not alone.
In fact, I know that by the time an explanation starts with:
“an NFT stands for non-fungible token" blah blah
Most of us have already switched off. But stay with me.
In economics, an item is said to be fungible when that item is interchangeable. Perhaps the best example of this is money.
If Person A lends Person B a ₦1,000 note, it does not matter to Person A if they are repaid with a different ₦1,000 note. In the same sense, Person A can be repaid with five ₦200 notes and still be satisfied, since the total equals ₦1,000.
But with non-fungible tokens, it’s different.
Back to Dorsey again, and what he has done is to create a digital certificate for his tweet that’s signed and verified by him; the certificate is unique and not interchangeable.
That certificate is called an NFT. And it’s the NFT and not the tweet, that’s being auctioned.
Similarly, any digital item – tweets, art pieces, songs – can be turned into an NFT.
Another way to see NFTs is to imagine if that ₦1,000 note from Person A had Person A’s signature, Person B now has a non-fungible item in their possession.
If that item is valuable, maybe because Person A is a person of great repute, it can be sold and resold as a collector’s item, just like a classic car, a Rolex watch or a piece of art. And every time the item exchanges hands, Person A and every previous owner stands to benefit.
It’s for this reason that creatives are most excited about the future of NFTs.
Watch a video
of veteran rapper Jim Jones speaking about some of the possibilities. For a deeper explanation of the good, the bad and the fluff about NFTs, read here
Worldart recently launched South Africa’s first NFT
gallery auction. The first piece was a GIF by local artist Norman O’Flynn.
In Nigeria, this article
details the growth of NFTs from the perspectives of a creator, who’s sold pieces for as much as $35,000 and an investor, who’s bought one of his works and currently holds an NFT piece from another artist that’s worth $180,000 and has refused to sell.
But the article also highlights significant hurdles:
Regulatory risk: The creation of NFTs and their exchange is facilitated by blockchain and cryptocurrency, and that’s a headache because the South African finance regulator has just issued its umpteenth warning on crypto investments, while Nigeria’s central bank banned crypto and now seems to have made a policy reversal. Emphasis on “seems”.
Western appreciation: With the biggest NFT investors currently from the West, many local creators have had to adapt their creations to appeal to Western sensibilities.
However, as more local investors and startups get involved in the NFT space, that second point should change.