Mobile messaging has become an essential medium of communication among Africans, just like the rest of the world. The rise of social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook and We Chat has also seen an increase in the use of emoticons or ‘emojis’ which have become playful additions to these forms of communication.
Even though there are varieties of emojis to choose from, the laughing emoji has over the years been the one widely used globally. People are now getting tired of it, but not Africans, says Jeremy Burge, founder of Emojipedia.
“The interesting thing is at the global stats for emoji use, everyone is more similar than we think. Globally speaking, you might expect there to be these wild changes in different countries. Continent-wide, when you look at it, there are some slight differences; for instance, in North America, they use the ‘blowing a kiss’ as one of their number ones. A lot of Europe is just a regular heart and most of Africa, is the laughing, crying still. Maybe there is more laughter,” Burge told BBC Africa in an interview.
The trend in Africa is interesting, considering the continent is the least happy in the world. In the latest World Happiness report released by the United Nations, nine out of the ten least happy countries in the world are from Africa. People in Burundi are unhappiest with their lives, followed by Central African Republic (155), South Sudan (154), Tanzania (153) and Yemen (152). Rwanda, Malawi, Liberia, Haiti and Syria were among the bottom 10 unhappy countries.
But interestingly, people living in the majority of these countries continue to use the laughing emoji as there is probably still joy in the midst of their problems.