African Potential in Social Media


AgendaI have written a number of times about how Zimbabwean’s should unite and focus on a targeted theme of revival within our country through a unified call for change. I have been very much encouraged by the private mail I have received from many corners and people who would prefer not to be as outspoken on the issue of regime change in Zimbabwe, but I am furthermore encouraged to see how other African nations are using the power of social media networks to unite the people in Diaspora to bring about change within their own government.

I genuinely believe that a responsible approach to the demand for change in Zimbabwe is needed, and it will only come from those of us who are in Diaspora to engage, co-ordinate and drive forward an agenda of change. Engaging with each other and talking on the same wave length can only bring about a general consensus that will pave the way for a charismatic leadership to take shape and promote our cause.

I recently became aware of group of Nigerians advocating for their government to provide more reliable power infrastructure. Their movement aims to highlight the problems caused to Nigerian people by the lack of a constant power supply in Nigeria and raise awareness of the situation globally. An unreliable power supply cripples industries and hinders advancements in health care and industrial growth they claim on their website.

This group have had a magnificent impact globally, and while their campaign may not be political, their tactics have brought international recognition to their plight and has people talking about their movement and situation all over the world. Through international attention, their situation has gone global and the international media are gearing up for a peaceful protest in October in Lagos, Nigeria. At this time the Nigerian government will fall under the spotlight as the international media comes to town to see how the government tackle the issue of their people demonstrating for change.

Ok fair enough, the impact of their efforts is uncertain granted, but I find it very exciting that a nation have proved my point, that through a combined effort, a unified approach, using the opportunities before us, and the tools we have such as social media, petitions, worldwide demonstration and public pressure, the attention is brought to town, and while change has not yet happened, I am optimistic that change will eventually come to Nigeria as their government realise that they have an entire world calling for them to deliver.

“Africa’s future is up to Africans,” President Obama told us when he visited Ghana on July 11. It is true that so many of us have come to this conclusion and I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to realise this sooner rather than later. The time of waiting for America and the world to sort our problems out has past. International politics are changing in ways that will mean foreign governments are more engaged with matters at home than engaging in international rescue operations.

“You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people,” Obama said. Ok, those are strong words, and maybe what he is talking about is that we as a nation need to start talking with one voice and demanding better from our leaders. Perhaps if we as Zimbabweans are willing to unite and call for Mugabe to go, we will gain international support. Maybe what the new order are looking for is for us to take the initiative and paving the way for change to happen.

In whatever way Mugabe leaves, I don’t think that we really care anymore if he is brought to justice for his crimes. I guess there are those who are hurting enough to want to see him pay for his crimes against humanity, and maybe those that believe he should repay what he stole, give back what is not his and be stripped of what he has, but if this is our ultimate goal, how can we expect the man to willingly submit? To be fair I would tend to believe that most of us would just be happy for him to step aside and live out his days in whatever manner he chooses, as long as he does not interfere in politics in anyway shape or form. I do believe that there are people within the Zanu PF regime that very much fear prosecution and put pressure on Mugabe to remain in power to hide behind his frills in a manner of speaking. Truth be told, I do not believe that holding anyone to blame for the mal-governance of our nation is only going to prolong the ransom that Zanu PF holds over our nation.

It is for this reason that I say we need a responsible and reasonable call for change to take place. An unreasonable call for change is only going to prolong the course of change until such time as those who are suitable well fearful for their future are no longer in the picture. However a realistic route to repatriation through a process of reconciliation where people are mature enough to see beyond the past and look towards the economic stability and national security of the country is a course of change that becomes feasible.

The Internet is a powerful tool in empowering people. International and world opinion changes by what they see in the media, but more and more blogs, social media and interaction between people from all walks of life mean that we are more and more able to understand and engage with each other. This blog has opened a door to a whole world of people who may or may not agree with what I say, but who are willing to discuss my opinion and engage in meaningful dialogue. From Iran to China I have spoken with people who read and follow what I have to say. It is the power of this medium that Africa needs to use to its full potential.

Good governance begins with me. A statement that I resoundingly echo as I read it. By making the first step in the direction of engaging with others, by taking an interest in the thoughts and feelings of those around us, we are able to engage in a change. Good governance is the new key words in the cyber world of politics, as so many people analyse the leadership and expectations of their government. Engaging with the grass-roots is the key to becoming powerful and is what most analysts have credited the Obama campaigns success to. His support of online tools to engage with middle America is what gained him huge popularity. The youth of today live through social media. I have watched as two children sitting right next to each other would rather text each other than engage in conversation. The reason is simple. It is easier to say in words the things you are too shy to say in person.

Capture the power of this medium and you can start a whirl wind. And this is where our potential power lies. I firmly believe that Zimbabweans can achieve their greatest goals, and that we will overcome. Rome was not built in a day, and people engage through a dialogue that takes weeks if not years before real substance is gained. Focusing our attention at this early stage in the right direction is our ultimate goal. We will gain recognition, engage with other people and build credibility for our cause. In this way we can only gain support and this ultimately will bring us to our goal. Like every Zimbabwean I know, we want a prosperous, viable, free and fair Zimbabwe to call home once more.

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3 comments on “African Potential in Social Media

  1. Lameck Mahachi says:

    I am not sure that I’ve really convinced myself well to give a genuine comment on your subject matter that it’s up to the Zimbabweans to unite in order to speak with one voice to remove Mugabe from the picture for the prosperity of Zimbabwe to move forward strickly observing the rule of law. It is very true that if we emulate the example of Nigerians who managed to coodinate globally and force their government to seriously consider the plight of its citizens regarding the shortage of electricity, we might also succeed in getting rid of Mugabe whom we and the entire world are convinced has done more damage than good for the country. That said and done, I feel that there is grey area that we need to look at before we find common ground to grab the Mugabe bull by the horns. You have clearly quoted Obama’s speech that “the problem of Africa must be solved by African themselves and noone else”. How then can we be expected to ganner support from outsiders when the statement clearly says “Africans themselves must save Africa”? Please don’t get me wrong. I am one of those who is prepared to be at the forefront to see to it that Mugabe is permanantly removed from the picture but I need tangible modalities of how this feat can be acheived without tangible help from outsiders. Yes, it is very true that every Zimbabwean who loves to see democracy prevail in our beleaguered country needs to network and sing from the same hymn book, but we still need the waywithal to achieve that.

    • Rob says:

      Hi Lameck
      As ever I am grateful for your input. And as ever I agree that it is critical to have a formula for change before we charge in and remove Mugabe. You are right to point out that it is not just a simple process, but one that needs careful thought and a well considered approach. I believe that through coming together and talking about these issues that we call attention to the various things that should be debated and discussed before our call to action. I also believe that in this process of engagement a true, loyal, strong and trustworthy leadership will take shape and as it is something that we have all been a part of then it can be something we can all agree on.
      I know that long term we would have to engage with international support to achieve our goals. I do feel however that the international community want to see us all gathering together with an ambition to achieve change, and beginning this process. You see I feel that the wider community has tried to gather everyone together their way to empower change and that has failed, so now they’d rather engage with a group that is passionate about change themselves, because the job of winning hearts and minds is already completed by that stage. Yes I think you are right we cannot complete the job ourselves, but I would argue we must start the process and bring unity to our message ourselves.

  2. lameck mahachi says:

    Hello Rob,

    You couldn’t have put it more simpler than this. There are many instances when I have burnt the midnight lamp trying to think of the right formulae that can be used to rid ourselves of this Mugabe menace but each time I have tried I have always banged my head against a brick wall. It has always been my opinion that the more one is enlightened academically he/she has armed himself/herself with a rational mind that does not only make them understand the difference between right and wrong but that also makes them become more empathetical towards the disadvantaged and the meek. It is against this background that the task of getting rid of Mugabe will be an uphill task. There are a lot of learned Zimbabweans in progressive countries who will always come up with convincing facts that Mugabe is not as bad a person as the world is led to believe. Ironically, most of these enlightened people have taken residence in countries perceived as enemy states by their master Mugabe making it a wonder why such people can’t go back and stay with him if he is as good as they put it. According to my own analysis, I think the war to get rid of Mugabe must begin by identifying such individuals and have them physically removed and sent back to their master. Don’t get me wrong Rob, there are a lot of such people here in the UK. They need be told in no uncertain terms that if they are so convinced that Mugabe is right, they must go and join him. The group of concerned Zimbabweans that you propose must then make it their task to identify such people and expose them to the authorities of the host country for their deportation. How can progressive countries host people who condone actions of a person who does not respect the sanctity of the human race?

Come on, tell me what you think. :)

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