Two instances over the past week have gotten me thinking: There is so much power with Social Media.
And I don’t think that we actually know how powerful this is. Well, to show how powerful, Last year’s Arab Spring was solely organized with Facebook and Twitter. And today Hosni Mubarak is a convicted prisoner while Muammar Gadhaffi is dead. All because a group of about 10 people or even 1 person saw it prudent to dare and say a few words about changing the status quo and the idea spread like a wild fire.
Last week the Spanish Prime Minister in a text message to his finance minister compared/likened Uganda to Spain. “Resist, we are the 4th power of Europe. Spain is not Uganda.” And the translation was supposed to be : We’re a major power, not some random IMF-case banana Republic. None of us knows why of all countries Rajoy mentioned Uganda. It could be that he had a few minutes back, been talking to a fellow leader who either mentioned #Kony2012 or maybe talked about how Uganda has a lot of matooke thus is called ‘banana republic’.
While he may have gone to sleep and snored: his Public Relations team was up for a few nights. If not trying to reverse the statement, trying to either explain to the global internet world, what he actually meant. From BBC to Aljazeera and to Uganda’s local dailies and radio stations; everything and everyone was abuzz with #UgandaisnotSpain. A twitter hashtag coined to generate debate and collect views and opinions about that rather peculiar message. Some were in support of Uganda, others in support of Spain. Stakeholders, Government Agencies, and the local population that could mainly afford to be online and access Twitter had something to say. I am so sure that The Prime Minister of Spain did not think anyone would get a hold of his text message and put it online. But that is what Journalism does. But we ended up with amazing pieces on what is and what is not. For me, Daniel K Kalinaki did great in trying to not exactly defend us but rather like he put it: Have us as Ugandans look at ourselves in the mirror/ What do we see?
The second incident: Is something that happened yesterday morning. Yesterday Korean Air was getting ready to launch its flights to East Africa. Being the first air carrier in North-East Asia to come to Nairobi ; they must have been excited about the opportunity I guess. But unfortunately for the team that had worked tirelessly to bring this dream to life: they instead ended up with a ‘situation’. “Fly to Nairobi with Korean Air and enjoy the grand African savanna, the safari tour and the indigenous people full of primitive energy”. Like many have observed the Koreans must have got lost in translation. Considering that the two continents are mile apart. Maybe they should have used Swahili instead? Maybe that would make a better translation. I don’t know. A Twitter hashtag; #PrimitiveEnegy with #KOT [KenayansonTwitter] emerged. And the war with words began. The Kenyan on-line community did not take this as lightly; though a fraction of the tweets I saw were pretty objective about it! I remember one not so vividly saying: ‘Is that not what we portray with our masai culture?” And I thought to myself; Okay. This makes sense in one way or the other. But they could have used better language nevertheless. Please note; only a fraction.
All in all, I love the urgency that Social Media creates and works with. I am sure with these last two events [and the latest involving an Irish minister who is now trending] have stunned the world in so many ways. East Africa and Africa rising up to the occasion and making themselves heard. How I wish that our leaders would adapt to using Social Media and using it well. They would be amazed what good it would to them and society.Hits:579