When the 2008 post election violence broke out in Kenya, many people struggled to come to terms with the effects that came with it, to an extent, even refused to admit that that was Kenya. Indeed, it was the last thing in our minds. Africa knows us for the peace we uphold even though our politics is probably among the most technical worldwide. You’d wonder how come we are not fighting everyday judging from the rivalry of political divides. God knows.
When they announced Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the presidency then, violence was spontaneous. It is even difficult to imagine that there are people who sat down to plan it. It was almost inevitable even depicting from the sort of build up we had from the General Election then. Well, I would say the main causes were among them; the underlying issues that kept people hard pressed and in return escalated the ugliness of tribalism. Fine, the International Criminal Court (ICC) may end up jailing the now ‘Ocampo 3”. And yes, it might serve as closure to the innocent people who were afflicted by the culmination of the violence. But come to think of it, what will aid in the healing of the aggrieved? Locking up a few people who may actually not have participated in the organization of the violence or settling the Internally Displaced Persons and giving them a new life? Yes, the perpetrators of the events that unfolded in that period certainly ought to be brought to book, but we all know how shambolic Ocampo’s findings were. Furthermore, Francis Muthaura is now a free man. Who knows the person to be dropped next from the prosecutor’s list?
Either way, justice must be done. It’s a tough call however for the ICC. Well, we voted the other day in what appeared to be the most successful General Election ever to take place in Kenya. You could still argue it sure was. There was no massive loss of lives nor displacement of persons that characterized the previous ones. But guess where the war went…to social media.
Okay, you have probably read enough about it so many times by now, about the imprudence of the middle class and their wit on twitter and Facebook. And if you still doubt it, the Nigeria Vs Kenya match in Calabar was evidence enough. We are creative. We speak our minds out. We have freedom of expression, and boy, do we utilize it.
However, the dangers of exhibiting such freedom could be dire for a country. A friend of mine who is an ardent CORD supporter told me that people are bitter because they feel they have been denied justice. I honestly did not get it. I do not comprehend where the bitterness is coming from and why CORD and JUBILEE supporters have been dislodging insults at each other online. These were the same people who preached peace before the elections, took photos together wearing different t-shirts of the parties they were supporting, and even posted photos of their inked fingers after they had cast the ballot, just to show how much they loved their country and all. (And by the way am still struggling to shed off the IEBC ink on my finger)
But everything took a turn around the moment Raila refused to concede defeat and opted to file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the IEBC presidential results. The social media judges opened their claws and all hell broke loose. This is the same lot that did not participate in the party nominations held prior to the General Election. The same lot that claims to be enlightened and well acquainted with the principles of democracy. I was holding a discussion with some guys and someone thought aloud; just what more would have happened to Kenya back in 2008 had social media been active as it is today? Clearly, a good number of us have not learnt from the past. If anything, I tend to believe the majority of those who went a burst on social media hurling insults at the other group were not verily affected during the post election violence. They did not suffer its full effects.
Back then, the fighting was catapulted by people who are not technology fanatics. This time, it’s us, facebookers and tweeters. What fascinates me most; it is not a lot that owns anything in Kenya. They are not land owners nor do they own businesses. They are just crazy opinion givers who were exercising their imprudence maybe to gain fame or be termed as ‘cool’ while in real terms, they were just being foolish. I really think there is a need for the government to include a subject or add a portion in the curriculum in which young people will be taught on the power of social media as well as the moral standards they need to adhere to while using their technology gadgets to air out thoughts and opinions, especially on political matters.
It is evident that young people get empowered at an earlier age than their parents in this present day. Therefore, we need to find an appropriate way to curb the sort of imprudence we have witnessed for the past three weeks on social media. Primary school pupils own facebook accounts nowadays. The education should begin there. We should accept the fact that these young kids are vulnerable to so many things online. If strong and upright values are inculcated into them where they are now, we shall avoid having an immature lot on cyber space who have no idea what life is about and just follow a euphoria that does not lead them anywhere. That will also aid in creating jobs, at least in urban places where the use of social media is alive more than remote areas. They may not be many places but we ought to plan ahead. The future is not very far when it comes to technology.
Every social media user needs to understand that they hold a moral responsibility to express issues in a manner that will not infringe the rights and feelings of other users, much as they are exercising their freedom of expression. Social media is a good tool, but its abuse has ugly consequences. Kenya is too beautiful for that.