When your Wi- Fi acts up, it can usually be fixed by grabbing a pen & depressing a small reset button on the back of your router.
Now imagine losing your internet connection…
we know that’s tantamount to hell for most of you.
& don’t worry, because we even get it.
So what happens when you discover your entire country –or region– is dealing with the exact. Same. Problem.
It was ordered by an oppressive government or an overzealous leader.
Today we will be discussing internet shutdowns & its role as a strategic tool in preventing the spread or access of information to the general masses.
let us talk about the internet. Specifically, social media & its effect on our society.
Whatever it is, you name it; there’s probably a blog post, picture, video or tweet about it. If you can type it then it’s somewhere on the internet.
Have any random off the top of your head questions?
Google or Wikipedia is your friend & will quickly link you with an answer. So let’s say you are part of the diaspora & your mom –like alot of us– is back home. It’s the holidays & you need to wish her a Happy New Year. In the past a calling card of some sort would be required or any other arbituary just as stressful method.
Thankfully in the modern age Facetime & WhatsApp (WozUpp) now exist & it is generally the go to means of communicating with your family accross the pond.
The internet has also changed the way we do business. Bank transfers can now be completed via mobile devices. Goods can be obtained without leaving the comfort of your home thanks to new age entreprenuers with services like Jumia. It’s difficult to find an industry that has not been altered by the modern phenomon that is the internet.
So what is the real deal with these internet shutdowns happening all across Africa?
Ever heard the phrase “Pictures or it didn’t it count“,
basically to say: if there is no photo evidence then the event never occured.
This is now true, more than ever before in this digital age.
Say you’re commuting using public transport back home from a long day at work.
Your stop is approaching & you’re upto of your game. So you inform the driver of said stop by pulling on the stop request cord. For some unknown reason the cord malfunctions & the driver passes your stop before you even have the chance to protest. Now you are a mile from your intended stop with a long walk home.
African leaders are participating in a similar game.
But this game is riggered & the cord was purposefully disconnected.
In this game, business are missing out on profits & opportunities.
In this game, citizens are denied access to information, contributing even further to the digital divide.
The spread of information on the internet has made it more difficult to isolate, & oppress people while remaining unnoticed.
African leaders are now under pressure from citizens to become more transparent with the inner workings of their respective governments.
The people are demanding accountability. Now more than ever.
These are how some government’s are responding:
It has become an new trend for African world leaders to turn off the “router” in their country, leaving millions of their citizens in cyber darkness without access to internet & information consequently detering foreign investors.
If the people can’t tweet about it then it didn’t happen. Evidence of government oppositions, videos depicting aggressive military actions, or solidarity from shared experiences are stifled.
If no information gets out then the world can’t be outraged.
Share it! Retweet it! Upload it!
Talk about it within your communities, in person and online. Your voices can’t be stiffled & we all know the internet is all about shooting your shot these days. Allow yourself to be heard.
No reason to suffer in silence.
Although it seems like a gloomy political atmosphere in the bountiful continent, here are some examples of why your voice matters.
Movements, organizations, & individuals speaking up on the web.
Backlash from the public due to the firing of Nhlanhla Nene; the Minister of finance. The public felt duped & resentment towards former South African President Jacob Zuma for paying off his private homes using state funds. They banned together & their voices were heard under the movement & hastag #ZumaMustFall.
Sums up multiple protests denouncing misogyny & the underwhelming response to violence against women worldwide.
Zimbabwean pastor & democratic activist; Evan Mawarire, posted a video of himself wearing the Zimbabwean flag around his neck while speaking against the state of public services, Zimbabwean economy & its effect on his community.
The video went viral, ganering so much attention that soon after others began sharing their shared experiences of hardship while wearing the flag arround their neck as a sign of solidarity & protest.
Udeme is a platform designed to hold the Nigerian government accountable for how funds for capital projects are spent. Their goal is to inform & educate citizens on what part of the nations budget is set aside for developmental projects in their community. Empower Nigerian citizen with information to track, investigate & report corruption in the processing of projects funded by government budgets. Click this link to follow them on twitter.
Adeola Fayehun is a Millennial Political reporter, she brings you breaking african news with satirical commentary that is digestable intended to keep you engaged & informed. Check her out for yourself.
The internet or access to it does not create political unrest –cause African world leaders swear it does. It can however, aid expression, contribute to the distribution & transfer of information. Provide an escape & still serve as a safe space to find all your vested interests.
When used properly the internet is a tool for sharing new ideas & views. It has been viatal for understanding the black diaspora relations & for keeping up with the current state of the African experience.
How will you use it?
What will you share?