Route 2016 – The Social Media Path

By on July 13, 2015
socialmedia1

Last week’s blog post was a mini rant about how science has been a disappointment to me. While at school, I may not have been the brightest in class when it came to science subjects (actually I didn’t quite like Physics, Biology, Chemistry and their close overbearing cousin Mathematics) and so maybe my rant was misguided. However, opinions are such bastards – they spew from whoever has a platform; including myself. So there – I ranted.

But that is not the point.

This week is supposed to have a follow up Blog Post with a ‘Science Fail – Part II’ running but that shall not be happening. As a matter of fact, I may or may not resume the series (Yes, The Science Fail is a 2 or 3 part series) but that will depend on the mood of blogger next week or the week after that.

Today, I would like to bring to light something that I believe is a landmark in this predominantly youthful Uganda of ours.

Let’s talk Social Media; shall we?

We begin with a strange arrest

On Friday 10th July, a close friend tasted the proverbial coolers. Danny T (as he is popularly known) was among a number of young people who were thrown behind bars by the Uganda Police for reasons that up to now we are still trying to understand. There are more technically well placed people who will break down for you how and why he might have been put behind bars; I am not one of them. All I know is that Danny is no criminal. That man would not even hurt a fly if it fell on his birthday cake.

DannyThat’s Danny T on the extreme left. What a gentle giant! (Photo credit : Me)

Anyway, he and a few other people were thrown behind bars for what (as is turning out to be the case nowadays) emerged to be trumped up charges. They had gone to Nagalama to try and find out what was going on with Andrew Karamagi who had earlier been arrested under bizarre circumstances too. So Danny and a few others were genuinely concerned for Andrew, a friend and fellow young person.

Then confusion ensued at Nagalama. The details are scanty but there was talk of someone being in possession of a chapati and how it was somehow construed to be an instrument / weapon with which he could set a police station on fire – somehow, it’s all so confusing.

Danny T and the other friends of Karamagi were then bundled up and locked up. They had to stay behind bars till Monday (13th July) when they would be taken to court (and hopefully charged or at least an explanation for their locking up would be offered). I am not so sure what the law says about holding someone for all that while … without charging them, but like I said, I am no expert at the law.

So I will stick to what I know – Social Media.

Enter the Social Media Army

I have always maintained that until someone close to you suffers something, you will always imagine that you are immune to it or that it does not affect you. On Monday, all of Danny’s friends hit the social media scene and decided to make as much noise as they possibly could. None of them seemed to understand how a man as calm and peaceful as Danny could be thrown behind bars for whatever reasons. And the police didn’t seem too generous on their reasoning.

CHapatApparently hot chapatis started everything! (photo credit http://africanbites.com/)

So people got on their feet (plus their keyboards and phones too).

Some folks headed off to Mukono where Danny T was supposed to be taken to court and the others hit the social media scene to scream as loud as their keyboards and phones would let them. The point was to let the Police know that there were displeased with the impunity with which it was operating.

If ever there was a day when Ugandans rolled over and let the Government have it’s way because of its machinery, today was not that day – JULY 13TH WAS NOT THAT DAY!

Support was garnered both online and offline, the police was called out, the Gov’t screamed at, impunity scoffed at, bail money raised and several Facebook posts and Twitter Retweets later, Danny T and the others were released.

Boom!!

Now before anyone could sit down to hear the former convicts’ version of events, and before anyone could listen to their possible plans to start music careers as many former convicts do, congratulatory messages started flowing in.

Several people who had hitherto assumed that Ugandans on Twitter were all talk and no action started to slowly find other things to do. Some went back to Tweeting about the staggering Shilling, others went into the archives of The Wimbledon final and some others remembered to talk about Miss Uganda. A few began reliving their Sauti Sol experience. Basically, each of them decided to talk about anything but the impunity and carte blanche nature of the Government.

Chickens!

The Real Win

In my honest opinion, the real victory was not in releasing Danny T and all the others. And don’t get me wrong, we need to raise glasses to his freedom. However, the real victory is in the coming together of Ugandans on Twitter for a cause that spoke not just to them as individuals but to the entire country. It was impressive that people who are otherwise seen as nothing but Twitter addicts decided to take it a step further and make their Tweets, Retweets, Favorites and Follows count.

People like Sarah Kagingo who threw her weight behind the cause, Qatahar Raymond Mujuni who became a formula one race driver chasing after police cars in an attempt to keep up with the car in which our boy was, Sam Tusiime who nearly lost his cool on Friday night when he heard that Danny had been arrested and decided to forget that it was his own birthday on Sunday just to make sure Danny got out, Julie whose boss must have been wondering where she disappeared to on Monday Morning and of course the whole lot of people who were among the entourage that ran around hunting for and securing the release of Danny T and all the others who were thrown into the coolers.

There were a number of political figures for instance Betty Nambooze who was on call with over 40 sureties, just in case the police was looking for excuse to keep the young men behind bars. And of course the brainy, intelligent and law-equipped folks at Chapter Four Uganda who offered their very timely and weighty counsel and services to secure the freedom of our young people.

Guys, Nicholas Opio is a real beast at the Law. Goodness! If you are ever on a side that is not his, you are finished! And don’t even get me started on the person of Magelah Peter. Woah! These are the men you need by your  side when you are in a court room against the powerful Government.

Generally, it was very impressive that while the pro-Gov’t fellas kept throwing jabs at the real soldiers on the ground both physically and otherwise, there was a strong support team both online and offline.

This is the Uganda that we need – All for one and one for all!

Lessons for Ugandans

Everything that happens in life happens for a reason; so they say. I would like to imagine that the reason why this whole thing happened was to teach us how to come together for a just cause. I also believe that we need to learn that while one person may have state machinery, bottomless pockets and the backing of the Devil, we as the people are the ultimate line of both defense and attack for the powerless and voiceless.

-The police is supposed to be impartial, right? (Photo Credit – cctv africa)

We stand up to fight for the voiceless and we defend them anyway we can. If it be through Hashtags online that draw attention to the issues, we do it. If it be through protests on the street, so be it. We must defend the defenseless.

There are many days I have held my head down as a Ugandan on Twitter because of the shots we have taken from all directions and all the childish talk we have from morning to sunset but today I hold my head high as a Ugandan on Twitter. I hold my head high because finally someone will know that once we start an army online, you never know the ripple effects that will happen offline.

We may not have the pockets or machinery but we are an army that is ready to be deployed for a just cause.

The Way Forward

After today, anyone who continues to say that Social Media is just but a pass-time activity should remember that while today it was about getting Danny T and the others out of the strong clutches of impunity, tomorrow it may be about unseating a certain despot and the day after that it may be about demanding better lives and accountability for all the taxes we pay.

While the offline battle rages on, the online is picking momentum.

Aluta Continua!

Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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beewol

Baldie. Ailurophile. Social Media Junkie. Blogger. Pluviophile. Fixer. Sober Drunkard.
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14 Comments

  1. Guulo

    July 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Well done everyone. Someone once said,I don’t remember who it was though,you’ll help me out here,you are the quotes man; “an injustice to one is an injustice to all” or something like that. Danny’s friends showed that as they fought as though it were them behind bars,it might as well have been. We all eat chapatis. Aluta Continua

  2. Jagen

    July 14, 2015 at 7:22 am

    First blog i have read as i enter this journey of speaking my mind on all fronts and am glad it was this one. This Ja is now in full drive. Thanks bro, it was inspiring. Kudos to all the social-media freedom fighters out there, we just getting started (and the beauty of it all).

  3. Gracie

    July 14, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Thanks to you i now know the actual story of what actually happened to Danny T and the whole twitter “noise” that day… I don’t know if there are some under ground police talks that gives them the right to annoy everyone, but if it was up to me, they prolly deserve an African beating

  4. Joyce Nimpamya

    July 15, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Like the saying goes that “Afriend in Need is A friend Indeed”You all showed the mile you can go to fight for Liberty Freedom and Reputation……Bravo social media Am glad

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