Monday, February 22, 2010

If I was ever granted 3 wishes I would wish for a better Nigeria and world peace (please, allow me my pageant moment). My final wish, as funny as it may seem would be for Africa's 'leaders' to hop on board the web 2.0 bandwagon. Since taking to Facebook, Twitter and the many other web 2.0 programs that pervade the internet, I have discovered many ways to communicate with like minded people and learn from those that might not necessarily share my views. Being as I enjoy observing people, (I am eternally curious and have found 'people watching' to be quite enjoyable sometimes), social media applications have proven to be quite handy. On Twitter for instance, I get to e-eavesdrop on interesting conversations and sometimes, I politely butt-in to certain discussions (but only with good e-friends, of course, anything else would be gauche and tacky).

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My experiences online have made me realize that I would like to engage certain African heads of state. I can't help but imagine what a 'tweet' from, let's say, Libya's Gaddafi would say. Given his recent declaration that he is "the King of Africa" (I guess that's what being "African Chairman" get's you, as we Africans love our titles), Gaddafi's twitter messages would be many things, one of which is entertaining. What about Nigeria's Yar'Adua? Stop yourself right there, Nigerian readers. Many of you probably have a disparaging thought and comment forming on the tip of your tongue. But, for all you know, Yardy (as I affectionately call him) is probably a witty person and could have some stimulating things to say when he actually chooses to share his thoughts. Besides, I would really like to learn his reaction to the silly 'Yar'Adua on a treadmill' spoof-videos circulating the internet. Being that he is President of Nigeria, it would be best for him to patronize one of the home grown social network platforms like or to express himself. I am sure Francis Oghuma of Naijaborn would also welcome an opportunity to help Yar'Adua get up to speed on how to use the interface.

There is something about the internet that encourages people to either share too much or simply say the most ridiculous things (this writer included). This is evidenced by the frequent gaffs many a popular celebrity or tweeter makes on a weekly basis. But, what would Mugabe say if he was unleashed online? The more I think about it, the more I realize that I might not want to know what Mugabe has on his mind, quite frankly. Presidents the world over stay away from the internet for good reasons - their gaffs can't be cleaned up by savvy PR people, and for some, a simple mistake online could create a domestic or international incident. Alas, allowing a president, African or otherwise, to expose their verbal diarrhea online is probably far from wise.

The internet in many ways has become the great equalizer. In some ways, it is an incredible example of the democracy many African countries are lacking but desperately need. Poor or rich, young or old, powerful or not, once an individual can get online, all bets are off as every person with a thought can technically share it. Not all opinions are of equal importance, of course, but with a little tinkering, some savvy, and in many cases, a touch of controversy, anyone can have an impact and carry some weight. Maybe that's another reason why Africa's 'leaders' opt out of the web 2.0 bandwagon - they would have to navigate the internet's highways with mere mortals. Or, maybe they simply don't wish to truly engage with others, after all it takes a certain combination of guts and humility to subject oneself to direct criticism and challenge, something many an African President is not accustomed to.

But, I posit that despite the obvious problems that can arise if a president freely expresses his or herself online, direct interaction with African citizens would actually help many of these 'leaders', as far too many of them seem to be out of touch with what is going on around them. That way, some of them wouldn't have to pay bloggers and others to say nice things about them, as they could simply do so themselves. In fact, a couple town hall meetings where the people can speak directly to their presidents without fear of being arrested or killed for voicing their opinion would be good enough. (Hint - Nigeria's next Presidential elections are just around the corner...).

So, should Africa's presidents make use of the internet? That question will have a million answers and at the end of the day, I likely will not get my wish to engage directly with any of them using social media networks. As such, I unfortunately will not get to learn what any of them feel about the recent revelation that no single former African president was worthy of winning the Mo Ibrahim prize. Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder what presidents like Sudan's Omar or the Guinean military dictator, Camara, seemingly endorsed and emboldened by Nigeria's ex-dictator, Babangida, would say about the prospect of them possibly winning that prize in the future? Oh wait, they don't care! After all they can simply raid their nation's central banks for much more than Mo Ibrahim's foundation could ever give away. And, these 'leaders' don't even have to deal with consequences from their people in real life, talk less of on the internet.

I'm going to have to wait a long time for an African leader to get online, but hopefully many of them will choose to engage citizens directly offline sometime soon. And by that, I mean now.

Would you like to talk to the President of an African country? If so, who what would you say? Would you like to talk to them in person or anonymously via the internet? Or, do you prefer Africa's 'leaders' to stay away from the internet? Share your thoughts.

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AliceDCL said...

hehehe lmao
that wud be fun

Tai -Osagbemi Boma said...

dont you think it would be sorta difficult twittering while in a coma(in saudi)?? lol?

Anonymous said...

Lol I believe they should! Or at least hire assistants who are web savvy. Its 2010. Time to join the rest of the world

- egodujour from Twitter

Taz said...

You can follow Paul Kagame on twitter.

Gin said...


francis oghuma said...

Hi thanks for the mention
peter oghuma?
its francis oghuma
nice article

Jinta said...

they're too busy counting the loot

Anonymous said...

But then isn't their security then somewhat compromised? I mean imagine a hacker in a more "internet developed" (lol I know, couldn't think of a better way to put that) country (or even from our own country) then decides to hack into the President's system? Not only would his personal information be vulnerable, what if he was silly enough to have confidential information on his system?

And even if he did go online aren't the majority offline??? Like with no internet access?

But then this could be a joke and I'm completely missing the point... I'm in work mode and I do computing Lol Or perhaps it's way too early and my mind hasnt aught up with my body...

Nice article either way.

Love ya <3 << so uncool right? Political blog and your niece is here loving you up haha xx

The Girl with the Red Hair said...

You serious some of them pay bloggers to say nice things about them?

Our africa leaders are not ready to listen to peoples opinions, i guess that is why they stay offline but the world is moving on fast without them

RE-Entrepod said...

Oh My Sister I would so enjoy conversing with them in both professional tones and personal ones.

First I'd like to ask Sir Goodhat where he gets them ? seriously is he ever without a hat ?

I would also like to know who makes King Qadafi's Boss Agbahdah's and shoes. he dresses like his own fashion mob.

and if I could get just a few moments to talk to a former president; I would like him to listen to me, and not say anything. it would be Chucky Taylor. I'd like to tell him how much I envision him with a babies heart in his mouth and blood running down his face and neck as little black maggots crawl out of his skin and are devouring him from his knees down. and yes I really do see him that way. he is a zombie.

I would also like just 2 minutes alone with Baby Doc Duvalier, Jacob Zuma and Mugabe in a dark room with a ducttape wrapped stack of castile soap. I'd wash out their mouths by beating off their heads; thereby cleaning up their acts.

oh I know,,, so many wishes and so little time. thats' why I think these presidents don't want to engage their citizens like me, because I'd like to get both Personal and Physical with them. yes my dear sister sydelle I would like that very much.

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