Sunday Magazine

Twitter: 2012 was a very interesting year for ‘RwOT’

  • BY ALLAN BRIAN SSENYONGA
  • 30th Dec 12

The micro blogging site Twitter has been around for quite a while but its usage in Rwanda may have only blossomed in the past year. However, even before it had picked up the President was already a Twitter bigwig with over 30,000 followers before 2012. By the time of writing this his follower numbers had clocked 94,169. 

It must be said that his usage of the same has acted as a pull factor for many Rwandans to join and use it. A Rwandan using it will easily throw in the president for full effect when convincing you to join Twitter. If you are not yet convinced then you are likely to hear something like, “But why are you not on Twitter? Even Pres. Kagame uses it.”

Rwandans on Twitter

In the year 2012, more Rwandans have joined and used Twitter thanks in part to the increased usage of smartphones and other internet-enabled phones that come with Twitter and Facebook apps already installed.

The increased usage of Twitter in 2012 eventually saw the coinage of the phrase RwOT which refers to Rwandans on Twitter. Using the #RwOT hash tag one is able to easily communicate with Rwandans on Twitter unlike before. In other words if you needed directions to a restaurant in Nyarutarama you can just pose your question and remember to include #RwOT in the tweet. @AkalizaKeza must surely be the most consistent user of #RwOT.

Top Twitter users

Unlike the year before, 2012 did not come with another list of top Twitter users in Rwanda like the one that Gilbert D. Rwabigwi came up with in 2011. My guess is that with more Rwandans using the platform, compiling a list of the top users may have become harder than before for Gilbert (@Rwabigwi).

#KinyaWenesday

2012 also saw the rather innovative usage of the #KinyaWenesday hash tag that was probably coined by @eric1key. The tag is often used on Wednesdays to encourage Rwandans to tweet in Kinyarwanda. For some of us, it is usually a good time to slowly polish up your Kinyarwanda writing skills.

Most popular tweets

The funniest tweet in 2012 could probably be the one by a certain lady who was desperately trying to drag the president into a minor issue at her place. She tweeted something about having been ‘chest’ from her job at Inyange Industries. Many Rwandans on Twitter instead had a field day laughing at the typo.

President’s Kagame’s speech on the issue of the problems in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he famously said; “We are not cows, we own cows. We are a small country but not a small people” resulted in probably the most tweeted phrase of the year.



Most commonly used word

The most commonly used word by Rwandans on Twitter was Agaciro which means dignity a common theme in the new Rwandan way of looking and doing things. Some tweeps even went further to formulate words from it such as ‘Agacirofied’ to imply dignified. This particular one is often used by @LucyMbabazi.



More companies/Govt officials join Twitter

In 2012, more Rwandan companies or organisations joined Twitter and this time it was not possible for them to just stay idle as the Rwandans had become more agile users who are often demanding answers from those companies.

I can actually conclude that the way Twitter was used in 2012 could actually signal the death of the traditional suggestion box. Customers with complaints or suggestions have now resorted to using Twitter to air their grievances. This in turn compels companies to have well informed people running their Twitter accounts.

Government officials also continued to use the platform much more than before. By the beginning of the year it was probably on the health minister who used Twitter quite a lot. However the Prime Minister has also grown his presence on twitter especially on the days when the hash tag #AskPMRwanda is used to post questions that he promptly responds to.

Solidarity of Rwandans on Twitter

The controversial UN experts’ group report on DRC was one of the issues that revealed the existence of a patriotic group of Rwandans who are always ready to call you out if you post lies about Rwanda on Twitter. It is no longer possible for someone to post falsehoods about Rwanda on Twitter without being called out and pointed to a number of facts to the contrary.

Many may doubt the existence of the solidarity of Rwandans on Twitter but the Kigali City Council authorities had to learn about this the hard way. The City Council’s controversial attempts to have Papyrus Club closed were met with a fierce fight back by many on Twitter which caught KCC on the back foot.

Not only did the KCC learn that people were not going to sit back and watch the few entertainment places being closed, they also learnt that they were amateurs at the Twitter game. At one point the person behind the @CityofKigali account seemed to lose his/her cool while trying to respond to numerous queries about the situation concerning the future of K-Club in Nyarutarama.

In 2012 Rwandan media houses also learnt that Twitter is the fastest way to break news and that waiting for hours to report on an event may mean producing stale news that has already been circulated on Twitter as well as Facebook. This has compelled traditional media to give space to more analysis if they are to remain relevant in this ever charging media scene.

Some smart companies have discovered that Twitter can be used to advertise their products and hook new customers. For example at one time following the Bourbon Coffee account would result in a free offer for coffee at any of their establishments.

In general, it is safe to say that Twitter has offered Rwandans a new and more robust platform for them to demand accountability from their leaders as well as companies. There are some few people who have made quite a name when it comes to demanding for better services that companies and individuals fear seeing a tweet from them. To find out who these Twitter big shots are you have to join and keep a keen eye. Happy New Year to all Rwandans On Twitter.


Contact email: Email: ssenyonga[at]gmail.com Blog: www.ssenyonga.wordpress.com Twitter: [at]ssojo81

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