Finally there is a formula for learning about EAC
During my primary school days there were two books with interesting titles. One was called Africa learns about Europe while the other was called Europe learns about Africa. If I had my way, I would request the people who made those two books to start immediate work on a new book titled Europe learns about East Africa.
Indeed such a book would come in handy for some of the politicians in Europe, whose is ignorance or arrogance about this region seems to be taking aim for Sarah Palin levels of geopolitical ignorance. The American is known to have bragged about being able to see Russia from her state.
The latest victim to these geopolitical gaffes, was the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who sent a text message to his Finance Minister Luis de Guindos during negotiations on terms for a bailout package for Spain’s troubled banking sector that read, “Resist, we are the fourth power of the EZ (EuroZone). Spain is not Uganda.”
This was all Ugandans needed to find reason to indulge in tweeting like they are paid to do so. The hash tags #SpainIsNotUganda and #UgandaIsNotSpain ruled the cyber space for a considerable time, with many Ugandans advising the Spanish Premier to find the time to visit Uganda so as to treat his ignorance about the country.
What I read from all this is that we finally have a new formula, through which those previously ignorant about East African countries can get quick and free lessons about them. To people in the West, in case there is an East African country that remains a mystery to you, worry not for I have found the right formula.
All you have to dao is to find an opportune moment to make a careless reference to one of the five countries that make up the East African Community, and, then sit back and watch the cyber backlash as you take notes in your notebook. With East African’s slowly embracing social media sometimes all we need is a topic we can jump on and tweet like our economies depend on that.
At the beginning of the year, Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak implied in a speech that Tanzania was not important when he said, “Germany, France and England are not Tanzania, Mauritania or Tripolitania.” The Tanzanians were up in arms reminding the Israelis of how important Tanzania; a country blessed with oil, gas and lots of minerals actually is.
Before the dust in Dar could settle, someone in Atlanta, Georgia the home of news giant CNN decided that a news item about an explosion in Nairobi was incomplete without a declaration that actually violence had broken out in the whole country. The Kenyans stormed Twitter with a #SomeonetellCNN hash tag that compelled CNN to hide its tail between the legs.
We all remember the treatment that was meted out to the creators (Invisible Children) of the Kony 2012 viral video. In a short while, their efforts had been shredded to pieces on both Twitter and Facebook. They were compelled to come up with a less ignorance-laden video to address the concerns not only from Uganda but the world.
I must confess that I am really enjoying these cyber wars on many levels. At one level they serve to ignite patriotic sentiments from formerly dormant citizens to stand up and defend their country in a way that can best be compared to Rwanda’s Agaciro concept.
Secondly, these cyber outbursts serve to flood the internet with snippets of information about a country. I am sure that now many people in Spain have learnt about a country called Uganda in East Africa as opposed to the usual Africa is a country kind of ignorance that is predominant in the western world.
Those who know that indeed Africa is not a country are usually unable to list more than 10 countries on the continent. Such instances service to add another country to their small list. And since in the world of showbiz any kind of publicity is considered useful, then I am sure this too will go a long way in boosting tourism in the region.
In other news, just before the five Finance Ministers of the EAC could read the national budgets, Kenya lost two key politicians in Prof. George Saitoti and Orwa Ojodeh. It is worth noting that one of Saitoti’s last speeches was about urging Kenyans to vote wisely in the coming elections. May their souls rest in peace.
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