The year 2022 was arguably the year Rwandans were more active on social media, using different platforms, mainly Twitter, to weigh in on issues and make their voices heard or tell life changing stories. Others used the platforms to share their successes, talents, skills and certainly some of the events and key stories that unfolded across the year found themselves at the centre of debates on social media, attracting multitudes of opinions as everyone had this or that to say. It was an extraordinary year that had many shocking developments that left people talking on social media and indeed some of the stories told on the platforms left an indelible memory of what people can do when they get together. One of such stories that unfolded on social media was the courageous tale of 18-year-old Amina Uwikuzo, whose plight was first shared on social media by Tito Harerimana on May 14. Harerimana shared a photo of a determined Uwikuzo revising and doing homework under a street light while vending fruits to support her hardworking mother to make ends meet. Uwikuzo’s story touched the hearts of many, who sought to reach out and support. The New Times published her story and when the leadership of Rwamagana Leaders' School saw it, they called and offered a fully-funded, life changing scholarship, covering literally everything she needs. It was by far one of the most powerful stories which would have gone untold if it was not for social media. Such was the power of social media in 2022. Away from that, perhaps the most riveting story that got social media go berserk in 2022 were developments at Miss Rwanda. Normally, Miss Rwanda is one of the most talked about events of the year on social media. The pageant itself normally kicks off the year with a barrage of social media talk surrounding the competition- If it is not about the contestants, it’s about the organisation and the grand finale. The storm had barely calmed down after Divine Nshuti Muheto emerged Miss Rwanda 2022, piping 19 others to the crown in a hotly contested race in March, when the organiser of the pageant was arrested a month later. Dieudonne Ishimwe, the head of Rwanda Inspiration Backup, the company that was behind the organisation of Miss Rwanda, was arrested on April 27 on a number of charges including rape, soliciting or offering sexual favours, and harassment. It is fair to say that social media exploded. Almost everyone weighed in on the goings-on as the Miss Rwanda institution collapsed like a house of cards. Former contestants like Jolly Mutesi and Elsa Iradukunda found themselves at the centre of the conversation while others like Amanda Akaliza, the Miss Rwanda 2021 first runner-up raised their voices and said it was about time they talked about what young women go through, including Miss Rwanda contestants. If the arrest of Ishimwe did not stir social media enough, certainly the arrest of Miss Rwanda 2017, Elsa Iradukunda, did. Iradukunda was arrested a few days after Ishimwe’s arrest, on May 9, on charges of interfering with investigations. The beauty queen was accused of trying to cover up tracks for investigators, along with a private notary practitioner, Nasira Uwitonze, who was said to work with Iradukunda on affidavits exonerating embattled Ishimwe, commonly known as Prince Kid. Luckily, a couple of weeks later, on May 25, the judge at Kicukiro Primary Court found no reason to keep Iradukunda behind bars and granted her bail. Some reports suggested that the charges, which include influencing assistants in judicial organs, giving false testimony as well as forgery, and use of forged documents, were dropped while others suggested that they still stand. Following a marathon of court appearances, Prince Kid got an early Christmas gift after he was acquitted on all charges. The Judge at Nyarugenge Intermediate Court said that Prosecutors failed to present compelling evidence to the court to secure a conviction for the Miss Rwanda organiser. The release of the two individuals drew mixed reactions on social media again, mainly relief for many, on both occasions. The Miss Rwanda saga certainly claimed a fair share of social dominance as one of the most talked about stories. Before that, it was the arrest of actor and comedian Jean-Bosco Uwihoreye, commonly known as Ndimbati, on March 10, that dominated social media after the 51-year-old was picked up by Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) operatives. Ndimbati was arrested on charges of defilement after a young woman, mother of his twins, claimed that the actor took advantage of her as a minor and later abandoned her. The ‘Papa Sava’ actor would get his legal victory six months later on September 26 when he was acquitted after court said that there were inconsistencies in the evidence presented by prosecution, ordering for his immediate release. His release equally drew mixed reactions on social media as women activists such as Sylvie Nsanga argued that justice was not served. Either way, Ndimbati could not hide his excitement upon regaining his freedom and it was also well documented on social media. Yellow paper effect It can be argued that the usage of social media in Rwanda hit the peak during the Covid-19 outbreak, with many turning to the platforms from their homes as they observed government restrictions, including lockdowns. One of the most popular outcomes of that was the ‘Yellow paper’ effect. In simple terms, the ‘yellow paper’ refers to the colour of the paper on which government or cabinet decisions are published. It became popular in 2020, at the time many Rwandans would expectant to see the resolutions from the cabinet every time they would convene to review Covid-19 preventive measures. The ‘yellow paper’ became so popular, some people could not sleep before it came out. However, in other cases, the ‘Yellow paper’ carries other news, particularly people dropped from or being appointed to certain posts, mainly cabinet and key institutions. On such ‘yellow papers’ that got people talking was the dropping of Edouard Bamporiki, the former Minister of State in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, over matters of accountability. The suspension of Bamporiki, who himself was an ardent social media user, sent tongues wagging on social media platforms, drawing mixed reactions. The youthful official is still battling charges related to corruption and use of authority for his own benefit, as the year comes to an end. One of the most heart-touching moments on social media came towards the end of the year on November 4, when 568 officer-cadets were commissioned into the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) by President Paul Kagame. While often RDF pass-out photos and videos trend on social media, this particular group attracted more social media attention, thanks to the elegance the young men and women exuded. This particular group included President Kagame’s own son, 2nd Lt. Ian Kagame and other brilliant young men and women who excelled in their studies, at home and abroad. It was a celebration of sorts as parents for the first time took to social media to post photos with their own children who had just joined the armed forces, basking in a moment of national pride. Some of the parents that posted on social media include Jeanne d'Arc Gakuba, former Vice President of the Senate, DCG Rose Muhisoni, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) as well as lawyer and activist John Mudakikwa. Another unforgettable moment on social media this year came on July 20 when President Kagame announced the birth of his second grandchild, born to first daughter Ange I. Kagame and Bertrand Ndengeyingoma. The head of state posted a lovely photo of his first granddaughter holding the new born baby and it literally broke the internet and WhatsApp statuses. Though Lewis Hamilton’s visit to Rwanda was mainly private and went unnoticed until he posted about it himself, it did dominate social media in August after the Formula 1 star took to his social media platforms to express his unforgettable moments in Rwanda. Though Rwanda received several sports stars in 2022, it is Hamilton that put a very personal touch in documenting his trip to Rwanda and social media loved it. On a sad note, the passing of singer Yvan Buravan shook social media, with many left devastated and heartbroken by the untimely passing of the singer at the young age of 27. Buravan’s health journey was closely followed, with many using social media to wish him well as he fought for his life but it was never to be. The time had come and many hearts were shattered. These and many more stories got Rwandans engaged on social media platforms in both high and low moments. It was never a dull day in 2022.