Emotion, ‘new media’ and journalism, an African threesome made in heaven

In its December-31-1999 special edition titled Person of The Century, Time Magazine asked Steven Spielberg-am assuming you know of him-what issues and events would shape movies and the media in the new millennium.

In its December-31-1999 special edition titled Person of The Century, Time Magazine asked Steven Spielberg-am assuming you know of him-what issues and events would shape movies and the media in the new millennium.

Spielberg answered that people at the time were fed up with traditional movies. The ones about good/bad guys, morality, kick-ass etc and added that the audience would move towards reality television.

He elaborated that viewers were tired of being consumers, they wanted to be actors of their own lives and so the camera was coming to our homes from Hollywood.

Soon afterwards, Big Brother Africa made its debut in Johannesburg, and was a runaway hit to many Africans in urban areas. Later, it was Nigeria’s drama woven into substandard films which many Africans related to that became massively popular.

As ever, in the west it got even weirder. Women, with a touch of science started to give birth to six or eight babies at a go-normally featuring the use of fertility clinics. Octopulet mothers started surfacing and making their circumstances into sci-fi dramas.

In later years the reality show world moved from television to the internet and made the ICT highway accessible to many, both literally and virtually.

Thanks to the internet, politicians and mainstream media became more visible, and in Rwanda, where previously we had waited for the radio-if we were lucky enough to avoid the Kigali ‘routine’ of attending rallies organized by Local Government officials-we could sign on to our leaders’ pages on Facebook and have exclusive access to their speeches and “What they were doing.”

To many voyeuristic people the ICT highway offered a vanity wall where users stopped to look and admire themselves constantly and continue with their lives - which is snooping on what other people were up to.

And yet this confluence of ICT, man’s emotion and space made for a sumptuous threesome. On your profile, (depending on which ICT highway you belong to) the costume of the theatre that is society was thrown away, your innermost self was hoisted up on your ICT vanity wall.

Facebook for one, constantly asking you, “What’s on your mind?” It is while I was trying to figure out what was on my mind during this past week that I tried to first find out (voyeur and snoop not referring to me in this case-) what was on other people’s minds at the same time.

Ed Pacino, (Rwandan senior journalist, his real name protected for fellowship purposes) was asking the world: “do we have democracy and political tolerance in Rwanda???”

There were a couple of answers to his mind. But he was not satisfied with any and later, as if some answers from Transparency International did not please him, Pacino was very upset.

He adjusted the mirror to where the vanity wall was visible in all corners, Pacino wrote:

“The West has given us a mirror with a built-in ugly image and we have looked into that mirror and imagined the image is ourselves. We have let someone judge us wrongly as we watch him doing.

Africa has its democracy in its style. The west criticizes us just to get away (a way – Ed) of justifying their charity business am so pissed...never to consider western reports on transparency in Africa.”

Still on the E-sojourn another Rwandan, Usambara Mwenye’Chupa, a post graduate student in South Africa was stating: “.....Africa has to massively invest in education and healthcare. Everyone fools and undermines us because we are not educated and sick (sick and not educated –Ed).

Even investors fear dealing with illiterate people and with no healthcare. Lacking the two is a great component of poverty, conflicts and underdevelopment. Please, act now, our dear Presidents!!!!”

The president to whom, you can assume Mwenye’Chupa was addressing was himself busy in his hotel room in New York preparing to address a UN General Assembly.

He wrote an OpEd piece for The Washington Post where he was calling on a; “shift from an agriculture-based economy toward a knowledge-based economy, with a vibrant service sector.

We have enacted and consistently enforce a rule of law that counters corruption........” His piece was to be seen cruising on the E-highway as well.

The convergence of the three ideas from three different people that could be completely anonymous to each other-in thought-is what makes a dream threesome of a reporter. And yet, there’s still room to upgrade the ‘some’ to four.

Having missed his time for four decades, Muamar Gadaffi compensated himself. And ridicule him as you may, Gadaffi attempted to beat the record for most meandering train of thought from the occupant of The Hammock!