Africans should use social media to network and cause change when faced with poor standards of living, delivery of services and marginalisation by politicians, says Fatuma Abdulahi, a Somali intellectual and broadcaster.
Speaking at the at the second annual Media and Politics lecture at Golf Course hotel in Kampala Abdulahi, said it is only the poor or non-existent physical infrastructure that slows down the speed with which like-minded Africans can network and share ideas.
“For change to come, people have to network. The youth are marginalised and should use social media. You can’t have meaningful political connection and change in a disconnected society. Social media provides necessary networks,” she said at the lecture, organised by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME).
Citing Egypt, Libya and Tunisia where ordinary citizens used social media to topple governments, Abdulahi says people, especially youths and women, have to diversely network to realise political change.
“If politicians are to survive, they will have to be smarter, produce jobs, services, [and] infrastructure. But if people feel cheated…,” Abdulahi said on Wednesday during the second annual lecture by the African Centre for Media Excellence.
Speaking under the theme “Media and Politics in Africa”, Abdulahi faulted Africans for being too patient with politicians and the way services are delivered.
“Politicians take us as children; they come to us for votes and they drive away after that. Yet we go back and vote for them [at the next election],” said Abdulahi, who is also the country director of Internews Somalia.
Abdulahi said that with more than 200 million people aged 15-24, Africa has the youngest population in the world with a growing media class, especially women with disposable income and marginalised youth all connected via social media. She said politicians have lagged behind engaging this group, resorting to closing social media when they understand its power, like is the case in Ethiopia.
Benard Tabaire, the director of programmes at ACME, said the annual lecture was aimed at contributing to a resurgent cultural and intellectual life of Uganda and an opportunity to reflect on intersection between media and politics.