It would be unfortunate for a man who lives in a thatched house to play a game with fire. Just as it would be unfortunate for people in our country Kenya to throw around utterances without thinking of the aftermath. We have barely recovered from 2007/08 PEV. Maybe we underestimate the ripple effect of a tribal tweet. Maybe we have forgotten that somewhere in an open field, people are still sleeping under tattered tents because they lost all they had.
Yesterday, a football match at the Nyayo Stadium turned chaotic. A few minutes into twitter reports, it had already morphed into a tribal slur, and people were already hauling around venomous attacks on the timeline. This I assume they did sitting comfortably in their houses, probably watching the Wedding Show or something fancier. Just carelessly tweeting away. It is just a tweet after all. In these tweets were the tribal undertones, the stereotypes that are our cancer. Two of them read like this:
“@Danmwaks: Circumcision brings maturity in a man..don’t ask me why if ur arnd Nyayo Stadia:”
People had already made their deductions and formed their prejudices. One of them tried to explain that they said that because a bigger number of supporters for that particular football team comes from a particular tribe. What this person forgot was that it is never about what you say, or why you say it but what the message does once it hits the ground. There is never a time to explain what you meant when people subscribe to your intolerant ideologies, then grab pangas to slash some sense into ‘the others’.
It is a shame to see this kind of hate on social media where you expect people to be a bit more educated, and to be the ambassadors who are preaching peace to the rest of the country. If you are old enough to open and register a twitter account under your name, it means that you are old enough to understand the politics of this country, and how tribal it gets, and how these tribal inclinations are our disease. Make no mistake; the people who are going to tear this country apart if we are not careful are not the uneducated idlers sitting in the market. They are not the ones the politicians are going to hand pangas to go and fight. It is going to be you, the elite! Your tweet and your blog is where these politicians will camp first. But why do we even bring the politicians to this story. We are the ones responsible for our utterances.
We talk about a twitter revolution in Kenya every day, political activism and what not. But how can this happen when we are so careless with the things we say, and when a football match easily becomes an ethno-political argument on twitter? How can this happen when we are not even able to agree to disagree, and when a twitter discussion easily turns into a twitter mob? This culture of ‘the otherness’ stamped on our minds, the ‘us-then-them’, will it ever stop? Your tweet is your weapon. The hate in this tweet could easily slide off the screen into real life. It is always that serious!
Or are we lusting for another 2007/2008?
Maybe we should just go back to sharing funny tweets and copy pasting quotes from famous authors. We are safer that way.