Nigerian students pass with high grades abroad and people back home wonder how someone with a very low second class average could graduate with a first class abroad. It does not always happen that way, but one thing I have come to realize is the fact that for every grade you get, your lecturer must comment and provide evidence for the assessments unlike what is obtainable back home where you do not get to see your essay scripts and you are at the mercy of lecturers who consider themselves as mini-gods.
Some will barely attend lectures and issue exams questions that some students have never seen before; grades are awarded based on sentiments, the average students with the best sycophantic acts get awarded the best scores, leaving the more hardworking students disillusioned.
In serious climes, you have a right to see all your scripts and for every credit score must be justified, there is nothing like blank assessments where lecturers just issue scores at their own whims. Have you ever wondered how two people who wrote almost the same solution to the same question get far apart grades with one getting a distinction while the other gets below average; that is one reason to know that some of those assessments are never fair.
It is very funny to hear traumatized students terrorize each others about the danger of calling for ones scripts because it is foolhardy to do so; while some of the fears are justified, I must say the fear is an attempt for students not to know that most of those grades are manufactured after all because some of these lecturers turn in the grades way pass the deadlines and with so many scripts to grade, they just affix grades at will, issuing superlative grades to their chosen candidates. Not too long ago, a scandal was outed at a polytechnic in Nigeria when dead students and those who never audited a course found their names and grades on the result sheets. Unfortunately, we heard nothing about the lecturers loosing their jobs over this grave saga.
Our education system needs to be revolutionized lest we keep shunning out insecure, disillusioned students who are so confused about their choice disciplines. When these folks get to places where hard work is rewarded and fair assessments are made, they excel and their colleagues back home get envious thinking grades are just dished out blindly in those places. A case in point is the Nigerian guy who got a 5.0 out of 5.0 grade point average in Russia, that may never happen in Nigeria not because students are not brilliant but because of a warped education and reward system.
I once sat under the tutelage of a professor who told us at the beginning of class that no one will ever get a distinction in his class, can you beat that nonsense? There is even a department in Nigeria where it is a tradition that no one will ever make a first class. It has become institutionalized. All these nonsense must stop.
Reward hard work appropriately.
– Damilola Adegoke
I am tired of people blaming Africa’s failure on slavery and the world system. We have to stop asking the west to apologize for our backwardness. During the slave trade, our forefathers were selling their pairs and kinds to the whites using the Arochukwu Shrine fraud and the Badagry route and many even pride themselves by the number of salves they own.
The economy of those periods was powered and bolstered by slavery. I am not making allowance for the inhumanity of slavery, but we must remember that many years before those era, the Romans invaded Britannia and held some of them as slaves, the Germanic tribes and the Balkans were considered uncivilized and Barbarians by Imperial Rome. These people did not hold themselves back sulking about their slavery and blaming their responsibilities on their former slave holders, they built themselves a powerful civilization., Small Britannia conquered the world.
Spain, Portugal and France had colonies bigger their size; in fact Belgium colonized the Congo which is almost thrice her own size. These powers developed their civilization on intelligence and adoption of knowledge while some of our folks were busy dancing Gelede and Atilogwu in the bush terrorizing each others with Muskets and dane guns imported from far away land in exchange for mirror and rum.
We need to look inward and stop sulking. We need to shun mediocrity and encourage merit. In these places, they have no significant natural resources, in fact Japan has none; yet they conquered the world with their excellent values. We need to promote excellence and not tribalism. Unless and until we allow round pegs in round holes, we shall never move ahead.
While serious nations are busy sending satellite probes to explore space, India already claimed a large portion of the moon as her territory, the European Space Agency planted a craft on a comet, while all these wonderful advancements were being wrought in these places, my people back home are celebrating the mediocrity of building the biggest church auditorium in the world; forgetting about environmental impact of destroying the forests.
A twin earth has been sighted and might probably accommodate life. These serious folks, have mapped the oceans and they can make near to accurate prediction of hurricane, continental shifts and intercept a missile and they are also working on artificial intelligence and robotics. We are busy casting and binding demons and making incredible claims.
In few years time, we are going to start complaining and blaming our backwardness again on the whites and profusely quote Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” as if it was Europe who asked Abacha to stash away billions of dollars of Nigeria’s money in foreign countries and made Diepreye Alamieyeseigha ferret out 5 million pounds of state money. We even gave Abacha a national award and the other guy a state pardon.
We are the architect of our destinies. We have to do the right thing to get the right result.
– Damilola Adegoke, New York, United States
The Political Power of Social Media Technology, the Public Sphere, and Political Change By Clay Shirky
On January 17, 2001, during the impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada, loyalists in the Philippine Congress voted to set aside key evidence against him. Less than two hours after the decision was announced, thousands of Filipinos, angry that their corrupt president might be let off the hook, converged on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, a major crossroads in Manila. The protest was arranged, in part, by forwarded text messages reading, “Go 2 EDSA. Wear blk.” The crowd quickly swelled, and in the next few days, over a million people arrived, choking traffic in downtown Manila.
The public’s ability to coordinate such a massive and rapid response — close to seven million text messages were sent that week — so alarmed the country’s legislators that they reversed course and allowed the evidence to be presented. Estrada’s fate was sealed; by January 20, he was gone. The event marked the first time that social media had helped force out a national leader. Estrada himself blamed “the text-messaging generation” for his downfall.
Since the rise of the Internet in the early 1990s, the world’s networked population has grown from the low millions to the low billions. Over the same period, social media have become a fact of life for civil society worldwide, involving many actors — regular citizens, activists, nongovernmental organizations, telecommunications firms, software providers, governments. This raises an obvious question for the U.S. government: How does the ubiquity of social media affect U.S. interests, and how should U.S. policy respond to it?
As the communications landscape gets denser, more complex, and more participatory, the networked population is gaining greater access to information, more opportunities to engage in public speech, and an enhanced ability to undertake collective action. In the political arena, as the protests in Manila demonstrated, these increased freedoms can help loosely coordinated publics demand change.
The Philippine strategy has been adopted many times since. In some cases, the protesters ultimately succeeded, as in Spain in 2004, when demonstrations organized by text messaging led to the quick ouster of Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, who had inaccurately blamed the Madrid transit bombings on Basque separatists. The Communist Party lost power in Moldova in 2009 when massive protests coordinated in part by text message, Facebook, and Twitter broke out after an obviously fraudulent election. Around the world, the Catholic Church has faced lawsuits over its harboring of child rapists, a process that started when The Boston Globe’s 2002 exposé of sexual abuse in the church went viral online in a matter of hours.
There are, however, many examples of the activists failing, as in Belarus in March 2006, when street protests (arranged in part by e-mail) against President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s alleged vote rigging swelled, then faltered, leaving Lukashenko more determined than ever to control social media. During the June 2009 uprising of the Green Movement in Iran, activists used every possible technological coordinating tool to protest the miscount of votes for Mir Hossein Mousavi but were ultimately brought to heel by a violent crackdown. The Red Shirt uprising in Thailand in 2010 followed a similar but quicker path: protesters savvy with social media occupied downtown Bangkok until the Thai government dispersed the protesters, killing dozens.
The use of social media tools — text messaging, e-mail, photo sharing, social networking, and the like — does not have a single preordained outcome. Therefore, attempts to outline their effects on political action are too often reduced to dueling anecdotes. If you regard the failure of the Belarusian protests to oust Lukashenko as paradigmatic, you will regard the Moldovan experience as an outlier, and vice versa. Empirical work on the subject is also hard to come by, in part because these tools are so new and in part because relevant examples are so rare. The safest characterization of recent quantitative attempts to answer the question, Do digital tools enhance democracy? (such as those by Jacob Groshek and Philip Howard) is that these tools probably do not hurt in the short run and might help in the long run — and that they have the most dramatic effects in states where a public sphere already constrains the actions of the government.
Despite this mixed record, social media have become coordinating tools for nearly all of the world’s political movements, just as most of the world’s authoritarian governments (and, alarmingly, an increasing number of democratic ones) are trying to limit access to it. In response, the U.S. State Department has committed itself to “Internet freedom” as a specific policy aim. Arguing for the right of people to use the Internet freely is an appropriate policy for the United States, both because it aligns with the strategic goal of strengthening civil society worldwide and because it resonates with American beliefs about freedom of expression. But attempts to yoke the idea of Internet freedom to short-term goals — particularly ones that are country-specific or are intended to help particular dissident groups or encourage regime change — are likely to be ineffective on average. And when they fail, the consequences can be serious.
Although the story of Estrada’s ouster and other similar events have led observers to focus on the power of mass protests to topple governments, the potential of social media lies mainly in their support of civil society and the public sphere — change measured in years and decades rather than weeks or months. The U.S. government should maintain Internet freedom as a goal to be pursued in a principled and regime-neutral fashion, not as a tool for effecting immediate policy aims country by country. It should likewise assume that progress will be incremental and, unsurprisingly, slowest in the most authoritarian regimes.
THE PERILS OF INTERNET FREEDOM
In January 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined how the United States would promote Internet freedom abroad. She emphasized several kinds of freedom, including the freedom to access information (such as the ability to use Wikipedia and Google inside Iran), the freedom of ordinary citizens to produce their own public media (such as the rights of Burmese activists to blog), and the freedom of citizens to converse with one another (such as the Chinese public’s capacity to use instant messaging without interference).
Most notably, Clinton announced funding for the development of tools designed to reopen access to the Internet in countries that restrict it. This “instrumental” approach to Internet freedom concentrates on preventing states from censoring outside Web sites, such as Google, YouTube, or that of The New York Times. It focuses only secondarily on public speech by citizens and least of all on private or social uses of digital media. According to this vision, Washington can and should deliver rapid, directed responses to censorship by authoritarian regimes.
The instrumental view is politically appealing, action-oriented, and almost certainly wrong. It overestimates the value of broadcast media while underestimating the value of media that allow citizens to communicate privately among themselves. It overestimates the value of access to information, particularly information hosted in the West, while underestimating the value of tools for local coordination. And it overestimates the importance of computers while underestimating the importance of simpler tools, such as cell phones.
The instrumental approach can also be dangerous. Consider the debacle around the proposed censorship-circumvention software known as Haystack, which, according to its developer, was meant to be a “one-to-one match for how the [Iranian] regime implements censorship.” The tool was widely praised in Washington; the U.S. government even granted it an export license. But the program was never carefully vetted, and when security experts examined it, it turned out that it not only failed at its goal of hiding messages from governments but also made it, in the words of one analyst, “possible for an adversary to specifically pinpoint individual users.” In contrast, one of the most successful anti-censorship software programs, Freegate, has received little support from the United States, partly because of ordinary bureaucratic delays and partly because the U.S. government is wary of damaging U.S.-Chinese relations: the tool was originally created by Falun Gong, the spiritual movement that the Chinese government has called “an evil cult.” The challenges of Freegate and Haystack demonstrate how difficult it is to weaponize social media to pursue country-specific and near-term policy goals.
New media conducive to fostering participation can indeed increase the freedoms Clinton outlined, just as the printing press, the postal service, the telegraph, and the telephone did before. One complaint about the idea of new media as a political force is that most people simply use these tools for commerce, social life, or self-distraction, but this is common to all forms of media. Far more people in the 1500s were reading erotic novels than Martin Luther’s “Ninety-five Theses,” and far more people before the American Revolution were reading Poor Richard’s Almanack than the work of the Committees of Correspondence. But those political works still had an enormous political effect.
Just as Luther adopted the newly practical printing press to protest against the Catholic Church, and the American revolutionaries synchronized their beliefs using the postal service that Benjamin Franklin had designed, today’s dissident movements will use any means possible to frame their views and coordinate their actions; it would be impossible to describe the Moldovan Communist Party’s loss of Parliament after the 2009 elections without discussing the use of cell phones and online tools by its opponents to mobilize. Authoritarian governments stifle communication among their citizens because they fear, correctly, that a better-coordinated populace would constrain their ability to act without oversight.
Despite this basic truth — that communicative freedom is good for political freedom — the instrumental mode of Internet statecraft is still problematic. It is difficult for outsiders to understand the local conditions of dissent. External support runs the risk of tainting even peaceful opposition as being directed by foreign elements. Dissidents can be exposed by the unintended effects of novel tools. A government’s demands for Internet freedom abroad can vary from country to country, depending on the importance of the relationship, leading to cynicism about its motives.
The more promising way to think about social media is as long-term tools that can strengthen civil society and the public sphere. In contrast to the instrumental view of Internet freedom, this can be called the “environmental” view. According to this conception, positive changes in the life of a country, including pro-democratic regime change, follow, rather than precede, the development of a strong public sphere. This is not to say that popular movements will not successfully use these tools to discipline or even oust their governments, but rather that U.S. attempts to direct such uses are likely to do more harm than good. Considered in this light, Internet freedom is a long game, to be conceived of and supported not as a separate agenda but merely as an important input to the more fundamental political freedoms.
THE THEATER OF COLLAPSE
Any discussion of political action in repressive regimes must take into account the astonishing fall of communism in 1989 in eastern Europe and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Throughout the Cold War, the United States invested in a variety of communications tools, including broadcasting the Voice of America radio station, hosting an American pavilion in Moscow (home of the famous Nixon-Khrushchev “kitchen debate”), and smuggling Xerox machines behind the Iron Curtain to aid the underground press, or samizdat. Yet despite this emphasis on communications, the end of the Cold War was triggered not by a defiant uprising of Voice of America listeners but by economic change. As the price of oil fell while that of wheat spiked, the Soviet model of selling expensive oil to buy cheap wheat stopped working. As a result, the Kremlin was forced to secure loans from the West, loans that would have been put at risk had the government intervened militarily in the affairs of non-Russian states. In 1989, one could argue, the ability of citizens to communicate, considered against the background of macroeconomic forces, was largely irrelevant.
But why, then, did the states behind the Iron Curtain not just let their people starve? After all, the old saying that every country is three meals away from revolution turned out to be sadly incorrect in the twentieth century; it is possible for leaders to survive even when millions die. Stalin did it in the 1930s, Mao did it in the 1960s, and Kim Jong Il has done it more than once in the last two decades. But the difference between those cases and the 1989 revolutions was that the leaders of East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the rest faced civil societies strong enough to resist. The weekly demonstrations in East Germany, the Charter 77 civic movement in Czechoslovakia, and the Solidarity movement in Poland all provided visible governments in waiting.
The ability of these groups to create and disseminate literature and political documents, even with simple photocopiers, provided a visible alternative to the communist regimes. For large groups of citizens in these countries, the political and, even more important, economic bankruptcy of the government was no longer an open secret but a public fact. This made it difficult and then impossible for the regimes to order their troops to take on such large groups.
Thus, it was a shift in the balance of power between the state and civil society that led to the largely peaceful collapse of communist control. The state’s ability to use violence had been weakened, and the civil society that would have borne the brunt of its violence had grown stronger. When civil society triumphed, many of the people who had articulated opposition to the communist regimes — such as Tadeusz Mazowiecki in Poland and Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia — became the new political leaders of those countries. Communications tools during the Cold War did not cause governments to collapse, but they helped the people take power from the state when it was weak.
The idea that media, from the Voice of America to samizdat, play a supporting role in social change by strengthening the public sphere echoes the historical role of the printing press. As the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas argued in his 1962 book, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, the printing press helped democratize Europe by providing space for discussion and agreement among politically engaged citizens, often before the state had fully democratized, an argument extended by later scholars, such as Asa Briggs, Elizabeth Eisenstein, and Paul Starr.
Political freedom has to be accompanied by a civil society literate enough and densely connected enough to discuss the issues presented to the public. In a famous study of political opinion after the 1948 U.S. presidential election, the sociologists Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld discovered that mass media alone do not change people’s minds; instead, there is a two-step process. Opinions are first transmitted by the media, and then they get echoed by friends, family members, and colleagues. It is in this second, social step that political opinions are formed. This is the step in which the Internet in general, and social media in particular, can make a difference. As with the printing press, the Internet spreads not just media consumption but media production as well — it allows people to privately and publicly articulate and debate a welter of conflicting views.
A slowly developing public sphere, where public opinion relies on both media and conversation, is the core of the environmental view of Internet freedom. As opposed to the self-aggrandizing view that the West holds the source code for democracy — and if it were only made accessible, the remaining autocratic states would crumble — the environmental view assumes that little political change happens without the dissemination and adoption of ideas and opinions in the public sphere. Access to information is far less important, politically, than access to conversation. Moreover, a public sphere is more likely to emerge in a society as a result of people’s dissatisfaction with matters of economics or day-to-day governance than from their embrace of abstract political ideals.
To take a contemporary example, the Chinese government today is in more danger of being forced to adopt democratic norms by middle-class members of the ethnic Han majority demanding less corrupt local governments than it is by Uighurs or Tibetans demanding autonomy. Similarly, the One Million Signatures Campaign, an Iranian women’s rights movement that focuses on the repeal of laws inimical to women, has been more successful in liberalizing the behavior of the Iranian government than the more confrontational Green Movement.
For optimistic observers of public demonstrations, this is weak tea, but both the empirical and the theoretical work suggest that protests, when effective, are the end of a long process, rather than a replacement for it. Any real commitment by the United States to improving political freedom worldwide should concentrate on that process — which can only occur when there is a strong public sphere.
THE CONSERVATIVE DILEMMA
Disciplined and coordinated groups, whether businesses or governments, have always had an advantage over undisciplined ones: they have an easier time engaging in collective action because they have an orderly way of directing the action of their members. Social media can compensate for the disadvantages of undisciplined groups by reducing the costs of coordination. The anti-Estrada movement in the Philippines used the ease of sending and forwarding text messages to organize a massive group with no need (and no time) for standard managerial control. As a result, larger, looser groups can now take on some kinds of coordinated action, such as protest movements and public media campaigns, that were previously reserved for formal organizations. For political movements, one of the main forms of coordination is what the military calls “shared awareness,” the ability of each member of a group to not only understand the situation at hand but also understand that everyone else does, too. Social media increase shared awareness by propagating messages through social networks. The anti-Aznar protests in Spain gained momentum so quickly precisely because the millions of people spreading the message were not part of a hierarchical organization.
The Chinese anticorruption protests that broke out in the aftermath of the devastating May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan are another example of such ad hoc synchronization. The protesters were parents, particularly mothers, who had lost their only children in the collapse of shoddily built schools, the result of collusion between construction firms and the local government. Before the earthquake, corruption in the country’s construction industry was an open secret. But when the schools collapsed, citizens began sharing documentation of the damage and of their protests through social media tools. The consequences of government corruption were made broadly visible, and it went from being an open secret to a public truth.
The Chinese government originally allowed reporting on the post-earthquake protests, but abruptly reversed itself in June. Security forces began arresting protesters and threatening journalists when it became clear that the protesters were demanding real local reform and not merely state reparations. From the government’s perspective, the threat was not that citizens were aware of the corruption, which the state could do nothing about in the short run. Beijing was afraid of the possible effects if this awareness became shared: it would have to either enact reforms or respond in a way that would alarm more citizens. After all, the prevalence of camera phones has made it harder to carry out a widespread but undocumented crackdown.
This condition of shared awareness — which is increasingly evident in all modern states — creates what is commonly called “the dictator’s dilemma” but that might more accurately be described by the phrase coined by the media theorist Briggs: “the conservative dilemma,” so named because it applies not only to autocrats but also to democratic governments and to religious and business leaders. The dilemma is created by new media that increase public access to speech or assembly; with the spread of such media, whether photocopiers or Web browsers, a state accustomed to having a monopoly on public speech finds itself called to account for anomalies between its view of events and the public’s. The two responses to the conservative dilemma are censorship and propaganda. But neither of these is as effective a source of control as the enforced silence of the citizens. The state will censor critics or produce propaganda as it needs to, but both of those actions have higher costs than simply not having any critics to silence or reply to in the first place. But if a government were to shut down Internet access or ban cell phones, it would risk radicalizing otherwise pro-regime citizens or harming the economy.
The conservative dilemma exists in part because political speech and apolitical speech are not mutually exclusive. Many of the South Korean teenage girls who turned out in Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon Park in 2008 to protest U.S. beef imports were radicalized in the discussion section of a Web site dedicated to Dong Bang Shin Ki, a South Korean boy band. DBSK is not a political group, and the protesters were not typical political actors. But that online community, with around 800,000 active members, amplified the second step of Katz and Lazarsfeld’s two-step process by allowing members to form political opinions through conversation.
Popular culture also heightens the conservative dilemma by providing cover for more political uses of social media. Tools specifically designed for dissident use are politically easy for the state to shut down, whereas tools in broad use become much harder to censor without risking politicizing the larger group of otherwise apolitical actors. Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society calls this “the cute cat theory of digital activism.” Specific tools designed to defeat state censorship (such as proxy servers) can be shut down with little political penalty, but broader tools that the larger population uses to, say, share pictures of cute cats are harder to shut down.
For these reasons, it makes more sense to invest in social media as general, rather than specifically political, tools to promote self-governance. The norm of free speech is inherently political and far from universally shared. To the degree that the United States makes free speech a first-order goal, it should expect that goal to work relatively well in democratic countries that are allies, less well in undemocratic countries that are allies, and least of all in undemocratic countries that are not allies. But nearly every country in the world desires economic growth. Since governments jeopardize that growth when they ban technologies that can be used for both political and economic coordination, the United States should rely on countries’ economic incentives to allow widespread media use. In other words, the U.S. government should work for conditions that increase the conservative dilemma, appealing to states’ self-interest rather than the contentious virtue of freedom, as a way to create or strengthen countries’ public spheres.
SOCIAL MEDIA SKEPTICISM
There are, broadly speaking, two arguments against the idea that social media will make a difference in national politics. The first is that the tools are themselves ineffective, and the second is that they produce as much harm to democratization as good, because repressive governments are becoming better at using these tools to suppress dissent.
The critique of ineffectiveness, most recently offered by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, concentrates on examples of what has been termed “slacktivism,” whereby casual participants seek social change through low-cost activities, such as joining Facebook’s “Save Darfur” group, that are long on bumper-sticker sentiment and short on any useful action. The critique is correct but not central to the question of social media’s power; the fact that barely committed actors cannot click their way to a better world does not mean that committed actors cannot use social media effectively. Recent protest movements — including a movement against fundamentalist vigilantes in India in 2009, the beef protests in South Korea in 2008, and protests against education laws in Chile in 2006 — have used social media not as a replacement for real-world action but as a way to coordinate it. As a result, all of those protests exposed participants to the threat of violence, and in some cases its actual use. In fact, the adoption of these tools (especially cell phones) as a way to coordinate and document real-world action is so ubiquitous that it will probably be a part of all future political movements.
This obviously does not mean that every political movement that uses these tools will succeed, because the state has not lost the power to react. This points to the second, and much more serious, critique of social media as tools for political improvement — namely, that the state is gaining increasingly sophisticated means of monitoring, interdicting, or co-opting these tools. The use of social media, the scholars Rebecca MacKinnon of the New America Foundation and Evgeny Morozov of the Open Society Institute have argued, is just as likely to strengthen authoritarian regimes as it is to weaken them. The Chinese government has spent considerable effort perfecting several systems for controlling political threats from social media. The least important of these is its censorship and surveillance program. Increasingly, the government recognizes that threats to its legitimacy are coming from inside the state and that blocking the Web site of The New York Times does little to prevent grieving mothers from airing their complaints about corruption.
The Chinese system has evolved from a relatively simple filter of incoming Internet traffic in the mid-1990s to a sophisticated operation that not only limits outside information but also uses arguments about nationalism and public morals to encourage operators of Chinese Web services to censor their users and users to censor themselves. Because its goal is to prevent information from having politically synchronizing effects, the state does not need to censor the Internet comprehensively; rather, it just needs to minimize access to information.
Authoritarian states are increasingly shutting down their communications grids to deny dissidents the ability to coordinate in real time and broadcast documentation of an event. This strategy also activates the conservative dilemma, creating a short-term risk of alerting the population at large to political conflict. When the government of Bahrain banned Google Earth after an annotated map of the royal family’s annexation of public land began circulating, the effect was to alert far more Bahrainis to the offending map than knew about it originally. So widely did the news spread that the government relented and reopened access after four days.
Such shutdowns become more problematic for governments if they are long-lived. When antigovernment protesters occupied Bangkok in the summer of 2010, their physical presence disrupted Bangkok’s shopping district, but the state’s reaction, cutting off significant parts of the Thai telecommunications infrastructure, affected people far from the capital. The approach creates an additional dilemma for the state — there can be no modern economy without working phones — and so its ability to shut down communications over large areas or long periods is constrained.
In the most extreme cases, the use of social media tools is a matter of life and death, as with the proposed death sentence for the blogger Hossein Derakhshan in Iran (since commuted to 19 and a half years in prison) or the suspicious hanging death of Oleg Bebenin, the founder of the Belarusian opposition Web site Charter 97. Indeed, the best practical reason to think that social media can help bring political change is that both dissidents and governments think they can. All over the world, activists believe in the utility of these tools and take steps to use them accordingly. And the governments they contend with think social media tools are powerful, too, and are willing to harass, arrest, exile, or kill users in response. One way the United States can heighten the conservative dilemma without running afoul of as many political complications is to demand the release of citizens imprisoned for using media in these ways. Anything that constrains the worst threats of violence by the state against citizens using these tools also increases the conservative dilemma.
LOOKING AT THE LONG RUN
To the degree that the United States pursues Internet freedom as a tool of statecraft, it should de-emphasize anti-censorship tools, particularly those aimed at specific regimes, and increase its support for local public speech and assembly more generally. Access to information is not unimportant, of course, but it is not the primary way social media constrain autocratic rulers or benefit citizens of a democracy. Direct, U.S. government-sponsored support for specific tools or campaigns targeted at specific regimes risk creating backlash that a more patient and global application of principles will not.
This entails reordering the State Department’s Internet freedom goals. Securing the freedom of personal and social communication among a state’s population should be the highest priority, closely followed by securing individual citizens’ ability to speak in public. This reordering would reflect the reality that it is a strong civil society — one in which citizens have freedom of assembly — rather than access to Google or YouTube, that does the most to force governments to serve their citizens.
As a practical example of this, the United States should be at least as worried about Egypt’s recent controls on the mandatory licensing of group-oriented text-messaging services as it is about Egypt’s attempts to add new restrictions on press freedom. The freedom of assembly that such text-messaging services support is as central to American democratic ideals as is freedom of the press. Similarly, South Korea’s requirement that citizens register with their real names for certain Internet services is an attempt to reduce their ability to surprise the state with the kind of coordinated action that took place during the 2008 protest in Seoul. If the United States does not complain as directly about this policy as it does about Chinese censorship, it risks compromising its ability to argue for Internet freedom as a global ideal.
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More difficult, but also essential, will be for the U.S. government to articulate a policy of engagement with the private companies and organizations that host the networked public sphere. Services based in the United States, such as Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and YouTube, and those based overseas, such as QQ (a Chinese instant-messaging service), WikiLeaks (a repository of leaked documents whose servers are in Sweden), Tuenti (a Spanish social network), and Naver (a Korean one), are among the sites used most for political speech, conversation, and coordination. And the world’s wireless carriers transmit text messages, photos, and videos from cell phones through those sites. How much can these entities be expected to support freedom of speech and assembly for their users?
The issue here is analogous to the questions about freedom of speech in the United States in private but commercial environments, such as those regarding what kind of protests can be conducted in shopping malls. For good or ill, the platforms supporting the networked public sphere are privately held and run; Clinton committed the United States to working with those companies, but it is unlikely that without some legal framework, as exists for real-world speech and action, moral suasion will be enough to convince commercial actors to support freedom of speech and assembly.
It would be nice to have a flexible set of short-term digital tactics that could be used against different regimes at different times. But the requirements of real-world statecraft mean that what is desirable may not be likely. Activists in both repressive and democratic regimes will use the Internet and related tools to try to effect change in their countries, but Washington’s ability to shape or target these changes is limited. Instead, Washington should adopt a more general approach, promoting freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly everywhere. And it should understand that progress will be slow. Only by switching from an instrumental to an environmental view of the effects of social media on the public sphere will the United States be able to take advantage of the long-term benefits these tools promise — even though that may mean accepting short-term disappointment.
Source: Foreign Affairs https://www.foreignaffairs.org/articles/2010-12-20/political-power-social-media
It is expedient that we expose the truth instead of sweeping facts under the carpet and allow trouble makers feed our Igbo cousins with falsehood that they develop Lagos when they came from their villages to Lagos . Attached to this post is an article titled :”URBANIZATION AMONG THE YORUBA” written by William Bascom. It describes the city-states culture of the Yoruba in precolonial Nigeria and at the beginning of the 20th century.
On page 447, Bascom wrote that “The estimated index of urbanization of Yoruba cities falls between that of the United States and Canada. and the distribution of population in urban centres is remarkably similar to that of France.” Bascom was describing the demography of Yoruba cities like Ede, Ibadan, Ogbomosho, Ilorin, Oyo, Iseyin, Abeokuta, Ife, Oshogbo, Iwo and not only Lagos.
So, it would be wrong for anybody to claim that they came from their villages to develop Lagos. Keep the truth alive. Lagos is a Yoruba city and Yoruba had cities before the Igbo came, therefore, no one should misinform people out of greed and ingratitude. TOLERATE THE PEOPLE, BUT DON’T SPARE THEIR LIES.
“I pray against reincarnating as a Yoruba or any other tribe from Nigeria.” Adanma Okpara (Micheal Okpara’s US based grand daughter) Michael Iheonukara Okpara, was Premier of Eastern Nigeria during the First Republic. (Culled from Kayode Ogundamisi’s Wall)
Feeding kids with false information and programming them from childhood that other people in Nigeria hate them is one of the reasons why we must not relent to correct some of the falsehoods used by some of these bigots. We will never stop until every form of ethnic bashing is stopped. “Yorubas are cowards”, “Yorubas are Dirty, “Yorubas are prmitive and the Igbo developed them” are some of the lines used by these bigots. Attached to this post are pictures from Aba and Onitsha in Igboland showing that there is no city in Nigeria that is immune from poor waste management. Can you describe what you see in these pictures as clean cities?
STOP playing victimhood, stop feeding children with hatred against other tribes.
Brigadier-General Samuel Ademulegun, the then GOC Ist Division and his eight months pregnant wife, Hajia Latifat Ademulegun were murdered in the presence of their two children Solape and Kole. As Solape Solape Ademulegun-Agbi recollects years later in HOW NZEOGWU SHOT MUM Major Nzeogwu (Ibo) who pulled the trigger on her mother was a family friend who used to come often to their house to eat pounded Yam and Egusi soup. The little girl was even calling him Uncle while he shot her mother in the chest their bedroom.
You probably have heard such stereotype against the Yoruba from our Igbo cousins. I guess Major Patrick Chukwuma Nzeogwu’s action was not an act of betrayal. We must ask our Igbo cousins to stop this stereotype, the same way we must stop other tribes from tagging Igbos criminals.
These bigots should be stopped from ethnic labelling of others. They will never tell their kids how Adekunle Fajuyi (Yoruba) chose to die with General Aguiyi Ironsi (Igbo) when the latter was about to be killed in retaliation for the first coup. This gallant honourable act does not represent the coward and betrayer labelling of Yoruba by some Igbo. This honourable act was witnessed by the ADC to General Aguiyi Ironsi himself, Captain (Now Senator) Andrew Nwankwo. According to Nwakwo, Fajuyi was shot first. Cowards don’t build empires, cowards don’t die to protect the dignity of their host.
Only cowards kill their friends, only cowards kill pregnant women, only cowards take ill-prepared people to war only to abandon them when defeat was imminent. There are cowards individuals but there are no coward tribes.
For those wondering why most Igbo feel they are superior to other tribes in Nigeria and why I have been shouting myself hoax these days about the end to racial superiority, I will not stop because I will continue to provide facts to back up my claim. Any Hausa, Yoruba, Ijaw, Efik who claim tribal superiority should be roundly condemned too, all of us must identify this dangerous trend because if we don’t, we shall only be postponing the evil days.
CHINUA ACHEBE did much in his work THERE WAS A COUNTRY to paint other tribes as envious of IGBO superiority and he did much to damage the psyche of most Igbo who will read his work and be inspired to believe him. This should provide explanation for the reason why some Igbo youths believe that they are the best in Nigeria, that they country the country’s economy, that other tribes are dirty and that other people’s lands should be categorizes as ‘terra nullius’ (no man’s land).
Below are some of the “Igbo Supremacist” quotes from Achebe’s book:
1. The Igbo “led the nation in virtually every sector – politics, education, commerce, and the arts.” (Pg. 66)
Achebe suddenly forgot the facts that the Yoruba man Esan da Darocha (from Ilesha) was the first millionaire in Nigeria. The Yoruba business-woman Madam Efunroye Tinubu (1805-1887) was the first woman in Nigeria to buy a car. William Akinola Dawodu (A Yoruba) born in 1879 was the first importer (dealer) of motor car in Nigeria -he was the sole agent for firestone tyres, Dogde, Chevrolet, and Rio motors. He was also the principal promoter of numerous Ford vehicles in the country. The first Igbo man to buy a car was , Igwe Orizu I (Eze Ugbo Onya Mba) in 1912.
Kano: In 1851, this city, one of the largest in Africa, made 10 million sandal pairs and 5 million hides for export every year.
Alhassan Dantata, born in 1877, was a Northern Nigerian Kolanut trader and was described as perhaps the richest man in West Africa at the time of his death in 1955; In 1929, when the Bank of British West Africa, opened a branch in Kano, Dantata placed 20 Carmels loads of silver coins in it. That was money speaking.
But Achebe did not see all these as anything so long as the achievers were/are not Igbo; because only Igbo were leaders in commerce.
The Yorubas were already doctors and Lawyers almost 70 years before the Igbo, but to Achebe, the Igbo were the first in everything. Achebe forgot that Madam Efunroye was sending trading missions to several countries including Europe before Nigeria’s amalgamation in1914. The man who gave the Igbo their alphabets (Latinized scripts) was Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a Yoruba, but according the Achebe, the Igbo led the nation in politics, education, commerce etc.
The NCNC credited to be Igbo party was co-founded by Herbert Macaulay, a Yoruba man who was the first President of that Party and before NCNC came into existence, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) – Nigeria’s first political party was formed in 1923 by Herbert Macaulay to take advantage of the new Clifford Constitution, the NNDP successfully organized various Lagos interest groups into a single group that was able to compete politically.
In fact a careful study of the list of the associations which made up the NCNC reveals that it was an amalgam of several cultural associations, and labor movements formed in 1944; with very few Igbo associations represented but according to Achebe, it was the Igbo who led the nation in politics. See the List of the NCNC founding associations below to judge for yourself:
T.U.C. of Nigeria
National Democratic Party
Associated Press (Zikist)
Demobilized Soldiers Union
Calabar Improvement League
Lagos Market Women Union
Ebute Butchers Union (Lagos)
Tailors Union of Nigeria
Bamenda Improvement Association
Nigerian Union of Students
Yaba Estate Social Club
Ahoada District Union
Council of Ijebu National Societies
Ekpoma Progress Union
Ezi Wlefare League
Igbotako Progressive Society
Ijebu Igbo Patriotic Society
Ila Patriotic Union
Ipetu Improvement Union
Kwale Improvement Union
West African Union of Seamen
Nigeria Reconstruction Group
Youths Literary Improvement
Association of Master Tailors
Commercial Biz League
Farmers Committee of West Africa
Akure Federal Union
Council of Ijesha Societies
Enugu Divisional Union
Ishan Progress Union
Ekpoma Progress Union
Ezi Wlefare League
Igbotako Progressive Society
Ijebu Igbo Patriotic
Ila Patriotic Union
Ipetu Improvement Union
Kwale Improvement Union Seamen
Nigeria Reconstruction Group
Youths Literary Improvement
Association of Master Tailors
Commercial Biz League
Farmers Committee of West Africa
Akure Federal Union
Council of Ijesha Societies
Egbado Improvement Union
Enugu Divisional Union
Ekiti Parapo Society
Edo National Union
2. The Igbo were “the dominant tribe.” (pg. 233)
Achebe forgot that the Yoruba had telephone connection with Britain close to 70 years before the Igbo, and that Itu was even connected before Enugu. The Hausa/Fulani built empires and cities centuries before the amalgamation of Nigeria, but to Achebe, the Igbo were the dominant tribe.
3. “This group, the Igbo, that gave the colonizing British so many headaches and then literarily drove them out of Nigeria was now an open target, scapegoats for the failings and grievances of colonial and post-independent Nigeria.” (pg. 67) According to Achebe, it is the Igbo alone who chased the British out of Nigeria. He deliberately omit the contributions of Awolowo, Herbert Macaulay, Anthony Enahoro, Pa Michael Umoru, and others pro-independence actors.
Obafemi Awolowo advocated federalism as the only basis for equitable national integration; and as head of the Action Group, he (Awolowo) led demands for a federal constitution, which was introduced in the 1954 Lyttleton Constitution, following primarily the model proposed by the Western Region delegation led by him.
4. Achebe writes, has “an unquestioned advantage over his compatriots…Unlike the Hausa/Fulani he was unhindered by a wary religion, and unlike the Yoruba he was unhampered by traditional hierarchies…Although the Yoruba had a huge historical head start, the Igbo wiped out their handicap in one fantastic burst of energy in the twenty years between 1930 to1950.” (pg. 74)
Describing the religion of others as ‘wary’ is not palatable, and to trivialize the traditional culture of the Yoruba is an arrogant display of supremacy and tribalism.
5. “It is my impression that Chief Obafemi Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself in particular and for his Yoruba people in general…However Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacle to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria – Biafra War – his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the number of his enemies significantly through starvation – eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generation. (pg. 233)”
It is obvious from the above quote that Achebe has sown the seed of hatred against the Yoruba in the minds of the Igbo forever. Claiming Awolowo had overriding power for himself and his Yoruba people. He arrogantly claimed Awolowo saw the ‘dominant’ Igbo as a threat and obstacle that must be removed. This is a deliberate incitement against the Yoruba by an opinion leader and influencer . This self-delusive claim of dominance above others is common in several narratives among both the Literates and Illiterates Igbo. This nonsense must stop, it is standing history on its head to claim the Igbo are the dominant ethnic group in Nigeria. Yet these are the people who will accuse all other ethnic groups of tribalism.
According to Achebe within 20 years, the Igbo became the leading tribe in Nigeria, he made this assertion without any statistics.
He made it look like other tribes stopped developing. When available evidence contradicted his arrogant claim. The first TV station in Africa was created in the 1950s by Obafemi Awolowo with money from Cocoa; the first University in Nigeria (the University of Ibadan) was founded at Ibadan and not in Igbo land. Awolowo built the first stadium in Africa, the first high rise building in Nigeria, first industrial estate. I guess the Igbo within 20 years surpassed all these records and only the Igbo grew because other tribes went to sleep.
If an intellectual like Achebe could have this supremacist attitude, then one needs not be surprised when the majority, not-so educated Igbos claim that their tribe are the richest, the cleanest, the best in Nigeria. This attitude gives false sense of entitlement because people fed with these falsehood will grow up wondering why they were/are not the leaders in all aspects of the economy since they are the best.
We must make it a mission to correct this dangerous attitude, because it has led to several violent conflicts before not only in Nigeria but in Nazi Germany and in Rwanda. There is nothing like a superior tribe. We must also stop sweeping all dangerous comments and tribalist claims under the carpets for the sake of ‘peace.’ If not corrected, we are only postponing the evil days.
FICTION: NIGERIA COMMITTED GENOCIDE AGAINST IGBO
This is another war propaganda that was not corrected which most bigots have fed their children thereby pitching them against other tribes in Nigeria. This is a potential fuel for future violent conflict if not corrected.
Yes, we had a war, people died on both side but to claim genocide against a particular group is to carry on the war propaganda. In war, propaganda are used by warring sides to win psychological sympathy to their cause. But while other nations have published their war propaganda after the war, the Biafra propaganda has been left to develop into mobilization tool to incite hatred against other groups in Nigeria.
I have one question to ask my Igbo cousins, BIAFRA was not an Igbo country, there were Ijaws, Efik, Ibibio, Anang, and other ethnic groups in Biafra, how come none of these people have come out to claim that genocide was committed against them? Why is it that the narrative is only popular among Igbo? Are they saying other groups were left and the Igbo were identified solely for genocide? Name any country in the world who can corroborate the claims of genocide against Igbo.
Before my Igbo cousins throw up curses against me, I will like to quote the learned Igbo scholar Cyprian Ekwensi:
“ Now, another thing which helped Biafran propaganda which I have talked about was credibility. If I tell you now that I contested for Senator in my village and I had 300,000 votes-the whole population of my village is about 30,000-I had 300,000 against my opponent who had 500,000, now how do you prove it? Don’t you see? When you are telling someone something which is unprovable, he has two choices. One, to believe you, and two, not to believe you. If he believes you it will be on your past record of truth. If he doesn’t believe you it will be on your lack of credibility. Now, Nigeria committed a lot of lack-of-credibility acts.
They would say there would be a conference for peace tomorrow and they would be bombing the town in which the peace conference would be held tonight. So as the outside world saw them as people who were showing us their might rather than bringing back a strayed part of the Federation into the fold again. We gave the number of children dying per day as 1,000. Can you prove that? Can you disprove it? But can you believe it? That is propaganda. And we said 2 million Biafrans were killed in the war in 30 months. So, when we started returning to Lagos one of my friends saw me and said, “Ah! I thought you’ve died. Okoko Ndem you are alive-they said all of you died-2 1/2 million people died.” Now Nigeria couldn’t disprove that thing. So that is part of the secret of propaganda. That is, working with probable facts rather than convincing facts,” – Cyprian Ekwensi, in The Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970, History and Reminiscences [edited by General HB Momoh] page 508.
When asked the question, “Most of the information going out of Biafra was exaggerated. Why was this so?” Ekwensi replied: “Have you ever heard of the statement, ‘All is fair in love and war?’ Is that wrong? Are you saying it is wrong?” [Page 510].
Both sides committed dastardly acts during the war but till date innocent Igbo youths have been fed with that propaganda as truth that the rest of the country so hate the Igbo that they woke up and planned to have them annihilated. The Government of Nigeria should stop overlooking this incredible claims under the carpet, because some neo-Biafran groups use this narrative to mobilize people and they keep feeling that hate into these innocent few. SAY NO TO HATE CONDITIONING.
I want us to stop ethnic stereotyping. There are no good or bad tribe, we only have people doing good and bad. With the current madness going on in South Africa, I hope we can learn from this dangerous attitude of tribal tagging and stereotyping; we must learn to accept each others as humans and not with preconceived biased lens.
I have gotten some email from non-Yoruba friends who have expressed concerns about my recent posts, but I like to reiterate that I do not believe in ethnic or tribal supremacy; my closest confidants are Igbo and I have fought, marched and suffered with Ijaw, Edo, Igbo men and women beside me.
As the National President of an association few years back in Nigeria, I had to travelled across the country; my interactions with different people from different background revealed several unique things about the different ethnic groups in Nigeria. I was hosted by an Efik who had never met me before, we drank partied, and explored the legendary Calabar hospitality together. Umuahia and Owerri will forever remain fresh in my mind – the Cultural Centre at Owerri and the night club will not leave my memory forever. At Ebonyi State, I was treated me like a head state.
At another instance, when I was unjustly villified and with several gang ups from people of my ethnic group attempting to rubbish my reputation, the last person who stood to the last is Igbo. The three people who concocted lies against me were Yoruba.
I have had several interesting activism engagements with Hausa, Fulani, Edo, Ijaw and so many others; I find these people great to be with.
However, It will be hypocritical to pretend that there are no seed of discords planted by divisive elements and failed politicians in the minds of the young; this seed of ethnic supremacy and tribal suspicion must be crushed. We must expose all stereotypes and we must teach mutual respect of others. No tribe is superior to another and no tribal has monopoly of violent behaviour. I will not stop exposing this deep seated falsehood planted by past leaders for political gains.
We need to take care that revisionism is not allowed and we must respect the rights of others to their land, their identity and culture. Together, we shall build a great world.
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