George Thapatulha Chaponda—the erstwhile Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Leader of the House—is peremptorily the man in the news. Of course, for all the wrong reasons! All media outlets traditional and social—are inundated with tongs and things about Chaponda. While social media—as usual—is ahead of the traditional media, doing what it is famed for—spewing out truths, half truths and blue lies all in one bag, and in all manner of presentation, the latter is more sober and somehow believable, albeit not completely bereft of innuendos, slander and libel.
The onus is therefore on the consumer of the media products to carefully sift through the voluminous amount of postings on social media and decide what to take home or laugh off. Needless to say that to be kept fully abreast of what is happening, one must have their communication gadgets fully charged and on the go at all times.
This week, APM’s sacking of Chaponda from the Cabinet flooded social media with inordinate, unbridled and profligate content—from voice imitations of APM about the fire that gutted the minister’s office at Capital in Lilongwe, to what the embattled former minister purportedly declared with the Office of the Director of Assets Declaration.
But what was by far the most entertaining for me, if only humorous, was the voice disclaimer that Chaponda does not come from anywhere near Chonde, Mulanje, or Phalombe but that he only settled in Lhomwe Land.
Some have even gone to the extent of posting on WhatsApp what they claimed to be Chaponda’s bank balances at some local commercial banks. The same were categorically and vehemently refuted purportedly by the said bank. I must admit one must have a gratuitous amount of time to ingest all these because they are time-consuming.
I should also admit I don’t have all the time in the world like others do, to Facebook, Instagram, Twit etc, but I reckon I have no choice but to be on WhatsApp, if only because it is one of the fastest and most convenient modes of communication. And it does not help matters if you belong to several WhatsApp groups. WhatsApp messages come as text, audio and photo. I know one WhatsApps fanatic who belongs to over 20 groups. Where the hell does he get all the time to rummage through all these? I belong to a few which include Village (hopefully this is Hoho), Malawi Media Hub, Neighborhood, to mention but a few.
Some groups are real time wasters as are the postings thereon. Unfortunately, one can’t completely ignore WhatsApp because in my case, my colleagues, and family members use it extensively to communicate important messages.
But as a source of information, after reading most of the WhatsApp messages, I still have to check the veracity of their content with traditional media—published stories in credible media outlets with a physical address—to decide what to take home.
So I am forced at certain intervals in my busy work schedule in what is supposed be health breaks to update myself about what has come through the social media.
But I must also admit, social media has become a cause of real consternation when I am at home and I am supposed to be relaxing with members of my family.
Going back to Chaponda, I must say the man must have developed a thick skin to endure the hell lot of bashing and abusive language that gives social media its character, if at all he reads them. But from the look of things he will continue to hog the limelight for God knows how long.