The past weeks have been interesting in Malawi and the world as a whole. There has been so much talk about fake things. On February 15, I attended a BBC Africa debate on Fake News and Social Media and how it affects journalism. It was a very interesting debate. I liked how people took to task Bright Molande, director of communications and Nicholas Dausi, Minister of Information Communications and Technology.
The debate centered on the issue of fake news and how social media necessitates its spread and how sometimes mainstream media has fallen prey to fake news. I can’t remember how many times some musicians have been killed only to see them strumming their guitar the next day.
One thing I know Malawians are good at is faking anger towards those in authority, especially politicians. Malawians, especially those on social media, are too fake that it stinks.
Take, for example, the issue of George Chaponda and the maizegate. I can cite many other instances but for now let’s stick to the infamous Chaponda saga. There has been countless posts on Chaponda and President Peter Mutharika’s failure to act with swiftness on the issue.
Malawians, as it has become the trend these days, vented their anger on social media. Reading their posts one can see a people that has lost hope in its leaders and is willing to do whatever it takes to change the status quo. Malawians from all corners, from Facebook vendors, Facebook lawyers, doctors, mechanics and Facebook farmers and even those Facebook fitness trainees (You know those people who post their pictures while at the gym and those who lose weight only in Facebook posts but remain fat in real life),were are still angry at the Maizegate issue.
However, the most unfortunate thing is that it all ends with a Facebook or Twitter update. Nothing happens afterward that post in real life. I like social media because it gives people an avenue where they can express themselves. But, social media alone does not make things change if we do not put that phone down and switch off that computer and take action.
Malawians have become so good at being angry on social media but when they are called to act, they still hide behind their computer screens and do nothing. This is why these politicians abuse public resources with impunity; they know that Malawians can’t do anything apart from posting it on social media. When the likes of Billy Mayaya and John Kapito call for demonstrations, many make a joke out of them.
It is sad that as critical as the maizegate issue is many Malawians find it satirical. It saddens me. You just have to see how many memes of Chaponda are out there. This is no time for joking. This is the time to put pressure on the leaders to walk the talk. We cannot afford to be making jokes about corruption.
Get off the internet and step into the real world and speak against the ills of our society. Do away with the fake anger that only starts and ends on social media. n