Dictators Don’t Tweet

Dictators Don’t Tweet

"Hiphop is freedom of expression" from streetball.com
Twitter and African Hiphop websites are today the main source of news about Africa’s trouble spots. And they’re better than CNN!

Like so much in Africa today where economies and cultures are developing faster than anyone could have imagined, traditional news reporting is dying and being replaced by faster information facilitated by today’s hi tech.

Excellent news sources like Kenya’s Nation Media and South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, are being eclipsed in Real Time. Can you imagine the most important, accurate news from Twitter, and not from the New York Times?

Yet that’s exactly what’s happening from Somalia, where the commander of the Kenyan invasion forces is tweeting constantly. Long before the BBC, Reuters, the Times or even local media embedded with his troops file a story, Kenyans have it wholesale.

Yesterday the Kenyan forces inched their way further towards Kismayo and routed a major al-Shabaab base killing one of the main militant leaders in Somalia. Here was the real time twitter feed from the commander of the operation, Major Emmanuel Chirchir, @MajorEChirchir:

#OperationLindaNchi During the attack, 13 Al Shabaab militants were killed while others escaped with serious injuries.
#OperationLindaNchi Abu Yahya, an Al Shabaab’s field Commander in the Southern sector, is suspected to hv been gunned down during the ambush

And when battles aren’t occurring, the Major answers everyone he can. Kenyan Victor Kurutu characterizes himself as a “dairy farmer, foodie and nature lover” and became distressed when he listened to radio reports on February 4 that more than 20 of the Major’s troops had been gunned down. He tweeted the commander.

@VicKurutu Nothing of the sort happened…propaganda

As I’m writing this early Thursday morning my time, South Africans are preparing to hear President Zuma’s State of the Nation annual address. Earlier today in South Africa the twitter hashtag, #SONA, was created for the event and most of the address has already leaked into that feed.

Right now as I’m writing as fast as I can, two or three tweets a second are coming over #SONA!

Eyewitness News @ewnupdates
If you’re in & around parliament tweet us pics of what you see. You can also send them to iwn@ewn.co.za. Remember the hashtag #SONA

Oftentimes English-speakers won’t benefit from this real time world. Although much of the tweeting that came out of Tahrir Square was in English, most was in Arabic. Similarly, today, major trouble spots in Africa are in Angola and Senegal.

Angola’s language is Portugese and Senegal’s is French. But English is a global language, and in these cases it’s HipHop websites that are consolidating and translating the news!

Today’s www.africanhiphop.com site features the trouble in both Angola and France. The site was founded 15 years ago in Senegal, so it’s particularly sensitive to what’s going on, there.

African hiphop – very much like hiphop and rap most everywhere – is driven by issues of poverty, abuse, oppression and has released what I considered not too long ago a much too timid African psyche.

Few people outside of Angola realize what a horrible regime is doing there, and how youth are beginning to organize a protest that could rival what happened in Tunisia. You won’t read about this in the BBC or even in South African media, and not because of bad reporting, but because traditional news reporters are banned.

And while there’s plenty to learn from Twitter if you speak Portugese, it’s up to a hiphop website, Central 7311 to let the outside world know what’s happening. The site is prosperous in part because authorities don’t rap! So it was left alone.

And while the site itself is Portugese, consolidator hiphop sites like africanhiphop.com will translate and disseminate.

Dictators don’t tweet.