Social media has become a hanging place for African youth in Africa and in Diaspora. Unlike blogs, Social media you can have a more interractive discussion. The easy to use event tools and instant emails are doing wonders in mobilizing the youth. In Africa social media platforms have become the norm of communication and enabling resonance where people can chat and express their opinions without fear.
Social media will bridge the information gap of Africa and the rest of the world. These kids would “like” the Queens page, follow Obama’s page, know what writers like Ngugi wa Thiongo and Wole Soyinka are upto on a daily basis.
Social media will expose young Africa future generation with the latest happenings from the latest “Seal or John Legend’s Album” to Stories of African immigrants in Russia or China, to virtual tours in Disney world. They can change their facebook page to Afrikaan, Swahili, Arabic, or even Yiddish.
Social Media is changing African Newspapers, Business News, Stock exchanges, and politics. Yes Politics. Young people can now “like” politicians who stand for something. They can call upon their politicians to express their opinion directly on any given issue that they feel afflicts them or their peers including the governing of their respective governments by just “LIKE”.
To an extent i think the social media is doing a lot in shaping the politics and the trend of our youths’ insight on the future of Africa many young people have a chance to explicitly express easily their opinions on a number of issues, another thing the social media has brought to fore what youths could not express in other fora due to fear of repression hence enabling the youth to clearly express their view on any given issue.
When millions and millions of people interact in a high connectivity network like the internet, small causes may have great effects. When a topic or an event hits the value system of people in such a way that they tune in by active promotion, positive feedback loops occur and the hype kicks in. This effect of crossing the threshold to active involvement based on emotional impact is called ‘resonance’. A person can become world famous, a product can turn into a blockbuster, a brand can be ruined or a population can topple a hated regime – and all in only a few days. This becomes possible when cultural value systems enable resonance effects, and this is why it is so important to understand their dynamics today. For business leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians, access to the data which make these dynamics transparent is vital for coping with the challenges of a networked world. It’s not necessary to become a data freak , but reducing complexity by order formation is the number one skill needed by all leaders in the twenty-first century.
Many leaders in Africa now have through Social media embraced the new “avenue” to “connect” with their people who cannot access them directly through Social media channels like facebook,Twitter and other social media channels.
A premier example would be Nigerias’ Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria who posts and makes major announcements via his facebook page and directly addresses issues concerning joblessness among the youth.
In Kenya computer usage has increased two-fold with the advent of social media streams and currently over one million subscribers at connected on facebook and almost every leader at all levels has a social site page where he or she at some moments interact with the people. And with this interaction with their Leaders action in regard to some issues expressed via social media streams have been addressed or action taken.
The African youth in diaspora and at home have now gone a notch higher in expressing their cause either by creating sites that align to their causes or by taking the issues to to social media forums for open discussions.
The likes of facebook , twitter , myspace , and blogs have immensely changed the political landscape of the African continent . Thanks to technology ; Africa and her youth have a renewed sense of ownership as a pertains to their destiny which they can now shape. Even in the smallest and remote villages in Africa , town cyber-cafes play an effective role in enabling enlightment of youth unlike when communities would rely on Mainstream media for information albeit still young social media will in future cust herself in stone in rural areas as well.
The advent of cell phones and other medium of communication has rekindled a new awakening among the youth and created a surge of innovation that will definitely increase youth engagement proactivity.
Erick Adhola-Is a Business Development Director in an ICT firm based in Nairobi- Kenya