The Role that Technology Plays in Shaping Journalism in Africa

Some years ago, communication in Africa was next to impossible. It has even been called the ‘Dark Continent’ always associated with sickness, poverty, power outages and almost a non-existent telecommunication system.

 The main source of communication was fixed landlines either at home, public or in the office and the traditional snail mail.

In Kenya, for instance in the 80’s one had to book a call through an operator, which was then called a ‘trunk call’. Sometimes the ‘trunk calls’ had to be booked a day or two in advance depending on the availability of the lines.  As for mail, people used to hand write and/or type letters using a typewriter. The letter was then stamped and posted and received through the post office. Often it could take days for a person to receive through their box number (if they had any) and respond back the same way.

Journalists working at that time used a notebook, a pen and a tape recorder to collect stories. It made the news gathering process slow making it difficult to beat deadlines.

While people still use these traditional methods of communication, advancement of technology in the 20th Century has shaped the way we communicate. Today, Africa is now the second most connected region by mobile subscription in the world with over 600 million subscriptions, beating Europe and America.

Information Transformation

Technology has revolutionalized the way people communicate today especially in Africa. Mobile phones have made it possible for people to communicate anywhere and anytime. People use it to send, receive messages, bank, take pictures, record sound and videos and access the Internet, and send emails as they would on a computer.

Having access to information has meant that people can choose what type of news they want to consume. The Internet has made it possible for people to connect with the rest of the world instantly. One just needs a computer or mobile and an Internet connection.

Infact, the trend shows that in Africa, people prefer to use their phones to receive and send information.

Statistics show that by 2014, cell-phone use in Africa will grow to an estimated 100 percent. This is due to the fact that the cost of owning and maintaining a phone has reduced drastically, increasing the phone penetration in Africa.

What does this new development mean for journalists today?                       

Technology in relation to journalism

The digital revolution has meant that people can choose what type of news they want to consume. It has also meant that people can also be part of the news gathering process and do not have to depend entirely on the media as the main sources of information.

All one needs to do is to log on online through either their mobile phone or computer and browse the information they want to read.  They can either choose to read the whole story or part of it and even participate by leaving a comment.

A while back newspapers and radio served to be the main source of information and enjoyed the monopoly. One however had to wait for the morning paper to read yesterdays news and the flow of communication was one way.

Journalist and media houses have had to contend with new times. The new powerful tools at the journalists disposal has made it possible for information to be collected and distributed to larger networks giving readers different options.

On the other hand, the consumers of news are steering away from the old traditional media; creating their own news and dictating the kind of news they want to read.

For journalists, reporting on stories was limited to the media houses they worked for. They used expensive equipment such as cameras, video cameras to capture their stories.

Today however, most phones are equipped with a still and video camera, audio and Internet. This capability meant that anyone with access to a phone with these capabilities could be part of the news gathering process.

This gave rise to what is called ‘citizen journalists’ a term used to refer to ordinary people reporting on any story of interest and sharing it on the net.

There were fears that with the proliferation of citizen journalists, professional journalists would not have a job. As time went by and new media platforms arose, research has shown that journalists will always be there – they just have to adapt to the new reporting methods

Other labels that have come up include ‘civilian journalism’, ‘user generated journalism’ and ‘participatory journalism’ which are collective terms used to refer to digital content that is produced and shared by ordinary people aside from the professional journalists.

Most African countries have seen an increase in mobile and internet connection.  Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa are currently the biggest mobile phone markets in Africa. Nigeria is has 100 million mobile subscribers, making it the largest mobile money in the continent.

Kenya’s mobile phone subscriptions have risen to 29 million due to cheap calling rates and introduction of fiber optic cables. It also enjoys a wide network coverage. South Africa on the other hand, which has a population of about 40 million, has the largest fixed line broadband market in the continent.

From the examples above it clear that the future for Africa is mobile. An increase in mobile subscription, data availability and internet access contribute to this increase. There are currently 8.5 million internet users and around 7.9 million of these accesses the internet through their phone.

With the above facts in mind, how then has technology has played a role in shaping journalism in the continent? I will look a brief history of the African press.

 A brief History of African press

According to Barton (1979) and Faringer (1991), Egypt had the firstnewspaper in 1797followed by South Africa and then Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Most of these newspapers were government owned and operated by Europeans since most African countries were then under colonial rule. In East Africa, the Europeans, Indians and Africans owned the newspapers.

Politicians ran the African press the Asians own printing presses while the Europeans provided advertising.

The first newspaper in East Africa was the East African and the Ugandan Mail in 1899. While the Standard (then called the East African Standard) was started in Mombasa in 1902.

Research show that radio has been the widely most used from of communicating in the continent.

After most African countries achieved independence, most of the media houses continued to be under the control of politicians, most of them owning a stake in most of the public broadcasters.  This meant that they could only report on what was favourable to them.

Community radio and media has been set up to steer away from this kind of reporting and new media tools such as Facebook and Twitter has made it possible for people to participate in the news gathering process.

Using such new media tools, the public demands transparency from their governments and even air their views as seen with the case of The Arab Spring.

Social Media 

One cannot talk about technology and not talk about social media. Over the past three years, the world has seen the power of social media. The Arab Spring is perhaps the best example to illustrate this fact.

Ordinary people took it upon themselves to report on what was going on the ground. As seen in the case of countries such as Tunisia and Egypt, the digital revolution has made it possible for people to self-publish on the web either through blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter among others.

The digital revolution has provided new communication platforms which gave people opportunity to say ‘what is on their mind’. Although Facebook and Twitter weren’t set up with political activism in mind, they have proved to play an important role in relaying information to a group of people and was successfully used in Egypt and Tunisia to mobilize people to action and change.

For journalists, this has meant that they are in the spotlight. Sometimes what they report in the media comes under scrutiny and can make or break the journalist.

Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalist or CJ’s are non-professional journalists reporting and producing stories. Most of them produce stories that are not reported by the media houses because they either do not consider them newsworthy or do not have a correspondent on the ground to cover the story for them.

They use mobile phones, audio recorders, pen and paper as well as computers. They are driven to tell stories because they feel a sense of responsibility and not because they will get paid for what they do.  The power of citizen journalism was illustrated in Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

Ordinary citizens took it upon themselves to report on what was happening on the ground and captured powerful footage that the media used compliment their stories.

In countries where the mainstream media was controlled by the government, citizen journalists were at the forefront in reporting about what was going on around them.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) In Africa

It is safe to say that online journalism in Africa is growing at a tremendous rate due to the reducing cost of electronics such as mobile phones and computers and even electricity.

The fiber optics cable has also contributed to the availability of information because it has meant people having cheaper access to the Internet.

Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) have also increased in the continent so have mobile service providers.

Just ten years ago, the cost of making a mobile call very high and even owning a mobile phone was a privilege – reserved for the elite. Today however even in the remote places of the continent, communication is possible due to the affordability of the mobile phones and the good reception.

Kenya

Kenya has seen a tremendous increase of mobile phone subscriptions. In 2000, there were only 127,404 mobile phone subscriptions. Today more than 54% of the population has access to a mobile phone.

Most of their phones can not only send and receive messages but access the Internet.  

While Internet and mobile penetration might seem lower in some countries, studies show there has been a steady increase Internet users.

Since the inception of mobile broadband in 2009, most people prefer it to the fixed broadband subscriptions.

CASE STUDIES

A number of organizations have come together with brilliant ideas for citizen journalism. It seems that from the case studies, most of the organizations want to work with people with some knowledge of reporting and have access to mobile phones.

One of the projects that have been successful is Voices of Africa. It is a Netherlands based organization based in the Netherlands that trains reporters across the African continent on the effective use of mobile phones for reporting. 

The reporters are given with second-hand mobile phones, which they use to report on almost anything.

Some of the content produced has been picked up by leading media houses and used to compliment their stories.

Frontline SMS

Most of the messages are sent to a group of people that have subscribed to the service. It has proved to be effective in that one does not need Internet access to receive the message.

This has proved effective in the area of health and has been used by doctors to disseminate information to their target group. Subscribers can also respond to the message regardless of their location making it important for information gathering and dissemination.

With all this changes then, what is the role that technology plays in shaping journalism in Africa?

Technology and Journalism

The 20th century has media types experiencing what they call convergence. It refers to the coming together of different mass mediums into one platform. 

This digital revolution means that journalists and media houses at large will have to conform to the new trends of reporting. The world now is experiencing a ‘multiplicity of media’, which gives the consumer of news the power to share and even report.

The recent trends discussed above show that citizen journalists will work hand in hand with the professional journalists and the former has actually made mass media more responsive to customer needs.

Additionally, modern journalists have to acquire new skills in order to be versatile, produce in-depth stories, enrich their stories by linking it to other stories and make it available online.

New media has made it possible for people to watch and even create what they want and ‘self broadcast’. No longer does communication flow in one way. 

All these trends prove that since most of the news is captured digitally, it is obvious that it will be shared online.  Infact hard copy newspapers have felt the pinch over the last couple of years and have had to migrate online.

However, this does not mean that they will be done away completely rather they will compliment the online issues.

This online shift has led media houses to team up with mobile service providers to come up with a subscription services for news via Short Messaging System (sms). People who subscribe to these services receive updates as and when they appear.

Subscribers can also send a text or email to report on traffic or an incident as and when it happens.

The BBC sums it up very well, ‘The changing nature of news offers a diversity of voices, sources and choice…and lets anyone join in global and local conversations’. The new media is indeed shaping journalism.

According to The New Market Leaders book by Fred Wiersema, in order for media companies to ‘survive and thrive, they need to attract valuable customers now and in the future’.  Media houses are now diversifying in order to survive as businesses.

What does this mean to the journalists in Africa? They also have to look for ways to diversify and acquire skills necessary to keep up with the digital age.

Challenges

While the future of journalism in Africa is bright due to the convergence and multiplicity of media there are however some significant stumbling blocks. Apart from access to technology, training and infrastructure, there is also the issue of restrictive governments.

In Tunisia, there are laws in place that limit the freedom of expression even on the Internet. ISP’s are required to release the names of the users to the government on a monthly basis. In addition, the country has a single telecommunications network that is government owned and all traffic passes through it.

Tunisian online journalist Toufik Ben Brick was beaten up criticizing the government while two journalists from Sierra Leone were arrested for was termed as ‘illegal online activity’.

Senegalese journalist Daniel Bekoutou life was threatened after he wrote a story about the former Chad president Hissene Habre titled ‘Hunting the Dictator’. This is perhaps why only 1 percent of the country’s population are internet users.

According to Tanya Accone, executive producer of MWeb Africa, the Web enables African journalists to ‘access free information, to tap into experts anywhere on the globe, and the capacity to monitor alternate reporting and perspective on a variety of issues’.

She states further that one of the major need for African journalists and media consumers is ‘regional and pan African information.’ People know more about the western countries more than their own continent.

However, things are changing now thanks to technology, which encourages people local content. This has proved to be beneficial since people like to read about what they can relate with.

Infact most of the local content is read by people living in the Diaspora. For instance, 20 percent of the South Africa’s Sunday Times online newspaper launched three years ago,  is accessed by people living outside of South Africa.

Tanzanian based self-taught online journalist Majaliwa Nyenzi started a website also proved to be a portal whereby users could get firsthand information on all the aspects of life in Tanzania.

New media has fostered a culture of debate giving people an opportunity to air their views. It aids in getting to know the issues the readers are concerned with which are not accommodated in the traditional media.

Other challenges online journalism will face is the cost of building and maintaining the websites. What will make it succeed is skills infrastructure, marketing and advertising support. 

Another challenge is that most of the new media is character specific. If a journalist was to report about an event in real time on Twitter, they have only 140 characters to work with and with SMS 160 characters

They need to mould the Internet tools to suite their specific needs and device technical solutions to overcome these challenges.

Another challenge online journalists have to face is that most of the work is not paid for. Most of those who do what they do for the love of it will have to do most of it without the prospect of being paid.

Nigerian internet pundit Hank Eso believes that ‘despite the vast incursion of web pundits and presumed journalists, the field of journalism is (still) well and active’. 

He mostly writes for free to ‘promote dialogue and understanding and to express his freedom of expression. I am at liberty to decide when to write, what to write about, how long and with what regularity’.

The Future

It is safe to say that ‘the web is a way of life which we can no longer escape’ so journalists and media organizations need to embrace the Internet and take advantage of the opportunities it presents.

Even with the new technology, the basic tenets of journalism will remain; honesty, accuracy and fairness.

While some countries have registered a tremendous growth either through mobile telephony, access to internet and internet speed some countries such as Chad are almost totally invisible while other countries battle with freedom of expression.

In conclusion then, it is safe to say that both traditional and new media will not disappear, infact they will work hand in hand and cater for their specialized target groups.

Journalists will therefore have no choice but to bring themselves up to speed and experiment the new technology since anyone with a mobile device that has access to internet has the ability to make news.

The journalist has to ensure that the information they provide is credible, legitimate and valid. We live in a time of what is termed as ‘participatory media’, which allows for comments and reviews of a news item by the consumers.

Journalists therefore have to ensure their stories are credible and give their readers content rich articles.

 Africa is indeed rising!

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Reporting on Children Workshop

  1. meltingpots
    RT @Bhintsintsi: I have just painted my own #kidsjourn house. Ain’t perfect, but good. The kids’ ones look much better! #onlinejourn http://pic.twitter.com/CxokQe9h
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:51:46
  2. A team of print and radio journalist recently attended a “Reporting on Children Workshop” at the Wits Journalism school. The workshop was headed by researcher Glenis Clacherty.

  3. She gave some guidelines on how to report on children and UNICEF lists some of the reporting guidelines:

  4. Since most children come an unstable backgrounds, it is sometimes difficult to draw them out. In order for journalists to engage authentically with the children, they have to allow them to speak for themselves.Some of the things journalists need to bear in mind when interviewing children are the power attachments they may have. These include the camera, microphone, the way they dress or even the cars they may drive.

    A group of students mainly 12 year olds with some background training to monitor how media reports on children issues were invited to this session.

    A group of Online Journalists live tweeted the workshop. Here is how it went:

  5. MediaMattersZA
    Follow #KidsJourn for live-tweeted interviews with children following a lecture on Reporting on Children; part of #OnlineJourn class at Wits
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:18:11
  6. benon_oluka
    #kidsjourn Many interesting dynamics about reporting on children. Wud be a great course for those dealing with children’s newspaper pages.
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:24:53
  7. Bhintsintsi
    A group of Jo’burg primary school kids, who regularly monitor the media, talk to journos about their representation in the media #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:27:59
  8. benon_oluka
    Children now setting ground rules for the #kidsjourn tweets. Protect identities; no names, no addresses.
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:30:05
  9. “Authentic engagement is a process by with children are empowered to construct a representation of their social world” (Woodhead 1998 pg 22)
  10. Bhintsintsi
    We are now breaking ice by drawing pictures of our houses. Looks like the kids have home ground advantage #kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:40:44
  11. BrigitteRead1
    #kidsjourn these kids are media monitors and know the ethics in reporting on children – dont mention names, school -ground rule are set
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:42:51
  12. When reporting about children, journalists can reduce their power by using games, working with kids in a group and age appropriate.
  13. BrigitteRead1
    #kidsjourn icebreaker:draw where you live. Many revert to writing or labeling their pics. one girl has produced a spider chart. room v quiet
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:50:52
  14. KhumaloAndile
    Placing red stickers on places they are restricted 2 go 2 and green ones were they r allowed by their parents…#kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:53:04
  15. KhumaloAndile
    Interesting how this child thinks swimming pools & hospitals not being safe, what are we teaching kids #kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:58:26
  16. KhumaloAndile
    This child gets emotional while puting a red sticker on the hospital drawing cos thugs made her sister go there #kidsjourn #onlinejourn sad
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:03:47
  17. benon_oluka
    RT @KhumaloAndile: All these kids find hospitals as a bad place becoz most of their loved ones have been there…#kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:07:45
  18. KhumaloAndile
    Their #kidsjourn reasons y swiming pools are not safe its becoz, men pass there and they feel not being safe#onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:11:22
  19. Bhintsintsi
    RT @benon_oluka: Drawing is meant to ease the children into telling their stories without directly asking them questions. #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:05:57
  20. meltingpots
    When reporting on children its important for journos to be aware of the power attachements they have like recorders, mics, camera #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 02:57:35
  21. The children were concerned about he fact that there isn’t much coverage about them in the print and electronic media.
  22. meltingpots
    #kidsjourn are asking why most newspapers only cover politics and advertising and why there is very little child content.#onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:15:16
  23. angiemubwanda
    #kidsjourn kids not happy with coverage on their issues. They are not included, many negative reports on rape, kidnapping, abuse comes out
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:20:28
  24. meltingpots
    RT @BrigitteRead1: #kidsjourn tables have turned – the kids want answers: why do newspapers have no kids stories, only politics and advertising? Tough one
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:19:05
  25. KhumaloAndile
    Small bodies, but never underestimate their minds because they know what’s happening…#kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:27:27
  26. BrigitteRead1
    these are curious kids. Grilling the #kidsjourn journos for explanations on defamation, broadcasting, rape… Who is interviewing who?
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:27:33
  27. Bhintsintsi
    A girl says a lot of the stories in Sowetan are about adults and politics. Wants more stories about her peers #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:31:14
  28. MediaMattersZA
    RT @BrigitteRead1: these are curious kids. Grilling the #kidsjourn journos for explanations on defamation, broadcasting, rape… Who is interviewing who?
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:31:09
  29. MMA_tweeter
    RT @Bhintsintsi: One of the kids says he loves Kidsnews. Watches it regularly. But wants more positive stories #kidsjourn #mediamattersza
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:31:32
  30. angiemubwanda
    #kidsjourn seems kids envy journos. Journos explain processes involved in putting a story together to ensure credibility and balance
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:34:40
  31. BrigitteRead1
    kids expectations of the media: don’t use gory pictures, more ve stories, dont just give the problem, find a solution too. #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:39:24
  32. Dalla_Sbo
    RT @Bhintsintsi: Boy: What I hate about TV news is it focuses on big people, like Malema and Zuma. Not much about kids #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:41:07
  33. KhumaloAndile
    I quote “not for sales to persons under the age of 18 but children stil buy alcohol” 11 year old #kidsjourn’s girl
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:44:33
  34. The drawings reflected some of the issues and challenges they face on a daily basis.
  35. KhumaloAndile
    Amazing how simple drawings can tell a story and make children open up about issues #kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:25:20
  36. KhumaloAndile
    She knows of ppl who sell alcohol and she lives with them in the same block#kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:22:51
  37. benon_oluka
    All the children have early mornings. First child wakes up at 6am, second at 4:30am, third at 5am, fourth and fifth at 6am. #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:26:53
  38. KhumaloAndile
    #kidsjourn don’t want tarvens coz they sell alcohol to skwl pips, “serious issue there” #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:21:23
  39. KhumaloAndile
    Her neighbor left a 3moths baby alone to go drink alcohol and on her return the baby was dead #kidsjourn #onlinejourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:24:15
  40. One of the lesson learned from the workshop is:
  41. mamaPhetolo
    Key lesson: your approach can either break or make an interview with a child. Here’s an interesting video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–cfqv3kn64 #kidsjourn
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:53:31
  42. In addition it is important not to ask direct questions. Use things like drama, mapping, drawings to get the children to express themselves. Create an activity that give them to reflect and think about the issues they face. Get the children to talk to each other.
  43. WarrenNebe
    @angiemubwanda @MediaMattersZA #kidsjourn Surely we need to construct narratives that will enhance a safer future, rather than traumatise?
    Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:28:59

Overview of Educators in South Africa

Info: SNAP survey 2011/Dept of Education SA

WHY THE TORTOISE HAS A CRACKED SHELL

A long time ago, there lived a tortoise. The tortoise lived among other animals in the forest. The tortoise was very cunning and all the animals hated him.

One day the birds were invited for a party in heaven.

When the Tortoise heard about this, he devised a plan so that he would accompany the birds. He told the birds, “I hear you have been invited for a party in heaven”, “Yes”, said the birds. “Do you have a leader who is going to speak on your behalf at the party?”. The birds replied, “No we don’t”. At this the Tortoise quickly suggested, “Take me with you as your leader and I will speak on your behalf”.

After consulting with each other the birds agreed to let the Tortoise come with them. They then gave the Tortoise a feather, which he stuck onto the shell so that he could fly. “One little thing”, the Tortoise said before they left, “people in heaven are going to ask for our names. Choose your own names but for me my name will be ‘All of you’.

The bird and the Tortoise flew up to heaven. The party got underway and the Tortoise gave the speech. The hosts were very impressed and a great feast was laid out for them.

At this point, Tortoise asked the host, “Whose food is this?”.

“It’s for all of you”, the host replied. So the tortoise was given all the food while the birds waited in anticipation for their turn. Nothing was brought. By the evening, the birds were tired and angry and realized what the cunning Tortoise had done.

Each of them plucked off their feathers from the Tortoise and started flying back to earth. The Tortoise tried to plead with the birds to help him fly back to his house but none would hear him out.  “Please would give my wife a message?” he begged.  “What’s the message?” The parrot asked.

“Tell my wife to bring out all the soft cushions and mattresses so that I have a comfortable landing”. However, the parrot told his wife to lay out every sharp object they could find.

The Tortoise was given the signal and he fell down on the axes, hammers, knives and all the sharp objects the wife had put out. His shell cracked on impact.

Tortoise’s wife took him to the doctor who tried to stick his shell back together. It was never smooth like it was before.  That’s why all Tortoises have cracked shells.

 

 

Self-Censorship with regards to readers comments on News24.com

Self-censorship

THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE ARAB UPRISING

Political analyst Ali al-Bouazizi said, “images are like weapons. They can help topple a regime.”

There has been a constant debate about the role of social media and the Arab uprising. On one hand there are those that claim that it sparked the Arab revolution while others claim that it galvanizes it.In Tunisia for instance, a team of bloggers wrote about the uprising as it developed. Sami Ben Gharbia co-founder of Nawaat, is one such blogger. He together with other bloggers contributed to Nawaat; a collective blog that was started in 2004. It is a platform for people to engage with the issues and concerns affecting Tunisians.A Tunisian Girl” was also another popular blog run by Lina Ben Mheni, a 29 year assistant professor. The blog proved to be an important portal whereby people got information about the revolution as it progressed. Subsequently, the information was shared and distributed across the internet through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube allowing the world a see what was happening in countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

Like Mheni, all one needed was a phone with a camera, a laptop and a mobile Internet connection. After realising the power social media had ordinary citizens with no journalistic background took it upon themselves to broadcast the real situations on the ground. Most of them used cellphones that could capture videos, sound and pictures or a small camera and an internet connection. Interestingly, most of the footage was taken by young people.For example the documentary titled Images of Revolution produced by Aljazeera shows powerful video footage shot by a young school teacher Mariam Salim and her sister Nada in Cairo, Egypt. The cellphone footage shows an unarmed man walking on an empty street towards the police officers with his arms stretched out. The police officers fires at him but misses the first time. The man then decides to step backwards and then the next shot is fired killing him instantly.

Then man later came to be identified as Khaled Said. Soon there a Facebook page titled We are all Khalid Said” was created in his honour. In addition, an event titled “The Day of the Revolution Against Torture, Poverty, Corruption and Unemployment” was created on 25 January and most of the more than 80,000 people who clicked “yes” showed up at Tahir Square.

Social media has given freedom of expression a completely new meaning and it shows how much power people have within their reach. Perhaps, nobody would have given much thought to Mohammed Bouazizi, the young fruit seller who set himself alight in Tunisia (which subsequently gave rise to what has become known as the Arab Spring) had it been broadcast in one of the mainstream media houses in Tunisia. It is the fact that it went viral and when people from all over saw what was happening, they ‘fanned the fire’ as it were.

WHY THE TORTOISE HAS A CRACKED SHELL

A long time ago, there lived a Tortoise. The Tortoise lived among other animals in the forest. The Tortoise was very cunning and all the animals hated him.

One day the birds were invited for a party in heaven.

When the Tortoise heard about this, he devised a plan so that he would accompany the birds. He told the birds, “I hear you have been invited for a party in heaven”, “Yes”, said the birds.

“Do you have a leader who is going to speak on your behalf at the party?”. The birds replied, “No we don’t”. At this the Tortoise quickly suggested, “Take me with you as your leader and I will speak on your behalf”.

After consulting with each other the birds agreed to let the Tortoise come with them. They then gave the Tortoise a feather, which he stuck onto the shell so that he could fly. “One little thing”, the Tortoise said before they left, “people in heaven are going to ask for our names.

Choose your own names but for me my name will be All of you’.

 The bird and the Tortoise flew up to heaven. The party got underway and the Tortoise gave the speech.

The hosts were very impressed and a great feast was laid out for them.   At this point, Tortoise asked the host, “Whose food is this?”.“It’s for all of you”, the host replied. So the tortoise was given all the food while the birds waited in anticipation for their turn.

Nothing was brought. By the evening, the birds were tired and angry and realized what the cunning Tortoise had done.

Each of them plucked off their feathers from the Tortoise and started flying back to earth.

The Tortoise tried to plead with the birds to help him fly back to his house but none would hear him out.  “Please would give my wife a message?” he begged.  “What’s the message?” The parrot asked.

“Tell my wife to bring out all the soft cushions and mattresses so that I have a comfortable landing”. However, the parrot told his wife to lay out every sharp object they could find.

Fall from heaven

The Tortoise was given the signal and he fell down on the axes, hammers, knives and all the sharp objects the wife had put out. His shell cracked on impact.

Tortoise’s wife took him to the doctor who tried to stick his shell back together. It was never smooth like it was before.  That’s why all Tortoises have cracked shells.