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Is social media a force for good?

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Added 26th April 2016 11:43 AM

Character assassination, outright lies, photo shopped pictures like that of (dead Aine) and so much subterfuge.

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Dennis Katungi

Character assassination, outright lies, photo shopped pictures like that of (dead Aine) and so much subterfuge.

By Dennis Katungi

Immersing in the goings on - on social media can be depressing.  Don’t get me wrong, the internet and social media revolution has many positive attributes. Never before in history has communication been so instant, so unfettered, so incessant. 

This obviously comes with a soft underbelly!  Unregulated territory is bound to be problematic. In the case of Uganda, the mid-2000’s saw Radio Katwe blog emerge on the web. 

This uncontrolled blog; as those who followed may remember gave space to whistle-blowers, dirt throwers, political activists with scores to settle and all those with an axe to grind - to air their red-hot stuff. 

Radio Katwe is no more but Tonny Voltaire Okwalinga became a suitable indecent replacement; he continues to do what Radio Katwe did unabated.

In 2013, TVO reported that I had travelled to London with bags of money to bump off my brother in law Gen. David Tinyefuza. 

At the time I was on leave grazing my cattle in Kazo! It was my daughter who called me from Scotland asking: ‘Dad when did you become an assassin”? Had it not been I was on a Uganda number and that she could hear my cows mowing in the background; I would have been expected to be lurking somewhere in London waiting to strike!  It leaves you wondering; what is the object of TVO?

Character assassination, outright lies, photo shopped pictures like that of (dead Aine) and so much subterfuge.  The whole spectrum of internet has provided space for even more serious stuff such as WikiLeaks; the group that in 2010, released US State Department diplomatic cables in redacted format.  The documents became front-page news globally. 

They included detail on equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war and a report informing a corruption investigation in Kenya. In April 2010, WikiLeaks published gunsight footage from the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Journalists were among those killed by the AH-64 Apache helicopter – the notorious incident referred to as the Collateral Murder video. 

In April 2011, WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files relating to prisoners detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.   You may recall that The New Vision Columnist and Presidential adviser, John Nagenda, as well as senior politician, Michael Mukula’s conversations with US diplomats were run verbatim in the print-media as a result.

Spring forward to the current indecent dalliances of Dr Stella Nyanzi of Makerere Institute for Social Research.  There is so much footage of her nude pictures and verbal obscenities circulating across the globe. 

It leaves one wondering if Nyanzi really has a family.  Do they care for her? Is it not clear as Mrs Miria Matembe observed in her interview on TV that the lady needs mental health attention; that she has gone off the rails? Is it not a well-known fact in mental health that people can develop psychological problems progressively and if not diagnosed and treated; could well end up self-harming or indeed harming those around them like Dr. Nyanzi is doing? 

Is it not a known fact that people may well be mentally sick; but unaware of it themselves (self-denial) and continuing as if all was ok just as Stella Nyanzi is doing? Isn’t there a provision in our laws for forced treatment of mental health patients?

In UK, for example, they have the Mental Health Act 1983, and patients can be ‘sectioned’ which means being kept in hospital under that Act. You may be sectioned where someone has raised concerns about your mental health and goes on to contact a local community mental health team.

The person raising the alarm could be a member of your family, a relative or even a member of the public.  You could also be referred by your doctor, or psychiatrist.  Should we assume that Dr Stella Nyanzi has no one to help her?

Meanwhile, Ambassador Samantha Power, who recently poured vitriol on Uganda recently also had a serious mishap in Cameroon.  Her convoy killed a child in the West African country.  She was on the first day of a tour through northern Cameroon to visit refugee camps there. 

Her convoy is reported to have been travelling at 60 mph down a two-lane highway near Mokolo. A Seven year old boy ran out and the sixth vehicle in the convoy had no time to stop and struck the child.  The Jeep, was instructed to drive on by US security because they were in an unsecured area.   

Ambassador Power later on told reporters that she had learnt of the child’s death with “great sorrow” and said she had returned to meet the family to offer “our grief and heart break”. An official from the US State Department said: “We are deeply saddened and offer our sincere condolences to the child’s family”.

The writer works with Uganda Media Centre

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