mightier than the sword

In a long forgotten case of genocide in Rwanda, radio was used to broadcast lists of people to be taken care of (hacked down with machetes) as soon as possible. And while radio is still a force to be reckoned with on this continent, due to sat phones and internet cafes, blogs may be the new weapon of choice for militants. Currently in Sudan, two leading rebels are at war with each other…through their blogs! Some quotes from a recent news article exemplify the power of independent media and the dissemination of all types of information…

“The Internet is a war weapon,” Aboude Coulibaly, director of the New Forces rebel group in Ivory Coast, wrote in a recent e-mail. In 2002, the group used its Web site and TV station to launch a mutiny that toppled the government. “In these matters of revolution, we have to be wired to win,” he wrote.

“How important is blogging for the continent? In the long term, it’s critical,” Zuckerman wrote in an e-mail. “Not only do blogs provide an alternative space for free speech in countries where the press may not be independent, free or strong, they also enable people in Africa to challenge media representations in the U.S. and Europe.”

This is a double edged sword. On the one hand, radio stations and the TV stations are the first targets of a coup, so if we want to know what is *really* going on, blogs can be a great source (as they were in Iran before the large-scale governmental crackdown). On the other hand, blogs can be used as a weapon of war- a post, uploaded in seconds can decide the fate of one or many. I guess it goes back to the techno-phobic argument of ‘the evils of technology’. Technology in itself is not evil; it is what you do with it. I am saddened that blogs are being used as a weapon, but this is also a reflection of their potential importance – and the importance of a lone voice shouting in a sea of many.