The Arm-chair Activists
We see them everyday, at least if you frequent Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and the like. Calls to action reports about how bad the government is and how “Enough is enough” and “Paul Biya Must Go”. There are multitudes of Facebook pages and yahoo groups with Cameroonians ever increasing to serve as forums for what? Internet activism or Virtual Advocacy as it’s called.
I first took notice of them in 2011, in the hubbub of the pre- presidential election period, maybe these forums had always been there but at that time they just went into noticeable frenzy. Either way, they cropped up sending out messages every day, and the messages would read like mission statements or manifestos or at best/worst Project proposals criticizing the “regime” or demanding that Cameroonians stand up march and demand that “power must change hands” .
|Cameroonian in diaspora appealing for aid in ousting President.||Should They get it?|
At first when reading these, I would be enthralled by how impassioned the writers seemed, and it delighted me that Cameroonians wanted to act towards change, I would love to read all the details of how the “regime” is exploiting the nation and is at the root of all our problems.With time however like a song that has remained on replay too long I began to not only to “listen/read but analyzes the words of each of these message, and they got on my nerves!
You may ask me why? Let me tell you
- · It occurred to me that these calls to action were written mostly by those out of the country. Out of “marching and demanding distance” so to speak. So here is the image I have of them. Someone sitting back in a plush office chair their Victorian home in Virginia or apartment in New York or even on night duty at work writing and spreading info as to how their fellow Cameroonians who are back at home should march up to Unity Palace and demand that the President should step down, or something to that effect. And of course I wonder why this fellow who has all these brilliant ideas isn’t here or doesn’t come and lead that marching band t o Etoudi
- It also occurred to me that the people writing these “Drive the Dictator” articles are actually less oppressed than the average Cameroonian in a rural area in Cameroon who will not have access to that article. So hell, who are you to demand action from the person on the ground, when you are comfortably online?
- · In another turn of events, those who write all the calls to action, our internet activists or virtual advocates, what do they do other than write the long winded manifestos and critiques against the “regime” Do they vote? Do they attempt at social work in their communities as their own contribution towards improving the country? What change do they make?
And so while it’s the norm of our time to discuss A-Z online, and while tweets can effect our state of mind and facebook posts can carry news faster than cable tv, When next you receive (or think to share) a “Paul Biya Must Go” manifesto, ask the sender how he suggests the change should occur? And if the nation will change with him in his arm-chair.