What do you get when you combine high mobile penetration, relatively fast and affordable internet, and a people whose main character trait can be summed up as ‘ujuaji’?

That’s right, a chronically online population (No 1 on TikTok globally whoop whoop) which is elbow-deep in misinformation – but which also lures others into it like kangaroos apparently do with their opps

We’re not trying to hate on your pet conspiracy theories. Just don’t wade too far in.

5. Anti-Vaxxers And Population Control

There are good reasons to be distrustful of large pharmaceutical companies and multinational organizations backed by governments that once brutalised Africans. 

In the 1970s, Nestlé was accused of causing infant illness by promoting formula bottle feeding. In many African countries including Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya, they created demand through fear campaigns which sold the narrative that breastfeeding was inadequate and that a supplement/replacement was necessary. You can immediately see the issues such a thing would cause in the long term for at-risk mothers and infants. Breast milk is sterile and bottle feeding requires consistent access to safe drinking water…and money. Nestlé is still making products that pose harm to the health of African children, not to mention the ones who work for slave wages harvesting cocoa. 

That said, there are good, evidence-based reasons to trust medical and scientific authorities. On 2 October 1994, India rolled out the Pulse Polio Immunization program. At this time the country accounted for about 60% of global Polio cases. The target was for every child everywhere in the country to be vaccinated. It is impossible to quantify the amount of collective human effort that followed. 

The goal was set in a nation in one of the largest population groups on earth, where large communities were living in remote areas and millions in poverty. Against a target of 165 million children, more than 157 million had been vaccinated by 2021.

Why? If you’re lucky your only knowledge of this disease came from the Kick Polio out of Kenya campaign. Many others know polio from surviving the infection and living with permanent disability, or having loved ones who did not.  

India did it btw. Reaching 97% of the target, the country remains Polio-free to date. So are Somalia, the DRC and Sudan. 

4. This Is How Things Have Always Been

I am going to suggest something controversial for this one. We owe nothing to the past. Whether it’s the ancestors or the event you swore down to attend but the day is here and it’s raining, nothing.

The central point in all the self-help books we love so much is that change happens through a series of choices. It’s a common theme in fiction too. You read Things Fall Apart or The Whale Rider or Mayai Waziri wa Maradhi. You read chapter after chapter of Maimuna trying to shake off a fate that was chosen for her but she later stuck to because she couldn’t imagine any other life.

People change, societies change. In what direction this happens is up to whoever is making that series of choices. 

You want to be free? Others have to be free too.

You want to live well? Others must have the opportunity to seek that out too.

You want things to be like they were? Then the failures and tragedies of that time will come along too. 

3. The American Tales

911 truthers, chemtrails, psy ops, illuminati, flat earth, NASA isn’t real and neither are birds, lizard people, antivax again etc etc There is only one thing to be said about these. They’re all propaganda which, when interrogated, only ever lead to one place – “those people are bad and a danger to us. They must be destroyed”. 

In many cultures, the word for ‘the tribe’ is ‘the people’ which means the others are not that. This is how the worst manifestations of violence happen, when humanity is assigned to some and not others. Of course, those behind propaganda hardly bother with Africans. If there’s one thing every powerful interest group (you’re out of your mind if you don’t include major religions) agrees on, it’s Africans.

You don’t have to give them all up, go with aliens. Aliens are so much fun unless it’s the ancient ones which are racist.

2. The Good Dictator

Augusto Pinochet led a coup against the communist regime in Chile. At the time, the country was mired in a crushing economic crisis with 600% inflation. The US had a lot to do with the crisis and they backed Pinochet. The repression of opponents began immediately. He was a man of action, Augusto. Estimates put the number of exiled citizens at more than 200,000 and 28,000 imprisoned and tortured. 

The thing about dictators is you never think they’ll come for you. But eventually, they come for everyone. 

On Dec. 31, 2013, Col. Patrick Karegeya, the exiled former head of the Rwandan External Security Organization was found strangled in his Jo’burg hotel room. This is one political assassination of many during President Kagame’s regime. In fact, Karegeya fell victim to a policy that he had defended.

The Rwandan president also flatly denies backing militias in the DRC that contribute directly to the nation’s ongoing mass murder. 

Perhaps I am adding to whatever curse that lady’s tweet laid upon Kenya but, forever presidents are bad and hunting down your perceived enemies to murder them is also very bad.

1. We Were Better Off Then

So you’re asking the real questions, huh? You ask “What’s the point of all this liberté, égalité, franternité if most of what’s good about it goes to finance the lavish lives of politicians’ children abroad?” and you say “Surely even the most optimistic of us can admit that we have and continue to fail to govern ourselves. And nothing proves this better than a side-by-side comparison pic of then and now. Nairobi was so clean and organised, now it’s overrun by mafias.”

Big man said it himself; 

“One of the commonest manifestations of under-development is a tendency among the ruling elite to live in a world of make-believe and unrealistic expectations. This is the cargo cult mentality that anthropologists sometimes speak about – a belief by backward people that someday, without any exertion whatsoever on their own part, a fairy ship will dock in their harbour laden with every good they have always dreamed of possessing.”

Chinua Achebe, The Problem With Nigeria

This one is easy. It wasn’t for us. For us, there was a subhuman existence or death. We walked those clean streets prostrated, fearful and in full knowledge that the blood of our people was mixed into the concrete.

Now you point out that I still have not explained why what we have is a better alternative. It’s better because we can dream now and the only thing we could do then is bear witness.