Of fake news, punishment and human peace

Friday March 15 2019



Freddy Macha

Freddy Macha 

In our era of citizen journalism and internet rumours- we are constantly bombarded with new stuff. There is so much. But out of twenty to thirty bulletins, one always stands out.

Early this week it was the Addis Ababa Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Before even the details of the fatal smash were explained properly by formal reporting, crazy, brief, badly filmed videos were circulating. One allegedly of last seconds of the plane. Babies and children screaming while air safety masks are being won. An attendant walking around making sure all is in place.

The person who forwarded me the clip wrote a long, sad sermon wishing the victims well in heaven.

Then few minutes later an analysis via yet another WhatsApp contact. “Fake news!” It roared. The actual accident occurred within moments of taking off (on way to Nairobi)...and well, the machine blew up in flames before even tumbling down.

So we live in an era of false news, blah blah and hearsay. The human ego is getting inflated with “me –me- me!” listen this is what I know. Me. I will be the first to let the world. Inflated egos. Narcissism.

The internet is excellent, though. If you like researching you can find out more. But the false alarm may cause hearts to whirr and skip. Lately, the most common international fear around African circles has been...

Well...

.... Has become... the mushrooming Chinese presence on the rich continent. Numerous African online forums continue to question whether our African leaders are slowly (and openly) selling us to the most populated nation on earth. Of governments allowing lands and properties to be taken over allegedly for unpaid debt and bills.

Continuous debate. On Monday I received an image with a caption claiming it was “poisoned Chinese” fish being destroyed at Pugu Kinyamwezi while the Tanzanian Minister for Fisheries and Livestock, Luhaga Mpina, looks on. A You Tube video does not saying anything about China though.

In 2018 a warning about Asian rice made from plastic was scattered all over the internet too. It ended with an actual footage exhibiting an illegal factory of plastic rice in Nigeria. Then there are the fake pain killers circulating and sold to desperate Africans. Last month a video of a Muhimbili medical official speaking on live TV was distributed online.

The medic warned on buying bogus pain killers allegedly from China. Citizens should only be taking prescribed medication via doctors.

I think the bogus ones tend to be cheaper and no wonder we are seeing the rise and rise of kidney infections.

While in America, guns are the principal weapon of choice in the UK it is blades. On Friday 1st March, 2019, a 17 year old, promising talented female, was stabbed in East London.

She and her boyfriend were casually sitting at a park when they were approached and she was slashed on her back and died at the scene. Teenage, Jodie Chesney , caused a major discussion plus sizeable local demo days after.

Initially, reports claimed two black males were suspects. Then it was found the killer was from Croatia. Jodie’s killing, plus the fact that she was female ( since the majority of knife victims tend to be young males) has caused endless debates.

One strand for instance, says the cutting of funding to police (since this Government came to power) has reduced security work. Another warns about the lack of fear for offenders. A man was quoted alleging young offenders are not afraid of prison.

When you hear such statements, you question the whole concept of modern, “legal” punishment. Why are young people unafraid of consequences of crime?

Another online clip purported to be a Somali courtroom. Two young males have their manhood chopped off publicly for allegedly raping a ten year old girl. Some comments argue severe punishment will deter such barbaric behaviour. Looking closer the clip is fake as there is hardly any blood or real screams.

Observing people’s behaviour these days you notice lack of remorse and responsibility.

Should we rewind to sixty years ago?

When I was growing up discipline was strict. Punishment by hanging was abolished in the UK in 1965. In Tanzania and many parts of Africa it is still on.

In certain regions of Europe, jails are overcrowded and some prisoners tend to stay out (on licence) even though they are dangerous.

Children are rarely punished. Six decades ago caning was the norm. In 2019, parents get very upset on hearing a school has physically reprimanded their child. Consequently, children do not respect rules.

Humanity loves joy and peace. That is what we crave for. Peace and joy. After Man United kicked out the controversial coach Jose Mourinho, he was rumoured to be joining Real Madrid. However, many Real Madrid senior players (e.g. Gareth Bale), threatened leaving. As a result Zinedine Zidane has been re-employed . What does this tell us? We, humans, love (and enjoy and prefer) peace, joy and tranquillity.