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The United States presidency and the American big tech companies

Saturday January 16 2021
US PIC
By Danford Mpumilwa

I was preparing for my departure from my rural Tanilingwabati in Wanging’ombe District to my other home in Arusha when I decided I had to first visit Njombe Town, the regional capital.

This was because I had some unfinished business there which included meeting with some agricultural experts to acquire some vital knowledge to be applied on my five-acre farm back at Taniligwabati.

But also to warm my way slowly back into the modern cut-throat and impersonal but technologically-advanced global lifestyle and ‘civilisation’ found in many urban areas in Bongoland - including Dar es Salaam and, naturally enough, Arusha! Otherwise, I felt, I might be a misfit back in Arusha.

So, here I was in foggy Njombe and the expert I was meeting invited me to the newly-established and eye-catching Hillside Hotel. And, true to its name: it is perched on one of the lush green forest slopes leading to the Ruhuji River and it’s amazing waterfalls.

The 40-room, 3-star hotel is the latest of the many modern facilities in the fast-growing Njombe Town.

It has befittingly sprawling beautiful gardens reminding me of some of the prominent hotels in Arusha. The hotel - owned by Deo Mwanyika, who also happens to be the town’s Member of Parliament - is indeed the flagstaff amenity in the town.

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Seated in one of the cozy and cushy bar lounges and sipping my favourite poison, I could not fail to notice that the news on the 50-inch-plus TV screen was all about the inglorious fall from power of US President Donald Trump, following his painful election loss to one Joe Bidden in the presidential elections on November 3, 2020.

It seemed everyone around Trump was now moving away from him. The first were some members of his cabinet who resigned following the storming of the Capitol Hill by right-wing extremists, incited by Trump himself.

Then there followed denunciation of the President by some of his Republican Party’s Congressmen, and the threat of imminent impeachment by Congress. And He has made history as the first US President to be impeached twice... Remember his previous impeachment over the Ukraine scandal in 2019?

But then, there was the cancellation of a major golf tournament at his Club Course. The Professional Golf Association (PGA) cancelled the 2022 championship at the Club. In 2014 before Trump was President, he spoke with pride when his treasured Bedminister, New Jersey, Golf Course was selected to host the 2022 PGA championship. “Having the PGA is a very, very big deal... It is very, very important to me,” he said at the time. Apparently it is no longer the case.

The worst was yet to come; the President’s main media outlet, Twitter, shut him down indefinitely. This was followed by Facebook. But then, it was apparently found that he and his followers were opting for the smaller ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA) Hellsite Parler media platform.

This was immediately followed by Amazon - and, subsequently, Google and Apple pulling out Parler from their App Stores, thereby completely shutting out the President and his followers from their most common social media platform. A tragedy for any modern social media user; but, for President Trump , this is a virtual death sentence.

I was curious as to what Fox News TV, a known fervent supporter of Trump throughout his ‘interesting’ four years as US President would say. I, therefore, requested the Hillside Hotel staff to switch to Fox News - which they did.

“This is Big Tech censorship,” every Fox News commentator was screaming and complaining about the ‘social media’ shut-down of the President and his associates’ platform.

And yes! Come to think of it: these major social media platforms can shut down anyone anytime. In this case, even the most powerful person in the world, the President of the US (‘POTUS’) notwithstanding his transgressions, is shut down - and he can do nothing about it!

This simply means these tech companies are controlling the global agenda and the way we think and act. And, you know what? These Tech Companies are simply companies. They are elected by no one. Therefore, we all need to take note of this new development. Otherwise, we will all be shut down!

The author is a journalist and communication expert based in Arusha.