These were traditional ways in which messages of peace could be passed across the villages. Then mass media came. The message was owned by a few, and transmitted to the masses. Now internet use in Kenya has exploded. Many people now either use social networks or interact with material on blogs or podcasts. Here is a platform for the citizen to articulate his issues, have discussions, and grow in knowledge through interaction.
Citizen media can help spread the gospel of peace and peaceful elections. Some of the ways citizen media can be used include using podcasts, twitter messages, status updates on facebook, digital storytelling, blogs, and vlogs. As part of sensitization of the effects of violence some of the videos and photos of the 2007/2008 violence should be put up on the internet. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We need to constantly remind the public why we need to fight for peace. It’s easy to get violent and not think about the consequences. Put up articles, photos, and videos of victims of the violence saying how the violence destroyed their lives.
As children we learnt the national anthem and loyalty pledge. This gave us a feeling of nationhood and made us feel proudly Kenyan. I think we should make videos of children from different communities singing the national anthem and saying the loyalty pledge and post them up. Remind us that no matter where we come from we are Kenyan and that the future belongs to those kids. If we destroy our country we destroy our children’s future. We can have videos of children saying why peace is important. There is something about a child speaking that can make even the most hardened heart turn around.
We can use dance and music to teach people about peace and reconciliation. We can video these dances and put them up on the internet.
Photography and artwork. We can show the beauty of our communities and show us that we are one people.
We need storytellers to tell stories that bring people together to laugh and dialogue. This can be done through stories in blogs, short movies put on YouTube and community radio shows.
We hold the destiny of our country in our hands. We can use social media to be a bridge of peace or a road to war. The decision is in our hands in what content we put up. We can use our social media platforms not to settle personal or communal scores but to heal and to draw bridges between communities. We can use it to encourage people to look beyond stereotypes that made us fight each other. Social media can be used as a tool for dialogue, discussion, and building friendships. Let us be citizen ambassadors of peace.
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. John F. Kennedy
This post is a post for Global Voices on how citizen media can help ensure peaceful elections in Kenya in 2012-13.