These were once ways in which messages of peace and war could be passed across the villages in olden times. It was very individual yet communal the passing of messages from one person to another.
Then mass media came and the message was owned by a few, and transmitted to the masses. There was a shift of power. There was no interaction between the source and the receiver of the message.
Now Internet use in Kenya has exploded and social media to the rescue. Many people now either use social networks like twitter and Facebook or interact with material on blogs or podcasts. Here is a platform for the citizen to state his views, to articulate his issues and have discussions. Here he can 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, digital storytelling, blogs and vlogs. I remember watching on TV the violence in the 2007/2008 elections. I believe that as part of sensitization of the effects of violence some of these videos should be put up on the internet and discussed. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What about a video? We need to constantly remind the public why we need to fight for peace. It is easy to get violent and not think about the consequences. That’s why we need to put up images of the consequences. Put up articles, photos and videos of victims of the violence saying how the violence destroyed their lives. For us to tell our stories of how the violence affected us and changed us.
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. And if we destroy our country we destroy our children’s future. We can also have videos of children saying why peace is important. There is something about a child speaking that makes even the most hardened heart turn around.
We can use dance and music where we go to schools, to communities to teach them about peace and reconciliation. We can also video these dances but put them up on the internet and on TV.
Photography. We can how the beauty of our communities. Make us proud to belong to the same nation then it will be hard to pick up a weapon and hurt someone else.
As a child I loved listening to stories. 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 for others to see and discuss. 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.