Hashtag trends: #democracyfailed

This year has been an enlightening one. First with Brexit and now Trump. The ‘popular’ view conceded to the majority view and people have been left wondering how this could happen. There are two answers: first, to the Brexiteers delight there were people who voted in their favour but did not believe their vote could count. These individuals were surprised that their vote would actually cause the disintegration of EU relations and kill free travel to Ibiza. Second, there are people who wanted to make Britain great again, reminiscent of imperial days where the EU did not meddle in it’s affairs. In both instances, views represented the values of the majority through a democratic process. Perhaps there are strong parallels in the US election result. Did democracy fail?

According the Stanford University democracy is:

  1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
  1. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
  1. Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
  1. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Looking at both the US and British cases, Democracy did what it is meant to. The majority chose Trump. I believe democracy has been given a burden that is too great for it to bear. Democracy is meant to do the “right thing”. Democracy is meant to sustain what elites might view as the correct order of things and it is meant to fix the problems in other nations. Democracy is meant to confirm the populist view and keep all opposing views at bay. Democracy should serve people who are “always right” and continue to keep those on the “margin” disenfranchised. This incredibly clique-ish democracy is a tool for personal interests and not to serve citizens in a stable democracy.

Coming from an African perspective, higher up the social order, democracy is a goal and a condition for development. It is meant to influence growth and ensure the rights of the people are upheld. Democracy and modernity are bedfellows, which is the ideal. There is an inference that democracy should mean the world to all those who have yet to achieve a stable democracy. We should want it bad enough to fight for it but democracy has a different face in different places.

Trevor Noah on Trump

There have been some great presidents but democracy has delivered some duds I must say. Democracy has been disappointing. Yes there is election rigging that is no fault of democracy. However, there is vote buying, black market trading of the vote. In some parts it means very little to be able to have your voice heard through the vote. Some people do not have that romantic view of democracy. It is just another part of the system they have to adopt, another language they have to learn.

Democracy has not failed those who hold that view either. It has not delivered the optimum results because of the conditions it has to operate in.

Stanford University highlights these requirements and even still, these do not guarantee democracy can perform the job it has been asked to do.

We are asking too much of democracy.

  1. We want it work for our views and our values (only)
  2. (We want it to work for our country and make everything better
  3. We want it to work for other countries and make them more like us
  4. We want it to produce only the best candidates (according to us) for democratic elections
  5. We want it to not allow people to sell their vote for essentials or campaign promises
  6. We want it to perform miracles
  7. We want it to be perfect

There is more we ask of democracy that I don’t think alone it can deliver. Democracy is working perfectly fine, we just have to fix our view of it.

 

Feature Image: http://almostfearless.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/IMG_5642_sm.jpg

 

Dalia Deals: Housemaid Horrors, still necessary?

There is currently a search for baby Annabel who was kidnapped by a housemaid in Kenya.

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The horror stories continue after the shocking footage of the Ugandan nanny, ironically named Jolly Tumuhiirwe, tortured a 18 month old baby girl. The video is too shocking to share. These are the stories we know about, there are more heartbreaking episodes that make me wonder should the era of the housemaid stop??

I was brought up by one ‘aunty’ who has lasted the years. Many people are shocked because it’s unheard of. A household could go through up to 6 maids a year because various reasons mainly to do with their personal lives of the workload.

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Captioned – Modern Day Slavery

My mom tells me this story about how her intuition saved the lives of my brother. One brother got burned by the maid by hot porridge. Mum noticed her baby was different and decided to bath her child only to discover burn marks. That maid got fired and mum then decided to wash her baby everyday when she came from work to inspect her child.

These are typical stories with very young children who can’t defend themselves. There are more from children who can speak up for themselves but few know about. I have heard stories of maids trying on teenage girls clothes including underwear but the most damage is done to our young boys.

A very enlightened young man highlighted the point that teenage boys are being taught about sexuality by our housemaids. They learn unhealthy dynamics of relationships from the young housegirls we let into our houses where they are ultimately the boss. For some boys these are the first sexual experiences that both parties are not in a hurry to tell parents. These stories are shared at school and at times shared with fathers who may express pride in their son “growing up”. Is this right? It is inherently child abuse, or paedophilia but there has been no whistle-blowing to date. Then we wonder why society suffers unhealthy relationships, it starts in our homes. How many households are dealing with extramarital affairs with maids? How many sons have impregnated maids?

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The house girl issue is reaching mainstream media.

The impossible housemaid – Kansiime Anne – watch here

The many stories of maids putting juju in the food of their employers or specifically the mother of the house. That strained relationship between ‘madame’ and ‘sisi’ which I believe spurs the violence and misconduct. Some maids are dehumanised and feel somewhat abused by the activities they are asked to do with the amount they get paid. I am especially interested in this housemaid situation because I wrote my dissertarion on the well being of child domestice workers in Egypt, apart of the Gender lens working groups for the 2011 EADI conference, read more here. There is more to the story to those criminalised in the housemaid world. Was Jolly the Ugandan nanny acting out of frustration? Jolly, dubbed the monster maid, was given a chance to say her side of the story..
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She says she was beaten by the dad till she bled… was that called for? More on the story here

Some maids come from backgrounds of difficult circumsaltances, could they actually need some sort of counselling? Does this house girl culture perpetuate poverty? Does it lead to the destruction of society? Should it stop?

Please share your views about this issue that is so close to home for most of us.

Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)

Hashtag Trends – #ObamaSpeech

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How could #ObamaSpeech / #SOTU not trend on social media after that ‘mic drop’ moment he presented to us in broad daylight. He is not perfect but he is the man.

President Obama neutralised all haterade when he calmly stated that he has no more campaigns to run because he run both of them. Wait I’m not capturing the moment…

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I do not think we will ever be so inspired by an American president even if he didn’t save the world as he promised. He disappointed us with swagger and we love him for it.

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I have had many conversations with young men today and I realised many of them want to be president of their respective countries in Africa (okay specifically Zimbabwe). It is a confession that I greet with acceptance and suspicion. Why do you want to be president? I have been accused of being a future Zimbabwe State House candidate on numerous occasions but I deny any interest of being Madame President. Not failing in ambition or capability but I recognise where I’m needed most and politics is not the place.

These young men have placed it on their hearts to be the next big man in Zimbabwe and I want to understand their motivation. Do they realise they are not the only potential president elects plotting for the podium? What are your views on this?

Look out for more on this topic – Generation President
Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)

‘Skinny Shamed’ – #MyFatStory

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Katie says she feels “skinny shamed” and I would admit that I understand what that feels like.

I slipped into the tightest jeans I had every owed when I was 12 years old, which hugged the little womanly curves I could muster at that age. I was happy as pie because they were not another of my brothers’ hand-me-down. I had just finished a performance and had to go back to school to get my satchel. I bumped into a school-mate we barely spoke or joked together so a quick ‘sup’ escaped my mouth. She stood in my path to stop me and looked me up and down commenting scornfully at my outfit. “Your legs are so thin, they are actually disgusting.” Time froze as those words sunk in. I don’t know what I muttered to break free and found myself in my class packing up. What happened directly after that I cannot remember (the wonderful job of repression) but I remember I never looked at myself the same again. Till that day I never had an opinion about my body. It was ok, oh wait, I was slightly embarrassed about it because I was ‘an early bloomer’. Other than that I didn’t mind it but had to bury it in oversized clothes… until those jeans. The two legged representation of liberation into a new incarceration. I wanted to gain weight.

I would also make myself ‘protein shakes’ and would drudge through man-size portions to try gain a few but to no avail I would titter around the 45 kg / 7 stone 2 lbs mark. I tried a couple years of gulping raw eggs for added protein to no avail. This caused me to have a strained relationship with food where it served a purpose to help me gain weight not to enjoy. I don’t know which angel told me that my metabolism may be at play and I would not easily gain weight and my mom said she had the same happen to her. So I have been basically the same weight since I was 12 years old. Other that what triggered it, people thinking you are 17 when you are 27 has its affects on relationships, career progression and general mental wellbeing.

So I’m a size 6 (UK size)… alot of people think I shouldn’t complain and that every woman in the world should aim to be that size.

Misconceptions are:

You’re healthier (cholesterol can still be clogging your arteries)
You get nice clothes (most shops start on size 8)
You will get more opportunities (You come across juvenile and inexperienced)
You are more attractive to men (Maybe some)
you get praised in the streets (no one does)
you feel better about yourself (skinny shame is real)

Things only get worse when you are size 6 and woman of colour. In the African context you are a woman when you are curvaceous you are more attractive, fertile and more fortunate. It is so coveted that in parts of the world there are feeding houses for girls so that they gain weight. In Mauritania gavage feeding happens till this day to speed up puberty and speed up marriage. Al Jazeera made a documentary about it.

There are fat houses in Nigeria, although the practise is illegal, where it is considered as a right of passage and an assurance of marriage. Journeyman pictures made a documentary too.

So being African and skinny isn’t the best traditionally and will lead to skinny shame. Being African and a size 6 but with globalisation the idea isn’t as repulsive.

Personally I have given up the fight to gain weight and decided to love me the way I am (cue inspirational music). I do struggle with food and often ‘forget’ to eat until I’m about to pass out. I always say it will change when I have a family. Probably not. Till then.. I need to finish my supper.

Hashtag Trends: #MyFatStory – Hated Katie Hopkins hates fat

Funny how after a season where you a commercially coerced to binge without a thought all the shocking shows about weight gain and morbid obesity are shown all in a row, but I digress.

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Last night #MyFatStory was trending in the UK and the highest rated programme on paid TV last night. The nation tuned in  not because people were moved by an emotional journey of weight loss after weight gain. No. It was the opinionated self-confessed FATTIST voted the second worst person by Vice, after Vladimir Putin, deliberately making herself “fat” (at size 12) to lose it all again to prove that anyone can lose weight.

Katie met her local rugby team in her little 2 piece for body advice (as one does) before the eating challenge.

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We were all shocked at the guys’ reactions and it hit Katie hard.. we can see it on her face.

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Katie met with this American lady and her boyfriend who celebrated her body type. Katie was so rude she was kicked out their house…

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People tuned in and wanted to see her kick off basically. I think we enjoy reacting to someone so brash and rude about other people. Viewers were armed with the controversial quote that she would not hire someone who is over-weight because she wouldn’t ‘keep up’.
Here is an interview of her defending her point of view…

Instead of battling between throwing up or throwing tomatoes at the TV because of her shocking quips but we end up seeing her human side and at times feeling sorry for her.

An emotional video diary entry… have a listen about why she’s whining.

After an intrusive session with a psychologist, she realises that she has issues and that she has been unreasonably harsh on people who struggle with weight issues. We await the second show… not sure what to expect. In my opinion, she looks better with the extra pudge.

Here’s a sneak peek… has Katie met her match?

#MyFatStory is a great hashtag and TLC UK have done a great job with this social media campaign, seems like the first of many to come. I was avidly following the hashtag and the amount of abuse towards Katie because she’s abusive was hard to watch. One person pointed out that as much as Katie is hard to like, people can be ruthless and equally as detestable. Another person confessed that she was watching because she wanted to find out tips about how to gain weight… my deepest secret was revealed. Well I owned this secret by retweeting it. I became undone, it was time for me to face the woman in the mirror and talk about my #MyFatStory…

Lost and Found: True Story of an African Hansel and Gretel

“What would you have done if you never found us?” She closed her eyes and seemed to delve into memories of grief relieved. “My world would have been torn apart.”

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Photo: Me and my big brothers. Nathan holding my hand. We were around that age.

My mother and I was recollecting our version  of events of the life – changing events. I was two and some at the time and my older brother was 3. We loved car rides so when a car mechanic offered us one we hopped in the car.  My mother tells me the accident happened paMbudzi, commonly known as the unofficial goat market close to the tollgate leading out of the capital city Harare. I distinctly remember all the traffic lights at that intersection turning green at the same time. Cars flooded in anyway causing carnage and death at the scene. I specifically remember a car full of fully clad apostolic faith members was hit by our car, a fault the mechanic was arrested for. I peered over the door to witness the aftermath and all I could see was the police pulling the mechanic away from the car, that was left in the middle of the road.

A bystander must have seen us and took us out of the car in case another accident would sweep us away.  We were retrieved from the car in such a hurry I left my little Sandak shoe in the car. My brother and I were taken from the only security we had to join the thrall of people at that busy intersection. My brother grabbed my hand and we started walking. “Hande kumba Dali,” (let’s go home Dali) my brother said reassuringly so I followed him with a shoe on.

The sun disappeared as we walked along the streets. My mother tells me it should have been Glen Norah. I whined to my brother about my empty stomach and my tired feet. “Tokumbira chikafu,” (please give us food). My brother placed trust in a lady doing some work outside her house. She asked the obvious questions, “Who are you with? Where do you live?” She promptly took us to the police station so they could help us (My mother tells me it was Glen Norah police station).

The duty officers asked so many questions I did not even know. My brother was brave and was not afraid to answer even if most of the responses were ‘I don’t know’. After a barrage of questions he volunteered the most vital information. “Our telephone number is 304771,” that solved the case. All we could do was wait.

My mother told me her side of the story. That day my mother was being baptised at her church and it was a significant day to show her commitment to God. She came home to distressing news that her two youngest children were involved in an accident and no one knows where they were. She told she broke down for a few minutes and strengthened herself to go out and find her children. “I was looking in the reeds, thinking maybe that is where you were harmed and left to die.” She said she prayed while she was driving, “Lord I have been a good servant to you, I have dedicated my life to you. Please give me back my children.” She went to Waterfalls Police Station where she heard the news that they have been found and they are at Glen Norah police station. She began to make her way to us.

“Ndomuuraya!!!” (I will kill him!!). That woke us up from our sleep as we snuggled in the thin blankets usually given to inmates. “Ndinomupisa murume uyu!” (I will burn this man). I saw a man glistening from head to toe from paraffin, which I assumed was poured by the woman hurling threats. The yelling and fracas increased and I held onto my brother tighter. Not long after their entrance, was their exit. I do not know how it was resolved. We fell asleep again and woke up to my mom’s voice, “Vana vangu!!!” (My children). We struggled to emerge from the blankets so we can run to our mother. She looked us up and down, to check if we were ok, thanked the officers profusely and whisked us out of the station. She couldn’t hide the relief and pent up worry from her voice. All I remember from that is asking if we could still have our usual Saturday burgers and chips dinner because we were starving. “You can have anything that you want.”

“I did not realise how important teaching your children your home telephone number was,” She uttered with a grateful smile.

The End

I have never felt so choked up about telling the story as much as I do now. Much like a Hansel and Gretel tale it was spoken about alot and my brother’s memory was the breadcrumb that led us home. I always thought that we were brave but in actual fact it was my brother who was the rock. I am sure many people have times in their lives where they needed someone to hold them by the hand and guide them through the unknown. Sometimes that can be the change from death to life.

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Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)

Hashtag Trends – OXFAM & MSF… be there for which of them?

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The picture that caused people to PROTEST online on Sunday. OXFAM used this image of an MSF worker and an ebola patient (obtained from getty images) to raise funds for their efforts in tackling ebola.

The comment box went crazy with people shouting shame at the ‘deceit’ and ‘masquerading’. Some passionate person started a campaign “say Protest if you disagree” I won’t take sides, even though I did post a comment. The two arguments were:

Argument A

People need help, does it matter where the money goes. Let’s stop focusing on minor details and just stop this terrible situation.

Argument B

Passing off another organisation’s humanitarian efforts as your own is dishonest, especially since that is not your remit of assistance. Money should go to MSF because that’s their work or take down the campaign.

Both arguments were presented by different people and the conversation continued… longer than it should have.

I am choosing to use this situation as a lesson in crisis communications. First lesson and really the fundamental of crisis comms 101.

1) Say something… anything to stop the madness!

OXFAM said nothing… so people went on and on. Facebook users revealed more than the ad campaign represented. A user stated that OXFAM appeared on the ebola emergency scene 7 months late, long after MSF had established operations. That meant they were months behind in scaling up. The ad portrays a different situation.

2) Take stuff down, stop production, stop everything to mitigate further damage

The ad remained and the blood-bath continued beside it. Some people posted the original photo

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Very clever to crop out the MSF flag. Alot of comments were astonished that the photo was still up despite the backlash.  It was Sunday… social media officer was off the clock. The longer it went on, the more revealing the comments became.

3) Blanket sorry don’t cut it…

The Director of Communications issued a statement buried in Twit longer

We’re sorry – we got this wrong – and we’d like to apologise to all who feel misled or deceived by this image or the editorial content of our post. 

The apology was long and explained alot. Great. Astonishingly, the person in charge of the Facebook page messed up further. They copy and pasted the apology in the comments section, fair enough. People weren’t having it. ‘Take down the photo’ some insisted and others said they should give all money they made from that campaign to MSF. So the administrator decided to write, for example, “Dalia we understand your concern but… [copy and past apology]”. “John Doe, you are right that’s why… [copy and paste bits of apology]”
WORST. MISTAKE. EVER!!! There was a barrage of the same message chopped and thrown all over the comments section. It was sloppy to say the least (in my opinion). That further supported accusations of OXFAM being disengenuous. FAIL.

The final nail in the coffin was a Facebook user urging OXFAM to not apologise to those who commented on the facebook but to apologise to MSF and apologise to the people suffering with ebola because OXFAM came 7 months late.

The picture has been removed from the Facebook page.

I say it was a mini crisis not handled well. The fortunate thing is Journos didnt jump on this story because it was pure “charity fundraising abuses” gold. The situation could have been handled better. You got lucky this time.

My views done and dusted, what do you think? Which argument do you support?