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THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN UGANDA’s 2011 GENERAL ELECTION. My Perspective!

For the past three days, I have been thinking so hard about the outcome of the elections in Uganda after watching on Television the revolutions in the middleEast that saw former Tunisian and Egyptian presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak being forced out of power by the people they were supposed to lead. The reasons are always the same; Chronic Corruption, unemployment and dictatorship among others. 
As I sat in my room at school in St. Mary’s Halifax  a small town in Canada’s Ocean Playground, I could not keep my eyes off my laptop for updates that came in from facebook friends and twips. I kept looking out for updates on newspapers/magazines in Uganda like the Kampala Dispatch, The Independent and Daily Monitor.
On the social websites these were some of the tweets and topics that filled my friends’ status updates.
·         Uganda bans SMS texting of key words during poll ‘Egypt’, ‘bullet’, ‘people power’ etc
·         Museveni making personal calls to voters on their mobile phones just before elections
·         UPC flag Presidential Candidate Mr. Olara Otunnu did not vote for himself
·         Presidential candidates’ names missing on voters lists
·         Fights and scandals by some members of political parties like Mafabi
·         Gender discrimination in politics analysis. Only men analysing elections
·         Updates of polling results from different stations
·         Being reminded to use #ugandavotes as the tweeter Hash tag
·         Heavily guarded streets of Kampala
·         And finally about some prominent Members of parliament who have lost their seats.
As I read all these real time updates from youthful friends that I personally know, I was praying that peace prevails during this time. And from the updates that I am still reading, the situation seems to be okay.
Politics has never been something of interest to me, though I know that am affected by the outcome in one way or another. My focus is on how ICTs especially social networks have played a significant role to keep me updated about the situation in my home country.
What does Foreign Media report about African?
At first, I thought that by watching Television (CTV and CBS) here in Halifax, I would  get some good information about what was going on in Uganda. However, I was not surprised when it was not even mentioned anywhere in the news bulletin for the number of times I happened to be watching. This got me thinking that ”What if Kony the LRA rebel leader had abducted people in Uganda” maybe that would have made news. Unbothered by that, I resorted to one of my best companions, MY LAPTOP. With  the super fast internet here, all I had to do was open as many windows with websites and readily access information about the election progress. Twitter was first on the list, Facebook, the independent Newpaper,The Kampala Dispatch and The Daily Monitor. I must confess that I was shocked but at the same time impressed by the number of people who were tweeting using the #ugandavotes tag.  It was because of this that I was inspired to quickly write this blog post.
State of Technology in Uganda is still wanting:
Also the fact that Mr. Museveni’s (Probably through an automated voice) personal call to people who are subscribed to Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) showed that he had finally appreciated the role of ICTs and will this time (if declared president, which is most likely according to the statistics coming in ),appoint an ICT minister who understands the urgency with which Uganda has to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technology and not for the sake of appointing.
I did not personally have an opportunity to cast my vote, because the nearest Uganda Embassy is in Ottawa and that required a flight. Just imagine a situation where I could vote online and my note remains valid regardless of my location. That’s the Uganda we want to see with the new president.
Mr. New President my concluding Request is :  Please appoint a New and different minister for Education and Sports as well as another one for ICT, I will be very thankful.
Thanks  Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire for the constant updates on your facebook, blog and Twitter accounts.