[ 4] Mufwene, S. S.
“Language endangerment: What pride and
prestige got to do with
pdf/; Muf wene, S.S.
the Myth of Killer
pdf/; Muf wene, S.S.
“Language birth and
death.” Annual Review
of Anthropology 33
[ 6] Social media was
used to inform the public of wrongdoings and
also to agitate people to
attack their neighbors.
[ 7] Mäkinen, M. and
Kuira, M. “Social Media
in Post-Election Crises in
Kenya” The International
Journal of Press/Politics
13 (2008): 328-335.
[ 8] A more fundamental
root cause is “why there
is low access?” It exposes the source of the
most pressing problems,
which can be narrowed
down to some high-level
issues: colonial heritage,
unfair trade regulations,
and uncontrolled population growth.
services and applications in Africa? Are we maybe
speeding the process of language deaths and
monoculture [ 4]? Could we potentially be sparking
a crisis within African countries around ethnic,
political, or religious tensions?
Let’s take Kenya as an example. Kenya has
slowly been healing wounds exacerbated by post-
election violence—members of the two main tribes
and political parties clashed in the confused after-
math of the elections in January 2008. Now the
situation is seemingly calm, but police and UN offi-
cials report that people are arming themselves in
preparation for the repetition of the clashes during
the elections in 2012. This time with AK47s, instead
of sticks, stones, and machetes. In Eldored and Rift
Valley, the areas with the biggest and most violent
clashes, people have very limited access to news
media [ 5]; they completely rely on radio and word
of mouth. The local radio stations broadcast in the
local language, which is great when accessibility
is in question, but because of this, they are also
an easy channel for religious, political, and tribal
What would a loosely controlled social-media
platform bring about within these communities [ 6]?
The optimist in me says it would create a channel
to exchange thoughts and find out that differences
are artificial and fed by the political elite. Through
time, with some people, this would eventually
happen. The pessimist side tends to think of the
horror scenarios: the rumors and long-cherished
myths of the other tribe would be documented and
evolve into “facts” that could be shared and that
could increase the potential for physical conflict
[ 7]. Think how easily anonymous Web discus-
sions in the West evolve from insults into threats.
(Generally, Kenyans are more polite and welcom-
better cultural tools to handle their emotions in
these discussions?) Obviously, the solution is to
not keep the communities isolated. Poor access to
information is one of the root causes for the con-
flicts, especially in countries with high population
growth [ 8]. Uneducated young males are very good
raw material for any political leader [ 9]. The most
recent example of mobile agitation by SMS is the
clashes between Christian and Muslim communi-
ties in Nigeria earlier this year. One of these mes-
sages said: “War, war, war. Stand up... and defend
yourselves. Kill before they kill you. Slaughter
before they slaughter you. Dump them in a pit
before they dump you” [ 10].