As the publisher of the much needed and ever informed Le Congolais CD, Nicolas-Patience Basabose, better known as MrBasabose, continues to be a voice for the voiceless in Congo in bringing real time reporting from the ground.
Real Name:Nicolas-Patience Basabose (the person) or Bentley Lumumba (the writer)
Online Name/ Twitter handle: Nicolas-Patience Basabose / @MrBasabose
Where are you from/live? Originally from the DR Congo / I live & work between DR Congo, South Africa & Brazil.
Places to find you online: Facebook, Twitter & associated networks…
When and how did you enter the social media game?
Wow, that must be like back in 1999 or so. In 1998 I was a consultant for the “Higher Institute for Applied Technologies” in Kinshasa, my first real job back home. While working on computerizing several aspects of the institution & teaching students how to harness the power of the new tool of “Internet” to assist in their studies, I had enough time to still discover the Internet myself, in 1999 I came across Blackplanet.com, An African American social network started that same year. It was amazing as I could actually catch up with my family & friends living in the US in real time without depending on the usual yahoo/hotmail emails or phone calls.
An addictive habit was born in me that year I guess. Still cant shake it off, unfortunately.
What do you mostly tend to use it for? Roughly the same basic purpose, connecting with people & sharing thoughts, ideas, likes & stuff.
What do you tweet/ post Facebook posts about? Well, I can be as random as it can get but I tweet mostly about #myCongo, #myAfrica, design (art/architecture/décor…), Chelsea Football Club (I’m a big fan) & random things that cross my mind at no specific times. I also have the RSS feed of a paper I publish back home www.LeCongolais.cd linked to my account, so all my articles are relayed on both my Twitter & Facebook accounts.
You’ve been tweeting a lot about the situation in the Congo. What’s been the response?
Well, Congo being my first & true love, the response has been quite amazing & interactive. A lot of people have access to “news” only from what they choose to know about, forgotten or rather ignored situations like in the Congo have very small media coverage, so speaking about our fight & the challenges we face as a nation & people has literally given us a lot of encouragement. So far global media is controlled by Western nations & they choose/dictate what the masses “need” to know, which in fact serves their interests & their interests alone. One the other hand, we are trying via social networks or the news platform www.LeCongolais.cd to tell our stories our way. Which, as you can guess, is totally different from the mainstream media outlets with preset editorial guidelines.
Has social media helped bring that situation to the forefront?
Absolutely, on so many levels. I am personally connected to my people back home wherever I am and I know exactly what is happening whenever it is; directly relaying the news on the net gives people raw content of a situation, so when they hear the diluted version spread by Western media outlets, they think twice before taking it for facts. Which is funny, as recently I had an “argument” with a British reporter who was in Goma, North Kivu province (DR Congo) and he
published articles on how the Rwanda-backed M23 rebels or criminals were well dressed and clean & silly things like that. I confronted him and asked him to actually make himself relevant on the ground and report on atrocities that those “clean” rebels were committing, he kinda shrugged saying he’s telling what he’s seeing. Right at that moment, I received “breaking news” from my people in Goma telling me the M23 rebels were actually looting the Central Bank, I didn’t want to “break the news”, I gave him a tip & next thing, I saw a piece on The Guardian about the actual looting. They took off with almost $20m.
So social media has helped in so many ways to control the story and challenged the “diluters” not to dare tell lies as we know what is actually going on. At times they have no other choice but to listen to what we have to say knowing if they write nonsense we’re in a position to challenge them with facts. It gives the people concerned a certain level of “ownership” of their history/tale, I believe.
Being online & telling our (Congolese) story as we believe it needs to be told opened doors and extended our voice as well. Recently Radio Netherlands, among many others, contacted us to become their media partner. For us, it’s not a “search of approval” but an opportunity to tell our stories our way. They publish our pieces as we write with the things we want the world to know. So our original thought is just spread a little wider. Without social media, that wouldn’t have been possible.
How has it helped you connect with like-minded Africans?
Like crazy lol… Social networks like Twitter or Facebook have literally taken #myAfrica back to its original concept of “one village”… We are connected like never before, I can know what young people in any country are currently going through vis-à-vis to the challenge of our generation, which is lack of leadership on the African continent. We only have rulers, who are doing as they see fit, not as their nations would have wished.
What is your message on social media?
I personally have two messages on here. First #myCongo and then #myAfrica. Being a diehard believer in the potential power of African Unity, I never get tired of “preaching” the goodness that will come from such realization. I know many Africans believe individual strong economies WILL make the continent better. I am still convinced that only a continental unity and a vision of a better life together will take us where we should be as a continent, as people.
It’s a pretty hard message to share when you actually see the reality around us. It is not easy to talk about African unity when we all know even the African Union is not united, but divided along the colonial languages line or selfish economic interests. It’s not easy when we see African countries like Rwanda & Uganda deliberately sabotaging another African nation, my DR Congo, for their benefits, causing millions of deaths and showing no sign of guilt whatsoever. Nationalism is the direct enemy of Pan-Africanism. Like the great mwalimu Julius Nyerere once put it so beautifully, “African nationalism is meaningless, dangerous, anachronistic, if it is not, at the same time, pan-Africanism.”
But I know the challenges we have to overcome as a continent and people. Many refuse to see themselves as a problem to the rest of the continent but I believe in the old Swahili proverb, “He who tells the truth is never wrong.”… So I’ll keep telling that dream, that truth… Hoping to never be proven wrong after all.
Certain truths have to be told, not to hurt anyone intentionally but to help all of us understand the meaning of every single one of our actions. The great Amilcar Cabral once said, “Hide nothing from the masses of our people.” That doesn’t mean, “Tell them what they need to hear, but what they should and HAVE to hear…”
If you could have one person follow you on twitter who would it be?
Honestly, I am attracted to people with the ability to unlock something unknown to my mind. Any person capable of achieving such is worthy of a “follow”. I don’t follow by fame, so I wouldn’t wish for a person to follow me based on their fame/reputation, but their ability to interact with me and open my mind to things I have never experienced/known so far.
If you could have one person join twitter who would it be?
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara… LOL… Like seriously… If that man lived to be on Twitter I can just imagine “our daily bread” of revolutionary thoughts. He’s my hero, side by side with Patrice Eméry Lumumba.
In reality, I think it would be my mom. Unfortunately I know she will follow only me and will spend all her time questioning my tweets or my occasional rants about African issues. She hates it when I talk politics, she believes it’s dangerous. I believe her, but I just cant help it. That’s what my mind is wired to.
What is the role of social media in the “Africa” conversation?
Sharing our daily struggles, believe it or not, that’s our current stage now. The struggle to claim our continent, de facto our destinies, dreams & aspirations. The “social media” generation , if I may call it so, has come across to me as one that is determined to change the fate of our continent. That’s because for once we are able to share thoughts on our issues on a single platform. It’s no longer like when we literally murmured things to ourselves in our corners, losing hope with the thought that maybe we’re the only person feeling that way. Now we know it’s a continental state of mind, the more minds connected, the stronger the belief to actual make it a reality. I believe.
Who is benefiting most from the rise of Africans on social media sites?
I don’t believe the question should be “WHO” but rather “WHAT”.
The primary beneficiary of the rise of Africans on social media sites is “the future” of the continent. Yes, the future of Africa is being shaped by diverse thoughts shared on a daily basis among Africans, mostly the youth. Social media is a tool born/created for this generation. Something to help us shape our common future with the hope not to go for it individually in our separate corners… Like Patrice Eméry Lumumba once said “Young people, the future of Africa belongs to you”.
The future is brighter I believe, but still marred in indignation by what we are currently witnessing across the continent. A generation of “failing” rulers incapable of “pure” leadership. A generation of old people still trusting in the old colonial order to preserve their seats up there on top. In #myAfrica, many “dream” to become the president, when they get there, there isn’t much they can do because they never thought to become president to do something, but just to become president was the goal. So we have lots of people sitting up there doing nothing because they’ve done what their dream was all about, to become president.
Social media sites have revealed to me, personally, that the minds of the current generation of Africans is united and focused on that “better & brighter” future, together. The great Dr Kwame Nkrumah said, “Together, by mutual help, we can achieve much.”
Our ability to now share knowledge of our distant countries has opened a virtual university. We all graduate from it with different degrees on a daily basis. Knowledge is power, when used purposefully. We mustn’t neglect these new insights we are getting from one another by sequences of 140 characters. It is a powerful tool in our hands, we just need to learn how to use it purposefully. Knowing more gives us the ability to do more and the assurance to know that our individual actions are not isolated and meaningless…
The future of #myAfrica is benefiting from these online connections, let’s keep educating one another in a way our parents never thought possible. The great Samora Machel said, “Education makes a man understand that the life of one is connected with the lives of all…”
I am an idealist. Many confuse it with naivety. These ideals drive me. They keep me looking forward.
Who should every African follow on social media?
@AfricanMinds – Great thoughts by African women & men.
@LeCongolaisCD – If you can read French & want to know the truth about the so-called “Congo Crisis” or you can just GoogleTranslate
@Kambale – A brother in the struggle to free #myCongo
@SaidouWane – One of the few voices screaming against the current genocide of Blacks in Mauritania, slavery & the ‘arabization” of a nation where Blacks are not seen as humans.
@brandafrica – Their forum is one of the rare initiatives giving Africans the platform to tell the African story as they live & dream it. Unlike some pseudo debates hosted by a British Broadcaster which has no desire whatsoever to push the “real” African agenda… Just saying.
@TejuCole – A brother in a dangerous relationship with “written word”. A story teller. Or if you want to read random tales that bring out all sorts of feelings in you.
@Vote4Africa – A great tool to monitor how democracy is “practiced” across the continent.
@AfricanDad – Whoever is behind that handle has a great African sense of humor. He reminds me of all the uncles I love but hate hanging with.
@AfricaGoodNews – People are not given too many of those.
Follow @MrBasabose on Twitter
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