Real change in Namibia will not happen on the Internet because social networks still congregate under the village ‘meeting tree’. Those connected on the digital realm think they will influence the way Namibians think and make decisions but when you watch the true influence-rs, they will go to the ‘the people’.
Based on sketchy Internet World Stats figures, only about 12% of the Namibian population has ever been on the Internet long enough to open accounts on social networks such as Facebook.
Less than 8% are regulars on the Internet and that could mean anything. Clearly more than 2 million Namibians are nowhere in these figures. The Internet currently is only accessible to a few Namibians and mostly the young.
They are the loudest and make the right noise when it tickles their generational depth of understanding. This happens when they have opinions on issues which is certainly not enough to represent this nation. They are not called ‘the ignorant and impatient generation’ for nothing. They get high and down on an issue just as fast as they crave for the next fashion trend. Even being an activist is fashionable and can be parked in summer because, “it’s hot in here”.
Real community outreach work has stopped due to the Internet’s illusion of reach in Namibia. Even musicians do not put up posters for concerts anymore.
The digital dwellers would want to own an individual farming unit because it sounds cool but the man in the Daures constituency would like the communal areas to be enlarged for grazing and settlement. Reserves were not meant to carry that much of the population. And the so the few politicians who could use their phones for important matters also think that they have just spoken to Namibia.
The digital dwellers will create interesting graphics and memes to flood chat rooms when another one is killed by a trusted person, but the next victim wishes that a social worker and activist would come down to talk to people at Esheshete.
The digital dwellers would think they are real influence-rs whereas they only speak to an estimated less than 8% of Namibians if they happen to be on the internet at the same time. Obviously this is impossible since they can barely afford N$5 airtime vouchers to call their children for food or there is just no network coverage.
The digital dwellers will post naked, dead and mutilated pictures but they will not get close to a casket to see a departed’s face at a funeral. In fact they would be too young to go to the graveyard.
We cannot blame the negative effects of the Internet on itself just like we don’t blame the streets. We have to blame the homes from which these men and women come. There they should have been raised to respect themselves and others. To care and nurture just as they would in person. To not dishonour their family names and community. The Internet is just another street, when you log-off you will face yourselves eventually.