GV Uganda: Blogs, Twitter Keep World Informed as Kampala Riots Continue

Things seem to have settled down somewhat in Kampala, where riots on Thursday and Friday caused at least nine and possibly as many as 14 deaths.

I’ve been glued to my laptop for the past few days, feverishly refreshing TweetDeck and Google Reader and paging through Blogspirit, hoping for news of friends in the city. I’m not the only one: accurate information has been hard to come by, and people both in and out of Uganda have relied on blogs and Twitter for much of their news about the riots. This is the subject of my most recent piece on Global Voices Online:

As riots shook Kampala, the capital of Uganda, for the second day, bloggers and other netizens rallied to keep the world informed.

Within 24 hours of the first riots, concerned Kampalans launched Uganda Witness, a crisis reporting site where Ugandans can share news of deaths, looting, presence of government forces and other related information. As of Friday afternoon (9pm GMT) the site had received multiple reports of rioting in downtown Kampala and several of the city’s suburbs.

Read the full post »

Featured in the post are Uganda Witness, the 27th Comrade writing for The Kampalan, @dgel, Uganda Talks, Fresh Apples, @mugamuya, @uginsomniac and Ugandan Insomniac, The Malan Family, @CamaraAfrica, @solomonking, and Jon Gos of Appfrica.

Today Jon posted his thoughts on asynchronous info, disjointed data and crisis reporting during the riots. Well worth a read.

GV Uganda: Nine Dead in Kampala Riots

Anyone who visits Jackfruity has probably heard of the Kampala riots by now. I put together a post for Global Voices Online last night on the situation in the city, and I’ll be writing more as the situation continues.

I’m following the bloggers on Blogspirit as well as @solomonking, @UgandaTalks, @uginsomniac, @appfrica, @AnneMugisha and others on Twitter.

For now, here’s the post on Global Voices:

Riots in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, have led to the deaths of at least nine people (BBC) as members of the Baganda ethnic group clashed with police and military forces on Wednesday and Thursday.

The riots are an escalation of an ongoing feud between the central Ugandan government and the King (or “Kabaka”) of the Baganda tribe, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II. The Baganda people belong to the Kingdom of Buganda, and they are the largest Ugandan ethnic group.

Last week, Mutebi announced that he was planning an official visit to Kayunga, a district about 45km (28 miles) northeast of Kampala. The district is part of the Kingdom of Buganda, but it is also home to many members of the Banyala ethnic group, many of whom would prefer to establish their own independent kingdom.

Banyala leaders announced they would protest the visit and warned Mutebi not to come. The central government responded by warning Mutebi to stay out of the district and arresting several Baganda people in the area who were erecting exhibition stalls and tents in preparation for his arrival.

Read the full post »

In this post are Flourescent, Fresh Apples, GayUganda, @solomonking, @appfrica, Araalingua and Ugandan Insomniac.

For those of you who are in Kampala and are Tweeting, blogging, and posting Facebook updates: thank you so much for keeping the rest of us informed. My thoughts are with you.

Mamdani vs. Prendergast: the video

Last month I attended The Darfur Debate, a conversation between African political expert Mahmood Mamdani and Darfur advocate John Prendergast. In case my arbitrary points-laden round-up wasn’t enough, you can now watch the video yourself, courtesy of Columbia’s YouTube account:

Let me know if you agree with my assessments of Prendergast’s sartorial choices.

Mamdani vs. Prendergast

Tonight Mahmood Mamdani and John Prendergast will fight to the death share a civil debate on the situation in Darfur, an event I’m hoping will end in hair-pulling and the shouting of epithets. I’ll be tweeting from the debate, and you can follow along below.

mobile activism in african elections

A paper I wrote for Anne Nelson’s New Media in Development Communications class last semester was published this week on DigiActive and reviewed by Pambazuka News. The abstract:

The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa is transforming the political and social landscape of the developing world, empowering people to source and share their own information and to have a greater say in what comes to international attention. This paper compares the use and impact of mobile technology in three recent African elections: Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

In Nigeria’s April 2007 presidential election, a local civil society organization used free software to collect over 10,000 text message reports from voters around the country, boosting citizen participation in a political process many Nigerians doubted. In Sierra Leone’s August-September 2007 elections, trained local monitors used mobile phones to collect data from designated polling sites, enabling the independent National Election Watch to compile and release an accurate, comprehensive analysis of the election almost two weeks before the official report. And in Kenya’s December 2007 election, a group of local digital activists developed and implemented a citizen reporting platform to allow Kenyans to report and track post-election violence during a month-long media blackout, collecting and publishing a comprehensive account of riots, displacement and human rights abuses that serves as one of the best available records of the crisis.

You can read the whole paper here.

Katrin Verclas posted a critique on MobileActive.org. Many of her comments are spot on, and she sheds valuable light on the role the December 2008 elections in Ghana play in this discussion.