On My Watch, the Future of Storytelling

Independence to express ourselves as humans through content creation is as old as the first humans. Rock paintings are as old as time and they are just a small bit of how content creation has been. Like today storytelling of all forms has been received through two manners those who appreciate it and those who loathe nor understand it. The later has resulted in a challenge for those creating.

It’s a fact that content creation is a mirror or contemplation of society. So when one authors a piece that is critical to a political ideology, religious beliefs, cultural and social preference there will be a section of society that will not be pleased. From organizations and corporations especially in this age of consumerism, religious, and political sections. That in turn leads to pulling strings that have led to threats that range from censorships, detentions, physical threats, and in some cases killings.

Why am I writing about this today? We have look forward at the future because the Ugandan government has never backed down when she comes up with North Korea like restrictions. It’s not a bad law, I don’t think laws can be bad otherwise Justice would be a joke. The whole thing was put together in bad faith.

Content creators in Uganda have never talked about censorship anywhere in the world and they are right to some breadth. Talking about affairs affecting content creators going through tough times brings negativity, uncreation, and the absence of presence. You will never find a piece about the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia who used to do an anti-corruption blog. We enjoy Ai Weiwei’s poems but his role as a Chinese dissident is not our concern. We have Pussy Riot songs on our playlists but we feel like Russia is not our burden. We didn’t even care about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi that has cast a dark age on all content creators on this planet. For long we have gone with the concept of what we have, we take for granted and ignore what is going on. We call it blocking out the world and its negativity.

Let’s look at another mirror of the society that is set up partly by storytellers, history. In past Africa has had one way of gaging storytellers, from movie makers to playwrights to musicians and writers and it’s by the threat of arrest. Millennials or fellow bazukulu we are not unique to what happened to our predecessors. In fact, out of the 82 cities of refuge for content creators none is in Africa. Ngugi Wa Thiong’ , Ayi Kwei Armah, Ferdinand Oyono, Mongo Beti, Cheikh Hamindou Kane, Legson Kayira, Ndabaningi Sithole, Camara Laye, Yambo Ouologuem, Wole Soyinka, Rene Philombe, Kofi Awoonor, Ousmane Sembene, Byron Kawadwa. For most content creators these are more of deities than role models. They operated under some of the toughest regulations. At some point some gave up on doing what they loved, others had to live in exile and most of them prison was their vacation. But we still can consume their work today. They found ways to keep working under tough times.

Today exile may not be very much of an option because of how much we are exposed and the intricacies that one has to go through. Today many young adults have bent content creation in a career path, we feed off our pastimes. Content creation is not just a mirror to society to day but it’s also about the preservation of information for the future. Today it has very many forms that everyone is contributing to it. The Internet has replaced the fireplace times. The people who invented the Internet did not intend for restrictions on the platform and this has been a threat to those that hold power in the world both political and capital power.

Those with the capital fund and those that hold political power to put in place the regulations. We don’t know who is bankrolling the new regulations on Ugandan creatives, but there is someone/organization doing it because it’s how the world works. After OTT was put in place we can be sure that in a few months to come there will be no freedom to create without censorship or intimidation of some form. It’s going to become nearly impossible to secure support and distribute content and remuneration is going to fade away. Meaning association for creatives to make up new content is going to become tricky. So we have a Pyongyang situation on the blink and its most likely going to happen.

Advisers are going to front the 2005 convention on protection and promotion of diversity of cultural expression. After earning from the crusades that creatives are going to put up they will flee and the fight will be over. That’s basically how things are going to play out. But there other routes we can take for example we have listened to the Michelle Obama Podcast on Spotify. It’s common knowledge that the platform does not work in Uganda but we use it anyway, by fully using the functionalities of our phones. We have to start looking at loopholes in the system.

They say restrictions enable creatives to become more active and they end up produce the best of them. So it’s a good thing that we are heading for this stormy portion of our history. We may not have safe heavens in Africa for creatives but for the first time we are going to need unity as a continent. Communicating through collaborations is now critical. We may have to look for other places to host our sites if it comes to it. So we have to think beyond the box. We have to start reaching out to international networks underground.

As we prepare to start using the dark web, we also have to remember that if we don’t do something or join those that are going to do something nothing is going to change. We have to find our footing in the one percent, we have explore the options of a war within. We have to be part of the dialogue both internationally and locally in order to influence and set the narrative in our favor to make things better for the times to come. But we must be ready for what those that created before us went through.

17 comments

  1. Thank you for calling us out on bs(excuse my language) and reminding us of our real duties. As bloggers, we need to recognise our privileges but also always work together on creating safer spaces for those that will come after us.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I love the way you tell this like it is an apocalypse of content creation in Uganda. However I think this is just political, and will wither out due to the poor implementation of laws here, or if not, after the 2021 elections. So no worries my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow. Amazing piece Benjie. A few days ago I was having a conversation with a Zimbabwean who was telling me about the restrictions on internet in his country right now because of the politics going on and I see the same coming to Uganda.
    Many people are actually prevented from logging into their social media accounts but we can use other avenues like the opinion polls in news papers or our blogs for that matter as you pointed out.
    It’s very necessary to document our history so that it is not forgotten.
    Amazing challenge and I’ll hope right onto it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It is one of my favourite African author Okot p’Bitek’s legacy you have just continued as encapsulated by his thesis in Artist the Ruler. The hazards of our work will remain for a time and we should remain vigilant.
    I also liked seeing Ndabaningi Sithole on the lucky ones to be listed. Ironically, I couldn’t locate his artistic works whilst doing my studies at a local university in Zimbabwe so I used his philosophical book African Nationalism which had a single copy (yes only one copy at the whole library) to interpret the available literary texts of the same generation as his

    Liked by 2 people

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