By: Idris Ahmed Osman
In this century the role of the Media in shaping our lives has become inevitable. The media has drastically changed the lives of many of us. Our inevitable dependence on it is given to two main reasons:
1- The fast-paced high tech. sweeping across the globe and shrinking it to a single room.
2- Our ever growing curiosity to be updated with the news in the instant of its breaking to be aware of the world events.
As the former is solely a matter of natural change and revolution, the latter is an adoption and an extensive employment of the former in our service, a phenomenon we can't escape.
The media, just like any other evolutionary and revolutionary advances and developments, seems to be in process of cascading overtaking of the new from the old fashioned. The Radio has been replaced by the Television and the Internet whose upgrading process has reached its peak in the digital satellite and wireless broadband respectively. The traditional snail mail has become thing of the past in the wake of the emails and messenger chat. The multi-gadget audiovisual mobile phones, bluetooth and wireless connection to the internet have knocked out the bulky landline phones. Likewise did the accessories of these equipment took the same outdating effect when today's flat screen PCs and TVs came with latest technology both in memory and power. The once highly valued floppy disks were crushed in bulks while jubilating the era of thousand times more powerful removable USB keys. A pivotal turning point in the realm of Media technology, but how does this affect our daily life? The cyberspace technology seems to be in parallel challenge with the audiovisual technology, namely the television. The internet encompasses the whole of the audiovisual, written and readable as well as messaging service in one. Today it has been estimated that the internet use is incredibly expanding day after another and many people over the world are getting access to it. There is almost at least one web site in every subject of which occurs into the mind of every human being on earth.
There are millions of data and information exchanged daily across the universe over the interet. Millions of websites are monthly hosted to every server. In this context, there is at least one new Somali website in every two or three weeks listed on the Somali websites. As there is an advantage and a disadvantage, in other words being harmful and helpful in its status and entity, the Media caused several disproportionately adverse consequences and threats to each category of the societies of the world. Politically termed as globalization, governments who in the past built an iron wall barrier between its people and the external world have found their iron curtains smashed to debris and defied totalitarian authority. Censorship of every subject has been hurled into doubt and the fast speed superhighway data traffic undermined securities of both national and certain online transactions. Hackers and spies turned out as pirates of the cyberspace whose cracking has toughened over time as they got more experience and became more illusive. Parents feared for their children's safety and moral values, as explicit scenes and perversions became rampant and rife on the internet. Parent control of the images viewed by their offspring is positively effective only with the total conviction and awareness of the latter. How does this influence the Somali poltics of both those living in the Diaspora and back home? As the days when Somalis huddled into one corner of a restaurant, sipping tea and leaning their ears over the Radio to listen to BBC Somali section news is over.
Despite Somalis being a nation given to talking and listening rather than reading and writing, the new generation both in the exile from the war and back in Somalia are literate and easily favour the latter. With the advent of the internet technology, Somalis who used to wait the monopolized and interest maintained news from BBC across the Mediterranean has vanished. What few hours or even minutes ago occurred back in the Bakaraha market, the southernmost tip of Somalia in Kismayu or northernmost cliff in Ras Hafun and on the borders with Ethiopia is updated as breaking news on Somali websites. In general there is global monopoly of the overall contents of the news. For decades we have had been deaf and blind except what we were being told or shown. While still the same scenario lingers to lesser effect in the rise of the local websites, TV services and independent channels have contributed to the free media revolution. The reason why big and old broadcasting corporations like the BBC, Radio France International (RFI), Deutsche Welle (DW), Voice of America (VOA), financed millions even billions into the programmes presented to its overseas audience should itself hold an evidence. I was not surprised to tune to Somali speaking Radio Televizione Italiano (RAI) as much as I did with the faltering and staggering broken Somali speaking Russian broadcaster in the Somali section of the Moscow Radio. If any, it reminds me of the reminiscence of the bad old days when we read, wrote, heard or watched Italian and then the communist USSR was our only outlet to the outer world! Both pro-colonial Fascist and Communist propaganda were on the boom. All in all it is about games of the mind, keeping ties and cooing the old colony, taming the people and telling or showing them how the world looks like in a monotonously and narrowly single perspective as desired and was being interested by the old colonists. The victim of this emancipation struggle are the journalists and correspondents who are targeted in deliberate attacks, lost lives or limbs, to prevent them cover the truth. Some others were put behind bars in a mysterious detention pretext in order to apprehend their revolutionary revolt against the suppressed media. The media is the most powerful tool as the pen is being described as mightier than the sword. The prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) recommended an eloquent and rhetoric poet to launch a verbal attack on the enemy by composing poems. Means of spreading the word is the media, thus it constitutes a powerful motivation to extinguish the flame of war or kindle it forever. Raise or discourage the moral of army or the enemy respectively. If we wanted to know our real situation pertaining to our awareness to the real events behinds the news, in other terms what we are being told or shown, we should realize the most original sources of some news!. Despite relaxed a little bit in the uncontrollable, unable to curb globalized world, the media world is still being monopolized. Our Somali websites are locally covering the minute details of breaking news back home. Nevertheless I noticed that politics and arts are the two subjects mostly published in every Somali website. I would however render a couple of fraternal advice and recommendations to all Somali webmasters perchance more success be achieved:
To include in their websites educational scheme aimed at the younger generation. In Almost all websites, there is no such educational programme for the different ages of children, teenagers and youth. Sparing a corner of the website for children, teenagers and youth by providing those puzzles, quizzes, contents, where winners would be named and hailed would be an excellent idea of motivation. The younger generation with brilliant brain can be harmonized with their culture and tradition. There is yet more effort to be done to create in them love of their religion, country and people.
To prioritize the national interest over the personal or clan interests. This rule applies on writers who submit articles too. Subjectively and daringly speaking today it seems that each website except few, represent a clan or a warlord and a certain region. Publication of certain articles will not pass through censorship based generally on national interests; likewise do some writers only pen down their lopsided clan-interest focused ideas. We should look into the media as a blessing and try to use it for the general interest and not abuse it.
Idris Ahmed Osman
E-mail: [email protected]