MPs don’t need reading or writing skills in the age of social media

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By JOACHIM BUWEMBO

Ugandans savored a few video clips from Kenya on social media, featuring newly elected leaders being sworn in. And the comments from Kenyan voters are equally interesting.

While the “representatives of the people” struggle to pronounce key words and speak of preserving “constipation”, citizens believe that all oaths must be administered in Swahili, which is a national language. But others point out that the Swahili spoken by some leaders is just as outrageous.

Still others, in typical Kenyan enterprising spirit, propose ways to exploit the gibberish of rulers by selling translation services at these solemn ceremonies.

Solemn? This joke about solemn ceremonies resonates well with Ugandans who, after their last two or three general elections, were treated to similar gibberish that left them with the impression that most newly elected councilors were called “Solomon”, whether they are men or women. For as they held the Holy Bible or the Koran in one hand, as the other rested on a copy of the national “constipation”, they individually struggled to say: “I, Solomon, I swear…”.

Leaders’ lack of ability to speak their national and official languages ​​is clear evidence that social media is taking over, sweeping away important life skills that we have hitherto considered essential for personal and social development. For which leader must know how to read or write in the era of tik-tok? You can be 90% illiterate and record your short video while delivering a powerful message, share it with your few agents who will then distribute it widely to the public.

I don’t know how they do it, but since they acquired mobile technology two decades ago, people who are 95% illiterate can make phone calls, retrieve phone book contacts, send and receive mobile money and now there is the rage of voice note by whatsapp.

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And as modern warehousing takes root and spreads in serious African economies, illiterate farmers are able to monitor and manage their agricultural products from a simple analog telephone which in Uganda we call kabiriti because its size equivalent to a matchbox. They can check the evolution of prices, have a quantity of cereals of their choice from the stock that the specialized warehouse reserves for them and leave the rest for sale when the time is right, for example when the children return to school. school.

So who still needs reading skills when a cheap phone in your palm can do all the communication for you! It’s no surprise that about a week ago Ugandan MPs passed a law that many people felt was unnecessary to increase the punishment for using social media to annoy others.

Many people felt that there were enough laws to answer this, but who said MPs read the contents of the laws they wanted to change? Who needs to read documents these days anyway?

In fact, MPs don’t need to read themselves because the taxpayer pays research assistants for them. But who says those who don’t want to read even want others to read for them?

As the Tenth Parliament was about to end — we are now in the Eleventh Parliament — research assistants gathered their guts and sought to meet the former president. Then they then vented their frustration.

Most of them were women and they claimed that instead of being assigned to research, the male deputies preferred to conduct anatomical research on them.

So much for the reading, which we were told was important.

Joachim Buwembo is a journalist based in Kampala. E-mail: [email protected]

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