Judge cancels No.1 rated Rwigara Reality TV Show

 

 

Rwanda’s Kardashians

Thinking back to some two years ago when the Rwigara saga began to unfold, we could not help seeing parallels with the Kardashians in America. A rich glamorous family that fell on hard times after the death of the father, beautiful glamorous and amorous daughters, a mother behind the scenes pulling all the strings, and an endless thirst for publicity – just too many similarities. Diane had never expressed much in the way of political ambition before that, but the way the authorities seemed to overreact made her into an instant celebrity. The Western media was quick to crown her the head of Rwanda’s opposition, as she ticked the boxes, young, articulate, bright, and modern. The fear was that she could be a protest candidate, a ridiculous notion in itself, but enough to scare some people. She went after the egos of those in power, really said the things you can’t say in Rwanda. From the outside it seemed utterly ridiculous, what followed was even more so. Kim Kardashian was accused of trying to overthrow the government, accused of working with Al-Qaeda to spread terrorism, detained in a maximum security prison, top of the priority list for FBI, NSA, CIA, DEA, and SEALS. Wouldn’t you watch such a show? Rwandans just got out their popcorn and laughed their way through this saga. This saga was number 1 in ratings but it was harming the legitimacy of our nation. We really have to make a decision in this country, are we going to keep making the same mistakes over and over? We go into panic mode and freak out only to regret it later.

 

A Cluster bomb

A clusterbomb is one of the worst weapons ever made, it is a bomb that explodes to release other smaller bombs, these bombs are bright and shiny to look like toys so children pick them up and die. Clusterbombs can kill people long after a particular conflict is over. The Rwigara saga is a lesson to Rwanda in what happens when you are stuck in a vortex of three competing interest groups within government wanting the same outcome but different processes. Rwigara was causing discomfort in the media through her comments and should have been ignored, security services wanted her arrested and did so hastily, the prosecution didn’t have time to make a proper case as it was also being tried in the media. As it was being tried in the media, evidence was being leaked to sway public opinion, the bar set for evidence in the court of law and the court of public opinion are very different. This jeopardized the case, the evidence held less weight in court, screen-grabs work well in swaying public opinion but not judges. The verdict was a scathing rebuke of the prosecution, the burden was on them to prove, not for the accused to disprove, this is a major step forward in Rwanda. The burden of evidence is shifted to the State, the accused has the right not to incriminate themselves, to remain silent. I have witnesses many arrests in Rwanda but never see an officer read out your rights before arresting someone, it just grab and cuff, sling them in the back of a truck. Incitement is not as simple to prove as prosecutors thought, private messages without any action is not enough, so keep whatsapping freely to let off steam

 

Internal reformers society

As champagne was being popped in the halls of HRW, the Washington Post and Congress, with outsiders taking all the credit, there was a HUGE sigh of relief in Rwanda as well. Reform in Rwanda is always seen as the work of the West “pressuring” Rwanda, this is as if to say that no one within RPF wants reform. RPF has a huge wing of the party dedicated to reform, just that they don’t march in the streets, they are bound by strict loyalty but committed to changing from within. Hardliners make the most noise, but when the dust settles the reformers often win. RPF People were advocating for the release of the Rwigaras, even Ingabire, not because they love them but they were not a threat and they were too much trouble for nothing. The Rwigaras wanted this, they got it, they took over the narrative and the headlines. Whenever we wanted to talk about the 10% growth, or good Business climate, or anything positive it always led back to the Rwigaras. This was their Reality TV show, we were willing participants in their game, they played us well. We made them into national security threats when they were nothings. We made them the equals to our government, when you meet people who live off publicity then you suffocate their press coverage by ignoring them.

 

A dance with the Devil

When the devil asks to dance, you better say never, coz a dance with the devil might last forever

This was just 2 weeks of bad coverage, that turned into 2 years of bad coverage, death by 1,000 cuts of little bad stories. It costs us investment, tourists, our good name, by the time you try to explain this story it is too late. We have to stop this “Chicken Little” mentality, that the sky is going to fall down because of one story. This government is one of the strongest in Africa, but to gain sympathy it must appear weak, it must appear fragile, as it only one story can bring this whole country down. So we arrest journalists to prevent bad stories leaking, then the arrest of the journalist becomes a worse story. We are repeating the same folly with a Rwanda BBC Journalist, making them into terrorists with weak evidence, prosecution planting co-accused you don’t who confess to it all, the same mistakes which the judge lambasted them for. We should do a reassessment of how we operate, to avoid hysteria and bright shiny things. I’m tired of hearing “Rwanda is making great strides forward but….” I want to get rid of that BUT. Rwanda is making great strides, end of sentence. We can’t blame the human rights people alone, we must clean our house. We can’t accept that we must commit a few crimes to enforce the law, then there is not law.  We also need to stop this “Let me cut you down to show you” attitude that created this messy mud fight.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Blueprint for Reviving Rwanda media

 

 

The baby and the bathwater

 

The year was 2010, we were faced with a dilemma in Rwanda media. How could we get rid of the bathwater without throwing out the baby? The Baby was the nascent Rwandan media, the bathwater was all the tabloid rags doing rounds on the streets; the Umu’s, Umuseso, Umurinzi, Umurabyo and so forth. It was a Rubik’s cube of a puzzle, to close down press with all the outrage in Western media, while plotting a way forward for Rwandan media. In the end, it was asking the wrong questions, these tabloids were on their last legs anyway, they were not the future, yet they formed the basis of Rwanda media policy going forward. The bathwater was thrown out, but the baby would be left to fend for itself, to self-regulate, the sector was not ready to regulate itself but the Rwandan Government did not want to regulate media directly. Therefore, so many problems have arisen since that could not have been anticipated, Rwanda media has largely stagnated in the time since, and we have been unable to solve the structural issues dogging our industry. I would also venture that this was to the Government’s detriment, having a weak internal media industry has harmed the government. Instead we chose to outsource our media to mostly Foreign publications, with planted or paid for stories that give us a hit of heroin until we need to do that again. We could have had a local media generating these stories organically, we have spent millions of dollars that could have gone to develop a local media industry. For the media, we also should not feel entitled to government funding, but we must solve the problems affecting us.

 

Slow death

 

Since 2010, we have seen the slow death of Rwanda media, zombie stations with just a playlist, one-man bands all over the place. We have lost all the best, all the best journalists are now some PR for an NGO earning $1,600 per monthplus benefits. Why take all the risk of being a journalist; being arrested, harassed, not being paid, getting ostracized, and all for what? The Greater Good? So I bump into a great journalist at the lights, “Where have you been?” She points to a baby seat in the back. The world of journalism was too unstable to raise a family, better to take the NGO job, with the paid holidays, travel, benefits, school vouchers and a RAV-4. PR took over, companies would pay plenty to have positive coverage, individuals would pay to be interviewed, the focus switched away from the Reader/listener/viewer to the subject of the interview. Now sales and clicks didn’t matter, just what they were willing to pay. All this time we have had growth in terms of numbers, more stations, more publications, now digital TV stations but no real growth in professionalism, in content creation, in standards, we are spreading the little we have very thinly. A station owner bragged to me that it made $3,000 a month, a much better station makes $9,000 a month, even the best barely make more than that. How can you run a good newsroom, sales team, marketing team, DJ’S, presenters, researchers, reporters, on that money. We have 37 stations, that is past saturation point, most are for Kigali only, 37 stations for 1.3m people. We have 90% of Rwanda mostly served by the government station Radio Rwanda, in these other stations there is just “Katogo” music and talk, no specialized programs, no product differentiation, just copy cats on copy cats. There should be forces of consolidation at work, mergers and acquisitions, forming Syndicates, partnerships, and overall cooperation, but nothing of the sort. The market continues to fragment and is not enticing to media investors because of the Cowboys in the market, people who are untrained but trying out their luck. Cowboys are happy with diminishing returns.

 

Diminishing returns

 

There was a time not long ago when Radio stations all made huge profits, many have seen revenues drop by 75%, the market is too saturated, government cut its ad buys, private sector has also reduced ad buys and many prefer direct marketing via social media, where they can get instant feedback and also provide customer service. Many radio stations put all their hopes in TV, but they are just producing radio with pictures. They quality of their pictures shows this, no professional cameramen, lighting, sound, make-up, electricians, wardrobe, producer, scriptwriter, director, and presenters trained in media. They use amateurs and enthusiasts, they exploit them for a short while and exploit another. Radio stations now pay in “exposure” but we can’t eat it, I do 2 hrs radio a week for free, I’m told I can “leverage” it into something else. Even commentators in football have to pay the bills “the best milk, cake and Fanta bikonje is at Mama Fils at Kimironko market, hmmm, so nice. Neymar with a shot!!!! Goooooooal !!!!!!!!” you are expected to pay yourself. This is how our cowboys have stayed in business, by not feeding the cow, just driving us to market for less and less. As long as the meager returns can pay the owners lifestyle of 2m+ they are fine because their salary is untouched.

 

Lack of investment

 

Political risk

 

This is the biggest obstacle to investment in Rwanda media, the government has a dim view of media, instantly suspects anyone before you even start. It doesn’t matter if you have forensic evidence in Rwanda to back up your story, it is not true until the Government accepts it is true. A simple fact like “The sky is blue” might be obvious to some, but if you were to state such a fact before the Government accepts that the sky is indeed blue, then you can face prison. Look at the Story of Hunger and famine in Eastern Province last year, local journalists who reported it were harassed till the story died down. Only for the President to castigate the local officials for denying and pretending there was no problem. The truth is that the power of government even extends to local officials who have strong backers in central government that can kill a story. It is easier to make a story go away than it is to fix it, journalism is a losing game in Rwanda. This requires a gesture of goodwill by the government, to openly encourage investment in the media. Many big Rwandan companies want to invest in a media wing, they have to capital to start professional stations in Rwanda but they fear contagion. Imagine you invest $2m in a media empire then just one little story by a junior staffer brings down your entire company, and this contagion spreads to all other arms of your business empire. It is too risky, hence we have these cowboys who can thrive in the Wild Wild West of Rwanda media. We also need a business code of conduct for the media, a media investment code, copyright law enforcement, and direct investment in a media college. We also need a cessation in issuing new Radio and TV licenses, it is devaluing the media industry, any new entrant will have to buy out an existing company. Compel the existing media companies to work together in networks, raise the price of owing a radio/TV station, or at least set standards required in technical staff. Most Rwanda TV stations belong on YouTube where it is free to broadcast. Let us get down to 4 networks, consolidate the market, increase audiences and revenue.

 

Owners need to evolve

 

The entry barriers to media in Rwanda were set very low, one can chose between buying a car or opening a TV station, it is that cheap. Costs have been continually dropping that offset the loss in ad revenue. This led to the saturation of the market, huge reduction in ad buys because smaller audiences just weren’t viable. Saturation leads to duplication, lack of specialization, lower skills levels, exploitation of workers, it becomes a race to the bottom. Saturation also stops outside investment, investors do not mind a small market, a small market can grow into a huge market, but a saturated but small market is like a pond of piranha. We have to work on the reduction of stations, to have more regional coverage, smaller broadcasters cannot afford reporters in every district. If we stop issuing new licenses then their values go up to whatever the market price is, owners can sell out for higher. For the ones that remain, you need networks, there is no radio or TV station in the West that stands alone, all are part of a network. This helps increase audience, bargaining power of media is increased with larger markets, it reduces costs as well, less duplication, more specialization and more professionalism. Instead of having an accountant for each, you now share, you share HR dept, publishing and clearing, sound tech, cameramen, all these can be shared and somehow you collectively get the staff you need. Consolidation is so important for our survival, especially in a small market, but there are factors stopping consolidation, mainly the easy purchase of licenses, we should even review if some existing license holders qualify to hold one.

 

 

Solutions

 

  • Stop issuing TV and Radio licenses, the digital switchover assumed that frequencies are infinite, but the attention span of listeners/viewers can be overwhelmed with too much mediocrity. For Frequency owners, it increases the value of stations. It will mean new investors will have to co-invest, or buy out current owners. The amount of money for investment is limited, so we cannot have 37 stations all standing alone, each taking minute shares of the market. Radio Rwanda still has 80% of the audience most of the time.
  • Make Radio and TV form networks, the reason for networks is to increase audience for ad buys. You sell an audience of 2m and now you have a viable proposition. Let us have 3-4 Networks, even with 37 stations but in networks. Adverts would be synchronized across the Network, say at :13mins, 27mins, 42mins and 57mins on the hour. A total of 12 minutes per hour. Revenue is shared across the network according to ratings. The results will be instant; more ad buys, better quality of ads which have be properly designed and focus-polled using metric data.
  • Once stations are in a Network, there is no point duplicating the same thing over and over. Some stations will move to rural areas as part of this Network and to smaller towns as well. Content will have to be much more varied to fit the various segments. One station can be Pop music only, another News and Talk, another Educational providing lectures, another doing religious content. The news becomes more varied, both in region and content. News in Rwanda is 90% Kigali based, yet events are unfolding all over the country, the audience is 90% outside of Kigali.
  • Exclusive deals – turn on the radio and you can find 5 stations all commentating the same game, all doing it badly, unprofessionally, lying to their listeners, their commentary has nothing to do with what is on the screen. We should sell the rights to the EPL on the Radio, let only one station get it, then they can get the ad revenue, then we can have professional coverage not semi-drunk guys jerking around. Rwanda football League, Basketball, any sport should have exclusive rights bought, not random coverage.
  • Outsourcing News – we can have a Rwanda Independent News agency, where several stations outsource their news to a company that provides bulletins across networks. It allows smaller stations to fulfill their public service remit. It allows for better news as an agency can have reporters everywhere and just send in News, Sport, Weather, traffic updates, public service announcement and have them across a joint network. This allows pop stations to just do pop, or if it is a talk show, you can focus on your content exclusively without the distraction of hourly bulletins.
  • Setting content quotas – due to poor regulation of our digital TV we have stations that just show content illegally all day without paying copyright. All day, even new movies are screened illicitly, Black Panther was showing for free when Century Cinema paid for the right to screen it. These TV stations are just a 24 Replay machine. No one is developing local gameshows, quiz shows, comedies, soap operas,  lectures, news analysis, human interest, science. It is just a morning talk show “Radio with Picture” then they just link up the Hard Drive and play western stuff without paying. These TV stations are not fulfilling their obligation to create local content, they don’t have the inclination, the money, the skills, or the IMAGINATION. That is why I’d advocate revoking most of them. Local content must be 75% of content on air. Movies shown must be paid for, because we’ll get sued, and those who want to buy rights legitimately are put off by the lack of enforcement of law.
  • Set standards – we just set a price to buy a license but we left standards behind. Let the criteria be technical, workers must be skilled, paid a minimum wage, worked only a certain number of hours. Standards can be set in numbers and metrics, equipment, skill level.
  • Set up a Media College – we shd have a media college with at least 2,000 students a year. Not these little media courses with 20-30 people. We need to train so many skills; journalism, camera, sound, make-up, editing, producing, special effects, around 200 different skills. We say that Africans must tell our story, we don’t have the tools, telling our story is not just standing and shouting, it requires skills. If we had a big media college then Rwanda becomes the center of African media, we sit on the cusp of Francophone and Anglophone and could cater for both markets.
  • Media Park – set up a facility where media companies, content providers, skilled workers, can set up shop at an affordable cost. This can attract media companies from all over the world. This only happens when you have a skills base, when you’ve built a media college and you have a large pool to choose from. Media can make billions for Rwanda, with our fast internet, livable city, no power cuts, we already have a headstart on many regional rivals.

 

 

The government of Rwanda cannot blame lack of skills for bad journalism in Rwanda, it is their duty to teach these skills. How can you blame a child who was never taught? If we had bad engineers, we would open a better Engineering school, we need to invest in media skills to actualize the vision we have for Rwanda. Let us begin a dialogue on the way forward, discussing how to mitigate political risks of investing in Journalism and media, the saturation of the market, the lack of content, the localization around Kigali, the lack of ad buys, the high costs of running, and all factors affecting media. I believe the only answer is consolidation, setting egos aside and working together for a bigger pie, it can be syndication, mergers, affiliation, but we need to pull together. We need to stop issuing new licenses, to increase the market value of frequencies, to force consolidation and end the “ever diminishing returns” games. We need a signal from government that media is a viable industry to invest in. We need investment in skills and training to equip us with tools to tell our story. We need to see media as central to our development, a media company with 100 workers can bring in billions of dollars if the content is right. We need a common sense approach to media.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Africans lost their football identity

Football identity reflects national identity

 

Why is African football in a slump?

There was a time when many people predicted a great future for African football, Pele said an African team would win the World Cup by 2000, but it never happened because African football became a reflection of the chaos in government and society. African football was feared because it was fearless, physical, athletic and skillful, that is what made Pele, the Greatest, make that prediction. That was a time when most of our best players still played here in Africa, since then almost all our best players have moved to Europe but our teams have gotten worse. How can better players give us worse teams? It is because we lost our identity, we tried to play like Europeans and adopt a pragmatic approach but it killed who we are. Let a lion be a lion, don’t change it to make it more approachable and docile, you kill the very thing that makes it a lion. We brought in European coaches because we despise our own, then we say to a white man “Give us an identity!” we already had one. Where we lacked is the technical drill coaches not head coaches who spend most of the time back home then 4 days in a hotel. We should have imported fitness coaches, skills coaches, tactical coaches, video review coaches, and left the top coaching and development of identity with African coaches. In all the games that African teams have played they tried to not concede and play for a draw but were stunned by late goals or self-inflicted mistakes. That is not African football, we attack fearlessly, we match you for skill then outmuscle you.

 

National identity in football

One of the best books ever written is “The Ball is Round” it is a history of football around the world, how it started in ancient times until it was coded with rules by the British in 1863. The railways played a massive role in the development of football, as British engineers and workers built the railways in Europe, then South America, then Asia and Africa, they took with them a game that could played anywhere flat. The railway in USA was built by the Chinese and blacks with a lot of Irish and ex-confederate soldiers, and that is why football never caught on in USA. What made football unique is that with the same rules, the game developed very differently in every nation reflecting the national character. It was a time when football was isolated and evolved in different ways, there are no TV to compare another style to so you developed your own. That is why today football national teams reflect the national character. Your character is something you cannot hide, other than try to change it, you should enhance those aspects that give you an advantage. Look at the following national styles.

Brazil – Samba football, football is played to the sound of drums, the players dance in rhythm, they build up the tempo and strike. The nation is a proud nation, winning is not enough, you need to win with style. It is not enough to defeat your opponent but you need to do it with swagger.

Germany – Cool under pressure, efficient, cohesive and hardworking. These are attributes Germans love, it is reflected in their team, never count them out.

Italy – still have 4 World Cups, they have been around 2,000 years, they have seen empires come and go and know what works. First, contain the opponent defensively then pick them apart methodically.

Spain – the Matador style. A Matador doesn’t kill a bull with one go but weakens it with Picadors, tiny little cuts and stabs to weaken it. Before this Tiki-taka Spain played like a bull, but decided to play like a matador, smaller than their opponents but agile, killing you with little passes that open you up for the kill.

Holland – Total Football, anyone can play anywhere, versatility and teamwork, ingenuity and hard work is a hard combination to beat. One-touch pass and move, triangular play, freestyle football. Their model was copied by Barcelona since Rinus Mickels and Cruyff played there in the 70’s.

England – Up and at em. People say England doesn’t have a national identity but it has, just a very bad one. Just like the nation is in its post-imperial hangover, it has an overinflated view of itself. The cold weather makes you run like a headless chicken, the rainy damp pitches don’t allow passes to move smoothly. So the developed the wingplay crosses with a big 9 to lump it in with a header. Slick skillful players are despised as showoffs and potentially gay, the dumb macho tackling style that loses gallantly is loved.

Uruguay – Abajura just. A small but fiercely proud nation sat between Argentina and Brazil, punching literally above its weight. They will fight, cheat, foul, but also play amazing football doing it. They grow up playing in the narrow streets of Montevideo where the only rule is “there are no rules” only winners and losers.

 

What is our national identity?

Our identity is moulded by our recent past and ancient history. Sport doesn’t change character, it reveals it. When you are up against the wall, you revert to character, to centuries of ingrained behavior and national culture. We must define our identity off the pitch first and reflect it on the pitch. Our history is rich, Rwanda iratera, Rwanda attacks, it is not attacked. We are an attacking country, we defend by attacking. We attack early and swiftly, disarming you before can react, we avoid attritional battles as we can’t afford casualties, we prefer stealthy pre-emptive strikes. Looking at all our great battles, there is always an element of trickery and daring involved, the battle of Pweto-Pepeto, Kisangani, Kitona, Ruhengeri, all involve opponents with superior numbers, better arms, better training but we emerged victorious. That should be the Rwandan style, first, know your opponent, spy and spy again. Get to know all their weaknesses, strike directly at the weakest but most crucial point, destabilize, misinform and then pull your master card at the last minute. We must select players who fit this template, regardless of skills, skills can be taught, but you can’t teach that true cunning Rwanda instinct. We make a mistake, we take athletes and try to teach them football mentally, we should start with footballers and try to develop them physically. We need an identity based on intelligence and scouting our opponents, having a physical game to match our opponents, developing our team collectively not players individually, and developing a never-say-die attitude in our players and fans. We rose from Genocide, we can do anything. Rwanda for World Cup 2026, there will be 48 teams, we shall be one of them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HOW TO KILL YOUR BRAND IN RECORD TIME

 

 

A recent incident at Cocobean, a popular nightspot in Kigali highlights how Rwandans need to wake up to this new digital age. First of all, Cocobean should not exist, it is a death-trap in violation of almost every safety code in the books, a tinderbox waiting to blow and kill people one day. The fact that a rich nightclub owner can open a nightclub in his own house in a residential area is a sign of corruption in CoK. Then add to the fact that it is so small, barely 10mx20m but accommodates hundreds of people is a accident waiting to happen, you never get served, it is crammed full of pickpockets and phone-thieves. An Albino lady was denied entry due to her skin colour, she was manhandled and assaulted when she complained. The club then went on the offensive, accused her of being a drunken nuisance, said they were in their rights to deny and assault her. Then the minister of justice was informed and promised to look in to it, Cocobean stuck to its guns and still went on the attack. At no point did it occur to them to apologize or at least say “We are sorry you feel you were discriminated against, it will never happen again.” Or even better, offer her free entry and a drink next time, end of story, we all go home happy. The problem in Rwanda is Brands are eponymous, people are brands and brands are people. The Owner Cobra has already watched his clubs burn down twice before his eyes, he’s now watching his third club burn down before his very eyes. When people attacked Cocobean, they attacked him, he attacked back, defended himself, but lost his client base. At this rate 99% of his clients are against him, that should worry him, but he cannot separate his own ego and persona from a brand.

 

A brand is a vehicle to make money, not to massage your ego, when your brand is toxic and stopping you from making money, you rebrand or ditch it altogether. Rwandan companies are doing online social media branding coz it is cool and all the cool kids are doing it. They are unaware of the pitfalls of online branding, it can expose you if you are out of touch and not all branding is good branding. If you are analogue in management but want a digital online brand, it will be exposed as outdated. Like Cobra is destroying his image, a company must understand a brand is underpinned by values, not the name, names change every day but values remain. The values of Cocobean should be inclusiveness, fraternity and having a good time, and that is what people expected from a club previously known as Cadillac. Arrogance is killing the brand, it feels like Studio 54 in 70’s New York, they have the right to reject people because they are popular. This can change instantly, Rwandans can boycott a place overnight, maybe the City of Kigali will wake up to the violations of code sometime soon. Give Cobra a proper club, there are so many empty nightclubs in Kigali, yet we prefer a converted sitting room because of the name of the owner. Let him take that name to a proper club, with safety, good service, music and drinks.

 

Online branding is only a reflection of your offline brand, it cannot make up for deficiencies in management. A recent example was RwandaMotors offering a free World Cup ball with every car sold. Do you think I will buy a car worth 18m to get a ball of 10k? They missed the opportunity to sell more cars, slash prices say 10% show savings in real money, for one month on limited models. If the car is 18m, say it is 400k a month ONLY!!!! Make me want to buy it, tease me into a test drive, try to close sales. The problem is not the online guys who just tweet what they are told, the problem is an unimaginative sales and marketing department. I&M Bank was another that got my goat, advertising “Wedding Loans”  this lead to many criticizing them for bad taste, and bad financial advice, to advise young couples to borrow at 18% for one day’s fun. Call it a “Starter loan” I understand young couples need that blanket of security the first year but not at the cost of their future with massive debts. A well-run online presence can be great marketing and reduce your costs as you handle customer service online. Good examples are Irembo, Jumia, EWASA (I still call them that anyway) several ministries, RDB, Rwandair, Airtel, they all interact in real time with their customers and resolve issues instantly. As you see, these are well-run and efficient offline as well, it is merely an mirror image of their efficient management.

 

What are you branding for?

 

Online marketing has seen a boom in recent years with the decline of traditional media, social media seems to have all the answers but one must be careful. Online media can help with the following in cutting costs but increasing efficiency in.

Advertising – strategies like viral advertising have changed the game, with the right catchy campaign you can reach more people by user-to-user sharing via memes and gifs.

Sales promotion – this is the proof of the pudding, is the online campaign inducing more sales?

Direct marketing – you can bypass the conventional supply chain by directly selling and delivering to your client

Personal sales – your customers now become your sales team and recommend you to other clients

PR and customer service – this is what most companies do it for, PR has to lead to better sales, more profit, and not just a nice name. It works as a feedback loop to help you improve your services and products.

 

Online marketing still uses the same principles of marketing, it just does it online but quicker. Marketing has not changed much, only the mediums we use. An online brander should still be focused on the 4 pillars of Brand identity.

Attributes – what attributes define your brand?

Benefits – what are the benefits of using your brand?

Values – what are the values behind your brand?

Personality – a brand is like a person, it has a personality and we identify with it like a friend.

 

Every tweet, every post, should be focused on these 4, not on funny jokes or memes. You have to be defining your attributes, emphasizing benefits of your product, reinforcing values and moulding a personality in the minds of readers. What marketing in Rwanda is suffering from is too much top-down thinking, the boss has to approve of everything, what he likes goes. There is not enough use of data to back up marketing, it is done according to feelings. There is not enough use of focus groups to get feedback on product rollouts, no market surveys on potential clients, just what the DG approves. There is too much focus on the ego of the boss, you’ll see a pic of the DG grinning in a full page ad “Wishing all survivors well on Kwibuka” such tastelessness, advertising on genocide commemoration. Lack of tact, not understanding your market, assuming you know better than what the customer wants, but this is caused by a bigger problem. COMPLACENCY the Rwanda market is not competitive, the same old players have dominated almost every market and always will. There is no competition for the very last franc, walk into a bank and no-one is trying to sign you up, take it or leave it attitude. We need disruption in the Rwandan market, just like Cobra thinks he can treat people like turds and they will still beg to come, so does every company in Rwanda, from the biggest telecoms to a shop around the corner. We kept these people safe from competition for so long but it will kill us in the long term, protecting cartels from competition will not save us.

 

The Cod and the Catfish

 

There is a story of how codfish was overfished around Britain in the 60’s and the British couldn’t have their fish and chips. A solution was sought outside in the North Atlantic Codfish from America. They always died in transit, they tried putting oxygen in the water, they tried using water with the perfect Ph balance, they tried special foods, but they always died. Until a person told them to put a catfish in there, the catfish was the natural predator of the codfish, if there are 40,000 fish in a tank then put 5 catfish. These 5 can only eat 2 cod each so you won’t lose many. It had the desired effect, the codfish woke up from their complacency, the survival instinct kicked in and they began swirling around in schools. This helped them breath better as water was passing through their gills, they became healthy and fit from movement, it reduced disease from the stagnant water, and for no cost at all.

 

They say Rwanda is a small market, the same people who say that are eating big off this small market, it is just big enough for them, any bigger and they would have to evolve so they want things the same. Our whole system is based on price cartels, not market forces, a few people have monopoly in most profitable sectors and don’t want change. They want to die of complacency like the codfish. Rwanda needs competition, fair competition, not bloated fatcats we can’t afford this anymore.

 

RIP COCOBEAN I HOPE THE LAW STILL STANDS FOR SOMETHING IN RWANDA.

SHUT THE DEATHTRAP

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Democracy, Sports and the body politic stripped bare

 

 

Arsenal deal

I wanted to write purely about democracy this week, but the Arsenal kit deal dominated the news, so I found a way to marry the two stories as they are linked. The backlash was delayed but came with the same vitriol as was to be expected “Britain gives money to Rwanda which they waste on sponsoring Arsenal FC” They linked the usual human rights headlines to this story, the coverage was just so racist and patronizing and made me sick. There is an anti-development aid agenda at play, there are many who oppose the giving of aid on any grounds, they want the EU to drop its UN target of spending 0.7% on development. They point every aid recipient country as corrupt, all the money is wasted, the aid is pointless. Due to austerity their ideas gained traction in society, they linked lack of services to aid. Rwanda has done tremendously well in reducing aid-dependency from 80% to 17% but most Westerners believe that “the only reason your government exists is because of us.” As John Humphreys arrogantly said. The idea that we exist because of aid is a lie to cover up their lack of relevance in the modern world. They say that Rwanda has failed democratically, yet democracy is failing in the West, it is bringing fascism, neo-fascists, Trumpists, Brexiteers, and policies that damage their nations long-term. Yet we are told that democracy, like fate, must just be accepted, even when it wants to destroy society it must be obeyed. That is because democracy in the West has been completely corrupted and coopted by the moneyed elites and people are turning to facism. Rwanda, like the West, has its own history of fascism and genocide so we cannot accept it.

 

What is democracy?

 

We have always assumed we knew what democracy is, the growth of technology has blurred the line with the public and private spheres, people now have direct access to their leaders, can affect policy in real time, people can collect in massive numbers to remove a government. Electoral democracy was a solution to a geographical and logistical challenge. Local committees are naturally democratic, every person has the right to speak, each person have one vote, the effects and burdens are felt equally in the community due to proximity. As the numbers go up not everyone gets a chance to speak, your vote counts less, so you elect a leader to represent you in a wider political sphere. This is where true democracy falls apart, the elected leader is now left to decide and balance needs of the voters. Government is just not responsive in this digital age, the old style democracy imposed on us is failing, it has given in to identity politics, we have codified tribal identities and we are institutionalizing them. The rise in identity politics is a reaction to the state not being responsive, so they revert to their past identities which have now been digitally connected. Democracy has its myths; democracy brings automatic development, democracy produced the industrial revolution, Africa is poor because it is not democratic, so it’s our fault. If only we could be like the White man then we’d be free of poverty. Yet Western democracy cannot survive without cheap African minerals to subsidize it, they have very few resources, we have everything. The price of their freedom is our oppression. P.D.D Peace, Democracy and Development, all need to be in balance for social harmony, none is more important than the other, though we put democracy on a pedestal above the others, one cannot eat democracy, hunger removes any chance of peace, development cannot make up for the other two.

 

The body politic

Governance is what allows millions of individuals to combine into a super-organism, much like the biology lessons in class, a nation is like a body, it must perform certain functions to survive. One might look at China as undemocratic because they don’t imitate the west, but their governance structure performs all the functions needed.

Movement – Government must be flexible, the system has to be able to adapt and move. Any system that is static doesn’t survive long. Government must be functioning.

Respiration – there must be a free-flow of ideas, ideas are the life-blood of government, you need ideas to solve problems, you need free flow of information to breathe in new ideas.

Sensitivity – a government must be equipped with all the sensory organs to get feedback, in order to react in time, to be fully aware of opportunities and threats, and seek solutions.

Nutrition – the government must be sustained by local taxes, like in biology, dependence makes you a parasite. Local taxes give democracy legitimacy, aid dependence kills democracy. There is no aid-dependent democracy on earth, he who pays the singer picks the song.

Excretion – Government must be able to get rid of bad leaders and bad policies.

Reproduction – government should be able to produce future leaders and the skills base needed to help the future generations.

Growth – there must be growth, economic, social, and political. Democracy is a means to an end, not an end in itself, it is there to help us get from here to the Promised Land. When it stops growing, it begins to die slowly.

 

Defining African democracy

Democracy is failing in the West, but in Africa we are having a mini-revival, in the last year we saw big giants go down with minimal fuss. Dos Santos, Mugabe, Zuma, DeSalegn, Yaya Jammeh, to name a few. We tried to copycat democracy, right down to the wigs, maces, order order, the right honorable gentleman, blah blah. We wrongly believed that our cultures were not democratic, Ubuntu shows us otherwise. Ubuntu was developed during the Bantu migration, it was a set of codes that allowed people to journey long distances and settle most of the continent. In Ubuntu – I am because you are, we have resolved the balance between the collective and the individual. Western democracy is based on the rights of the individual, but we all interlinked, our actions affect others, other people’s actions affect us. We have a real balance between people, the west upset that balance during colonialism, chiefs and bigmen were chosen to speak for us, and our social fabric broke down. In Ubuntu no one is left behind, the migration taught people that you can be strong today but weak tomorrow, so I can’t leave my brother behind because tomorrow it could be me. Western democracy demands that one side gets power and ignores the other 45% and rewards his/her voters and deprives the other half. That is a recipe for disaster. Soon we will have e-democracy, no more use for politicians, just bureaucrats connected directly to the masses who vote in real time, allocate resources in real time, and take political decisions in real time. The outdated model of democracy is dying, we, as Africans must define a new course based on our Ubuntu principles. As for aid, if the West wants us off aid then 3 simple things can develop us better. Firstly, pay a fair market price for our commodities, stop evading $200bn in taxes in Africa, invest in Africa, and lastly Visit Africa, even better, Visit Rwanda.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Sentry Bird

What is the role of the press?

I was recently on my usual show on Kiss FM when the subject of the media in Rwanda was discussed. The host posed me a question. Can the press in Rwanda hold government in check? There is this notion that in the absence of other institutions the press can hold a government in check, to check the excesses, to expose their wrong doings. This frame of thought pits the Government vs the Press, the press is an irritant the government has to tolerate in the name of democracy, to prove its democratic credentials and allow occasional humiliation to appear humble. What is the press for? Is it to hold the government to account? Is it to check the excesses of power? There are institutions in place to hold government in check, the judiciary, Civil Society, Development partners, and public opinion can do this adequately. It is dangerous to think the Press is there to hold government to account, the press exists to inform the public on matters that are relevant to their lives, in so doing you can occasionally praise leaders or criticize them, but the overall objective should be to inform. If a policeman thought it is his duty to expose criminals, then they will fall to excesses of their own prejudices. A policeman who believes it is their job to uphold the law will more likely succeed. A free press cannot compensate for weaknesses in governance, it is only when those in governance have a solution that they can articulate clearly that Free Press becomes a reality. Our problems with the freedom of press stems from the inability of our officials to provide adequate solutions, not out of cruelty, they have no answers so they shut press down.

 

The Sentry Bird

 

What is the point of the press? I will illustrate this with an example in nature. In large herds on the plains, with Zebra, Antelope of all kinds, Warthogs, and all can rely on the best security system in nature. The Sentry bird posts on a high perch and looks out for them, when a leopard or lions come to ambush the herd, their main problem is avoiding the alarm of the sentry bird, it rings loud when it spots a predator and the hunt is over. Now that the animals know there is a lion, leopard, hyenas or cheetahs on the prowl, there is no chance of catching them, the leopard exposes itself and walks off. In return the sentry bird gets to pick and eat ticks, fleas, lice and other irritants of the grazing animals, it forms a dual purpose of exposing big threats and elimination of smaller threats. For the herd it is a win-win, it gets an alarm system, and grooming to remove disease-causing parasites. The sentry bird does this by earning trust, it never raises a false alarm, it is always alert, it is always clear about differentiating threats, but mostly, it is entirely in line with the herd and follows them. There is also another bird on the plains called the Honey-guide, it calls to people to show you where hives are hidden, sometimes deep in the stem of a tree. Young Maasai boys wake up to the call of the honey-guide, it takes you to a hive, in return it gets to eat the grubs and smoked out bees, but legend says that if you don’t share then next time to will lead you to a lion’s den. These are two illustrations of press in Rwanda, we follow the later pattern of the honey-guide and not the sentry bird, we chase instant rewards and not a sustainable model.

 

Hunger Games

 

Last year there was a mini-famine in Eastern province, it was caused mostly by climate change, and though Eastern province has long suffered these problems, they are exacerbated by local government inaction. There were stories in the press making the rounds, stories of mass-migration to Uganda from Eastern, even the Govt paper admitted that some 50,000 people were on food aid, or was it 50,000 families? If you ran this story of the real severity you would be accused of “Gusebya Urwanda” maybe even locked up in jail until you retract it. If the president was an ordinary man who said there was visible hunger, he would have been arrested. The local mayor would go crying to senior people “look, they are attacking US,  they are saying the WE  as a government are useless, if I go down you go down!!” more tears then his sponsors swing into action to protect their political investment. The reporter is accused of lying to the public, retracts or is jailed, Rwanda’s image is saved while people starve. It is true that local leaders know that  reputation matters a lot to government, to the point that they will cover up for them to make it look like everything is dandy. Then the president finds out about the severity of the problem and is livid, we were all afraid to say it but now we can all say what was blatantly obvious before. If only we had a sentry bird, to warn us of problems, the leopard creeps up to the herd and instead of heeding the warnings, the bird is silenced and the leopard eats us. We wait for the Ombudsman report to tell us what we all knew, long after resources have been wasted and when we can do nothing about it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Love Jones vs Love and Basketball

Love Jones vs Love and Basketball

I miss the 90’s, we had segregation but at least we had diversity. Instead of giving us parts in mainstream films they gave us our own film market. We made a big deal of Black Panther having a Black Director, Black cast, Black crew but this was the norm in the 90’s. I would not call an Eddie Murphy movie a black movie, even Coming to America had a white director John Landis and was a caricature. Back in the days when Hollywood had its little black ghetto churning out classics; Boyz In the Hood, Menace 2 Society, Friday, Dead Presidents, films that stand alongside all the great 90’s movies. It was a breeding ground for many black actors that became mainstream later, be it Samuel L. Jackson, Maurice Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Alfre Woodward, Jada Pinkett. In the time since we have had “Inclusion” but marginalized inclusion, where cardboard black characters spout lines meant for white actors. The variety of the types on movies is also not there today, diversity without variety makes Jack a dull boy. I wonder if these two movies would get made today? Maybe it would star Rihanna and Trey Songz. Love Jones would be set to an action movie script, they kiss and quote poetry as they shoot at each other, she’s an assassin, and he’s vampire or some shit. The best thing about these two movies is they use basic love formulas but cleverly subvert them. The Boy meets Girl story vs the Girl next Door story, these are tired concepts but the stock and trade of Romcoms, but they somehow make them work by setting them in the real world with real characters and realistic outcomes.

 

Nia vs Sanaa

 

The Queen of 90’s chicks is Nia Long, she set out to do the quintessential young black female roles and owned the 90’s, she had parts in all the major black movies. Sanaa Lathan came up in the late 90’s and ran into the 2000’s. Both have Swahili names, as the children of black conscious 70’s “Right-on” parents, so by the 90’s they knew to avoid the standard roles for Black women, Junkies, Hookers, tired single mothers, freaky hoes, and all that jazz. Nia Long’s character was a more mature woman looking for love but career first, Nina was the strong 90’s woman men dreamed of but couldn’t handle if we got her. In time, all women have become Nina-like, self-determined, proud, fierce. Sanaa made a different type of character, more demure, tom-boyish, antisocial, reclusive, a young woman coming of age in love and life. In my favourite scene the two are still children “will you be my girlfriend?” He asked. “Okay” she shrugged. “What are we supposed to do now?” they wonder “We have to kiss for like 5 seconds” they kiss, then he starts ordering her around “You can’t tell me what to do!” then they wrestle and she just about wins. The dynamic of being best childhood friends and also lovers is also interesting, it changes their relationship forever. In Love Jones, the battle of changing gender roles is also there, so this makes it not just a Romcom but a social critique. In the end, both movies hinge on the women’s failure to be “Ride or die chicks” the unrealistic expectations of the men added to their impatience leads to impulsive decisions.

Egos of Glass

 

In both movies, the men have the classic male fragility as a subplot, these fragile egos lead to infidelity with the concept of “Preemptive cheating” when the men feel unwanted and go seek validation through sex, and the woman finds out and it is over. One of the best dialogs on love is in Love Jones “What is Romance? Romance is that half-second before you ask her to marry you and her saying yes. That moment of uncertainty, so when a person says that the romance is gone, they mean they have exhausted all the possibilities and reached certainty.” I paraphrase but the get the gist of it. Love and uncertainty = Romance, once you take the love for granted then it loses its luster. Love Jones asks what love is for? Is it to last forever? Or is it to help you find your way in life. Every relationship means something, no matter how short, because it helps you grow as a person or regress. The objective is not eternal love but “To help you find your level.” Love is fleeting but can have eternal effects. In the end of Love Jones there is no rousing kissing scene with a howling ballad playing in the background. That would have been so easy, it would have been a requirement in mainstream movies, there’s just an acknowledgement of their love and the glorious art that came out of it. In Love and basketball the classic scene is inverted, normally the boy chases and bows on one knee, but here the girl is the hunter and boy the hunted. He’s about to marry a standard issue model-type in Tyra Banks when she challenges him to a game for his heart. She loses, but as she walks off he says “Double or nothing” then it cuts to years later when she’s a WNBA player and he’s a supportive dad looking after the kid.

 

So where is this Cottage industry today, who is making Black movies apart from Tyler Perry? The 80’s gave us a window where video opened the floodgates of creativity; movies could bomb at the box office but thrive on video because it caught another demographic that didn’t go to the cinema. Suddenly Black movies were profitable, they were cheap to shoot, costing as much just one scene of Star Wars they could recoup 20 times the investment. The video also extended the hours we spent watching films, there was more fodder needed to fill the shelves of video stores. These new Black movies were not just for Blacks but were part of Youth Culture as a whole, Boyz in the Hood was loved by white kids because it was ultimately about Youth and coming of age. Even with this white audience, they never pandered to them, the whites were always the butt of the jokes, it needed authenticity among blacks to be accepted by whites. By the 90’s Black cinema was producing some of the best movies, highly profitable compared to cost, a $5m investment could get you $50m  at the cinema and another $100m on video. This segregation, self-determination and new technology did wonders for movies. The new digital age has crowded out the creativity, Hollywood would rather do X-Men Part 9 than an original movie to last the ages. Love Jones can’t sell a video game, merchandise, action figures, nor a ride at Disneyworld. The lack of imagination is terrible now, we have mergers where now only 4 media outlets exist in America, decisions are made for cold cash, no innovation coz that leads to losing money. Get Out was a hit because it went against the trend, white people thought it was so creative but Black people were used to such subversion. Get out there and watch some classic movies

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment