A lot of thoughts have run through my mind from the very first night I became aware of Oke and I just thought to share four of them with you. I’m also sharing a documentary made by a close friend of mine, Onye Ubanatu, capturing the essence of Oke’s story.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS POWERFUL
I’ve never doubted the power of social media (wouldn’t have studied it if I did) but if I did, this campaign would have forever put paid to those doubts. The speed with which the blog posts spread and the amazing functionality called the ‘retweet’. Jerry Seinfeld was right when he said this of Twitter, “Twitter is progress; why say to one what you can say to all”. Amazing! And say to all we did, in just a few hours his pictures and story were literally everywhere! Thanks to the WordPress’ ‘stat by country’ functionality I could see just the numbers of people from the different countries, and believe me it was amazing!
NIGERIA IS IN TROUBLE
Oke’s story was just another instance pointing to a problem we (Nigeria) haven’t gotten past. Unfortunately, even in 2012 we are still in the ‘reaction’ rather than ‘proactive’ mode. No one thinks to plan for the future, hell we’re barely getting through today! Fully discussing that will take all day so I’ll just say that all the information I got about Oke’s illness I found here. That website also features simple definitions and presentations of types and symptoms, care for people with diabetes, and even available support groups! And it’s all correct, up to date information! Do we have functional bodies like that here? No. All we’re saddled with are committees catering to committees set up to review the work done (or not) by committees. SMH!
WHO SINGS FOR THE UNSUNG?
The day after I spoke published the ‘Save Oke, we saved Oke’ post; I got one BBM broadcast about a young Nigerian in the clutches of another terminal illness who needs to seek treatment abroad. Someone else tweeted a link at me, and that evening I got email; three different people in one day! I flashed back to the campaign when I asked (in a private email to a group) if anyone else was thinking about the people who didn’t have anyone to blog about their problems. Who would cater to those ones? I’m asking those questions again; who runs with their stories?
How many people die every day because they have no access to qualitative healthcare? How many ‘trivial’ cases transform into life threatening because they were not nipped in the bud with adequate treatment? Who sings for the unsung?
WE ARE STILL THE WORLD
Social media has always and will always revolve around people. Social media without human involvement can be compared to a beautiful car without a driver: it is nothing without our input. It is one thing to sit in the comfort of your home and moan every day about everything going wrong with the country, how the government doesn’t care, how we need a ‘paradigm shift (lol), etc. It is a totally different (and more profitable) thing however to do your civic duties, know your leaders (local and national), and then hold them accountable by getting informed, asking them questions, you know the drill. In the same vein, while I am grateful to everyone who tweeted and retweeted Oke’s story, it is the ones who actually donated I am grateful to. Imagine if we were all tweeting, ‘Facebooking’, and no one did anything. We’d sooner be tweeting at his funeral!
This whole campaign has taught me that technology (in different formats, functionalities) will come and go but people will always remain. We are the answers to the questions we seek; we are the world we want to live in.
P: S – As you read, Oke is in India with his sister, and a state appointed consultant. I spoke to him the night before he left, and told him to document his ‘Osuofia’ stories for me, cos I’m sure he’ll have plenty!