Interviewer: Sam, how do you conceptualize global solidarity? I mean, how best can activists in so-called ‘developed’ countries support activists in the majority world, and vice versa?
Sam: Yeah, the activism in the developed world can do a lot really to stir up the consciousness of people here. But I guess that at the end of the day, the people here must take responsibility for our lives, must take responsibility for resisting autocratic governments, must take responsibility for seeking to hold them accountable as well.
People in the metropolitan world can assist us by trying to help us build capacity.
You see, the civil society groups here are not quite at home with the tools of modern communication – the social media – which has played a very important role in the Occupy movement in different parts of Europe and America, and in the Arab Spring. You’d be surprised that the Nigerian protest was not significantly boosted by social media. Yes, there were instances when social media came into play, but our notion of social media here is going to your email box and replying to email or going to your own Facebook. That is the notion of the average Nigerian about social media. But [it is more difficult to learn] how we can utilize twitter or YouTube, to upload pictures and things, how do I create a blog that is easily accessible to other activists who have access to the net?
It is true of course that the Internet access here is still developing. By my own reckoning, is still under 20% of the population. Or much much much less than that. Yes, people have some Internet access when it comes to going to their email box, replying to messages, sending messages, maybe Facebook. But if you’re talking of social struggle and the net, the Internet access rate is less than 10%.
So people from the metropolitan world can really help us by trying to create capacity in the tools for social media communication. That is very critical if we must make progress in organising and even in building solidarity with the outside world. If we have access to these tools, it becomes much easier to keep in touch with the rest of the world, and for the rest of the world to know exactly the true situation of what is happening here. People should be able to, from their respective areas, not just the urban areas, to be able to take pictures and upload on the net and try to make as much capital out of them as possible.