Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
I have avoided terrible addictions since 1960. I have never been addicted to beer, work, smoking, girls and women, food, politics, cell phones, the internet and many other things on this earth. Some of my minor addictions are to books, ideas, history, writing, listening to the radio, good human beings, relatives, and I have some cravings for nshima and some Zambian traditional dende, ndiyo, umunani (relishes) which I can’t have here abroad.
As one of my temporary minor addictions over the last month, I have found myself every evening after work and supper checking on the internet what latest video this African Ghanaian character has posted. The internet and YouTube has millions of videos; some of them utter rubbish time wasters, are boring, some are dangerous and many are very educational and entertaining videos. This African character calls himself “Mr Ghana Baby” and I was getting impatiently irritated because he had posted only a second video in 2 days from Tanzania. I was also sad because that morning on Sunday March 10, an Ethiopian Airlines jet had crashed killing all 157 people from 35 countries.
I clicked on his YouTube video channel and he was skyping live to the thousands of his worldwide followers. He was communicating saying that had he not been deported from Uganda Entebbe Airport ten days earlier, he was would have been among the 157 dead. Wode Maya’s original plan was to fly from Uganda to Tanzania, then to Ethiopia, then fly from Addis-a-Abba to Nairobi to meet a famous Kenyan woman vlogger Miss Trudy. He was saying live on Skype that we his viewers would have been reading that he had died in the plane crash had he not been deported from Uganda to Rwanda. He was thanking God and the Ugandan Airport officials for deporting him, which disrupted his original plan. After being deported from Uganda, Wode Maya had made a video from Rwanda saying although he was angry and disappointed, his deportation may have happened for a reason.
I was stunned. How many people at Addis-a-Ababa Airport in Ethiopia had missed that flight that morning and escaped death? Who controls our lives and our destiny? Who is this Wode Maya character and why am I temporarily addicted to his YouTube Channel, which had over 300 videos? Wode Maya is a Ghanaian young man who went to school in China and obtained an engineering degree. He speaks fluent Chinese. Although he has no money and no budget, he decided to become a vlogger or YouTuber and make videos using his cell phone that show only the exciting and positive aspects of our African countries that the Western and international media will not show you or the rest of the world. And I love it.
Western Media Negative Promotion of Africa
His point is that the Western media devotes most of its news and international aid fundraising focuses on Africans living with diseases, poverty, famine, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Cholera, corruption, wars, wild animals, malnourished children with flies in their eyes, and worst of all that all Africans live in mud huts. There are never any positive images about Africans. This is the key reason why most people in the African diaspora never want to visit Africa for vacation or holidays because they have only negative images about our mother Zambia and Africa.
I Became Emotional
What make me cry when I first watched some of Wode Maya’s travel videos from African countries is that this is what my friends and I were dreaming of doing in 1974. My friends Charles Kateketa, Michael Ngulube, and I were sitting in Kateketa’s room in International Hall at University of Zambia one Saturday evening chatting as we were students, poor and broke. We said although we had no money, how it would be exciting to just hitch hike through Zimbabwe, Mozambique and may be board a cargo ship at Maputo in Mozambique to Australia and hitchhike in that country and see some Kangaroos. It was such a memorable night of being young and full of dreams for a group of young Zambian African people. I had no money. But because of the inspiration from my 2 friends, that next Saturday I tried alone to hitch hike just to the Chirundu border just out of curiosity and adventure. I made it as far as the Kafue Bridge. I waited there all day but could not hitch a ride. I returned to Lusaka to my dormitory room that evening.
Why am I Excited?
What excites me about Wode Maya was that he is doing what my friends and I could not do in 1974; 45 years ago. He is traveling through Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and now he is in Tanzania. I am so jealous but very excited for him. He wants to travel to all 55 African countries. What is striking about Wode Maya is that he is a very ordinary looking African. He wears shorts, sandals and sometimes pata-pata even through airports. This is perhaps why he was deported from Uganda at Entebbe Airport because the Ugandan officials must have thought he looked like a poor useless African. Wode Maya exudes freedom of the mind, soul and joy that many of us Africans only dream of. Whenever he goes into an African country he shows only all the positive sides and people of the countries; in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. I wish he would come to Zambia because we have so many positive things he could show about the beauty of Zambia and the warmth and friendliness of my fellow citizens.