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Write own history, MSU urged

Mbanje cakes hit MSU. Another MSU sex tape out.  MSU bursar points gun at security guard. MSU students spread HIV – NAC. MSU student rapes three year-old. MSU student in trouble for stealing cellphone. MSU students in US$200 000 Stanbic Bank fraud. Okay, let me stop here!

All the above-listed news headlines, some of them less than 24 hours old, are courtesy of the Google search-engine. Had I approached Bing, YahooSearch, AOL, WOW, Webcrawler, MyWebSearch, or the likes of Infospace, Blekko, Contenko or other top sites, I do not know how many stories I would have come up with!

So much for the Midlands State University (MSU), one of Zimbabwe’s top institutions of higher learning. Displeased, annoyed, and chagrined by these stories and more, Kubatana blogger Liz Nyamuda had this to say last week: “I was brought up it Gweru, and did my primary education at Cecil John Rhodes school, although I am now based in Harare.

“Every day I read these negative stories, my heart bleeds for my home city, and I end up asking why MSU students are not writing their own stories? Please do so and counter this undesirable pessimistic view of the school.”

Liz was part of the Magamba Network-led team that hosted a New Media and Citizen Journalism Workshop at the MSU Great Hall last Monday the 20th April, with 263Chat founder Nigel ‘Sir Nige’ Mugamu participating in the same event. Munyaradzi Dodo of award-winning video-sharing website TV Yangu, The Hub organising officer Dikson, also of Zambezi News, as well as Girl Grandeur founder and blogger Thembelihle Zulu, and Zenzele Ndebele of The Bulawayo Show completed part of the presenters team. As a veteran journalist based in Gweru, as well as a notable social media icon in my locality, particularly my Nhasi muGweru site, I enjoyed sitting down and gleaning from the pros. Kalabash Media was also involved in organising the event.Gweru Today Logo

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MSU has a staggering 13,000 followers on its Facebook page, and a student’s blog sounded like a good idea. However in Julius Caesar, a tragedy by legendary 16th century scribe William Shakespeare, Marcus Brutus is quoted as saying: ”No Cassius. The eye cannot see itself, but by reflection, by some other things.”

One Gunderman, analysing the above quote, submits that “Brutus, of course, says he is not a worthy evaluator of himself. Just as we cannot see ourselves without a mirror, we also cannot evaluate ourselves without another person’s opinion.” Maybe the MSU needs independent evaluators?

20150420_111949Speaking at the same event, Zulu said a blog is a ‘simplest way of putting yourself out there.’ The popular blogger also spoke on how social networks were much more than gossip and entertainment.

“Blogging can be a business,” she informed.

Concerns were however raised that citizen journalism ‘lacked ethics’

“It makes a mockery of the profession which some spend years studying for,” tweeted Liberty Mugari.

Other contributors were also worried how blogging and social networks ‘can place vulnerable people like children at risk due to bad reporting. Speaking of graphic or naked images without warning, Sir Nige said people deserved respect, even when dead. His comments came in the wake of graphic images featuring the late Gweru musician Blessing ‘Tasarina’ Chibaya, Vitalis ‘PD’ Mugove, a ZBC technician, and their driver colleague Ranga Museve being posted on Whatsapp, even before their next of kin had been notified of their deaths.

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The workshop moved to Bulawayo, the following day, as the initiative seeks to decentralise the discourse of New Media and Citizen Journalism in Zimbabwe from Harare to other cities and towns.

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