Something is happening on Ghana’s twittersphere. There have been no leaked nudes, twitter fights or celebrity meltdown for a while now. Instead, a huge part of the conversation has been on an issue that has been affecting Ghanaians for about three years now. Yvonne Nelson’s tweets and subsequent campaign with the #dumsormuststop hashtag as well as Sarkodie’s follow-ups on the state of power generation and distribution or dumsor, as it is now known as, have stirred up a conversation which has thrown up varying comments and insights into what the Ghanaian populace thinks about this national crisis.
Since that first tweet, there has been a school of thought which has been extremely cynical of the twitter campaign and which cannot understand how, to paraphrase one subscriber, a twitter campaign could affect the life or vote of a random person in a random village in the Volta Region. Comments similar to this have been made with regards to the plans for the twitter campaign to progress into a vigil.
Maybe now is the time to take stock of what has gone on since that first tweet. #dumsormuststop trended for more than a day, became viral and sparked a conversation that is still going on strong even now. Not impressed? Well, before this campaign, complaints about the power outages on social media were limited to the occasional curses or pleas at ECG by random people when their lights went out. At times, it has seemed as if only the average citizen was affected by the constant power outages.
This campaign by two of Ghana’s biggest celebrities has not only sparked the dumsor debate but also given the situation a focus. Dumsor affects everybody, celebrity or not, and an interest by Ghanaian celebrities in a matter which affects everybody not only brings to bear the seriousness of the situation but also puts that little bit of pressure on the government to tackle this crisis as quickly as possible. This campaign has also brought more publicity, something which the situation has sorely lacked. Yvonne Nelson was interviewed by the BBC and the last time I checked, the BBC was still broadcasting to all parts of Ghana. Of course, that random person in that random village doesn’t need a celebrity to explain to them how much they suffer from the incessant power cuts but it surely means a lot to that person that some of Ghana’s biggest artistes are affected by the situation as well and are leading a campaign to ensure that the Government begins to take responsibility for the power problem. However one of the biggest influences of the social media campaign has been in encouraging people to share experiences on how the power cuts are really affecting them. Dumsor means inconvenience to me and an inability to charge my device when the battery gets low but it means loss of a whole business to another person and a fear of the dark to someone else. It means lack of safety for someone, loss of a job and livelihood to another and even the difference between life and death. The campaign has elevated dumsor from a word or just bare statistics to real life stories of people who have been affected by this national crisis.
The vigil has even been more successful without a candle being lit or a step being moved in protest. It has dominated the news in the past week since its announcement and politicians, stakeholders, celebrities and other citizens have had a chance to express their views on the vigil and its purpose but it has also got more people asking questions off the Government’s recent actions to solve the problem. Power barges or lack of them, the president’s incessant promises,and the continued lay-off of workers,are just some of the numerous discussions pervading the airwaves and discussions all over the country. Until the dumsor menace stops, there cannot be enough campaigns, discussions or vigils on a situation that is crippling the nation.
It is not uncommon to hear people criticise the staging of the vigil with the notion that a vigil would not solve the power crisis anyway. Well, if you were expecting a vigil by about 500 people to miraculously end a three-year nation-wide crisis, then you belong in the Bible story about Jesus feeding thousands of people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. The #dumsormuststop social media campaign and vigil will not solve dumsor – that is the job of the Government – but it will get you and I and the random person in that random village concerned about the power situation as well as make Government aware that we are going to hold them accountable for every action they take involving this crisis.

Ferdinand Senam Hassan

Posted by Ferdinand Senam Hassan

Senam is a student of life whose mission is to use his pen (or keyboard) to positively influence this generation of young people. You can read more of his work on his blog "Stuck In Perpetual Soliloquy"

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