Last year, in the shadows of the Zimbabwean elections were whispers of a man who took risks by challenging people to question Robert Mugabe’s 26 years of power. At the click of his mouse he passed out classified information that spread like wild fire. They call him Baba Jukwa.
Jukwa, who calls himself a disgruntled Zanu-PF insider, agreed to an interview with FORBES LIFE AFRICA via Facebook to protect his identity. He has one clear mission: To see Zimbabwe rise to its former glory.
“Zimbabwe is falling, but its people are not, and these same people shall lift it up as they express themselves through the spirit of freedom… But I will tell you without mincing words, even Mugabe himself is possessed by this same spirit of freedom, only that he suppresses it daily,” he says.
Jukwa’s posts included a prediction of a former Zanu-PF member of parliament, Edward Chindori-Chininga’s death, who died in a car accident after revealing corruption in the diamond sector. Jukwa also posted the HIV statuses of Zanu-PF politicians.
In November, reports accused Jukwa of being Zimbabwe’s information minister Jonathan Moyo. Others believe Jukwa is more than one person because the blogs betray a number of writing styles. Whoever it is, they are certainly an insider.
“I have over the past 33 years worked in a place where everything is naked and bare, so it is not uncommon at all for me to know everything and anything.”
Jukwa says he has no fear because he is a dead man already. All he wants is for the country to be free.
“On that day, when the people have finally freed themselves from the chains of oppression and once again Zimbabwe is a shining nation as the ancestors would have had it, it shall be a great day of celebration, mark my words.”
Across the Atlantic lives a social media guru who could be considered Jukwa’s brother in arms. At least he is unafraid to use his own name. Dressed in torn jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers, he looks like an average Joe. His red beard and large earrings may be the reason you give him a second look, but there is more to him than meets the eye.
In 2011, Harper Reed took the job of technology chief for Barak Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. His job was to gather voters with the use of social media. The strategy was a gem and Obama made history again, this time for becoming the first president to be re-elected with the help of his social media campaign.
Although Reed was working for one of the most powerful people in the world, it was not enough to get him into a suit and tie.
“This one time [Obama] walked out of the office on the campaign and walked up to my buddy Dillan and I and the first thing he said to us was, ‘Ah, you guys must be the tech team.’ I think it was our beards that gave us away.”
Flushed with the success of Obama’s re-election campaign, could Reed consult in the tricky politics of Africa?
“Probably not. For me, if I really supported the person, then yes. The thing is, you must do this because you want to do it and not because you want money. Because it’s politics, you have to treat it that way,” he says.
Reed says it is important to fight media censorship. He speaks of the importance of a transparent government to avoid having the same people in power over and over again.
“In my time in South Africa, I talked to a lot of people about politics and there was this fear of continuation of a single government for a long time without change… If people feel like it really matters to them, they need to step up and solve the problem.”
Unlike Jukwa, Reed lives in comparative freedom.
“People talk a lot of shit on the internet, as you can imagine. It’s just how it works on the internet. People are mean and they can do crazy things. But for the most part, there’s a lot of work done in the United States to make it so that people don’t feel intimidated. I’ve never felt like I had to hide.”
With elections around the corner for some African countries, perhaps it is time to adopt a word that was significant on Obama’s road to victory. A word both feared and revered: Change. FL