Saturday, July 11, 2015

Getting Settled On The Couch in CCM's Lobby: Some Media Reporting.

Chama Cha Mapinduzi didn't release the names of the 5 candidates who are made it through the first cut until the dirty little hours of this morning. This allowed for an interesting revelation about how the various media are performing with regards to election reporting. Let me start with the newspapers.

Millard Ayo has posted today's crop of rags, and there is some good variation in the headlines. Smart newsrooms decided it was worth the expense and effort to stay up, await the results and print and distribute late. Other newsrooms had a regular day and went to bed early. One of the newspapers apparently just can't, even: RaiaTanzania got the 5 candidate list completely wrong. I am going to buy it, it is a collector's item. 

On the cartoon side, Danni Mzena is continuing his 'Fun with Photoshop' series chronicling CCM's candidate selection process, alternating between the race metaphor and the hospital visit metaphor. I am waiting for Masoud Kipanya to update. Wondering if Gado's going to weigh in on this, or if he's saving it for the final selection so he can perfect the face. Kikwete proved to be a challenge to draw over the years for everyone, thank goodness he has that distinctive head-scratching habit.* 

Radio went to bed early last night, but this morning freshened DJs and newsrooms are circling. There is blood in the water. The news reports are dry, professional, neutral. The DJ comments are not. Even the slightest hint of pout on the part of a CCM member results in merciless teasing. And then the comedians move in and finish off whatever survived the DJs. All of which is somehow done without stating names and putting oneself in the path of an angry politician's lawyer...so far. 

Social media is fresh. I have settled on Twitter because everything shows up there right quick, if you need to conserve energy I suggest you do the same. The curating of other media products (website content, cartoons, sound bites, videos) is going efficiently, with a credible range of options being offered. And with this much material to work with, online commentators/comedians are crucifying everything that breathes. It hurts so good. 

As for @ccm_tanzania: huh. They released the candidate names as soon as possible. They have kept their responses to direct tweets polite, frequent enough to look alive but not enough to crowd the stream. Irritations are ignored, the tone is cordial but not overly friendly. Although a sense of humor is yet to manifest itself, I don't get the sense that the wetware has been forbidden to play. I am surprised, yes. Did NOT expect the GoP to hire competence in this field, thought they would just roll with some sad "mtoto wangu kasoma kompyuta" strategy but nope. Silly me, considering 2005 and 2010. 

A note on language: I work in English, but let me tell you. There is no way to transmit even 10% of the richness of the media coverage of our 2015 election in this language. I'm being generous with that estimation. This is important because: 

a) I anticipate being completely irritated by the lack of nuance with which the international press will approach our elections. They have budgets but do they send anyone to learn Kiswahili? No. There are hundreds of millions of people who speak Kiswahili, but no. Even the election observers might be thrown into this space without basic Kiswahili. AU, please keep this in mind.  

b) It makes me sad that the rest of the world can't join our party. We're having so much fun with this, but will only make "breaking news" when someone gets macheted. Nobody's going to pick up on the nation-building aspects of using humor to get through political tension. This is sad-making because we have such excellently funny satire and the world is missing out.  

The three topics to watch out for today are:

1. Edward Lowassa: his reaction to getting cut, his supporters' reactions, what happens now, et cetera. At the time of this blogging, the Team Lowassa Twitter account is completely silent and the man himself has only been quoted declining to comment.  

2. CCM's progression to the 3 candidate stage, which will be televised and also livestreaming on...um, I can't remember. There's a video featuring Nape Nnauye on their Youtube account that explains all that. 

3. UKAWA is meeting today, and will announce which party will offer up the opposition coalition's Presidential candidate as well as finalize how they are dividing up the constituencies between them. Yes, I think it is hilarious that CCM has snatched up the word Umoja and made it hard for the coalition to use it for their campaign without looking derivative. I really want the opposition to do well, and offer this as constructive criticism: never underestimate the green and gold, they are good at campaigns. Bring your A game early, in fact just start working on 2020 now. Now now. 

Anyways, the post title is a 'goodjob' to CCM. The GoP has opened itself up like never before, inviting the media to Dodoma and extending that invitation to the public via its #karibudodoma work. I feel like I am sitting on a couch in the lobby of their socialist architectural leviathan in Dodoma, waiting for my cup of Chai Bora and eyeballing delegate fashions. **

It is strange to see this creaking old institution that smells of black hair dye and diabetes medication get this right. 

So, all politicians, heed. This is the business. Open-ish and responsive, live. Hire professionals. I hope the other musty lefty-ish Revolutionary Parties still hanging on by their yellow fingernails in fellow African countries are taking notes. 21st Century? Yes, you can. 

*my whorl also itches like whoa, all the time. is this a common problem? should we form a club? 

scritch. scritch. aaaaaaaah. 

** Speaking of fashion. I now believe that CCM cadres save their humblest, most lived-in uniforms for the big party meetings. The more senior the man, the more laundry cycles his shirts has been through. What the party elders were wearing last night was straight-up humblebrag. Vintage sana, even Fidel Castro probably can't bring out that level of "this old thing from 1985, it was just hanging in my closet" swagger. This 'noon I am going to sit back on CCM's virtual lobby couch and smirk at all who show up in crispy-shiny made-for-the-occasion shirt with the creases still in from the tailor's shop. Hot new outfits are strictly for the women, and they better represent. It can be hard to come up with something non-frumpy, but Migiro and Ali had better dig into that closet and triumph. 

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