From the Editor’s Keyboard

Sierra Leone: Opposition takes the fight to the Internet

By  | 20 April 2015 at 21:46 | 1991 views

Sun Tzu was a famous Chinese military strategist and philosopher whose book, The Art of War, is required reading in most military schools around the world. He wrote many other books but that one caught the attention of the world when he was alive centuries ago and even today.

Many military leaders, politicians (yes, politics is war, cold war), people in business (yes, business is a form of war) and many other people in all walks of life have followed or implemented some of his teachings.

One of his teachings is: Know the Enemy. This, by the way, is the first principle in warfare, passed on from one generation to the other in all cultures.

I brought up Sun Tzu because I have observed that most African governments, if not all, have not yet realized the power and potency of the Internet. Most of the wars being fought today are fought via the internet, with media experts being the new Generals and field commanders.

Yes, standing armies and police are still necessary but effective communications strategies and mass media are the 21st century’s armies, the armies of cyberspace.

For any government to succeed today and effectively fend off the enemy, it has to master the internet and set up a group of skilled professionals to do the job. That is what developed countries do, that is what politicians in developed countries do.They all have personal websites or blogs, know how to use Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp in addition to their communications teams.

During the recent visit of President Koroma to the United States we saw how the opposition SLPP’s cyber foot soldiers used the Internet to try to embarass the President but woefully failed because there are other Sierra Leonean communications experts ready and willing to counter their attacks.

The next elections in Sierra Leone will involve traditional ways of doing things but will also usher Internet politicking. There will be less violence on the streets but some of the campaigning will be rigorously done on the Internet as more and more Sierra Leonean voters, especially the youth, become more Internet savvy.

The government of Sierra Leone therefore needs to listen to Sun Tzu and draw up a modern serious Communications Plan with Communications Experts to counter hostile forces on and off the internet and to maintain peace and stability in our dear country, the only one we have. That in turn will bring in the development and prosperity we all want to see in the Land that We Love.

Know the Enemy.