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Why is anonymity important in Africa?

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • April 15, 2012

10 April 2012

I used to be against anonymity. When I read the forums and comments sections on sites like Moneyweb and MyAdsl my knee-jerk reaction was: “Online anonymity should be banned. It provides a cover for racists, misfits and angry people.”

What’s wrong with using your real identity? What are you afraid of? If you have a problem then you must have something to hide…

And then I clicked.

It was a friend of mine that flicked the switch. One day he decided to become poor. As you do.

So he gave away his possessions and lived like a bum for a year. It almost drove him crazy, but luckily (for me) he survived the experience with his mind (relatively) intact J.

What did he miss the most? Not money. Not food. Not shelter.

He said the thing he missed the most was his privacy. He was never alone. Always sharing a shelter. Always sharing the street. Always sharing a taxi.

Never a moment by himself. No exit. No pause button.

That’s what its like to be poor. And most of Africa is poor. That’s what most Africans feel. No privacy.

No private space to be who you want to be, to say what you want to say, to meet people who do not judge your by their circumstance.

The mobile web has changed that. Finally, Africans have a gateway to a parallel universe. A means to escape the maddening crowds and noise and desperation.

How can you escape your real world life if you are forced to carry your identity to the virtual world?

That’s why, in Africa, anonymity is important.

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