The tag was kicked off on Twitter around October 2010. The idea was to get citizens interested in the upcoming elections to use it. So we used it as a monitoring tag for the campaigns and all the surrounding issues of the first presidential elections in the Ivory Coast. Having been there from the beginning, I must say, I enjoyed the early days of #civ2010.
In the first round of the presidential elections, there were 14 candidates, 11 of them came to accompany 3. Over 2 weeks, each one was given 90 minutes to face the nation. We chronicled all of those appearances and analysed each of the 13. Yes, only 13 came, Henri Konan Bedié boycotted! Those were the good old days!
The climax was the Thursday of the face to face debate of the 2 candidates of the run off. Allasane Dramane Ouattara, ADO for short and Laurent Koudou Gbagbo, LKG for short. I do recall tweeting the whole of the debate, directly from the French that came out of their mouth into English, the whole 3hours 13 minutes that it lasted! I also recall Twitter had to quarantine some of the heavy tweeple of #civ2010. My Twitter embargo was lifted after 10 hours!
Then the run off on November 28.. and the “the walls came tumbling down”. What a great transformation of the tag. It has gone from citizen watch and reporting space to a kind of association of folks who have something in common: someone or something they hate! Granted, the war is raging on the streets of Abidjan, but the war on Twitter is equally viral..
The Gbagbo haters.
This group wakes up and their first tweet is an insult on Gbagbo. And their last tweet does not differ. They believe he is THE problem. Everyday they call for his death and do not fail to celebrate any information that hints to that!
The Simone (Gbagbo's wife) haters
I used to think they were one and the same with the first group, but no. I have actually noticed this is an independent group. This group includes fashion oriented tweeps, men who think the woman is the one manipulating the man. They are convinced that she is THE problem
The Ouattara haters
This group firmly believes that Ivory Coast will know no peace until Ouattara leaves it alone. They claim he is a foreigner used by foreign nations. They have vowed he will not be president. Their “patriotic” spirit is huge.
The France and/or Sarkozy haters
These ones have been there from day 1. Their argument has been consistent. This is France and/or Sarkozy bringing war to Ivory Coast. They have no doubts about it. They believe that France and/or Sarkozy is the one marshalling the international community to destroy the country. As far as they are concerned France and/or Sarkozy is THE problem
The Human rights violaters' haters
This is one other group whose job on the tag is to pick out every single hate word, speech, act. This group is very powerful with media skills. They have the links, the videos, the photos. They have schooled us on what is needed to take X, Y or Z to the International War Crimes Tribunal. They have taken the liberty to book one-way tickets to the Hague for some actors of the Ivorian crisis.
The Blé Goudé haters
This group appeared around the time Blé Goudé was named Minister. Mostly young and educated, they bemoan the “fact” that someone who stole his certificate and has never held an employment should be named Minister for employment. They track him and report his every move. They have informed us that even “Blé Goudé” is not his real name.
The foreigner haters
This group is very strategic. Their aim is to fish out all non-Ivoirians using the hash tag and remind them that it is not their business. They reveal you real name, your real nationality, your political bearings and your physical location. They can read you mind and tweet your motives.
The RTI haters
The national broadcasting service is right in the middle of the crisis. Having grown from a national beacon on the “epic debate” to a target because it chose Gbagbo's side, RTI has earned itself so many haters. Its CEO has been penned down by this group as a candidate for the Hague. They use “Télé Mille Collines” for it, in reference to the Rwanda media. Everyday, people in this group call for a complete bombing of the installations.
Nobody can say for sure how long the war in Abidjan will last. Neither can we say for sure who will come out having lost the least (since I personally dont believe that anyone will come out a winner). The greater question that is looming larger by the day is: what do you with all these negative sentiments? How do you rebuild trust, acceptance and love? Is it possible? How long will it take? When will it begin..?