Sunday 20th July 2013
When last Sunday I talked of Thought Police and how Western countries eavesdrop on us, it was like opening a can of worms. From comments here and the flood of personal e-mails, I realised that I knew nil on the topic. We are being watched day and night and we are abetting that crime.
Personally, I was talking about the imaginary secret police of Oceania in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Briefly, in 1944-8 Orwell imagined a future (1984!) when a socialist state would forbid imagination of anything subversive. Such imagination would be called thought-crime, identified and punished by Thought Police.
When I think about Orwell, a Rwandan adage comes to mind: “Those already dead were too hasty.” Orwell should’ve been around today to witness his brainchild in ‘flesh’!
This realisation hit me most starkly when I encountered a “been-to”, fresh from the UK, who suggested a chat over a soft drink as it was in the morning. A “been-to” was what Nigerians used to call a privileged person who’d crossed the seas and visited Europe or North America, during the colonial days. Such a fellow never said anything without mentioning that overseas visit.
Anyway, I entered my friend’s car and, when we reached the Union Trade Centre parking area, he pulled out his phone, took one look and grunted: “Ah, there is a parking slot!” Then I saw him drive towards the end where, indeed, there was vacant space. When I asked him what the slot had to do with a phone, he responded with an irritating: “Everything!”
Up in Bourbon Café, I pursued the haughty fellow because I didn’t want him to get off with the idea that a smart-phone is something new to Rwandans. In answer, he walked me back down to the parking area and, there, he held his phone to my face and asked if I could see anything.
Yes, truly, I could. It showed an aerial view of the vacant parking slots. Back up, at our table, he raised the phone and showed me: on its face was indicated where nearby there was a pharmacy, a pub, a hotel, et al – and, to boot, a dustbin that needed emptying!
As the “been-too” continued to explain what the phone could do, I remembered one time when I visited a friend in South Africa. In the airport underground parking area, we took an hour to locate his car! The area was a vast expanse of parked cars.
So, it means that, with such a brainy smarty, a hassle like that is history. Once you’ve forgotten your parking space, the phone will give you navigational instructions on how to get there. In places where they have parking metres, the phone will alert you when your pay-period is about to expire. If your car has a problem, the phone will give you locations of garages and their pricing.
In developed countries, the applications on these phones work better because sensors are installed in different locations, like parking areas. Which means, with these sensors, even in houses smart-phones can guide you to locations of your different household items: money where you usually keep it, keys, books, music disquettes, different utensils, say it.
In short, soon we’ll depend on these wiseacres for everything: for communicating with family and friends; news, audio and video; weather, prices, anything.
Already, we know how no two people can sit together for a minute, without each checking their gadgets over and oever. In the end, then, these wisenheimers will be doing all for us – including guiding us on how to run our families (God knows what else!)
And, there, the mother of all catches. Imagine this think-all, know-all, see-all, do-all, et al, as your companion at your side twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week. It may be made in China, India, Brazil or South Africa but, wherever it’s made, its parent company is in USA or Finland. Its parent company may be South Korean but, still, hacking into it is child’s play. If there are no applications imbedded in the phone to spy on you, any Western country can do the hacking, as we know how they all cooperate.
And if our countries are too far and these smart alecks cannot easily transmit a message to the West, there are drones and satellites to relay it all the way. For precise location of anybody or anything, there is Google Earth.
Remember how Jonas Savimbi of Angola was nailed under a tree like a sitting duck? Saddam Hussein of Iraq was smoked out of a spider hole like a blind bat? Osama bin Laden was picked from his bedroom like a damaged doll? Muamar Gaddafi was dragged out of a sewer pipe like a damp rat?
And now they tell us that there is a single Rwandan on the Congolese soil? Would any step there and live to sing ‘Agaciro’ another day?
No, let’s avert our eyes when these powers are picking those minerals. They think we are reproachful of their actions.
Yes, Rwanda is guilty of appearing suspiciously reproachful!