The Role of Social Media in Africa’s Democratic Transitions: Lessons from Burundi

Lessons from Burundi

in Democracy 2.0

Abstract

Social media has become an enabler for wider public participation, adeptly allowing the citizenry to pro-actively engage in their own countries’ democratization and peace processes. The use of social media networks by the people of Burundi and beyond, to actively respond to the political crisis in the country amid state sabotage of mainstream media, is the central theme. The chapter trails the continent’s state of social networking and transitions, analysis of social media within conceptual democratic frames of agonism, to the political upheaval narrative. Lessons on the role of social media in democratic transitions and peace emerge from Burundi’s reflection on three questions: Was social media a deterrence to possible genocide? Was there a de-escalation of the political crisis linked to social media? What was the specific function of hashtags and memes? This chapter is aided by a combination of secondary information and primary evidence from the online presence of over 2,000 individuals interacting with the authors on both the Facebook and Twitter accounts for Friends of United Africa.

Democracy 2.0

Media, Political Literacy and Critical Engagement

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