Beyond ICT4D - New Media Research in Uganda by Geert Lovink

By Geert Lovink

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There is another popular story about a Dutch man who came to Uganda to marry a Ugandan woman that he had met online. They now live together in Kampala. Whether these stories are real is questionable, but above all they seem to function as motivation for people to look for spouses overseas, where life is thought to be much better. Finding penpals is not a new phenomenon in Uganda, although these days the Internet has made it much easier to find contacts and keep in touch. E-mail has become the faster digital variant or maybe even the replacement of the letter.

1 million applications sent in 2009 were filed by Africans. 6 million,67 we see that there is a huge increase in people who want to migrate to the United States. It is possible that the emergence of the Internet has made it easier for people to apply, which could be a reason for this boost. Nevertheless, the number of people that actually win this lottery has stayed the same. 68 Most Internet users I interviewed knew about the Green card and had applied themselves or knew people who had tried. Although they know that the chance to win is very small, they often argued that there is a chance and the more one tries, the bigger the possibility.

A few had even joined Facebook groups like ‘anti gay marriage’ and ‘Speak loud for family: support anti-homosexuality bill ‘09’. Meanwhile, even more Facebook groups have been created in protest to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. These groups have grown, but it must be noted that most of the participants of these groups are westerners. As I had already left the country when this development took place, I can only speculate how Ugandans perceive this Western effort to fight the bill and support gay rights in their country.

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