A Simple Thought – Friday, 16th April 2021

I hear noise

It takes abundant courage to speak against something that is held dear in its present moment.  However, if the intent is not to fustigate, rather to remind and to improve, then one should not shudder from emerging with the positive criticism, after all it is a collective social responsibility to guide each other.  I consider myself to be at the intersection of old and new generations, and as such have had the privilege to endear past values and systems while remaining fairly open to new changes and transformations.  And where the new improves on the old, I elect to go with common sense and follow my instincts to the best of my abilities.

While growing up, I had the added advantage of expression, something which may have been hereditary but it was definitely not refined.  Through years of hard work and self practice, I did manage to pass a word here and there, while always striving to learn more and more.  Inspite of this new found strength, I always felt that those before me, did have a sway on matters by sheer merit of the length of life on this earth, and you may call that respect or otherwise, I did feel it was a given.

A decade or so has passed since the full turn of expression as we knew it.  Spurred by the remarkabale stride in ICT, social media networks sprung up everywhere to fulfil both a social and a business need of connecting to each other.  Years ago, I had made a weak attemp at coining one of my own terminologies – the digital barazas.  After all this time, now it does not seem too weak after all, for we witnessed the ghastly shift in use of these phenomenal inventions, transforming them into media of gossip, misinformation, agenda-driven and scandalous rumour mongering, and so on.  But of course you may introduce the much-loved ‘knife analogy’, and you would be right to an extent in saying that it entirely depends on how it is used, except for the fact that the problem is now much bigger than we wish to ever acknowledge.  It is not just the things I have enlisted above, but it is the sudden emergence of speakers (writers too) who have little knowledge on subjects that are now speaking as an authority.

People feel and the next thing thing you see is a statement revealing their feelings.  Yes there are those really awkward food and excursion posts where you are left wondering why they are marketing their family outing, but these are not the real dangers of society being misled.  This group is perhaps a low-intelligence, attention-seeking group that needs leadership.  The main danger arises when people create fan following based on artificial image building leading them to believe things that may or may not be true, or at best are opinions of overly zealous individuals.

The end result is a pandemonium.  Everyone is putting things out there, there is tremendous noise, intrusive noise.  The voice of truth is getting fainter and fainter.  Knowledge is now becoming proprietary at open source level, an oxyoron indeed.  Then I am reminded of Plato’s golden words ‘Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something’.  Lincoln also added his own penny worth ‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt’.

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Mohamedarif Suleman

About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.
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