Social media like Facebook and WhatsApp are valuable tools for communication of positive and constructive information.
However, they are also dangerous forums through which cowards and small-minded people merchandise lies that they would not dare state face-to-face.
Once posted on the Internet, outright fabrications and myths become quotable sources for the gullible.
Some unsuspecting cybercitizens, believing that everything published via the Internet must be true, become part of the distribution chain of deception and defamation.
I was told that in the days leading up to the recent elections of the International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB), in which I was candidate for president of the organization, some people descended into the gutter of sewer politics in an attempt to tarnish my name.
Whereas I did not bother to read the fiction that, I am told, was published on social media and the New Vision newspaper, many fair-minded people called and wrote to express their outrage.
Some, including lawyer friends, urged me to take legal action against the authors and transmitters of the defamation.
I remained silent because I did not consider it worthwhile to dignify with a response the false utterances of people possessed of what the French call petitesse d’esprit (narrow-mindedness.)
In any case, I knew the fiction writers and distributers to be victims of the Tall Poppy Syndrome, a description of which is on my website www.mulerasfireplace.com.
They certainly did not merit any attention. They only merited pity and prayers for redemption.
By the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I easily forgive the slanderers and pray for their redemption from the dark and sad world of hatred and destruction in which evil thrives.
I am very much aware of the politics behind the smear campaign. It goes with the territory when one deals with folks who substitute slander for reasoned argument.
It is to be expected when one upholds the truth in a situation where some people would rather engage in cover-up of criminality.
Diaspora Ugandans regularly condemn corruption and poor governance back home. Yet many are enablers of similar criminal conduct in Ugandan Diaspora organizations.
For example, a Ugandan pastor of a church steals the congregation’s money. The council members who discover the crime and insist on removal of the pastor from his position are vilified and slandered.
Leaders of a Ugandan Diaspora organization are caught engaging in “creative accounting” and other attempts at sabotaging orderly governance. They resort to slander and gutter language against those who expose the fraud. Their supporters loudly cheer them on.
Perhaps none of this would matter if acted out in some lawless village back home where subjects glorify corruption and misconduct by their rulers.
Not so here in North America where the law eventually catches up with you.
A California-based Ugandan lawyer and others recently sued the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) and some of its former leaders. The charges are rather serious.
I am also told that the Inland Revenue Service of the USA is examining a complaint about UNAA’s alleged financial mismanagement and other poor compliance with the requirements of a Section 501 (c) 3 Tax-exempt organization.
These are some of the consequences of the failure to shed the old village way of doing things.
They will continue to haunt Diaspora organizations whose members remain silent or turn a blind eye to obvious shenanigans and criminal conduct.
Silence in the face of criminality and other misconduct by community organization leaders is tantamount to enabling the perpetuation of such behaviour.
The Bible says in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
The Apostle Paul is more direct in Ephesians 5:1. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Now, those of us who choose to boldly speak up and expose such sins will be subjected to defamation and third-rate fiction.
But we rejoice because the Lord has already assured us in Matthew 5:11 that we are blessed when people insult us, persecute us and falsely say all kinds of evil against us because of Him.
Not that we are perfect ourselves. Not that we have attained the goal of faultless living and service to the Lord.
However, we walk and speak with confidence, exposing facts and truths that may be inconvenient to some.
We are able to forgive the slanderers because we are beneficiaries of the forgiveness we freely received from Christ who died so that we may be saved from life in l’cœur des ténèbres (the heart of darkness).
The Internet has become the Devil’s new dark frontier. We must be alert and on guard.
Paul’s words in Ephesians 6: 10-20 assume greater urgency today. Encouraging us to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power, Paul instructs us to put on the full armour of God in our struggle against the devil’s schemes and against the powers of this dark world.
The devil cannot win when we don the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
None of this precludes the use of the laws of Canada, the United States of America, Britain and other countries to invite the slanderers and distributers of the same to a conversation with lawyers and judges. The screen and keyboard are not a safe hiding place.