Different nations within the world have been brutally tormented by vicious men who have ruled over them, forced them to submit to them, or deal with the consequences, sometimes lethal. In Uganda, Idi Amin (official title: His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.) came in as a freedom fighter, on the side of the common man. People related to him, loved him, and he ended up destroying the country. There is a similar observation with most dictators worldwide: people love them, people willingly choose to be subject to them, and finally complain when they realise the error of their ways, putting the blame on the dictator and the dictator alone. The same thing happens today, just a bit differently.The Internet has connected individuals across borders, continents and time-lines. From Guam to Kazakhstan, people all over the world have access to the same information, putting everyone on the same page regarding international news, views and events. Communities have formed around different web sites and subject areas, forming networks around commentators, analysts and people in the know. This has also aided the “educated” class who have read the latest analysis on why Obama’s economic and social policies caused the Democrats to lose their seats to the Republicans, giving them ammunition to woo their unversed friends. Around each topic, “experts” are created, and everyone quotes and retweets these experts, from international news agencies such as the BBC, or regular bloggers such as Seth Godin. And what do the masses do? Blindly dance to the tune sung by these neo-dictators.

Within South Africa, the educated elite have complained that the poor are blindly following ANC Youth League President Julius Malema. And truth is they are. And they are following him for one reason: he knows how to sing the song they like dancing to. But when Gareth Cliff wrote a letter to government complaining about issues that the “national intelligentsia” can relate to, the very same group of people who frown upon the poor blindly following a man kneel to the throne and crown Cliff king (at least until the next big thing comes out). It seems that people always seek to be part of a group, and appoint a leader for that group that accurately reflects what they want to believe. For example, it’s common knowledge that the South African education system is in shambles, right? I mean everyone knows this. OBE was a complete failure, right? Common knowledge. It was even in the paper yesterday, The Daily Sun.

In addition to this, those who do not agree with the views of the leaders are punished. Those who spoke against the letter written by Gareth Cliff received scathing attacks on news website comments and other social forums. They are seen to be uneducated people who blindly follow the ANC. Those who don’t agree with the ANCYL are seen to be racists. Those who thought that the internet was going to change the way the world operated were over-optimistic tech-enthusiasts. It seems that in our groupings, we chastise those who do not share the same views as the generally accepted sentiments decreed by our chosen neo-dictators (until we decide to crown the rebel king after blaming the outgoing social leader for making us like him).

As society moves forward, there will always be the masses, and the leaders. In whichever context, whether social, political, or industry-specific, the masses will blindly group together and crown the one who sings the song they like best, irrespective of whether that song makes sense or not. Those who become leaders will not be those that blindly follow the masses, but know how to stand at a distance from the crowd, and understand the next song to be played, whether it be Umshini Wam, or  Yes We Can!

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