#SouthAfricaIn3Words: one complex country, one complex hashtag

south africa flag richard matthews flickr #SouthAfricaIn3Words

South Africa. Another large, populous country in southern Africa that harbours a wealth of promise, but hasn’t yet lived up to it this century.

With the recent economic upheaval, widespread protests from citizens, and calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign, stability isn’t a word that could be used as a descriptor for the state of the nation. Nope. Instead, Twitter users needed at least three others today to describe South Africa as acutely as possible.

#SouthAfricaIn3Words is one of those hashtags that don’t stem from any particular news story, or furthers one general rhetoric, but rather takes a look at a single issue from a number of different, and often polar opposite sides.

But unlike people reminiscing about their high school years, or chatting about why they log into Twitter in the first place, this hashtag seems to mean a bit more to the country’s Twitter folk than most.

Here’s just some of the themes running through the tweets.

South Africa is ‘ran by Guptas’

Propelled by general anti-Zuma sentiment across the country’s social network and on the ground this past week, many are using the hashtag to have a jab at President Zuma (oh, and the Guptas too), calling for the end to corruption and state capture.

In South Africa ‘whites own land’

Putting Zuma aside completely, others used the hashtag to comment on South Africa’s lopsided economic and land distribution status, and the still palpable racism prevalent in the country.

Some also called for the end of racism in its entirety.

South Africa is ‘imperfect yet promising’

Then there were the hopeful few, explaining that all South Africans need to “do better” to further the country.

Others expanded on the country’s “possibilities” through its imperfections, while others tweeted images of South Africa’s natural beauty.

South Africa could be ‘the Next Zimbabwe’

Finally, many users opted for nihilism. Monday might have something to do with that, of course.

Nevertheless, many suggested that the country is “fucked”, and that it’s well on its way to becoming the “next Zimbabwe”.

The hashtag is not one of the country’s top trending tags at present (that honour still goes to #PeoplesMarch at the time of writing), but it is one of the most complex. It also demonstrates that a country like South Africa can’t be quantified by a single hashtag.

Even though Twitter users might try, that single hashtag can mean many things to many people.

Have you tweeted your thoughts about #SouthAfricaIn3Words? Let us know what you said in the comments below. Or connect with us on Twitter @Memeburn.

Feature image: Richard Matthews via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


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