Our very own centraleiro Claudio Silva wrote an article for Africa is a Country about the role of social media in Angola and how it helped spread two viral videos that showed abuses against Angolan citizens. The article was later picked up the The Guardian. But as with most things in Angola, everything is not what it seems. Read on:
For the past two weeks, Angolans who use Facebook and other social media sites viewed and shared two particularly gruesome videos. One showed prison officials severely beating incarcerated men in the Comarca de Viana (Viana Jail), while the other, even more heinous, showed several men brutally beating and abusing two women who had allegedly attempted to steal a bottle of Moët & Chandon from the shop the men owned. The latter video lasts 13 long, uncomfortable minutes and among its more difficult scenes is the one in which an attacker forcibly kisses one of the women while the others laugh, and another in which the shop-owner beats the women with the blade of a machete. The video shows several men participating in the beating, while others, including women, stand by and watch while egging on the attackers. Both videos went viral in Angola.
They evoked very strong emotional reactions, particularly the second one. Within a matter of days, they had been mentioned on state television and talked about in public and private newspapers. It marks the first time that videos have gone truly viral in a country in which only about 5% of the population has access to the internet.
The videos come at a sensitive time. People continue to be shocked at the level violence permeating Angolan society. The torture and murder of a popular and well-liked teen last year at the hands of his teenage friends — which prompted a march against violence along Luanda’s new Marginal — is still fresh in many people’s minds. But the most remarkable outcome of this mass sharing of media was that the Angolan attorney general, or Procuradoria Geral da República (PGR) as it is locally known, actually did something about it. And they did it publicly and swiftly.