9-year-old Oswald gets the 'Our Day' he wished for

Social media dates back to the 1970s. From Talkomatic, created by Dave Woolley and Douglas Brown at the University of Illinois, the world has seen the introduction of many others including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Whatsapp.

Facebook was introduced in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Whatsapp in 2009, and Instagram in 2010. All these, in order to make the world a global village.

I wonder how past generations fared without these wonderful tools at their disposal. What is clear to me is, these wonderful creations have come to stay and they play significant roles in the lives of the about seven billion people worldwide.

These creations, in their true form, do not know evil or good. They are just vessels to be manipulated by mortals, like you and I, to either brighten the day of someone or let hell reign on earth.

In my 21 years on earth, I would never have dreamt of the possibilities of social media platforms helping change the narrative, turning the lives of persons around in a split second and telling governments, ‘enough is enough’.

What started off as a means of exchanging of pleasantries is now supporting millions of jobs globally, especially in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For many, social media is a good thing – that is to say if you are not at the receiving end of a backlash. I, however, cannot forget my Christian mum chastising me for spending several hours on my phone simply because some content on social media had got me hooked. Social media can be addictive just to say.

Recently, social media has brought voice to the voiceless. In 2020, an uproar occurred in Nigeria due to the alleged killing of a young man by officers from the SARS unit. The matter was not taken lightly as several citizens hit the streets to protest. This initiative was, however, not welcomed – seeing to the brutalisation and assault by officers in the Police Service against civilians.

All these occurred in the face of a pandemic during October last year. The matter became so unbearable and Nigerians decided to share with the world their plight. With the hashtag #EndSARS, the world was informed of these unfortunate incidents.

The matter took over media space both locally and internationally close to a month as the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), many African and International bodies, several artistes including Beyonce, Rihanna, Wizkid and Davido among others called for the end of Police brutality in Nigeria.

Lives were lost, unfortunately. In the end, social media got the attention of the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to put in measures to resolve the matter. I believe the country is still trying to sort things out.

Coming back to my homeland, Ghana, social media has now become a tool for entertainment industry players to sell their work, government to educate the mass on some policies, the youths to demand that the country be fixed and a helping hand to the less privileged in society.

Earlier this year, the Akufo-Addo government was greeted with the #FixTheCountry movement. In summary, what this movement is seeking to do is to demand that government fixes the issue of youth unemployment, provide social infrastructure and amenities such as good roads, schools, hospitals, electricity among others.

As I stated earlier, should you be at the receiving end, social media does not look pleasing. The hashtag #FixYourself was introduced to counter the accountability movement. The latter, however, could not surmount the cries for a fixed country.

That battle is far from over as Ghanaians continue to tell the government until mother Ghana is fixed, no government, be it present or future, will have it easy with the youth.

Do you recall Green Day? An initiative by the incumbent government to help the country recover its forest covers? This project also stormed social media, calling on all and sundry to join government in its agenda to save the environment.

This was well patronised as many including state officials, officials from neighbouring countries and citizens came out of their abode to help plant one million trees. This is the power of social media.

But none of these events pushed me to sit on my bed, brainstorm and get busy with this piece of article. It took a Primary 3 pupil, 9-year-old Oswald, whose action has stirred deep emotions within me, to fully appreciate social media for what it is.

In Ghana, ‘Our Day’ is not a joke at all. You commence the term with lots of academic expectations. There is so much to learn in about 13 weeks filled with home works, class tests, mid-term tests and the ‘ogah’ (master) itself – the final examination.

It is every parent’s wish for their child to own the first position. Others do not mind having their wards in the best five. A whole lot of pressure lies on the head of this child not to disappoint his or her parents.

What makes this exhilarating, are the promises parents and guardians give their children to motivate them to bring out the best during the examination. So after all this torment of burning the midnight candle to make Papa and Mama proud, the least we, pupils expect from our parents is a glorified ‘Our Day’ filled with all our heart desires.

Most often, it is a nice outfit, some finger-licking meal or a beverage you mostly have once a year during Christmas. I recall having to save money so I could have food in excess since the intense dancing would literally drain the energy out of me. There is no doubt ‘Our Day’ is one of the most celebrated days in Ghana because students ‘have meant the day paah’.

So this young boy wrote to his mum, Rita Lenna, telling her these are the items I need for Our Day to make it special, hence please do not mess up this great day for me.

Written in pencil, the letter that was circulated on social media by a colleague of the recipient, requested a big bottle of coke for Mrs Appiah, a teacher. This was first on the list. Then the needs of the young boy such as white chocolate, ceres, pringles among others followed.

Although having a Primary 3 pupil petition his mother due to ‘Our Day’ was captivating, the mesmerizing part of this whole letter was the “emotional blackmail”.

“It’s my day on Friday so please don’t disappoint me. Otherwise, you will ruin my day that if I don’t celebrate well, I will have to wait for a long time again. I didn’t disappoint you in the exams so please don’t disappoint me,” the letter titled “Things to bring on Our Day” stated.

After the letter was shared on social media, Twitter, by one @SmylyThe3rd, the platform was flooded with comments. Some users recalled how they used to celebrate the day and how important it was to them. Others were just moved by the student’s action.

This is where I realised social media has a great potential to make the world a better place. Trending number one on Twitter, ‘Our Day’ managed to secure the attention of some players in the Ghanaian industry.

Award-winning musician, KiDi, touched by this letter pledged to visit the Sakaman-based school and treat the celebrants with a live performance. That was just the beginning of a great story to the surprise of many.

Top companies across the country came on board to pledge their support and make Friday’s Our Day an unforgettable one.

KFC Ghana pledged to provide lunch for the students in Mrs Appaih’s class, Fan Ice Ghana stepped in to provide the students with enough ice cream. Domino’s Pizza Ghana and Pizza Inn stated they will support the celebration with boxes of Pizza.

The list is a pretty tall one but not to forget, the young lad and his mother are receiving from Stanbic Bank, an income Fund ITF account with GHc1,000, an Early Saver’s account with GHc1,000 from Access Bank Ghana. Multimedia Group Limited was part of the few media houses that pledged to cover this august event.

As they pledged, they fulfilled. Oswald had the ‘Our Day’ he had always dreamed of.

Personally, it is gratifying to see the dreams of a child being fulfilled. In a Cinderella movie, I can liken social media to the fairy godmother who helped Cinderella look the prettiest for the royal ball where she met her Prince charming.

Social media, I believe is here to stay. With its wide audience, one by one, we have the chance to change the status quo and provide a bright day to many young children and individuals in the country and beyond, who in one way or the other need support.

Well done! to all who came on board to help a mother bring smiles to the face of her child. However, I have sighted a report on Myjoyonline.com about an 18-year-old boy who cannot grow.

Gideon Kwame Fafa Amenya, the article says, spends his days lying motionless on pieces of old cloth, strewn on the cemented floor of the sparsely decorated and dimly lit room, in the family home, in the clean and picturesque town of Peki Avetile. It is indeed a pitiful sight!

He will turn 19 years come November. His condition is such that he requires diapers, which he wears only when his mother can afford to buy one, and that’s not often. So instead, he mostly eases himself on old clothes, which are then washed, dried, and re-used.

I know the people of Ghana are compassionate and always willing to help out. As we gather support for our young Oswald, I beseech Ghanaians nationwide to also support this young man who has never kicked a ball, never made friends, nor used an Ipad.

Let us gather our strengths to assist Doris, mother of Gideon, who sells oranges at home to take care of the family. We have done it and we can do it. We did it for the conjoined twins so we can do it once again.

Meanwhile, a special ‘Our Day’ to all National Service Personnel who end their mandatory service to the country today. I say “mo ne adwuma pa”.