Kenyan gospel artist, Jimmy Gait, this week launched Hisiah, a ground breaking campaign not only for educating or informing the public about cyber-bullying, but seeking to create a safer internet for interactivity.
Speaking at the launch held at the Sarova Panafric, Jimmy termed the move as pivotal because its a subject which is close to his heart, citing that he has been a victim.
“In 2017, I was a victim of cyberbullying [following] a cover of the song Hello by Adelle,” Jimmy says. “I did the song from a very positive place in my heart, and I then released the song on YouTube. Early the next morning, I received a call from Larry Madowo, the then host of NTV‘s show The Trend, asking me to give him an exclusive interview since I was trending on Twitter because of the song! To my surprise, I began receiving insults and so much hate, that I could not even comprehend. My world had come crashing down, and I felt that people were being unfair to me: This one song made them forget all the music which I had previously produced.
Jimmy went on to describe how he felt like the whole world was against him, and he began to feel alone and dejected, feelings he says led him to depression, a loss of confidence and loss of appetite.
“I locked myself in the house for two weeks, and I could not be able to face anyone as I felt like everyone disliked me and knew how low my mood was.”
Recovering from this dark period took input from people close to the gospel artist, and he gathered up some courage and a stronger positive attitude, which led him back to the studio, and the release of another controversial but hit single ‘Yesu Ndie Sponsor’.
‘This song was received with a lot of ridicule, and people said I blasphemed God by calling Him ‘sponsor’, going by the understanding of the word in the Kenyan social circles. So many memes were created and circulated online with my photo and ridiculing messages. This is when I decided to quit music!’
The drastic decision led Jimmy to great losses: performance and endorsement cancellations, debt and what he further terms as emotional, spiritual and social bankruptcy!
In spite of all this, he was able to rise up again and get his life back on track, with the support of those around him. Having the opportunity to reflect on this harrowing experience, he chose to go to the root of what caused all this turmoil, and he honed in on cyber-bullying.
Jimmy Gaits’ Hisiah Campaign conceptualizes a coordinated initiative that brings together actors from across the socio-political divide, to build on ongoing conversations on cyber-bullying and accelerate action to make it count for children and the society at large. It envisions children, young people, their parents, caregivers and communities to be key players in innovative ways that reduce risks and create safety in use of technology which has become part of their lives, learning, communication, play and work when they are of age.
The campaign strongly believes that looking at cyber bullying with a child’s lens will not only generate responsibility and constructive use of cyber space at an early age, but also create empathetic behavior and discipline in use of the internet technology in the long term.
“When I realized that this is not my problem alone. but a Kenyan, and global problem, I decided to do something about it! This is how and when Hisiah Campaign was born.” Jimmy says, adding that, “The message we seek to share is Kabla U-Click, Fikiria. When people share content about others online, they never take time to think on how the share could affect the person being shared about. You know… “send as received”. They never think, what if this could be my close family, parents, child, spouse or even myself. It could also be my business that is under attack, which could lead to great financial losses.
At its core, the campaign seeks to change how people interact online, through hosting forums, workshops, online activations, concerts, roadshows and also sharing material that will address the issue of cyberbullying. All these activities are geared towards achieving the objective behaviour change.
Partners in the campaign include the Samchi Group, Safaricom, After40 Hotel, Silicon, Mambo Microsystems, METTA, NAS International, Ark Entertainment Kenya and Phands Publishers.