It’s a cyberspace presence that is pregnant with multi-faceted info on Africa’s oldest democracy, from business to social causes, available to anyone at any time anywhere in the world.
While scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter timeline in the morning, a hashtag could stop you for a second. One moment you are participating, either supporting or criticizing the cause, and the next you are moving on with the rest of your day, feeling good about taking part in some national or international discussion.
But have you really made a difference by retweeting that hashtag on Twitter or sharing that post on Facebook?
Hashtactivism is the use of the hashtag on social media platforms to promote certain ideas and gather support around certain causes. Some of these causes call for distinct human nature to come out and defeat a certain evil while others simply serve as something to follow to get more information. Take, for example, the case of #NtshalemoragoBW, a hashtag originated and championed by 28-year old Neo Boang on Twitter. The aim of this hashtag is to get strictly BW content trending across Twitter – business, lifestyle, social cause, you name it! Boang explains: “The point was to promote everything that Batswana do on our Twitter timelines and connect with each other at the same time. It is very difficult if you are new on Twitter and have no idea who to follow. The hashtag helps us all in Botswana keep connected on the Twitter streets.”
Boang says the idea was born from a Twitter groups, New Age Gains and RTs, where they shared concerns about how Setswana culture does not have a follow train, that is, there is no common way to promote and connect to content that has to do with anything authentic and local. It was then that she had her light bulb moment to put out a hashtag that would connect all Batswana on Twitter.
While some would claim that tweeting is not as powerful as taking to the streets, the fact is that millennials build movements online in order to take them to the streets with more power and purpose. The hashtag has already garnered over 2000 tweets in its first week, connecting thousands of Batswana Twitter users who use it to promote their businesses, events and brands or just to gain more connections through followership, likes and retweets.
Boang, who is a part time hairdresser in her native Palapye, told The Gazette that the hashtag has opened doors of opportunities for herself and her team. They aim to produce branded merchandise in day mode (white) and night mode (navy blue) and sell them. Supported by different celebrities, among them DJ Boogie Sid and Tomeletso Sereetsi of Sereetsi & The Natives, they also aim to approach different businesses and individual brands to collaborate for mutually beneficial projects.
“An app is also not out of the question,” she says, disclosing ambitious expansion already. “Botswana, like the rest of the world, is going digital, so we can’t be left behind. We already have celebrities such as DJ Boogie Sid and Sereetsi endorsing it. All we have to do is hashtag NtshalemoragoBW on everything we promote and anyone, anywhere around the world can find us and know what BW is all about!”