#WinningMindspark,  COVID-19

The impact of covid19 on marketing: enter the social media massage

“See that woman,” a one village elder, called Yesse, would say pointing at a woman walking past, with a young lady, usually aged about 23 to 30, in front of her a few meters away. Yesse was an interesting character. He was a master’s degree graduate but got boxed hard on the throat by the unfairness of life, that his health became like a light bulb that is switched on and off at the whims of some idiot.

In his good days, he was a philosophical man. Full of intense wisdom and humor. On some other days, he was a difficult character. Very unfair, paranoid, and stubborn. Yesse was a village gem. A great teacher and mentor. He often told us about city life. The fast lane life. And why poverty is the worst disease.  He was a village leader too, whose opinions settled disagreements. After having one drink too many, his favorite phrase was “Kampala Haliyo obulamu.” Loosely translated to mean, “Kampala is full of life.” Then he would drink and abuse everyone. We did not know that such a day was the low energy period of mood swings for him.

Village people referred to him, by the moniker “ogwo omusaija tomwetegereza”, “you cannot understand that man.” With hindsight, now I know he probably suffered from bipolar disorder but lacked proper diagnosis and treatment.

At first, he knew how to manage his condition. A week or two would pass, without coming to his favorite pastime place, my Grandpa’s bar.  When you live with old people you get to interact freely with their peers. And that gives you a good picture of the life to come. The old men will talk about the women in their lives. The great times they had. Their escapades. Their trials and tribulations. How they met their first love. The rejections they experienced and the wrong decisions they made. But the majority of the stories tended to be about women, money, food, entertainment, and sex. And Yesse was a man of many stories. He portrayed himself as a lady’s man in his youth days. And he shared his skills freely.

One such day, at around 6 pm, he wrapped his left hand over my shoulders, and pointed at a woman walking past my Grandpa’s joint, saying “see that woman, she wants to see which kind of boys are looking at her daughter.”

I was a small boy then of about 15 years, very curious and excited. I probed to know more. “Why? How do you know?”

“The young lady is probably a daughter or niece. When the girl grows and is not getting married or showing signs of relationship maturity, the mother or aunt usually walks with her throughout the village as a marketing strategy. The old lady behind is always on the lookout for clues – which boys or men are eyeing the young girl… and how long they are eyeing her. The lady behind would take notes of what was happening. Once they moved out of sight, they debriefed. If a potential suitor or boy that had ‘ogled’ or looked intensely as observed, was said to be from a good family, they would walk past again, and the lady would make it a habit to move past such home or place in the evenings or such hours that would provide convenience to the target suitor to make a move.”

That was Yesse.

And indeed, the woman and the daughter later came back and past by us.

Village life can be interesting. Many villages in Uganda are some 100 years behind civilization, just as the whole of Africa is some 500 years behind the rest of the world in terms of civilization and democracy. If you want to understand why I say so, read the book, “The Age of Napoleon XI, the Story of Civilization.” You will understand what I am writing about.

In the village, there is limited awareness of women’s rights. This is partly due to biting poverty and or strong cultural norms that seem to be more responsive to the realities of the times than the law! Girl children are sometimes married by the age of 14 or thereabout. When a girl goes past 23 years without a child, they look like a reject. It becomes the parent’s business to get the lady a suitor.

Yesse and his insights came to my mind as I reflected on this covid19 lockdown. Such traditional marketing tactics cannot work in today’s covid. Now it is social networks taking the day.

Enter social media marketing

So many Facebook groups, of sugar this and sugar that. If you are unlucky, you may be added to exclusive WhatsApp groups that will leave your jaws dropping. The content is x-rated. Ladies have taken their marketing online in exclusive forums that you exit immediately you are enrolled. They market in the form of entertainment and health. Do you want a full body massage? Or a premium massage which they call, body to body rub, by a person of your choice – you have a lineup of over eight people to pick – lady or man, the choice is yours. At a price of about Ugx. 250,000 or US $65, you can have a body to body massage for one hour.  With the covid19 lockdown, you can have your massage dropped off at your doorstep. Yes, the lady of your choice from several photos on display will come with the full package and give you the lifetime experience.

This is one area where Kampala is at par with the rest of the world, methinks.

What if you only want to see? Yes, you too are catered for by the Kampala entrepreneurs. You will be required to subscribe to a WhatsApp group. You first pay money, via mobile phone and once it is done, you are subscribed to the group. Here it is x-rated content. Where Ssenga’s and ladies post pictures of themselves for their members. The marketing is done on Facebook groups, where someone posts ladies of single ladies with captions “lady available, call or WhatsApp if you want to get in contact.” As cybercrime investigators, we take interest in cases like these to see what next.

As our investigator covered some ground, he kept getting deeper into Kampala’s nightlife, all on the mobile phone. People have invested in high quality, studio class video, and cameras that they will share pornography that rivals Hollywood motion picture.

Do not leave your son or daughter with a mobile phone with an internet connection. Several Facebook pages position themselves as prayer groups, yet in reality are sex groups luring young boys and girls now at home in the holiday into sex toys. They provide guidelines on how to take their photos and share them. They lure the young ones by first sharing. Little do they know that what is shared is usually other people’s videos.

Now your young teen, is given instructions to go probably in their bedroom, or bathroom, remove her clothes and take photos and share. They keep escalating the requests before you know it the child is under cyber-harassment and blackmail. A ransom could be asked in case they assess the child’s family has the means to pay it. The threat is usually, the nudes shared would be posted on Facebook for the world to see. This crime is now evolving in the era of covid19, to target school-going children who are full of youthful energy and want to be part of the social media bandwagon.

To protect yourself and loved ones online. Monitor phone and internet usage at home.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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