This week's deadly unrest in Mozambique became a global news story in part because reporters and citizen journalists used new media and social networking tools. Clashes between security forces and people protesting rising prices in the capital, Maputo, left at least seven people dead and more than 200 people injured, according to the latest news reports.
As the streets exploded with violence, one Maputo resident (@BarataJorge)
observed that few local broadcasters were relaying information. "Demonstrations
There were also non-Mozambicans tweeting
their experiences from the ground or commenting on the news. One international
observer closely following the Maputo twitterers (@giantpandinha,
self-described as working "in intl devt hack-dom"), tweeted links to video footage of the riots and commented that "this
video is hard to believe: man shooting at rioters on the street below, from
office [of] the ruling party in #Maputo."
When Maputo Twitterers and Portugal-based Jornal
Noticias reported SMS messages were urging civil disobedience, @giantpandinha
contrasted the wide use of SMS in Mozambique to the ban
on messaging during anti-government protests in Ethiopia in 2005. "Meles
ended SMS during the crisis in Addis in 2005, at least residents of
As more tweets appeared in English, more international news media outlets began to express interest in the Maputo Twitterers. On Thursday, for instance, @JorgeBarata received a tweet from freelance journalist Amandine Schmitt on behalf of the Observers news blog of broadcaster France 24. "Hello, how can we contact you to talk about Maputo riots? Please come back to us," Schmitt wrote. Similarly, Chiaras received a tweet from Faith Karimi, a CNN International Wire news desk editor (@FaithCNN): "Are you in Maputo? Can you DM a phone. contact I can reach you for a story?"
Early this morning, Charas sounded the end of the riots. "After a 3hour round I can report that #maputoriots are no more. All roads are accessible, not blocked & no signs of trouble anywhere."
As noted by Global Voices blogger Lova Rakotolomalala, who reported on the unrest in Madagascar in 2009, accuracy and context are often missing from citizen reporting in times of crises. This view was reiterated by @giantpandinha, who wrote "Tweet and rumor equal." Nevertheless, the same user encouraged Mozambicans to tweet in many languages using the hashtag #Maputo. He added: "The world cares about you, Mozambique."