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Wednesday, July 9

Web power: From the Zimbabwe underground to the G8

Two days ago the Zimbabwean civic organisation Sokwanele published this photo on their blog.

It is of the mutilated and burnt corpse of Joshua Bakacheza, MDC driver for Mashonaland West and discovered late on Saturday. Many people apart from the 103 confirmed dead are also missing. It had taken his family two weeks to find it.

Joshua and another MDC supporter, Tendai Chidziwo, had been assisting murdered MDC activist Tonderai Ndira’s wife to move her furniture and personal belongings as she no longer felt safe at her home in Mabvuku, a sprawling township on the outskirts of Harare.

Their truck was ambushed by 16 Zanu-PF thugs, leaving Tonderai’s widow and her two children standing by the roadside, trembling from fright and crying.

Joshua and Tendai was taken to a torture centre and tortured and then shot. Tendai miraculously survived, he directed the family to where the corpse might be found.

Sokwanele have a Flickr page which hosts this photo and many others, and a Google Map, as well as the blog, where they are documenting the terror campaign.

Yesterday Gordon Brown used this photo at the G8 summit to convince his fellow leaders of the need for action against Mugabe's murderous regime.

The meme is that he was producing it from his back pocket. (It was also mentioned on his Twitter feed).

From determined family to Sokwanele to the G8 - this is an amazing moment in web history.

I have read many comments on Sokwanele's blog about whether their documentation is worthwhile, whether people elsewhere can make any real impact. Today showed that they could and the web is enabling this; this is worth noting and I am amazed that none of the news reporting about Brown's actions have sourced the photo back to the web and the heroic people behind Sokwanele.

Postscript: What is more, well, amazing is that in my correspondence with Sokwanele they do not care if credit is given.

These people are my heroes.


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