What can Zimbabwe learn from the ice bucket challenge?

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
Bill Gates engages in the challenge - image credit - businessinsider.com
image credit – businessinsider.com

There’s no way you could have missed it. Unless you don’t use the Internet at all. It seems like everyone with a social media presence, (the craze is celeb driven actually) is doing it and In the process raising an awareness of a neurodegenerative disease. I’m referring to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The idea of the challenge is pretty simple – Participants, having been nominated by a previous participant, are supposed to film themselves pouring a bucket of ice water on themselves within 24 hours of being challenged.

After this they get to nominate three more people to take the challenge. If they fail to engage in the chilly cause they must donate to an ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) charity.

Let’s face it, this social media storm has been a huge success. In the past fortnight more people have gotten to know, ask and talk about ALS/ Lou Gehrig’s disease. A lot of funds dedicated to the cause have trickled into the right coffers and globally a lot of people following personalities in fields as varied as sports, entertainment, politics and tech business have ended up googling Lou Gehrig.

The Ice Bucket Challenge represents what is the latest in “clicktivism” or “Hash tag activism”. Social media and modern digital tools are demonstrating how they are highly effective in raising the awareness of plights and causes normally restricted to small communities.

Thanks to how the internet is an open platform, an effectively crafted campaign can be spread to every part of the world, particularly if it is carried by the right catalysts of online and traditional media.

Before we were schooled in the plight of ALS we had causes like No Make Up Selfies and Bring Back Our Girls. What comes next is going to depend on how the cause can strike a chord in the hearts of the right groups in the digital community who will help transform a viral craze into global sensation.

So why haven’t we seen any Zimbabweans rallying behind this cause, despite having a keen interest in video crazes? (Zvinhu Zvirikufaya comes to mind) Granted that it’s a bit of a challenge for the average urban dweller to playfully pour a bucket of water over themselves, iced at that. (Ask ZESA and ZINWA why)

It could be how a lot of people feel that there are other causes larger than ALS we should be rallying behind locally, and here in Africa as well. Perhaps a challenge for Ebola would have struck a different chord? Or fundraising for flood victims or the homeless and disadvantaged.

In any case the ice bucket challenge has demonstrated how the internet and social media are providing a new approach to raising awareness and funding to a global audience that might be willing to show its support with a shared video or picture and the click of the button.


  1. collen

    i would like to participate but i have no water on my tap and ice in my fridge due to power cuts 🙁

  2. Carl

    People are dying of ebola and there is nothing to help with that but there you go the worlds billionaires donating to an unknown. Sure lets learn – learn to help ourselves first

    1. Jenova’s Witnesses

      Complaining about those guys donating to the ALS cause over ebola is like those guys complaining about you donating to Nyaradzo Children’s Home over Sandy Hook Promise. It’s a local problem for them (which we could just as easily get us here) that’s getting global attention because of the high profile participants in the social media campaign. And while every billionaire isn’t going to go out of their way to save us from ebola, you can’t seriously be discounting the long running and continued efforts of philanthropists like Bill Gates. His foundation (and HALF of his $59 billions), is projected will save the lives of 7.6 million kids by 2019 (about 5 million saved to date). Can’t begrudge him one extreme cold shower after all that!

      Besides, its not as though the rest of the world is leaving us to live or die on our own during this ebola crisis. Even though MSF has called it a drop in the bucket, “The African Development Bank has pledged $56 million, the United Kingdom has increased its assistance to $8 million, China has sent supplies worth $4.9 million, E.U. support stands at $15.8 million, and the U.S. has pledged the same amount of aid as well as deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).”

      The one pertinent point you raise is why we aren’t leveraging social media to the same extent to help ourselves. We’ve seen it before with bring back our girls so we know it can be done. Why not do it with ebola and our own prominent citizens? Maybe then some ebola billions will come our way

      1. Tindo Gondo

        Are any Zimbabwean doctors helping witht he Ebola outbreak? Is the Zimbabwean government assisting? Does PSMAS cover Ebola infection? Does PSMAS even have any money left?

        1. Farai

          What is ALS? Autism? Do these Americans have conditions confined to themselves? Do Zimboz have these conditions? Which organisation handles these? In my family, we have BP, obesity, glaucoma, arthritis, TB, HIV. Some of these nomination activities have no bearing on our society and I wouldn’t care less for them. So if one fails to take a ice bucket shower, where does he donate the money to?

          I suggest something like doing it for Down’s Syndrome, Chinyaradzo Home or Jairos Jiri.

          1. Anonymous
        2. Anonymous

          I’ve only heard of the gov’s local response (quarantine and screening at the borders). If anybody zimbo’s are part of the international response, its probably in a personal capacity or as part of some ngo.

      2. macd chip

        Its just a pledge, words which comes to nothing. At one stage there was a pledge for 50billion for Africa from all biggest economies.

      3. macd chip

        Zimbos dont we dont miss anything except hard working. Book educated, vibrant bt very lazy.

  3. Anonymous

    Zimbos at the moment do not have money to spare so its understandable to some extent why we do not take part in these charitable causes. On a more serious note, i think Zimbabweans are charitable people but accountability of funds is always an issue and usually there is no feed back on use of funds by charitable organisations.