‘Everyone’s invited’ is a phrase whose significance I first noted in the early 2000s, being used as a brand slogan of Samsung Electronics. I was a university student with a heart for creating things and building businesses, so from time to time I used to brainstorm with my roommate, Joshua Twinamasiko, on potential business names and slogans.
Everyone’s Invited came to the fore, only to note that it was already being used by Samsung on most, if not all of its products at the time. The slogan had been announced in 1999 as “Samsung DIGITall – Everyone’s Invited” in order to reflect the company’s drive to integrate digital home, mobile and personal multimedia on a global scale.
As I was brainstorming on business names, some serious Ugandans were working hard to connect people with interest in ICT, mainly from Uganda, using one network that would keep everyone updated with serious matters on the said subject.
Their organization created a forum that, by the time I learnt about in much later in 2008, had grown to be very instrumental in industry-related discourse, announcements and in some cases, just jokes.
Some other times it got reduced to a wider customer care forum as telcos made a habit of infuriating customers.
But also occasionally, some unserious member would send through an advert, something the rules clearly said wasn’t permissible. And then lengthy debates would follow about whether to or not to ban such users.
In all this, the I-Network remained strong, occasionally contributing to the all-so-useful government policies and consumer-protection forums by government agencies.
In fact, when we first released PC Tech Magazine at the end of 2009 – then only publicly available at a fee in major supermarkets, we made a digital version available to members of the I-Network for a limited time. And we received a lot of valuable feedback.
That is I-Network.
On that forum, there’s a guy called David. Judging by his emails, decent guy, works for government and busy planning his wedding.
David doesn’t say much. In fact, before his now-newsworthy email to the forum this week, he had only posted one reply to NITA-U’s Christmas message.
But for some reason, he decided to share his wedding budget on the forum, along with his and his fiancee’s full names in the subject.
“I am sorry for using this platform of ICT based [matters], but for [the] convenience to reach all of you, i had no alternative,” he wrote, in full acknowledgement of his mistake.
“Otherwise you are all kindly invited to a grand launch of [David]’s Wedding Meeting scheduled for today the 19th March, 2015…” he continued before embarrassingly adding, “Your contribution toward this ceremony… will be highly appreciated.”
In Uganda, there’s nothing wrong with asking friends – and acquaintances – to contribute to your wedding. In fact, some people are said to make money out of weddings.
But David appeal, posted on a forum that’s set up to contribute to a serious sector of the economy raised eyebrows before leading to a week-long debate on how wrong he was!
I’m not sure if the debate, and the growing thread of email replies, has met his expectation, considering the way he signed his email off:
“Hoping to hear from all of you, Ladies and Gentlemen.”
He did hear some cheeky responses, though:
“The last time I wedded, my invitations were strictly to family and friends and people I knew on first name basis. But I guess times have changed,” read one of them, from a certain Kimumwe.
‘First name basis’ was significant, because we don’t know this guy much. On a forum where most people are known by their contributions, it might have helped if he was a regular contributor.
But that invitation to everyone, including myself, for example, was misplaced. Or at least, mis-addressed.
And as Samsung later learnt, some times you just can’t invite everyone.