By Jean Gasho [Just Jean]
- I have read enough stories of teenagers committing suicide after being bullied on Facebook
- I have seen women being called names on Facebook that has affected their self-esteem for the rest of their lives.
- Over the past week, for the first time, I can say I have become a victim of Facebook bullying by a Zimbabwean Facebook Personality called Mike Tashaya, along with a number of his 20 000 followers.
- The bullying and harassment from Mike Tashaya and a lot of his followers has become so bad, so much I felt it affect my unborn baby, who is due in 4 weeks.
- For that reason, Mike Tashaya and his followers, I refuse to allow myself to continue in an environment that is putting my health and that of my unborn child at risk.
- I am a strong woman, but I have my unborn baby to think of, who right now is not as strong as me.
I have been blogging/writing for almost 9 years. My first blog was in 2008, where I decided to blog simply because of my thirst for writing. The blog was about my spiritual journey when I became a born again Christian. Within 3 months of starting this blog, it attracted a lot of atheists and it was featured on the Richard Dawkins website. It was also featured on American TV shows and Christian radio shows. I had people asking to advertise on my blog because of the traffic. I found this very overwhelming as I was very new to social media. I had just given birth and could not handle the pressure, so I deactivated the blog. I want to make it clear that on this blog, I only had one Zimbabwean follower, the rest of Zimbabwe did not even know me, even though the blog was successful.
My second blog was in 2013. I started the blog in a women’s refuge after horrendous abuse from a church and my ex-husbands family. I had no one to talk to, no one to help me, and the only way I had of expressing myself was to write. Within 24 hours the blog had gone viral, which was even a shock to me. Though it was a blog about abuse, it became one of the best things I ever did in life. I discovered who I was as a writer. I met some amazing people. I brought awareness about religious abuse in the UK. The blog revived me, brought back my faith in humanity, and even led the love of my life Ghanaian musician Kofi Nino to me. Today I am the happiest woman because of love.
Again, my dear readers, my second blog had nothing to do with Facebook. For over a year, not once did I ever share or discuss my blog on Facebook, yet it had almost 2 000 000 hits.
This blog,’Just Jean’ was a new beginning for me. Leaving the past behind me, in March 2016 I started this blog where I write my opinions about current issues, especially issues affecting the black community.
This blog has been the best in my career as a writer. Within a year, I started blogging for the Huffington Post, and my blogs on such an international platform have been very successful. As this year began I was offered to be a columnist for a popular Ghanaian news site, Modern Ghana after my New Year Article on African False Prophets was shared all over Africa.
After all the success I had received through this blog, I started being harassed and bullied on Facebook by Zimbabwean Facebook socialite Mike Tashaya. It all started when he took my article and shared it without aknowledging me as the writer. When I asked him not to share my articles without acknowledging me, he then apologised. However after the “apology” he became vindictive, and started sharing my articles to open me up to abuse, often mocking me.
What I have learnt about bullies is that they are normally very charming. They have a lot of friends or followers and are manipulative and calculating. Most of the times they bully from behind the scenes, and let their friends and followers do the work whilst they mastermind everything, creating a platform for the bullying. This is why bullies are always able to get away with bullying, leaving the victim broken with no support. On Mike Tashaya’s Facebook wall, where he boasts of having a huge traffic and many Zimbabwean followers, his cyber bullying tactics are normally subtle, with a lot of help from his followers, he is able to single out a person and attack them, mostly women.
What has hurt me the most and my main reason for leaving Facebook is that on his wall, it is claimed that my success of this blog is down to Mike Tashaya and his 20 000 followers. They claim that even though I am being harassed on his wall, he is the most popular Facebook personality in Zimbabwe so he is making my articles “popular” each time he shares them.
I want to make it clear to Mike Tashaya and his followers, that no one has ever made me “famous” or “popular”. Even Huffington Post can not claim to make me famous. Modern Ghana can not claim to make me famous. I have worked hard for my name as a blogger and writer, and I will not let you Mike Tashaya use me and harras me for something I have worked so hard for.
I will not let your abuse and harassment threaten the life of my unborn baby. I got where I got without your 20 000 followers. I have seen enough bullying on Facebook and I refuse to stay in a toxic environment.
Yesterday Mike Tashaya’s followers were threatening to tag me on his wall so I could see the abuse. I was once tagged on his wall where I was being called all sorts of hurtful derogatory names. Yesterday I had to resort to blocking him, but I realised that it was not enough.
Three women who have tried to stand for me on Mike Tashaya’s Facebook wall have been “savaged” by his followers as Mike Tashaya calls it. One Ghanaian woman was racially abused for being a Ghanaian, told that Ghanaians are too black and ugly, and called all sorts of derogatory Ghanaian names because she had tried to defend me. Yesterday another Zimbabwean woman tried to defend me and was called ugly and fat on Mike Tashaya’s wall by his followers.
I have to leave Facebook, because even though I am a strong woman, it hurts me to see women being bullied on Mike Tashaya’s Facebook wall because they are trying to fight bullying on my behalf. Yesterday I was hurt because in my 10 years a writer and blogger, no man has ever claimed to contribute to my writing success, and certainly not a man who is bullying me and using my hard work to attack me.
To my dear Facebook followers, the few I had, those who always stood by me, I will certainly miss you. But I am not a writer because of Facebook. Facebook has never contributed in any way to the success of my work. I will continue to write, I will write like I have never written before. I will not let the bullying by Zimbabweans on Facebook bring negative energy to my work, and certainly not Mike Tashaya.
When my marriage became an unhealthy abusive environment for me, I had to walk away. When the church became an unhealthy environment for me I had to leave. Facebook has become an unhealthy abusive environment for me, leaving is not a sign of weakness but to maintain the strength I have and to explore new areas.
It’s 2017, its time for me to be adventurous with Twitter and Instagram. It’s time to expand my horizons on this journey of mine as a writer. With or without Facebook, my pen shall ever write.
- Jean Gasho is a veteran blogger and activist. This article appears on her blog first.