Zambians use SMS to mourn president's death

A number of SMS (Short Message Service) codes have been set up at radio and television stations in Zambia to allow thousands of people to send text messages mourning the death of President Levy Mwanawasa.

The SMS service to send a message of goodwill began Aug. 19, the day of Mwanawasa's death in Paris, and will continue throughout the 21 days of national mourning.

"The SMS facility is available on all mobile phones in Zambia, and 90 percent of the people know how to use it," said Lumai Mubanga, an IT executive at Konkola Copper Mines. "My own observation is that the SMS facility has been used effectively by many, and this platform has allowed many Zambians, even those with little means, to convey their heartfelt condolences to President Mwanawasa's family."

The announcement of Mwanawasa's death by Vice President Rupiah Banda led to an increase in SMS use in the country, as Zambians exchanged messages to share the news. Mourners are now sending their text messages of condolence to radio and television stations. As stations suspend regular programming to feature reflections on Mwanawasa's life, the messages from mourners run across television screens and are read aloud on radio.

The Internet is another communication medium through which Zambians are expressing their grief. E-mails and mailing lists carry messages of condolence, and bloggers are posting on the subject. Many Zambians have also left comments regarding Mwanawasa on the BBC Web site <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/default.stm" target=_blank">"Have your Say." </a>

This story, "Zambians use SMS to mourn president's death" was originally published by IDG News Service .

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