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African bloggers: a world to be discovered 6

African blogs are becoming more and more influencing and relevant to understand African media and the reality of African civil society. While thinking about the possibility of introducing our new bloggers’ section, we decided to let their words explain our audience the world they have contributed to create and to make understand better this growing wave running over African media through their thoughts.

“Blogging in general has influenced the growth of the online presence of Africa media. But more important is the fact that an increasing number of mainstream media are either creating blogs or using “blogging” format allowing for discussion through comments on their sites. Bloggers present a challenge to the mainstream media especially in those countries where the media are simply a voice of the government and ruling elite,” says Sokari Ekine, activist and author of the blog www.blacklooks.org.

“The voices of Nigerians, Kenyans, Egyptians and South Africans – who are the most active bliggers – began to speak on a range of topics from politics, entertainment, technology, literature and social justice.  In this way we begin to have a better and more detailed understanding of what is happening across the continent.  Bloggers also disseminate information in different ways, can use their blogs to initiate and support political and human rights campaigns, particularly talking about democracy,” she continues.

According to our contributors, there are no definitive data on the amount of bloggers from the Diaspora, even tough Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist running the blog ugandajournalist.wordpress.com says that the Ethiopian Diaspora blogs are more active, carry some critical discussions and are more than the numbers in their home.”

On the other hand, Sean Jacobs, a South African teacher employed in NY and founder of africasacountry.com, underlines that “Africans studying in the West, with access to regular and faster Internet connections were key to the development of the African blogosphere”.

The issue of Internet connection becomes crucial and goes to the core of the presence of African blogs on the web. “The African blogosphere is not that widespread because of computer literacy, many places still not connected to power and Internet. These have limited the spread but this is slowly beginning to change as many African countries become connected to submarine cables for fast Internet,” says Kagumire.

“But the few are making a difference and newspapers are waking up to adjust to blogs and keep people informed and bring in as many opinions as possible,” she adds.

However, African blogs are playing a key role in spreading new opinions and providing news with different points of view.

“As a journalist in Uganda, where there is partial press freedom, you only exercise it when you’re not threatening top power, blogs are important for journalists to air their views in a media environment that is easily controlled by government, which is the reason why I decided to run a blog.”

“Even private media is controlled by government through advertising since the government is one of the biggest advertisers and then the big companies have connections to the regime so if you’re with dissenting newspaper you have to think of repercussions of your stories,” underlines Kagumire.

“But in some cases blogs make the difference, in other cases no. In fact, in one case, the decision of a South African newspaper, the Mail & Guardian, to promote a blog platform, unleashed so much rubbish and blatant racism into cyberspace. Of course you can’t blame the newspaper for its readers or some of the rambles of its bloggers, but we’re the poorer for it,” says Jacobs.

Talking about the future of the African blogosphere, Sokari has a clear idea about it. “Blogs will no doubt continue to grow though I think the pace may slow down. Those that remain and are consistent will become more and more influential in bringing about political change in our respective countries. There are many instances of African bloggers engaged in innovative projects both offline and online, developing new social media tools, monitoring their local parliaments, and I think these numbers will continue to grow.”

But most of all, “bloggers in Egypt are in jail for expressing their opinions. This should tell us that blogs in Africa can be used to challenge decisions by leaders to the point that they feel ‘threatened’ and if they feel that then we know that blogs are making the difference. Democracy is not just freely served on a silver plate, it is a journey that should include engaging with common people and that’s what blogs bring, voices of ordinary people writing their own stories,” says Rosebell Kagumire.

By Chiara Caprio – Afronline.org

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There are 6 comments for this post

  1. austo says:

    africa is awakening

  2. REHEMA says:

    Abbey Semuwemba is the most dominant blogger among Ugandans abroad. He is the founder of ‘ugandans at heart’

  3. kay says:

    yes i believe there is a lot of talent to be discovered in Africa

  4. Yomi Adeyemi says:

    The internet itself is a revolution.

    I think that as critical infrastructure around the continent is improved over the next few decades, Africa will be transformed by the de-centralized access to information that blogs and other online news offer.

    Africa is Rising :-)

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