To celebrate the end of another week and to herald the beginning of the weekend, a bunch of Kenyan bloggers/blog readers/blog enthusiast/secret bloggers/potential bloggers/relatives of bloggers will be meeting at Alpenhofs, next to Prestige Plaza on Ngong Road at 6pm TODAY Friday 3rd October. Nothing formal, no agenda, just catching up to find out what people have been up to, making new connections any excuse to spread some good blog karma. It looks like some very interesting people are going to be coming and so should you. Really. You have no excuse no to come. Spread the word.
A few years ago I posted a comment on a friendâ€™s blog (which sadly no longer exists) in which I remarked that the Kenyan Blogs Webring reminds me of a typical African extended family. Fluctuating from supportive to destructive, from connected to disjointed, from sane and united to crazy and dysfunctional. Those family members who always believe that there is someone in the family out to get them and thus they constantly whisper conspiracy theories while looking over their shoulders? Well KBW has them too. Luckily we have a lot of sane, sensible and funny family members too.
Every once in while I get reminded that some people have way too much time on their hands! In the past 12-18 months I have been slowly switching webhosting companies as I search for more reliable, personal and courteous service. The webhosting company I left was called BlueHost
and the webhosting company I now use is called A Small Orange.
(Some of you sharp ones will have figured out by now where this post is going!)
Bluehostâ€™s primary colour is, naturally, blue. A Small Orangeâ€™s primary colour is, naturally, orange. Kibakiâ€™s Party of National Unity primary colour is blue and Odingaâ€™s Orange Democratic Movement primary colour is orange. If this was not proof enough that I am Odingaâ€™s number one fanboy, the mere fact that I choose a Webhosting company with the word orange in its name and now display a button with an orange is proof enough for some that mentalacrobatics.com is embedded within Odingaâ€™s camp. Hehe.
A big thank you to all Kenyans both here at home and abroad who are blogging this election. Whether it is the live blogging of results or sharing your thoughts and fears it is good to hear so many voices. Thank you also to all of you who have left comments and sent emails over the election coverage on this blog or on something you may have read on KenyaUnlimited. Comments and interaction are an integral part of the blogging process; your efforts are also appreciated.
What we are doing is revolutionary in terms of local news coverage and in generating local web content; imagine the impact we will have on coverage of the 2012 election. There are a couple of reasons why this blogging effort is important:
- We are showing that citizen media is alive and well in Kenya.
- We are showing that Kenyans regard the Kenyan citizen media is a valid source of information.
- We are showing that citizen media can react and publish faster than the main stream media in Kenya.
- We are showing that you do not have to be â€œon the insideâ€ within the ECK nerve centre at KICC or within a major media house to report on what is going on with the election with authority.
- We are showing that the internet is a valid tool for spreading and sharing information.
- We are showing that the Kenyan street is aware and articulate.
- We are creating local and original web content.
And perhaps most importantly (for our brothers and sister in the main stream media)
- We are showing that citizen media and the main stream media can not only co-exist but even compliment each other.
Now a call to arms literary rather than literally, if you have a blog write your thoughts about this election. Whether you are in Kenya or not, whether you are Kenyan or not. We need more voices from the wanainchi writing about their country. If you have left a comment or sent an email and do not have a blog, please start one. If you can send an email believe me you have enough technical skill to write and post a blog post. Register at WordPress.com for free and youâ€™ll be on your way. Then register on the Kenyan Blogs Webring (KBW), which is also free, and you will have a wide readership from your first post.
This is very important for those of you who have asked me to remove certain KBW members from the webring or remove their posts from the KenyaUnlimited Aggregator as you do not agree with what they are saying. Many of you already have own blogs yet I notice that your own blogs are silent on the issues you raise with me. If someone writes something you disagree with by all means let your voice be heard as you present your counter view, and the best place to do this is on your own blog (which if you are a KBW member will appear on the same aggregator where the post you objected to appeared).
Finally, I have been getting many requests asking if you can reproduce the content on this blog in your newspapers, aggregators etc. Everything on my blog is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence.
This means you are free to:
- Share â€” to copy, distribute and transmit the work
- Remix â€” to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
- Attribution. You must attribute the work to me. A link to the original blog post with a line saying written by Mentalacrobatics or written by Daudi Were should be fine.
I have joined the Global Voices Advocacy team as one of the sub-Saharan reporters in their network of bloggers and online activists throughout the developing world that is dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online.
I have also joined Global Voices as one of the sub-Saharan reporters. My focus on Global Voices will be to highlight blogs, bloggers and blogposts which cover any human rights issues in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In effect I am a foot solider under the joint command of two of the most engaging bloggers out there, Sami, Head of Advocacy at Global Voices, and Ndesanjo, the Sub-Saharan editor at Global Voices!
Global Voices Advocacy …
… seeks to build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists throughout the developing world that is dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online. The aim of this network is to raise the awareness of online freedom of speech issues and to share tools and tactics with activists and bloggers facing similar situations in different parts of the globe. The network is meant not only to provide support to its members, but also to produce educational guides about anonymous blogging, anti-censorship campaigns, and online organizing. By collaborating with software developers, activists, and bloggers, the network hopes to design new and more appropriate tools to protect our rights on the Internet.
Global Voices aims to
- Call attention to the most interesting conversations and perspectives emerging from citizensâ€™ media around the world by linking to text, photos, podcasts, video and other forms of grassroots citizensâ€™ media being produced by people around the world.
- Facilitate the emergence of new citizensâ€™ voices through training, online tutorials, and publicizing the ways in which open-source and free tools can be used safely by people around the world to express themselves.
- Advocate for freedom of expression around the world and to protect the rights of citizen journalists to report on events and opinions without fear of censorship or persecution.
If you come across or know of any blogger, blog, blogpost I should be aware of please let me know, I will be very grateful.
If you are interested in writing a regular round-up of Kenyan blogs for Global Voices, following in the footsteps of brilliant pioneers such as Mshairi and Afromusing, please get in touch with Ndesanjo.
Colonialists would often turn up at an African community and ask, “Who does that land belong to?” pointing to the vast fields around the village. Many times the reply from the villagers would be, “It does not belong to anyone.” The colonialists would then promptly set about fencing and craving up the land amongst themselves, which would enrage the Africans, which, in turn, would confuse the colonialists as, after all, they had been told that this land did not belong to anyone.
These exchanges highlight the differences in the cultures involved and the different understandings of what initially looks like a very simple situation. When the Africans tell the colonialists that this land does not belong to anybody, the colonialists would take that to mean that the land is unoccupied. “It does not belong to anyone” is taken to mean it is ownerless. That was a misunderstanding of what they had been told. For when the African said, “This land does not belong to anyone”, what they mean is this land does not belong to any single person or family. This land is the property of the community under the stewardship of those who currently occupy it.
Chief Elesi of Odogbolu, a Nigerian chief, told the West African land commission in 1912, that he “conceived that land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living and countless yet unborn”. In other words, “this land does not belong to anyone” meant this land belongs to everyone. It is occupied by us, but we do not own it, we are merely the current stewards holding it for future generations.
In my talk during the Digital Citizen Indaba I touched upon the issue of the African blogosphere and ownership asking, “Who owns the African blogosphere”? I used the above example of our ancestors’ attitude to land as the basis of my understanding. In my opinion the internet is a space through which discussion takes place and blogs are the tool through which we utilise that space for discussion. In other words this space we have carved on the internet is our land and bloggers are the occupiers of that land. Like our ancestors I believe that this land does not belong to any of us, it belongs to all of us.
Why is this important? First of all this space belonging to all of us means that there is room for all of us and for all our opinions in that space and we all have an equal right to it. For example those who feel unrepresented in the main stream media can use this space to get their message across. Those who feel left out of the national conversation can use this space to get their message across. Ndesanjo in his keynote address emphasised this highlighting that several Africans who happen to be gay had used this space to express themselves through blogs, several Africans who happen to be white or of Asian origin had used this space to express themselves through their blogs.
Another example, last year during the time of the first DCI there was a passionate, and at times, heated debate about whether a blogging conference organised largely by South Africans, who happened to be white, and held at a university named after Rhodes, had the right to call itself African. I felt then as I do now that, yes, they had the right to call it a conference of African bloggers. I feel no one has the right to stop other bloggers from organising themselves in a way they feel fit. Once you start putting restrictions on how bloggers organise themselves then you are on the slippery slope that ends up with putting restrictions on what bloggers can write about. For if you think that these guys do not have the right to organise a conference for African bloggers do they have the right to write about African bloggers or as African bloggers?
I should clarify the difference between those who objected to the content of the conference and those who object to the very notion of the conference. The DCI crew never claimed to be organising a perfect conference and gave us the opportunity to give our feedback on what they did right and what they could do better. This year you can see they took the suggestions on board. A big issue last year was the DCI venue did not have wireless internet access, this year we had wireless internet access. Last year we raised the issue of representation amongst the speakers in terms of geographical location and content. This year we have spent a lot of time examining the role of language which was led by Tanzanian bloggers with their central role in the Kiswahili blogosphere. We also looked at cyber activism is Ethiopia and Zimbabwe as well v-blogging, photo-blogging and open source. Space to give feedback and raise issues about the content of a conference should always be available. Feedback I have no problem with. What I object to is those who feel that the conference itself had no right to exist in any form.
That is not to say that all bloggers must agree with all other bloggers all the time or even most of the time. In fact we do not have to agree at all! I hope that having disagreements and differences of opinion does not mean we can not sit down together at the end of the debate and appreciate each other. But if that is not the case, the good thing about this space we are carving on the internet is that it is basically limitless. If you do not like the way people are doing things you can start your own thing. Just do not try to stop people from doing what they are doing by placing artificial restrictions based on your opinion of what is and isn’t for they have as much right to this space as you do.
The second Digital Citizen Indaba is in full swing at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. The conference was opened by Professor Banda who welcomed us to the DCI. Then Global Voices sub Saharan editor, Swahili blogosphere pioneer, Tanzanian blogosphere pioneer, and KBW member Ndesanjo Macha got things moving with his Keynote Address.
I spoke with on the Democratization of the Digital Citizen in the morning session on Fractured Identities. I shared the floor with my Tanzanian brother Ansbert Ngurumo. Our panel was chaired by Professor Guy Berger.