By Arthur Chatora
Blogging significantly impacts how people share information around the world. Within the African blogosphere, specifically, there are a number of challenges that bloggers face including issues of language, representation and development.
Were explained that blogging is not new to Africans. Africans have been blogging from time immemorial. Leadership has always been dependent on the community for position and survival of society. The Zulu word “Indaba” encompasses the spirit of multidimensional discussions and “Ubuntu”. Were said discussions or dialogues through blogs should be influential in fostering democracy by representing people regardless of their different political, social and economic affiliation.
Citizens are rarely consulted on issues which affect their lives leaving no room for community discussions. Were explained that such a lack of discussion lead to political dissent. Were suggested that democracy will prevail only when a government becomes a government by discussion where citizens sit together and identify differences and come up with solutions to solve their issues and concerns.
This is where blogging can come in handy. Blogging has influenced the rebirth of discussion. Through blogging, Africans are returning to their roots whereby communities relied on sharing and deliberate on information.
Were identified the advantage of blogging as being an interactive tool that empower communities. In the case of some African blogs, Kenyan Blogs Webring has been successful. The project is open to anyone who wishes to blog and is run by volunteers. The project encourages people to set up their own blogs, providing them with support. Kenyan Blogs Webring boasts 500 plus members, 5000 hit per day (as aggregators) with 50% of its members in Kenya, 50% abroad.
However, with new technology come challenges. Blogging has been slowed down by lack of ICTs and New Media infrastructure in Africa. People still regard the Internet as predominantly elitist, highly urbanised and impractical.
The success story of mobile phone penetration in Africa is what encourages bloggers to continue to share information hoping that the African blogosphere will grow and transcend geographical, social, economical and religious bounds.
Journalist and blogger Ansbert Ngurumo talked about the importance of blogging in different African vernacular languages. Ngarumo who blogs in KiSwahili said that blogging in his mother tongue transcends geographical and national barriers. Blogs are mainly active in urban areas. Ngarumo urged people to blog in their own languages. In short, blogs provide the ultimate platform for ordinary citizens to share knowledge and contribute to change within their own communities.
Chatora is a student in the New Media Lab at Rhodes University