This week Sokari Ekine broadens her usual selection of blogs by Africans at home or in the diaspora to include the best of the ‘Afrophile’ bloggers. From analysis of the continuing violence in Madagascar, to Blackstar’s musings on press freedom and Sociolingo’s poetic pieces about Dogon paintings, Ekine finds that the ‘Afrophiles’ offer additional insightful commentary on issues not covered elsewhere in the African blogosphere.
My round-ups have with a few exceptions covered blogs written by Africans at home or in the diaspora. There is, however, a third group of bloggers, some of whom have been writing for four or five years, who are non-Africans writing about African issues. Some of these are aid workers, peace corps volunteers, or just people interested in Africa. I have consciously chosen not to include these blogs in my round-ups.
However because many of them do provide additional insights and more importantly cover issues not covered elsewhere in the African blogosphere, I think it is worthwhile including their voices from time to time. I am therefore going to cover some of these blogs in this weeks round-up and possibly again in a couple of weeks.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_01_ethanz.gifMy Heart’s in Accra written by Ethan Zuckerman (co-founder of Global Voices and the first African blog aggregator Blog Africa) is the most well known non-African blogging about continental issues. Ethan has been blogging since 2003 and was probably one of the first bloggers I got to know. He was very supportive and has contributed greatly to the publicising of my own blog. Ethan’s blog is presently one of the few blogs covering the political crisis in Madagascar. This is typical of Ethan whose range of knowledge of Africa, politics, economics and technology is huge. In his latest post Free Razily Ethan explains the continued violence in Madagascar and tells the story of Razily, a young man who disappeared after a rally protesting the coup d’etat in Madagascar.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_02_whereisrazily.gif‘One of the reasons the crisis in Madagascar persists is that it is receiving very little attention from the media, even on the African continent. In the absence of sustained pressure and scrutiny, there’s not much pressure on Rajeolina and Ravalomanana to find a solution that allows Madagascar to go forward. I’m often sceptical of the value of online petitions, but I think that demonstrating that people around the world are paying attention to the situation in Madagascar, and to the rights of a peaceful demonstrator, could have an important impact in this case. I hope you’ll join me in signing the petition and in spreading the word about Razily.’
Black Star Journal written by ex-Peace Corp volunteer Brian, has also been around since 2003. Brian’s blog also fills in a gap in the African blogosphere as he is one of the few bloggers to write about Guinea specifically and Francophone West Africa in general. In his latest post Press Freedom in 2008 he comments on Ghana, Mali and Mauritius having the ‘freest presses in Africa’.
‘It is no coincidence they are three of the most stable, democratic countries on the continent. Comoros, Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia improved their press freedom rating, according to the NGO Freedom House. Though notably South Africa, Botswana and Senegal were among the countries who saw press freedom diminished in 2008. The NGO said Eritrea has the least press freedom in Africa, with Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea not far behind.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_03_sociolingo.gifSociolingo’s Africa has been blogging for three years. Unfortunately s/he is anonymous but this is an excellent blog and one of my favourite. In his/her ‘About’ Sociolingo explains the decision to write about Africa and to do so in a positive way and again to write about those issues not covered elsewhere. S/he has found a niche which is broadly in the area of linguistics, arts, history and academic research. The latest post is one on the Dogan stone painters from Mali.
‘Stone is petrified speech, water is language laughing, the sown seed, a promised word: every element of reality is an integral part of Toro Tegu, currently spoken by some 5000 Dogons in the north of Mali.’
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_04_uganda.gifScarlett Lion, written by a freelance photographer and writer, first began in Uganda and now continues in Liberia. Context Africa is a series started by the blogger that ‘highlights projects that go above and beyond daily news to tell a story of a place in its context and create an ongoing dialogue about what it means to tell contextual stories in Africa’. The first in the series is called Sliding Liberia:
‘Sliding Liberia follows Nicholai and his friends to Liberia in search of more than perfect waves. Risking everything to explore the West African country devastated by decades of war, they record the stories of people they meet – people like Alfred, who became Liberia's first surfer after finding a body-board while fleeing from rebels. Besides rediscovering a break that could be the best-kept secret in the surfing world, they find something more important, a way to travel responsibly in the 21st century.’
OTHER AFROPHILE BLOGS:
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_05_meskel.gifMeskel Square written by freelance journalist, Andrew Havens is another of the older and more consistent bloggers in the African blogosphere. Andrew, who used to live in Addis Ababa, has been blogging on Ethiopian politics since 2004. He has now moved to Khartoum and now also writes about Sudan.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_06_jackfruity.gifJack Fruity, written by Rebekah Heacock, who previously lived in Uganda, is about development and conflict. Her latest post is a video debate between Mahmood Mamdani and John Prendergast on Darfur.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_07_voice.gifUnder the Acacias written by Christian missionary Keith Smith, is a blog on his work in Burkina Faso.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/431/may06_08_blacklooks.gifFinally, this week Black Looks has two posts, one by Rethabile, who continues his excellent series of interviews with poets.
The second one Black Looks is yet another homophobic report from Uganda which is fast becoming the most reactionary country, with it’s increasingly vile attacks on the LGBTI community. In this post, former gay activist, who under torture gave up the names of his colleagues, has now gone on TV to further denounce the community by claiming they actively recruit young boys and girls.
The homophobia crusade continues in Uganda as ‘former’ gay activist George (previously known as Georgina) adds his voice to those denouncing the LGBTI community as ‘unAfrican’ and predators. Worse than that, he has contributed to the outing of many in the Ugandan LGBT community and therefore put their lives and livelihoods at very serious risk.
In this video, he claims young men and women are actively recruited by lesbian and gay men. What is shocking and sad is that George is a former gay activist, who knows very well what it is like to be the victim of this horrendous campaign.