Sitting in a hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the eve of the African Union Summit, a group of Kenyan artivists (@zawadin, @saramitaru, @NiNanjira) have started a conversation about the links between social media and social change in Africa. This is an era where we have access to so many tools to support the work that we do, but there are also many challenges. We would like to hear what other Africans have to say across the continent and in the diaspora. If you are currently using social media, are committed to creating positive and progressive change in Africa, want to ensure that 2011 was the #lastfamine, and are available to lend your voice to this conversation, please use the hashtag #AfricansAct and share your thoughts, blogs, case studies of social media campaigns, and let’s figure this out together.
The impetus for this discussion actually came from being frustrated about the severe lack of statistics on internet usage in Africa, as well as specific statistics about active twitter users in Africa, especially given that we have witnessed several global trending topics that have emerged from the continent.
10 guiding questions you might consider answering for the #AfricansAct twitter chat include:
- How is social media being used for social change in Africa?
- What are some of the effective social media for social change campaigns you have witnessed or participated in, in Africa?
- What does it take to drive an effective social media for social change campaign?
- What defines a successful social media for social change campaign?
- Is it enough just to trend, have thousands of followers/fans? How do you know that your social media campaign is leading to social change?
- What African social media for social change campaigns have trended in Africa/globally? (Please share hashtags)
- Did you know about the #LastFamine campaign? If yes, what did you think about it?
- What are some of the challenges we face in Africa with using social media for social change?
- Is there a need for an African “spring”?
- What will Africans online be remembered for?
We look forward to hearing from you all.
Please feel free to post comments here or via twitter using the hashtag #AfricansAct.
The conversation begins now!
Did you know that 2010-2020 has been designated as the African Women’s Decade? I have AWD on my mind because I am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, facilitating a Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition meeting that starts today. It’s shocking though, that as a self identified African feminist, the first I ever heard of AWD was through a blog written my one of my favorite Afropolitan sisters in the twitterverse @MsAfropolitan on the 1st year anniversary of AWD last year.
What does this decade mean to us as African women? Who is really talking about this decade? How have you engaged with AWD in your community, country or region? How can we make this decade our own and ensure that the numerous voices of African women, in all their diversity, are heard in spaces like the African Union, where our government leaders converge every single year, spending gastronomical amounts of tax-payer’s money to discuss issues that affect us. The 18th AU Summit starts on January 23d, in Addis, and the theme for this year is “Boosting Intra-African Trade”. Are women traders central to these discussions, or will a boost in Intra-African trade only benefit a select few? With all the #Occupy movements sprouting around the world, including the current #OccupyNigeria movement, I sincerely hope our leaders are waking up to the reality that the people of Africa will not rest until there is real change that is felt by ordinary people like you and me. For inspiration, I have just read my fellow African sistah souljah Sokari (@blacklooks) article “Ken Saro-Wiwa on How It Was, How it Remains & How it Could Be.”
So back to the AU Summit. One of the items on the agenda for discussion is the Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine in Africa (SEAF). As much as I understand the importance of having an emergency fund, I wonder if this is really where our leaders need to be focusing their energy, when there is absolutely no reason why anyone should experience famine anywhere in Africa to begin with! How about dealing with the actual problem, rather than creating band-aid solutions that will probably lead to the development of yet another mis-managed fund that will cost even more to operate than will actually benefit the people it is intended to. Am I being a pessimist here?
Anyway, I made a promise to myself that I would do yoga this morning before the SOAWR meeting started so I better sign off before I get carried away. But before I go, I just have to say that when I read this on the AU summit website, it just reminded me that true change will really come from the 99% – you and me – and probably not the leaders we elect to represent our interests:
“One of the high moments of the AU Summit will be the inauguration of the New African Union Conference Center on 28 January 2012 in the presence of all the Heads of State and Government present for the Summit.”
Are they for real? High moment?