Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

On Social Media, the African Diaspora Redirects the Conversation on International Aid

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 8 2013

When the much-hyped Kony 2012 campaign crashed and burned last year, it became a symbol of the misguided approach taken by many glamour causes in international development.  The story quickly became a laughingstock in the international media.  Yet even before one of the campaign’s directors was found running naked on the streets of San Diego, Ugandans and other Africans living in diaspora were engaged in a social media takedown of Kony 2012. 

Ugandan social media strategist T.M.S. Ruge wrote in the Guardian this week that the growing online presence of the African diaspora is starting to drive a conversation on development issues long controlled by international aid groups.  Social media has connected and mobilized Africans watching developments in their home countries from abroad, and they’re working to counter narratives of incapability and dependence espoused by NGOs and the international media: 

No longer are we faced with what the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie called "the danger of a single story". Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media are bringing African voices and new, varied narratives to the forefront…These tools are also being used to replace staid development paradigms, by organising and developing African-driven institutions.

Ruge details the efforts that have been made in the African online diaspora to dispel the influence of campaigns like Kony 2012 and #1millionshirts, an initiative thought up by an American social entrepreneur that planned to dump a million garments on countries already overburdened with first-world castoffs.   An organization called Africans in the Diaspora is now generating micro-investments for small businesses through social enterprise, connecting Africans abroad to communities at home. 

This new model – “Africa, for Africa, by Africa,” – could reorient development models throughout the continent.  Ruge hopes it will also increase diaspora Africans’ impact on their countries’ political dialogues. 

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

GO

More