Cameroon's Award-Winning ICT Blogger Explains Why Digital Media Still Lags
BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 7 2013
Around the world, bloggers have often stepped up to fill the void that traditional media either will not fill or cannot fill. Many of them, like Cameroonian blogger and multimedia journalist Dorothée Danedjo Fouba, take their responsibilities as bloggers as seriously as any journalist. In an interview with fellow Cameroonian blogger Dibussi Tande, published by Global Voices Online, Fouba said, a “good blogger must already have the intrinsic qualities of all good journalists.”
Several years ago, Tande actually identified Cameroon as falling behind the rest of Africa in the blogosphere, based on the rankings on the then-leading African blog aggregator, Afrigator (which has since closed). In 2009, only 48 Cameroon-related blogs were listed on Afrigator—far behind South Africa, with 5,387, and Nigeria, with 935.
Now that Fouba has taken home the Best African ICT Blog award at the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world, it may help Cameroon catch up to its neighbors. In the Global Voices interview, Fouba and Tande discussed the state of the blogosphere in Africa. Tande observed that traditional media outlets in Cameroon are “slow to adopt new technologies” and “have a very hesitant online presence,” and asked why Fouba might think that is.
“I would blame it mostly on ignorance, and on fear of the unknown,” replied Fouba. “We are afraid of anything which is new, and which would bring about a change in our habits or methods.”
There is also apparently a lack of blogs with a focus on ICT, in both Cameroon and Africa more generally. Tande asked for Fouba's thoughts on that reality:
I think that their absence can be explained by the fact that one has to invest a lot of time to create a blog that focuses mainly on ICT. Or, by definition, a blog is a personal journal, and thus, it is managed by one individual. That is not easy. In addition, it requires a certain amount of digital culture and personal effort to be able to collect information. We generally prefer to write political propaganda, essays on culture, and to “seek pity”, in the political sense, about certain topics. Or sometimes, it is simply due to laziness.
Considering the fact that the Cameroonian government suspended 11 media organizations last month, shortly before the parliamentary elections, Fouba's blog and others like it will hopefully provide a media alternative in the face of such censorship.
Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.