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Effective Indymedia in Africa

[Jay, 18 november | IMC-Africa list]

Hi everyone,

Now that we're talking more directly about workshops, I want to repeat an idea I've tossed around a bit and see if anyone would like to work on this.

I'd love to see us use the opportunity of so many people coming together in Nairobi, especially delegates from African IMCs and from countries around the world where access to technology is not the norm, to have some honest and far-reaching discussions about how Indymedia can be most effective in places where people don't generally have computer access. I don't envision this kind of discussion being as much of a "workshop" as a series of sessions during which people have difficult conversations about the utilty, or lack thereof, of the Indymedia network, in their countries, and come up with ways to make the useful parts most useful in their local areas. People who have already done IMC organizing in Africa and beyond could talk about their exepriences and ideas of course, but the more important thing is that everyone would brainstorm practical ways for local IMCs to make their work relevant to the widest possible audience.

Possibly this kind of discussion could form the heart and soul of the WSF IMC convergence. Yes, we'll be successful if we build a radio station and share some media-making skills, but ultimately not everyone will go home and be able to build a radio station or have access to equipment to use to make video or post to the internet. The deeper, and ultimately more relevant question seems to be how people throughout Africa and beyond can most effectively connect to each other and to the greater world using independent media.

So, I propose this not as a "workshop" but as one of the primary orientations of the convergence.

Since I'm 90% sure I'm not going to be there, I'd love to see if anyone who will be in Nairobi, especially an African IMC delegate, may be interested in fleshing out some of the concepts with me and working together to make it happen.

Thinking deep thoughts, Jay

pre-produced audio programmes on cassette tape (Janmaat)

[Janmaat, 19 november | IMC-Africa list]

The question you [Jay] have risen about effective indymedia was discussed in the dakar conference; radio being considered having much more potential than internet, especially when taped:

you can effectively produce a radio program with a simple double cassette player with an inbuild microphone, then copy the program onto further audiotapes and distribute these easily.

imagine producing a local program in this way, playing that tape on the bus towards the next village, broadcasting it there or simply playing it on a tape player, copying it again etc.... that is why i would strongly suggest to anyone in this list planning to attend nairobi convergence to bring one such double-cassette players with inbuild microphone.

cassette players are omnipresent throughout the continent, and you will always be able to fix it. consider bringing a box full of audio cables too, and rechargeable batteries and battery charger.

i am interested in preparing a workshop on radio program pre-production by the use of cassette players. will post this on the wiki asap.

indymedia fellow travellers in Zimbabwe

Terna weighs in

indymedia's fellow travellers in Zimbabwe \x96 facing an acute lack of resources (time, money, access to the internet) have been putting out a newsletter, printing 5,000 copies and distributing them with minimum fuss in Mbare and other urban areas in Harare.

what we're up to in Cape Town (Terna)

we \x96 some of us \x96 have ready access to a website, but don't feel that it's an effective way to communicate/publish in the South African context. (it's a useful way to make stories public to a worldwide audience, so we carry on and hope to make it better.)

but in terms of contributing intricate, accurate, useful and creative media that amplifies local struggle, passes on important information about everything from water disconnections, to land occupations to notices of public meetings or protests \x96 we also produce a more-or-less monthly newsletter in Cape Town. We've also produced daily newsletters at activist trainings/conferences. See example here and here.

we recently linked up with the Community Networking Forum to help them to produce a newsletter just for the Harare section of Khayelitsha. we're bringing design & layout software (practically a Word/OpenOffice template, but a pirate copy of InDesign as well), access to a digital camera, and helping with training on writing, taking pictures, layout.

indymedia as a library (Terna)

and once he gets started, he DOES run on

my personal vision for Cape Town would be for indymedia to see itself as a library of skills and resources that activists from all over the city could use to produce various kinds of media. the collective as it stands can train people to take photos, make audio features, make video features, and produce a newsletter. we have limited equipment for all of these things (tape recorder, still and video camera, software but no collectively-owned computers), but could surely write grant applications to score more. We have a straightforward policy that if you come to three consecutive meetings (over six weeks), you're considered a member and you can take equipment out \x96 if you lose or damage it, you have to participate in fundraising to replace it before you can take equipment again. (it's risky, and we've lost stuff \x96 and members \x96 in the past, but the alternatives defeat the purpose.)

every other meeting is a training meeting \x96 devoted to building a different skill. we try to actually produce something out of these trainings.

i would like to see us build up our equipment \x96 get more and better cameras, get more recorders, and maybe most important get a couple of decent computers and set them up somewhere convenient for the many collective members who don't have their own.

scratch video (Terna)

there's been talk of making lots more quick scratch videos \x96 on housing issues especially \x96 and (nod to Janmaat) burning VCDs/DVDs and distributing them freely. i'm also thinking about approaching Cape Town Municipal libraries to put copies there (figure it's relatively cheap to make copies, so we can just keep replacing them if they go missing.) also \x96 if we can make entertaining ones, we could try to get them played on inter-city buses, before the Jet Li main feature.

there are a couple of existing initiatives that move around the townships screening movies, that we could also join up with to show short pieces.

as with the newsletter, we'd look to get activists to draw on our resources to make videos about their struggles.

we don't so much want to cover issues \x96 as we want to help people get their message across.
Topic revision: r5 - 16 Dec 2006, TerNa
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