Wsf2007Conversation1

Table of content :

AFRICAN INDYMEDIA CONVERSATION - 1.15.07

Topics:

  • Current state of Indymedia in Africa.
  • Barriers.
  • How we will move forward.

Proposal: Africans go round and answer the above questions for IMC in their communities. Non-africans can ask questions after each person presents

Nairobi delegate

- We feel that we don't know what Indymedia is about. We do it but we don't call it Indymedia.

- If Indymedia says "be your own journalist" - in Africa we want to help our people be that what we are telling them to be - we need to answer a whole bunch of questions about what it means to be your own journalist. Indymedia means that there is no shareholder who will be telling us what to do.

- Speaking of Kenya - our people are really preoccupied with other urgent things. We need to integrate Indymedia into people's life and current movements. It should not be a competing candidate for attention.

S. Africa delegate

More space needed for Indymedia in S. African.

Lots of censorship about screen media - commercialism of media.

Struggle around radio - Raza FM was unlicensed and broadcast out of a garage. We were busted. Threats from the police and regulators. Applications for radio stations are tough, geographically limited (one per township), and we can't get license. We also lack resources to run a station. Low power licensing is new. They are talking about using this for "radio in the shopping mall" - ha ha ha - we are looking for something that can reach more people.

Difficulty having regular meetings - lack resources and office. We use space of other organizations - it is becoming irritating to them.

How did Raza get started? Launched June 16, 2005 - don't know where equipment came from - from Indymedia somewhere in world. We had equipment and antenna. Started by young people from Soweto - social movement comrades. We had shows on service delivery - this is a main issue in S. Africa - government is very slow to provide resources. We did a show on the day in the life of a child - did they eat in the morning, what was school like, what they did after school. We had a show on African music and culture Book review focusing on African writers - Steve Biko chapter. There were a series of committees - programming, production, finance, and _. Collecting interviews and played them on the radio station. When we were busted - we were having regular documentaries - like on the struggle for water. Our transmitter was not fixed - it could drift - it created interference with a big community radio station in Soweto and that's how they found out. Got threats from media, police, regulators. We were spun as pirates and thieves. There were criticisms that we were just critics and never told the good story of democracy.

Uganda delegate

The current state of:

  • Newspapers: Government is buying and owning all newspapers.

We have a strong paper - The Monitor - which is independent. But it was been invaded because of a story it wrote: Vice President of Sudan, came to Uganda, and was killed in helicopter crash. Press criticized the government. Journalists were caught and charged with sedition

- then later released. Government can shut down a newsroom.

  • Radio: Radio is a bit freer, but threatened with fine of 5 million shillings if you say
anything that will "create chaos."

There are topics - people come a speak on the radio - on issues like the closing of an important university - and people can respond.

Uganda radio needs airtime.

  • TV: - one private TV - the rest belong to various organizations

  • Website: - the government blocks websites.

- we need an able to post a website that doesn't get blocked.

  • Journalists have been imprisoned. - now have to be released with 48 hours of your lawyers will have a case.

  • As Ugandan journalists, we are not free to write - How will Indymedia help Ugandan journalists to have freedom?

- How will Indymedia help the youth in Uganda?

- I wish we could also start a radio in Uganda (like we are doing here).

- We come from the Mission for Youth Rights.

- Indymedia could help youth in Uganda? They don't know what Indymedia is?

- I would love to have you all come to Uganda - and present to the youth.

Narobi delegate:

- Indymedia in Africa is a great idea.

- In Kenya, we don't experience freedom of speech. We had a TV station raided by Armenians for political reasons.

- Most other countries know nothing about Africa. This is our opportunity to tell our own story as we feel it.

- main issue: lack of resources. Many of us have gone to film school.

- We have a certain class of people who get to become journalists here - it is a small circle of friends and everyone else is left out.

- The opportunity: there is a lot of talent on the outside. But these folks lack opportunity.

Zimbabwe Delegate:

- Struggle for expression is really tight.

- Within communities, there are no community media that is legally operating. There are no community newsletters that are publishing legally. We we 2 newspapers - they compile stories

- Legislation - "Access to information and protection"

- To become a journalist, you have to go through a commission as of 2000. It is very difficult.

- When you collect information, you have the challenge of answering to this commission.

- Hard to get communities to act on issues.

- Radio - there is only 1 channel - run by the broadcasting services commission. No other journalist has access to the airwaves.

- We are working on freeing the airwaves so communities can make use of them.

- As long as the current government is there, there is very little chance of getting access.

- I work with a youth organization in 3 townships. We have an artists collective and studio. We have poetry, discussions, we cut CDs of poetry and broadcast them on our own channels.

- In our social circles, we were raided and things were confiscated.

- Our youth are unemployed and they distribute our paper on the plazas.

- Since 2005 S. African forum - Indymedia was operating. Before we even understood the process, it was shut down. B/c of the shut down, we have lost skills, like maintaining a website.. We publish through the S. African website sometimes. We have tried to link up with other social groups to do training - progress has been quite slow. We very much see the alternative that grassroots media presents.

- We need to share skills and build capacity.

- We created a newspaper monthly - sometimes it doesn't happen b/c of barriers.

What kinds of support would you like to see come out of this convergence?

Uganda

- We want a radio station in Uganda.

- can't be answered tonight - after the convergence when we go back home, w need to figure out what assistance we need, how, and for how long?

Zimbabwe:

- We need a radio station, we need access to information.

- In all African countries, journalists are squeezed - who is ruling the house? If we can build Indymedia for journalist. If local people get information in Africa, that would be useful. Why not have this radio station in Zimbabwe ? The government.

Kenya

- we have contacted Indymedia, and in come ways the network helped, and in some ways it did not over the last 2 years. Indymedia has been silent.

"We need to be more and more information about what other collectives are doing. This takes us away from isolation, feeling like we are the only prophets left in the land, having a pity party ...With these stories of others, we can feel it more.

We also need to build the relationships. I am not very comfortable with the word "assistance" - what we need is you to be aware. We can keep recharging each other."

Fabian has 10 hours of IMC in Dakar gathering we can view while here.
Topic revision: r1 - 16 Jan 2007, AngeM
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