A community of African bloggers is slowly emerging in Germany with a growing number of bloggers who share their personal experiences for others to learn from, creating a veritable platform for information exchange. A Berlin meeting brought them together for the first time last Friday. Femi Awoniyi reports.
African bloggers gathered in Berlin on 2 November for the first Afro-Bloggers Convention. Although most of the bloggers are based in Germany, several came from other countries in Europe such as Finland and the UK.
Samson Itodo, the publisher of afrobizgermany.com and organiser of the event, set the ball rolling by talking about its objectives. A blogger himself, Samson talked about the necessity of sharing information and experiences, networking and telling the African story from the African perspective. This he said was important to promote African values and strengthen cultural identity.
Personal blogs help communities to network by sharing experiences, information and knowledge and the Convention – with the theme “Our Image Our Voice Our Story” – sought to bring together bloggers to deliberate on how they could use their platforms to promote a positive image of Africa and people of African descent.
Nigerian ambassador to Germany, HE Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, appealed to bloggers to be responsible about the information they put out about Africa. “Africa is at the centre of global discourse as the next big opportunity for investment. So we have a responsibility to promote the continent by properly packaging it,” he advised.
London-based Tony Tokunbo Fernandez blogs to recognise and celebrate Black success stories as a way to motivate the community to greater achievement. “Our image has been controlled by others for too long. It’s time for bloggers to make it their objective to tell the African story from the African perspective,” he admonished.
Tony, who publishes the blog afripoet.wordpress.com, said the internet had made it possible for Africans to collaborate in many areas, calling on bloggers to continue to support one another.
Chinelo Ntagu, who blogs at ogaladyblog.com about African creativity and innovativeness with a focus on business and health issues, moderated a workshop on “The Effect of Blogging in the African Community”. She talked about the danger of the single story and the need for Africans to offer their own perspectives to give a fuller picture.
To illustrate her point, Chinelo showed the famous 2009 TEDtalk speech delivered by the novelist Chimamanda Adichie, where the Nigerian-born award-winning writer warned that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
Chinelo also uses her blog to raise money for orphanages in Africa.
Maame Dentaa Amoo, who blogs at africanmummyindeutschland.com, shares her experiences as a new comer to Germany, especially about the challenges of settling down in the country. She would not like others to make the mistakes she made by availing new comers the opportunity to learn from her experiences. Her target readers are African mothers in Germany.
Bloggers also support social causes like the case of Binta Fatima Batty, who is currently campaigning against female genital mutilation (FGM). The Gambian-born lifestyle blogger is mobilising support for the worthy cause through her blog babytidastyle.com.
Binta, a survivor of early marriage and FGM, appealed to other bloggers to support her campaign as the harmful cultural practices were still prevalent in many parts in Africa and even, shockingly, among some African migrants in the Diaspora.
Grace Evaly, founder of the non-profit Nollywood Germany, promotes the Nigerian home-grown film industry through workshops, screenings and a festival.
Grace, a well-known actress in Nigeria before she relocated to Germany in 2008, also partners in film production. The latest result of such collaborations is ‘Zero Deal’ (2017).
A heated debate followed Grace’s presentation on the contents of Nollywood films, with some in the audience complaining about superstition, juju horrors and negative fantasies said to characterise some of the films.
Other speakers include award-winning entrepreneur and innovator Steve Odhiambo, who made a presentation on the business of blogging, Christopher Obayuwana, who blogs at EyesofAfrika TV and talked about how he uses his video blog to promote a positive image of Africa, and Nzie Fanny, who blogs about make-up and cosmetics at Face Beat Boulevard. Moreover, Elvis Fuamba, founder of Afrofinns ry, talked about Africans in Finland and how blogging is networking the community and helping to strengthening its cultural identity.
Moses Acquah, CEO of the Berlin-based non-profit Afrolynk who moderated the event, said that bloggers should actively engage their audience to know what they want.
The first Afro-Bloggers Convention was a huge success and kudos to Samson Itodo, who put it together, for a job well-done.
The next task before the organizers is to network the blogs as a foundation for an African blogosphere in Europe.
It should be hoped that the Convention will become an annual feature on the African cultural calendar in Germany and ultimately in Europe.