Tuesday, November 11, 2008

voices of africa

I´ve been trying to get a sense of Obamania in South Africa as I sit perched here at a distance in the UK, but scanning the daily SA papers online, the reporting (those that I could gain unpaid access to) always seemed to me rather low-key. I also saw the odd congratulatory facebook status message whizz by (if that´s any useful indication) from a handful of South African friends, but not many. And this seeming lack of enthusiasm (don´t know what else to call it) seemed all the more odd, as in contrast, I´d seen reporting not only on Kenyans taking to the streets celebrating Barack Obama´s win (with even an official day of holiday thrown in for good measure), but also earlier today I´d read an article in the El País reporting on how excited Africa was about the Obama win (not forgetting that the story only profiled, in very brief paragraphs, about six or seven countries in toto, all sub-saharan).

That said, moments ago I´d stumbled across the following series of stories published by the Mail & Guardian in South Africa, titled "Voices of Africa". The series seems to me a splendid idea. Here (below) is how it describes its aims and remit. About half of the current submissions (at the time of writing this post) report on the country-specific responses to Barack Obama.
One criticism: I do think that "Voices of Africa" could include North African voices in their offering too.

The blurb:

About Voices of Africa
Life in Africa: a one-dimensional struggle to survive war, poverty, corruption and disease; an ongoing saga of famine and failure. Recognise the story?

It's the one most often presented to newspaper readers and other media consumers. We know it's not the whole story. We know these are not the only stories.

Voices of Africa is an ambitious new publishing venture by the Mail & Guardian, which aims to show how we live in Africa, not how we die; how we thrive as multifaceted humans, not merely as survivors. It is an ongoing series of lively articles written by Africans about life in "their" Africa -- ordinary people getting on with their own lives, often in the face of adversity.

Where and how we live might partly determine our behaviour and attitudes. But there are universal joys and tribulations that bind us: we fall in love, we have families, we get older, we watch TV, play, gossip, fight with our bosses, laugh with our friends, shop, worry about our health, our children, our budgets … We publish a selection of exclusively commissioned stories that give us glimpses across the fence into the daily lives, loves and frustrations of our neighbours -- beyond the usual headlines. Voices of Africa is a dynamic series-in-progress and today we take our first "baby steps".

In the next months we will continue to scout for fresh, original voices from a growing number of countries, bringing our readers weekly insights into the experiences of the people who call some small corner of this continent home.

As Voices of Africa grows, we will also launch a more complete online version of the series, about which we'll keep readers posted. To capture as rich and diverse a range of voices that truly represents the continent, we will also commission and translate suitable articles written in French.

Though the nature of this exciting series excludes South African contributions, we hope our readers will help us to grow Voices of Africa into a unique and compelling series by spreading the word among their friends and acquaintances in other African countries.

Welcome to our Africa, explored as never before.

Click here for details about how to "audition" for Voices of Africa.

Contact us
Anglophone correspondence to Charlotte Bauer: charlotteb@mg.co.za
Francophone correspondence to Stephanie Wolters: stephanie@okapi.cc
Tel: +27 11 250 7300

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