It is hard to imagine a place more difficult to keep a blog than a country that just barely has an electric grid. But a few ambitious, aspiring Liberian journalists are working hard to join their colleagues from the DR of Congo, Uganda, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria on the frontiers of African new media. We discussed recently on the Rising Voices mailing list that not every participant of a new media training program can be expected to continue blogging forever. In the same way that not every piano student can be expected to become a musician, not everyone is a natural blogger. The following six Liberian journalists, however, most definitely are.
Emmanuel Tobey (AKA “Tango”) is a photojournalist working for the United Nations Mission in Liberia. In the following video Tobey explains how he was introduced to photojournalism during the Liberian civil war.
Nat Bayjay was perhaps the most motivated of all the participants of the new media workshops last week in Liberia. On Nat's personal blog he has already published two very informative posts: “Cleaning The Capital of Africa’s Oldest Republic” and “Intensive Labor Malpractices at Guthrie [Rubber Plantations].”
Nat has also started a second lifestyle and entertainment blog, Entertainmentlib, which is reminiscent of Tanzania's wildly successful Swahili-language blog, Bongo Celebrity. In the first post we are introduced to Liberian gospel singer Kanvee Gains.
Varney Karneh is a student of the University of Liberia's Mass Comm department. On his new blog he has written about the recently concluded international colloquium on women and the donation of photographic and computer equipment by Syracuse University to the University of Liberia's Mass Communication department. Photojournalist Kathleen Flynn has a great portrait of Varney on her blog.
Denna Gibson is also a student of the University of Liberia and an aspiring sports journalist. So far she has blogged about the lack of support for female soccer players in Liberia and the shortcomings of the Liberia National Soccer League.
Titus and Prince Tokpah are student activists and volunteers of the Liberian chapter of Amnesty International. Both young men are also involved in Project Ceasefire, a new Rising Voices grantee project led by journalist Ruthie Ackerman.
The above-mentioned bloggers have all displayed the passion, motivation, and natural talent to lead Liberia's nascent blogosphere forward, but the obstacles standing in their way are still enormous. Cybercafes – dependent on gas-powered generators for electricity – are still expensive, and the internet connection is painfully slow. Furthermore, with unemployment around 80%, Liberians must work hard at their day jobs in order to not lose them. Still, with enough encouragement and support, Liberia has just entered a new chapter in new media.