Rising Voices is pleased to introduce a few of the students from The Mapping for Niger  project, one of this year's micrograntees. Three of the students from the project introduced themselves to us via email; this is the third and final interview in the series.
I’m Ali Douka Mahaman from Madaoua, Niger. I began my university studies in 2007 at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences at the University Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, specifically in the geography department. At the moment I am in the year where I defend my masters’ thesis…
In Niger, children work from an early age, getting by with a variety of jobs in order to maintain a humble existence. There were countryside trades (farming and water management), cement masonry, learning bicycle and radio repair, work on the docks… and the small-scale commerce of the daily market (selling plastic and driving livestock to the market on foot).
From a young age I attended Koranic school at Madaoua, which taught me to understand a bit of Arabic and to learn Islam. This also allowed me in 2007 to be the secretary general of the association of young Muslims of the High School of Madaoua [and many other club leadership positions since]…
It’s a happy chance to be among the trainees of this project, as it ideal for someone striving to succeed – through remote technologies.
Technology allows us to instantly discover horizons which our imaginations had never thought possible. I find this project to be very successful, as it has permitted me to [collect and] map data of my country, which is much less well documented than most other African countries. This project has given me skills to use Open Street Map … I am very excited [by this], and as a geographer by training, I am obliged to use these skills to serve humanity.
I concentrate my work on the cartography of my country of Niger, so that it will be seen by from countless countries around the world. For this, I mapped portions of the city of Zinder, Tahoua, Niamey. But I have dwelt much on the city of Madaoua, the village of Azérori, and other boundaries in villages around Madaoua such as Ourno, etc..
I like to write articles more than the publication of photos to share with others the reality of cultural, socio-economic and political life of my country and Africa in general. I find the easy accessibility of the blog very fruitful, since for years I’ve wanted to publish something cultural for my hometown… Now my dream becomes a reality.
[Using] the website is enjoyable and beneficial; it has amazed me and facilitated my academic training, as here in Niger access to contemporary knowledge is lacking for many. Publication is interesting as it would allow me to give others a chance to access information and data too.
At the moment I write in French. I speak Hausa, French, a little English, and Arabic with friends. I've pushed myself to learn the Djerma language. In my family we speak Hausa, as it is our mother tongue, and a little French. The Hausa language is the first national language of Niger… I started writing in Hausa language in college for an article on youth outreach, and also this year I wrote a mini newspaper in Hausa… To write in Hausa would allow me to do even more to promote this language in remote areas which want to do their best.
This interview was translated from its original French by Laura Morris.