Traditions of improvised oral speeches, also known as “kabary“, are deeply seated in Madagascar. The orator speaks alone in front of a crowd for a long period of time using metaphors and images.
When we, at FOKO, first thought of bringing forumists (such as the members of the Namana Serasera association) to the world of blogging, we were afraid they would feel alone and intimidated when introduced to this new media. Although Malagasy internet users are already used to sharing their opinions openly in forums, they always did so while comfortably sheltered by the online community. The idea of publishing ideas on one's own and taking a personal position on each post could have understandably scared some of them.
Our team did their best to make them feel at ease and showed them the basics of blogging in each session.
This month, Hery, a tutor at the Club since its first edition in October, took the initiative to introduce our work to teenagers of the Lycee Rabearivelo in Antananarivo during an Open Day on “Development and Human Rights” hosted by the local United Nations ICT Center. Those who were interested were then invited to join the workshops . Andry, a new member of FOKO, and incidentally a seasoned Internet professional, did a wonderful job at setting up the computers and sodas at the cyber coffee Teknet. “Pro” Malagasy bloggers also showed up to help out and at the same time other overseas based bloggers connected on the chatroom and offered support and tips.
It took only one hour for the first posts to start showing up. FOKO members had not even yet mentioned Citizen Journalism and the Rising Voices tutorials translated into French (and soon in Malagasy)that spontaneously all the blogs showed they had caught on the spirit of what it means to rise ones’ voices :
13 year-old FCandy very wisely posts about the latest news from her Ambohimanarina popular neighborhood .
Hard working Sasa tells us funny stories about people she meets everyday on her way home .
Stunningly Avylavitra showcases pictures of the impact of last week's FAME cyclone which did many destructions in town …
All the “Pro” were impressed by the Virtual Kabary posted in the new blogs and continuously wrote comments to sustain the flow.
Some issues were raised : Blanche07 explained how difficult it was to find Internet connection, Pakysse wanted to learn how to embed sounds and videos into posts, and 10-year-old Miora Stéphanie needed more time. Many more bloggers-to-be were waiting for their turn in the hallway.
Respectful of the Malagasy tradition, we used a collective approach to solve the problems. FOKO will now host 2 blogging sessions per month instead of one, more friends from the Namana Serasera group will attend the workshops, Tantely will teach the art of vidcasting, more tutors will volunteer to help out (and meet new friends) and the blogosphere will keep on commenting !!!
As FOKO says it in its slogan : It takes a village to rise an idea.