January 2009 : a month of collective activism to remember at Foko

2008 was a very festive year for us and as 2009 was starting, we were looking forward to do more interesting activities to keep our followers passionate about the Blog Club project as well as ways to motivate the very busy bloggers to postregularly. Moma, Nhari and Koloina have chosen to blog on tourism and Malagasy culture publishing a variety of pictures, stories and videos competing with professionals websites on the field. How the arrival of a cruise is perceived locally? When mainstream media reports on the economical benefits, Theo shows dances and festivities celebrating the event. Among the 77 articles posted in January 2009, someone interested in Madagascar (the country and not the movie) could easily learn about youth ingenuity (documented with excellent videos by Koloina, Ariniaina and Patrick), local traditions (such as circumcision by Nhari) and read stories of everyday life from Antsirabe to Majunga. But the regular reader from our Netvibes could also perceive the progress of tensions and sense of insecurity that invaded chronologically and very fastly the lives of everyone in Madagascar.

Vako-Drazana Traditional dance to greet tourists in Tamatave

Tamatave guides like Theo speak at least 4 languages

Team work behind this video includes at least 3 bloggers helping Koloina

Prison breaks rumors started in Antananarivo echoed in Tamatave where the bloggers were hesitant to publish about their local prison break. « The media didn’t mention deaths but we saw it » report the bloggers who concentrated on another event with a great impact on Tamatave’s youth, the Sangany International Conference. The fight over Media was in the origins of the latest political crisis in Madagascar that started this month, Flagmada reported that January 17th was a « Day to remember » when witnessing the peaceful inauguration of « la Place de la Démocratie » in Ambohijatovo. It escaladed fastly in riots and destructions between Sunday 24th and Tuesday 26th.

On January 17th from Flagmada

Just on  January 16th Rondro from FBC Majunga was excited to hear from a bilingual radio show « L’Affaire du Coffret » that would be broadcasted on RNM, Radio Madagascar and produced by RFI, Radio France International on January 26th. « C’est cool » bloggers commented. On January 27th, Tahina (http://www.flickr.com/photos/r1lita) brought us pictures of what is left of RNM and the loss of all the precious archives in the fire by rioters…Twitterers reported that only RFI was broadcasting for few hours and lomelle (http://twitter.com/as2coeur), Ariniaina (http://ariniaina.wordpress.com) and Andrydago (http://andrydago.wordpress.com) were spontaneously live-blogging from work on the evolution of the crisis becoming ones of the reliable sources of informations coming from Madagascar during these dark days.


This January we were training for the arrival of the destructive cyclone season that brings millions of Ariary in damages, hundreds of deaths, thousands of homeless and originate a national food crisis. Eric and Fanele didn’t harm Atsinanana region (Tamatave) but destroyed 80% of Menabe capital, Morondava. With the aftermaths of this political crisis, Tahina is lamenting about the rush to gas and basic food :

«  Is it a sign of panic? People are buying oil by bottles, rice by bags, and soap by packs. This is something that rarely happens in an ordinary day. All the cabs and car owners have their tanks full and use their plastic bottles as a kind of back up. Everybody is getting ready for a food shortage that is likely to happen in the days ahead. I’m afraid the food sector won’t be the only one which will know crises. I already know tomorrow, busses won’t work, I may have to go on foot till my office and probably do the same thing to go back home. »

Andrydago is still blogging every day, every hour

And finally we were wondering how the other Foko bloggers were doing during this time of crisis. Slowly we’re starting to receive (good) news from Diego-Suarez with a cool Diana writing that nothing happened there but that Majunga is in ruins (3 weeks ago Lomelle took pictures of this wonderful town), Antsirabe ESSVA's chose safety but Tamatave bloggers took many risks and brought us precious pictures and videos of the manifestations just before it turned into riots.

Updating Flickr in the middle of the riot in Tamatave then Patrick lost his phone….

8 thoughts on “January 2009 : a month of collective activism to remember at Foko

  1. This has been a very tough week and I hope we are all in one piece. I wish I could blog more but going out was a real risk. I thank all the bloggers, twitters, facebookers each one who’s taken pictures and talked about what what’s going on here in Madagascar.

  2. I’m so glad that everyone is safe. Please do think about safety above all else. Amid all the chaos and the intolerable deaths, the amazing coverage and analysis of Foko bloggers was really a shining light. Great work.

  3. These last days were sad, stressing and terrified.
    I experienced a lot of things as well. For the first time in my life I was in the crowd taking pics with other journalits and bloggers. Then, my skin was burnt by the sun (it still hurts) but it is so great to see all the people who stop by my blog and link it because they wanna hear from Madagascar.

  4. Lomelle has raised a very important matter that Andrydago asked months ago : Protecting your identity online…He took a good decision (from my point of view) by erasing any reference to his private life and particularly life/job and now that most of the blogs got involved in the latest political event, I would advise each one of you to consider a “safer” way to protect your privacity.
    We are all completly taking responsability of the international exposure and I will always remind that this is pretty much the price to pay when dealing with an increasing readership and people hiding beyond anonymity.

    Keep up the good work . Don’t forget that insults, racism, defamation will never stop. It’s just the way you deal with it that count.

  5. I’ll echo what David said – while it’s good to receive updates from you on the ground, please be careful. You’re doing a courageous job of reporting the unstable environment there, and a citizen view like yours adds a badly needed dimension of reality, but make sure to think of yourself first and don’t put yourself in harm’s way at the expense of a photograph.

    Having said this, congratulations to all. The coverage is outstanding.

  6. Pingback: Exemplary work of Citizen Journalism from Antsirabe, Tamatave, Diego and Majunga

  7. Incredible coverage, excellent. Like Joan, I want to say you to take care fore those who are on Facebook. Please don’t put photos of your private life, and don’t let the persons to see too much on your profile !!! and keep it cool 😉

  8. Pingback: FOKO Madagascar » Blog Archive » Foko Timeline updates

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