Citizen Media tools to describe the struggles of a population

During the past two weeks, the bloggers of the Foko network have taken fully charges of every aspect of the Citizen Media project. Twitter was the object of everyone's interest when we advised  to connect their Facebook accounts to this micro-blogging tool, Antsa and Koloina jumped on the idea and Tahina shared his experience with mobile phone updates on this very active thread (the community is very actively exchanging tips everyday on facebook, blogs and mails). So don't forget to update your Twitter contacts  list:

“efa ele no niandrasako ny momba ny twitter ka kisaotra betsaka tamin`ny fanazavana raha toa ka mila more fanazavana dia manontany eny ihany e! koloina”

I was looking for a way to learn to open my twitter account, thank you for the explanations when I get to it I will come back to you guyz for more questions.

“wep j'ai essayé le texto sur twitter, pas mal, le coût est le même qu'un sms international, ça dépend donc de votre opérateur en tous cas pour zain c'est 340 et quelques ariary.”

wep i tried texting on twitter, it costs an international sms, it depends on your operator but on zain it's 340 and something ariary.

 Patrick on his facebook status updated with Twitter on February 7th during Cyclone Gaël alert .

One of our prioriry was to bring more and more news from the provinces. Not only because of the very little place they take on mainstream media but also to share to the world the cultural diversity and great potentials of each regions. The return of Zouboon, one of School of Journalism of Majunga talented student, to blogging was good news litterally to all of us. With her articles, mostly written in Malagasy, she adresses, in a very skilled and sensitive way, to matters that occupy the everyday lives of people in Majunga.  When she reports on the difficult return to life after the riots (which also took place in her town on January 27th), she uses an interesting and very professional perspective putting in exemple people she took the time to interview on the streets : Milamin-dratsy i MajungaMajunga is strangely calm

“Mifaritra eny amin’ny endriky ny vahoaka hatramin’izao ny fahatsapana fa mbola tsy ao anatin’ny fandriampahalemana tanteraka isika(…)Ramatoa Vero na I maman’I Dada araky ny fahalalan’ny maro azy dia milaza mazava tsara hoe “raha vao taratara ny fidiran’ny ankizy mody avy ampianarana dia efa miasa ny lohako sao ka nisy zavatra najoa azy indray sanatria”

Everyone has on mind that we are not in peace yet. Ramatoa Vero or Dada's mom as everyone call her is very clear on this : “when my kids are late from school I am always very worried something happened to them” *ndrl: many towns in Madagascar are still applying curfews from 8pm to 5 am.

Koloina, who is now a part of the great translators team at GlobalVoices in Malagasy, is sharing the news from Sambava which is the capital of the Vanilla rich region, SAVA

“Raha ny any Sambava manokana no resahina dia miaina ao anaty tebiaeby tanteraka ny mponina any noon y disadisam-poloitika sy ny ahiay amin’ny tsy fandriam-pahalemana eo koa ny tsaho iasankarazany. Tsy izany ihany anefa eo koa ny olana aterakin’ny tsy fisian’ny herin’aratra any antoerana ka tsy ahafahan’olona miaina tsara ampilaminana. Na mba te-hanara-baovao aza dia tsy dia tena mahazo vahina loatra saria adin’ny telo na mahery kely isan’andro no mba azon’izy ireo ampiasana ny herinarara (…) Betsaka ireo trano fisakafoanana manary ny tahirin-tsakafony to ny karazan-tsakafo vita avy amin’ny ronona sy ireo hazan-dranomasina isankarazany.”

In Sambava people are worried about the political movements and for their own safety. But the most of their problems is coming from the lack of electricity which keeps them from resuming to normal life. Even if you want to hear news from the radio, you can only get electricity for 3 hours per day (…) Many restaurants have to throw away their foods (seafood, milk,…) because they can't keep it refrigerated.

And Layshyuu the most prolific videoblogger of the entire Malagasy blogosphere (we hope more and more Foko will join him) illustrates the struggles of the population who depend on tourism and vanilla exportations by showing a video of the market of Bazar Kely in Tamatave under extreme conditions. *ndrl : all Madagascar is still under the threat of a very active and potentially damageavble yearly cyclone season.

Bazary kely

please watch his video here

Of course, we are still dealing with the challenges of finding (cheaper) connexions, transfering videos, motivating the troops and even found new obstacles at practicing this passion that Citizen Media has become for all of us. We will expose our problems and successes on the next post for our second self-evalutation 6 months after our first August 2008 one

In Antananarivo after learning that all Foko bloggers were safe and sound, we aslo had the extreme sadness to learn that a reporter for the Radio Television channel RTA was among the victims of saturday’ s shooting. His name was Ando, he was a young man whose passion was communication and especially giving a voice to the young Malagasy generation.

As a member of the journalist community, Ando understood the contribution of citizen media to the media landscape in Madagascar if it is done properly. He sought out Foko bloggers and interviewed them for RTA.

More importantly, Ando became a dear friend to bloggers. They visited his family and paid a last hommage to a friend. Additionally,
Lomelle and Pakysse gave tribute to his life and what he meant to them in blog posts.

Lomelle writes (fr):

je rends surtout hommage pour Ando journaliste de la RTA qui a reçu une balle et qui en est mort [..] Les membres de Foko se souviendra toujours de lui a travers ce reportage qu'il a fait de nous/( translation):
I especially would like to pay tribute to Ando, reporter for RTA who dies from gun shots [..] Foko members will always remember him thanks to the documentary he made of us.

Pakysse says farewell and explains how they met (mg):

nifankahalalanay roa lahy dia tena naha talanjona tokoa satria dia tany anaty cyber raha iny izy anao emission speciale iny lédala dia niresaka izahay [..] ny tao ariana moa dia maro ny projet fa ny tena nivaingana indrindra dia nanaovany ledala emisson tao @ vaovao city news ny RTA dia nahazo minitra vitsy tao ny mpitoraka bilaogy avy ao @ FOKO/
We happended to meet in a cyber center as he was preparing for a special broadcast. After that, there were a few projects but the one that stood out was the report in vaovao city news for RTA where the Foko bloggers had a minute of airtime.

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 ( 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 (, Ariniaina ( and Andrydago ( 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….

Randy (Antsirabe), Tahina (Antananarivo), Patrick (Tamatave) reporting on Foko Blog Club activities

The Foko Blog Club initiative has completed 13 workshops and 4 (soon 5) locations in Madagascar. With co-founders mostly abroad or located in Antananarivo, it became a little complicated following the progress of the clubs and finding solutions to the challenges they each meet. So we came up with the logical decentralized strategy when giving the bloggers more  ”responsabilities” . This, of course means sharing more informations between members, communicate with each other openly (in transparency) and mostly have fun! These past weeks, you’ve been reading new posts from Tahina (, Patrick (  Randy( who have kindly accepted to report on activities from Antananarivo, Tamatave and Antsirabe. As you can see : they have a lot to share ! 

Tahina from ICE in Tanaon RTA’s City News : 

It was not easy to gather all the FBC on a Monday afternoon with an unbearable heat inspite of the efforts made by Mr Pakysse on facebook and through sms since it’s a working day and the whole week was an exam period for some students. We were 6 people to enter Teknet’s training room at 3:00 pm and later joined by DagoMoonand Nhari. Monday’s workshop was a new adventure for Foko, a discovery for the 2 brand new comers Feno(ICE) and Tsiry (IST), a reminder and blog-update time for the current bloggers and a great experience for everybody, I mean as a shooting.
Diana on Kambana\'s case

Diana Chamia on RTA City News 

Patrick from Tamatave on BUEC’s latest activities and on Facebook and periodically his blog : 

Here in Tamatave, we are 6 bloggers: Cunie, Violance, Melinda(clairsttuburn), Theophile, Hanitra, and I, and I would like to keek this number. As you know we are in vocation so Melinda and Violance went already in the place where there is no network, and Hanitra will go soon, but I’m telling you that at least once(1) a week that I’m with them but they always got problem to blog. So I’m obliged to assist them. And every day I remind them to prepare their articles for the favorite festivities. Cunie and Theo will post theirs probably at the end of this week or in the beginning of this next week. HOPE. Now our group plained to assit an iternational congress here in Tamatave on this december. And I try to have the camera in that time. The most problem is about the connexion, it very slow, and as we are in vocation so the University Cyber is closed (ndlr: after meeting in Antananarivo, Theo and Patrick came up with the idea to schedule BUEC workshops at their University’s Cyber where connexion is less expensive). The second problem is we don’t know yet how to upload a video and a voice. But Stéphane will be here in Tamatave during the Christmas and we are going to profit to learn it. Now I’m going to post my favorite festivity. And don’t worry they will post theirs sooner Ciao, T.T.F.N

DSCN1443 par vous

Randy Donny just reported on ESSVA’s latest activities even if they’ve been a little busy celebrating the graduation of their 7th promotion in Antsirabe !!

Last week, we made a list of reportages to produce and we'll see the results very soon. Otherwise, thanks for the technica support. We are going to share the connexions bu we're also thinking about getting internet permanently at school. We're discussing about  it right now in the Moramora way!

Les sortants de la filière Communication et journalisme recevant leurs diplômes.

 “Misandratra” promotion from ESSVA

Promoting the use of English in Madagascar

With two English clubs associated to FOKO, BUEC (Barikadimy's United English Club from Tamatave) and ICE (I'm crazy about English in Tananarive) more posts are now published in English (exactly 176 today). Malagasy along with French were the two official languages in Madagascar before the addition recently of English. It is not always an easy task promoting its use with French having been imposed during last century colonial era and Malagasy, particularly Merina dialect, being common in writing and speaking in every the regions. In fact a large proportion of Malagasy bloggers are only publishing in their mother thongue to keep the culture alive on internet and to improve the vocabulary with the addition of new terms related to technology. But how are things doing back in Madagascar? What are the challenges? Let's read from ICE and BUEC :

The Challenge of Spelling in English from ICE Club website

November 21st, 2008, there was an interesting Friday Talk session at American Cultural Center ( ACC) from 12:30 to 2 p.m. During that day ;the topic was ” The Challenge of Spelling in English”; presented by the Regional English language Officer Eran Williams.
How well can we master the english language. Is it enough just knowing how to speak; read ;and write. Sometimes even when we write we get stuck in writing some words. The problem is that we don't know how to spell it correctly. So we end up ; misspelling it. (…)

(…)Why can't we have our own Spelling Bee competition here in english or Malagasy or french. It won't be a bad idea. 

in the comments section Andry adds :

I sincerely believe that we, as “English lovers”, should get back to reading books, writting letters with a paper and a pen, listening to radio plays, and discussing topics which really matter. I think that if we take the challenge, we will all benefit from that.

In the Eastern coast, their friends at BUEC are discussing the same echues :

WHY ENGLISH? The creators remarc that there are a lot of students after they got their BACC degree and they have to go at University, there they had no opportinuty to encrease their knowledge in term of English. And as e know that there is no way to follow English subject here in Tamatave because it’s doesn’t exist yet. At the same time we know the importance of English nowaday so we decided to create one club, is the place where the students can increase their knowledge on English.

he (Mr White, the newly elected BUEC president) really want all of the member can express English correctly, but that needs a lot of effort from eah students but that not enough if there is no teacher or some tape or CD video, to teach us what exactly the student must do, also very diffiocult to attend the aims.


BUEC Tamatave par foko_madagascar

Meeting time at BUEC

Moonlight shares about the different social activities at English Clubs : 

 their club MLEC ( Municipal Library English Club is divided into comities: Tourism comity; Youth Social Comity; Fundraising Comity. So if you want to join their club, you have to choose a comity. Like all other clubs , they have other activities like camping; picnics,…… 


BUEC Tamatave par foko_madagascar

BUEC members

And finally let's show our support to the pioneers by posting hundred of comments on their blogs especially with the come back of Tamatave's bloggers : ,,

photo-bleudscn1242BUEC Tamatave par foko_madagascar

Daily news from FOKO bloggers

After months studying for their exams and weeks waiting for the results (and they were all successful!), Foko bloggers resumed their Citizen Media duties by posting regurlarly on their blogs. Despite the problems of connexion, green (from Antsirabe), orange (from Majunga), yellow (from Tananarive) and blue (from Tamatave) updates appear daily on the RSS feeds from Foko Universe on Netvibes



Randy Donné and ESSVA students bring news from Vakinankaratra region and have helped in the publication of FOKO's first full page on a national newspaper, Hebdo de Madagascar

Lomelle, Rondro, Antsa and Diana the talented students from the School of Journalism in Majunga are also intensively taking part in bringing news on the web. While interning this fall at two great Malagasy publications and newspapers in Tananarive, they use their blogs to share stories and opinions on the latest trend or the visit of a famous artist. Lomelle's pictures from Admiral T show at Antsahamanitra this November.


BUEC and ICE English clubs are putting in practice the tips shared during FBC workshops by adding blogrolls and widgets to link between each others’ blogs, using Flickr and putting links on posts. We are still solving the problems of editing videos and loading them on internet from Madagascar (which still takes a lot of time from the little connexion the bloggers have).

 FBC bloggers at Teknet sharing connexion times and tips.

With now more bloggers on Facebook and exchanging daily sms and mails, all the decisions and solutions to the challenges Foko is facing will be commonly discussed!

Please post comments at :

Tahina's on Malagasy National Basket-ball tournament

Rondro sur 388 animaux saisis à l'aéroport

Claire's Comeback

All FOKO working together as a community

After a year of promoting Citizen Media all around the island alone, activist coordinator Stéphane hard work was celebrated during E-bit 12 event at Palais des Sports et de la Culture at Mahamasina. Foko team had only 12 days to gather the most bloggers possible to handle 15000 visitors from 6 to 17 and despite the logistical challenges, E-bit 12 was a huge success in many levels.

100 Foko ! 1 year anniversary ! We ROCKED E-bit ! by you.

All Foko

Bloggers managing workshops on their own

Diana, Lomelle, Koloina and Rondro took the initiative to have monthly Foko meeting on their own and are planning to teach blogging to new members. During October 17th Ebit 12 when the coordinators were submerged, all the bloggers took charge of the initiation sessions by using improvisations. ESSVA students, who were the newest additions at Foko, helped open dizains of e-mail accounts and blogs (list will be published soon) despite the slow connexion and them been quickly outnumbered by the attendees.

Michel and Solofo, the ESSVA students sharing, teaching, knowing what they do

Bloggers sharing their knowledge and showcasing their skills

Learning social activism from Diana during a Barcamp, Editing videos and pictures from Solofo and David at Malagasy biggest ICT event; Improving English discussing with ICE each saturday; Want to know more on 3D modelling? check Nhani's blog; Meggha is planning to blog on entrepreneurship; Moma and Patrick will join forces to talk more about their passion : Tourism in Madagascar;…;From the blogging perspective, the members seem to masterize any topic and when it comes to sharingthey never refuse even on public radio shows!

Koloina during MBS radio pre-Ebit 12 show

Bloggers texting, posting comments, calling bloggers

Antsirabe, Majunga, Antananarivo and Tamatave are very well represented at Foko. After Barcamp and the very fun lunch at Oktoberfest in Mahamasina (Antananarivo's stadium and the same site as the Palais des Sports et de la Culture) they had on the same day, they all became close friends and were very happy to meet again 2 weeks later at the same spot but this time they took the stage. Stéphane, who is usually coordinating communication when not travelling or training bloggers, just need to contact few bloggers who will pass the news by text messaging to each others. Joan who was officially the “spammer” at Foko Blogs is replaced by Tahina, Patrick, Lomelle, Ariniaina

Please post comments on their latest updates :

Bisikilety Minday Raha by Zouboon (in Malagasy)

Madagascar : Politique et Média by RaslMetal (in French)

Go for learning and practicing English by Ariniaina

What we learned from organizing a Barcamp

Foko bloggers were the real authors of the first Barcamp in Madagascar's success. The coordinators wanted the tech communities to notice the existence of Foko network and mostly the members interests in other fields related to Citizen Media. In fact, very few associations, journalists and professionals knew about Foko-Madagascar and our outreach project the Foko Blog Club before this October 4th. Of course the event was wide open to anyone to participate and we only took the reporting task as an honour but not as a duty at all. Each blogger had the opportunity to interview, take videos and liveblog thanks to Moov, Malagasy first internet provider, free connexion. It is also a great opportunity to get more sponsors, volunteers or help from organisms. Foko bloggers presentations from Diana and Patricia were very applauded because of their spontaneity and of course hard work. Rondro and Lomelle from Majunga joined by Theo and Patrick from Tamatave were the proud representants of Foko network in the provinces. They proved to be more than interested to Open Source projects when asking very professional questions during the presentations.

S5039385 by you.

Lomelle liveblogging and twitting with excellence on FBC's new laptop the very useful Asus eepc

Creating partnerships was also one of our goals during this event and when associations from the provinces of Madagascar knew about Foko's intentions to expand, they graciously offered their technical support. In exchange, ICE, the english-speaking group in Antananarivo, will see more Open Source developers at their weekly meetings to improve their English! Finally it was a surprise for us to see the creators of the biggest tech event in Madagascar participating at the discussions and inviting all the attendees to help them for Youth Day were 15000 students from all schools will be visiting on October 17th. Of course carefully we are going to be using the acronym : Open and Free Communities when refering to the associations involved this project in order to keep the “Barcamp” spirit.

S5039386 by you.

Nambina (C3LF- Open Source developers community) helping Diana on her presentation with OpenOffice

So on October 17th, all Foko from Antsirabe to Tamatave will be again in Antananarivo sharing their Citizen Media experiences and giving blogging tips ! But for us at Foko, it will be another memorable day when we don't have to intensively text each other …

By Friday, we hope you will enjoy posting comments at Vakinankaratra region new groups (Antsirabe+Ambatolampy) and ICE :

FBC 12 from ICE

FBC 13 from Vakinankaratra

New Bloggers from FBC #13Inside Because of MosquitoesAt the Sunny Hotel Blog WorkshopTeofil aka Mr. StuckESSVA - ECOLE SUPERIEURE SPÉCIALISÉE DU VAKINANKARATRAWorkshop number 13th in Antsirabe

new bloggers from Antsirabe

Using Networking to enroll bloggers at FBC

Foko team is running FBC in 3 different towns of Madagascar and is planning to add 3 more groups to the network. We've already mentioned about the challenges when coordinating workshops and also the difficulties with managing the groups with the absence of trainers or coordinators in place. Give more responsabilities and autonomy to the leader bloggers who are more aware of the internal difficulties and have inspired their group with their individual achievements.

For example, Diana's and Avylavitra's activism have helped promote Foko in a global scale but after a year of activity (FBC 12 just took place last Sunday, September 21st) we need to emphasize more on the “Foko” aspects  and develop collective activities such as participation to international contests in team or address to special request from the groups (need of more connection hours to learn a particular tool for example). CPO, BUEC or ICE groups are already very well organized associations with president, secretary general and treasurers. Bloggers from the Class of '08 with their experiences and skills will be leading this new strategy and of course to motivate them we will keep on looking for more opportunities.Patricia, the president of UN Club in Antananarivo – CPO – was the Rising Voices representant along with Rahool from the Dhaka Neighborhood Diaries in Brussels for the Interdependance Day Conference earlier this month.We hope that more young bloggers from the Rising Voices could attend this kind of events and report back.

Citizen Media introduction at Lycée Jules Ferry on Sept.17th 2008

When CPO associations were “discovered” by Hery, our newest addition, the English Club of Antananarivo was noticed by Joan when she was surfing “Pazzapa” on the internet (Pazzapa is the Malagasy American Idol). Their collective blog was so well-written on so many different topics that they were the best candidates for September's workshops. In less than 3 days and a very friendly mails exchanging, we sealed the partnership and met the group for the first time the day before FBC 12!

ICE English Club first meeting on Avenue de l'Indépendance on Sept.20th 2008

Lova's encounter with Jaona from Antsirabe where he works with 21 associations of marginalized youths was also very interesting. They met in Mexico during '08 AIDS Conference. Since Lova is based in Indiana and working actively in promoting the blogs, raising funds and translating posts, it was his first try at ” auditioning” a future FBC group. He explained the Citizen Media project so well that Jaona was very impatient to meet Stéphane in Madagascar in order to schedule the Antsirabe workshops.

Youth associations in Antsirabe getting ready next FBC workshop

Foko bloggers contribute to the Madagascar English Journal

Since October 2007, when we started the Foko Blog Club project, our constant preoccupation was to find a sustainable way to finance our workshops. The Rising Voices grant came at the right moment (after our 3rd workshop) and helped us extend our activities in the regions where there are less coverage from the media. We bought digital cameras and distributed it right away to the groups to publish videos, podcasts and furnish their blogs with pictures.Our mini-blogging contest back in April 2008 proved that competition may be very motivational. Even if Karenichia was the one who won the digital camera, we greeted all of the participants free hours of connexion to help them update their blog outside the workshops. Of course their heavy schedule (since most of the members are students at universities) and, again, the high costs at cybercafes were the obstacles for them to blog regularly.

Mrs Annelie Rozenboom the offices of the Mada English Journal

The offer from Mrs Annellie Rozenboom to publish our bloggers’ articles and instauring a special FOKO column brought intensive and very creative writing from every corner of the island. The Madagascar English Journal is a weekly publication distributed to high-schools to promote the use of English (which is now Madagascar's 3rd official language with French and Malagasy). They quickly recognized the versatily of the likes of Rondro or Ledheada (Lists of selected articles here) and we are now frequently asked to submit more on culture and society in exchange of a small stipend converted in connexion hours (again to keep the focus on online presence). This interest in their work from the great staff at Mada Journal (a publication sponsored by Exxon Mobile and supported by the US embassy*), their advices to help write in a more journalistic  way (integrate few lines of interviews, illustrate with pictures,…)  and the opportunity to be read by thousands were the reasons behind these last weeks’ flow of blogging.

Already 7 bloggers contributed to the free  Journal distributed to Madagascar's high-schools

From all the FOKO Blogggers,

Thank you for reading our articles

We still have little problems commenting and responding to feedbacks which was very early noticed and oftenly criticized by the blogosphere. We are looking for ways to solve the problems of low speed connectivity and give more time to our bloggers to take part in the many debates their articles have initiated.

(*thanks to Mrs Rozenboom for the correction)

Continue reading

Monsieur Stéphane reporting

Many of you know Foko by the works of talented citizen journalists Patrick, Karenichia, Ledheada or Patricia. From their corner of Madagascar, each one of them are building Foko's citizen media very strong network  , the FBC, with little resources but a lot of energy and of course their sunning skills (trilinguism, activism, confidence,etc.). There will be no powerful and full of promises communities without this one Foko. He is  tirelessly supporting – by travelling and networking – and training  – with his little knowledge (he only started to blog in October 2007) the talented bloggers all around the country. In less than a year, he became very close to each bloggers and always find innovative solutions for Foko's problems, even if sometimes it requires strong manners but a lot of generosity! Monsieur Stéphane (this is how they call him from Majunga to Tamatave) is reporting for Rising Voices :

Play video : Hello World from Stéphane Ramananarivo

The CPO (Club for UN) kids are very fond of their blogging workshops. At first they had difficulties using WordPress because the students only knew about which is a very popular blogging plateform. They appreciated the commenting sessions and when we started the mini blogging contest we invited them to write down their articles to not waste their precious connection. Lindsay's filming lessons were very useful but we discovered that it was still risky to interview people randomly on the streets or even take pictures of events. We're now becoming a serious actor at the UNIC (UN Informational Center) and the director is always encouraging new members to take interest in our sessions, especially since Patricia's video was featured on a Youth contest for World Population Day.

Last FBC on July 22nd 2008 in Tamatave

please read and post comments on our blogs

We had workshops through April to July in Tamatave, the economical capitale of Madagascar which is 360km from Antananarivo, 6 hours road trip. This town is where the “Ambatovy Project” had settle the biggest Cobalt and Nickel mining exploitations in the world. We approached workers from the big companies in Tamatave to share their experiences of the changes that had been made in the regions and their personal lives. A 5 hours long power outtage made us miss the rendez-vous but we invited the 20 of them to come back. We had the opportunity, shortly after, to meet students from the University of Tamatave. The English Club is a group of 50 and quickly started to use blogging to promote their association's social activities in the Barikadimy's popular neighborhood.

on board of a Taxi Brousse to Tamatave

500 km and 10 hours by car from Antananarivo, the future of Malagasy Journalism is in the hands of the  very energetic Lomelle, Zouboon, Rondro and their director Mr Vita. Unfortunately they are  located in the outskirts of the city but this doesn't keep most of the students in making great efforts to actively report on the latest news from the very lively Majunga. The school's success relies on their students abilities to lead rigorous investigations like we saw in Diana's professional coverage of Kamba. We learned that it took her hours to convince Georgine to allow her to take pictures from her Nokia mobile phone !! If youth activism made Majunga known worldwide, the other motivation to start workshops in Madagascar provinces was to promote our culture and share more about our traditions. Hkambora and Rondro are doing a tremedious work relating stories from tribes like the Antekaran or the importance of rituals like circumcision and famadihana.

with Mr Vita from the School of Journalism of Majunga

All the students are very close to each other, cross-commenting on their blogs or exchanging tips (Patricia and Karenichia are best friends, the 2nd year at Majunga School of Journalism have invited the 1st and 3rd to blog). We also want to point that, at this moment, all the groups are fully autonomous at all and we're about to make the leader bloggers turning into trainers themselves. Of course they still need specific training (adding more pictures on blogs, loading videos on the web, etc.) but have become very resourceful and are using frequently their local cybercafé : Teknet in Antananarivo, Orange in Tamatave and Alliance Française in Majunga. But we, at Foko, will keep on  finding more ways, funds and help to make their citizen media dreams come true !

Continue reading