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Citizen journalism in Zimbabwe

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Liz blog

Mobile phones have played an important role in bridging the information gap with the use of SMS and Whatsapp to mention just a couple. In Zimbabwe a great majority of the population own a mobile handset with a greater proportion having access to the Internet on their phone. Many think that phones are merely used to convey messages but smart phones have changed the dynamics. I know a book, Diary of a Zulu Girl, which was written using a mobile phone.

I was privileged to participate in the Mobile Community Zimbabwe (MCZ) project. According to their website: “MCZ is a project that gives ambitious young Zimbabweans a voice and a platform to share and exchange information through mobile telephony, video and social media. Using an application called StoryMaker, the MCZ project equips young Zimbabweans from across the country with skills to use mobile phones to tell effective stories about themselves and their communities.”

I attended a one-week training where a group of other enthusiastic young Zimbabweans from different walks of life were trained to use the software application StoryMaker on our mobile phones. With the aim of promoting citizen journalism MCZ encouraged participants to tell those untold stories in our communities.

I appreciate that MCZ made me open my eyes to various challenges and activities going on in communities. Without MCZ I would have not spent a day feeding children in Mbare at a soup kitchen. Without MCZ I would have not met the mentally challenged women at Harare Central Hospital who make beautiful bags to generate income to take their mind away from the stressing issues of life that cause depression.

Despite the repressive media laws in the country which inhibit such projects, a lot of participants went out of their way to make MCZ a success as evidenced by the video stories published on their website. For me my journey has been fruitful. MCZ has taught and equipped me to tell video stories. I have made friendships, which support my different spheres of life. A big thanks to Free Press and trainers for making this journey possible.

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