Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists


TOP del.icio.us

When I was offered the opportunity to work on Inzwa I was excited. I believe that using mobile technology to disseminate information, civic or otherwise is ingenious. With its high usage among people in general, the mobile phone is the easiest and cheapest way to reach any target audience. More than that it meant that I could go out and do what I enjoy: listening to people talk about what’s important to them.

I learnt a lot interviewing the various activists for Everyday Heroes. My favourite interview was with Eleanor Alfred, from whom I learnt that you don’t have to have done anything extraordinary to be extraordinary in yourself. I think she set the bar as far as interviewees go, and while I did enjoy the ones that followed she helped to change my perception of the world. Many of my interviewees helped to dispel my misconceptions about government and the way in which it, and civic organizations, work. One of these was George Makoni. He showed me that politicians are not just found in politics, but everywhere. While he raised the question of activists for hire, it occurred to me during my interview with him that, like those he criticized, he wasn’t doing his work for the Youth Forum because he believed in the cause, or the values of the organization. It was more because he hoped someday to be in the same position as the politicians that are currently in government.

There were two interviews that gave me insight into who I am. The first was Tsitsi Dangarembga. I’ve been a fan of hers since I picked up Nervous Conditions and couldn’t put it down until the last page, ten years ago. She creates with such relative ease, something that I labour to do, that I find myself awed by her. I also enjoyed that she was honest in her appraisal of her self as a woman with many roles. I wouldn’t call Charity Maruta unorthodox, but she has a way of looking at the relationships in her life, and life in general, that I found refreshing. My insight was that neither of these women’s view of themselves was coloured by what was expected of them by anyone. Since I’m trying to get there myself, I think it very admirable.

I don’t think there were very many challenges associated with gathering content for Inzwa. Although at first, it was hard to wrap my mind around packaging detailed news items into sixty seconds. In doing the interviews for Everyday Heroes, getting change from the whindi on a combi was the biggest and most frustrating issue.

From helping out with the survey, I think Inzwa will face a challenge in being accessible to people. The most frequent criticism of the project was the money spent in listening to the programmes. I’m not certain if there was a target audience for this pilot, but in future it will have to be defined. From that, issues of giving free access or paid access can then be addressed. Further to that, if Inzwa were a paid access service, then it could be made to be self-sustaining.

I really hope Inzwa out lives these three experimental months. Unlike any form of media that is currently available to the public, it provides an alternative source of unbiased information, which is becoming increasingly important to people. From the very beginning I expected that Inzwa would take a lot of time and energy. I will admit to having underestimated exactly how much energy was required. As time went on, I found that I had to suspend my other projects so I could dedicate more energy towards it. I feel that it was time well spent.

Comments are closed.