Over the last year blogs focusing on Rwanda, Burundi and Congo have surged across the globe. The conflicting narratives concerning Paul Kagame's role in the region, the mapping report and the elections proved digital activists need enemies just as much as online marketeers!
I have lost count of the numerous new blogs that have surged over the years "the proxy lake", "jambonews" , "therising continent" , "rwandainfo" , "African Survivors international" , "back to my roots" and some more in French, like for example the "France Rwanda Tribune".
This increased online activity in the great lakes blogosphere through these blogs probably took some Africa and ICT watchers by surprise. Eventually however, I have to admit, this surge did not go unnoticed on globalvoices! And this led to the increased interest in the region by the State Department (ty wikileaks)! It even forced Bill Clinton and Tony Blair into a defensive mode.
Every Rwandan, Congolese and Burundian blogger will tell you a different story of how he discovered the opportunties of long tail participation in the public sphere both in his or her host country and country of origin.
While the importance of this momentum (and the discovery of the importance of the long tail theory for blogging) should not be underestimated, at the same time diaspora bloggers from Rwanda, Burundi and Congo should look further and aim higher!
Kentaro Toyama makes the valuable point (thanks to @cblatts for his blogpost) that new players in the field of development cooperation will inevitably have to learn from past and present successes and failures. Reinventing the wheel is a waste of time and resources. However, allthough ICT won't end poverty, diaspora participation in development cooperation is a reality. It's precisely in this field that blogging can be a powerfull tool for small diaspora organisations from Rwanda, Congo and Burundi to learn from previous or similar projects in the field of development cooperation.
Aiming for thought leadership as route to the future, as Alan Rusbridger recently argued in the Andrew Olle Lecture means aiming for collaboration! Content creation seemed a small step for all of us who started blogging some time ago, but it was in reality a giant leap into the brave new world of Search Engine Optimization and digital activism. It has put bloggers from Rwanda, Congo and Burundi across the globe on a long road to relevant thought leadership!
Increased and effective on- and offline collaboration among great lakes bloggers (from all sides of the political spectrum, both diaspora bloggers and traditional development practioners and academics) will inevitably be the next step as Gaurav Mishra points out in his great article on digital activism.
Has the Ugandan blogosphere been just as exciting over the last year? I doubt it, but maybe Rebekah Heacock can enlighten us on that topic some day.