blogging south africa

Blogging SA - The Politiks

Six years ago a blog named Khanya started the ball rolling with the question, ‘Where are the Black bloggers?’ The post upset a lot of closeted racists when it claimed, “when people from outside South Africa want information on South Africa, many turn to the Internet and what they find there are mostly white perceptions, and that is not a balanced South African view”.
If Khanya thought sarcastic comments such as ‘If whites want to blog, they’ll have to go overseas in order to blog from there, because the government will make sure local blog sites like iblog.co.za have a strict quota on the number of blacks!’ were annoying, they were a taste to a bigoted tirade that followed.
Weeks later journalist Lerato Mogoatlhe attended a South African Blog Awards event and commented in her Sunday weekly column about how unrepresentative the nominees and audience were. When Kasiekulture! expanded on Mogoatlhe’s observation a whole army of white bloggers accused Blacks of sulking and being tokens. The blogosphere nearly melted.
Pambazuka News weighed in with a half-diagnosis, “With most Black people still living in townships and a further 20% living in shacks it is not surprising that blogging and technology in general is not being taken up. Let’s face it, if you have just spent two hours struggling to get home the last thing you want to do is go and find an internet café and start blogging.”
Even then there were pockets of Black bloggers such as Nelspruit-based Khensani Mathetha whose blog Oh Really Now! was well-written and entertaining. “A friend suggested that I  read a post about relationships on his blog and I liked the idea of being able to write anything and everything I thought without holding back or worrying how it would be received by whoever that will read it”. Mathetha’s blog was more of a log book on life and living in Mpumalanga’s capital.
Oh Really Now! gave blogger love to artist/journalist Tshwarelo Mogakane whose YoDemo blog tackled controversial religious topics. Mogakane says, “Being a lover of words it was hard thinking a lot and not being able to share. Before blogging, you only had highly monopolised newspaper columns. So when the blogosphere appeared I was one of the first to be raptured”
Since those early days of a bigoted blogosphere and pioneering Black voices there has been more blogs spotted in aggregators Amatomu and MyScoop. It often raises questions how the few available SA aggregators rate local blogs.
South African Blog Awards’ 2012 overall winner Yomzansi, which also won Best Lifestyle and Music blog does not feature on MyScoop’s top 100 South African blogs. Yomzansi is published by Thabo and Thabiso Modiselle, a young and dynamic team of tech-savvy social media experts. However the blog that won Science and Technology category The Techie Guy is ranked higher than a three times national champion.
The scale balances on Memeburn’s ‘22 Black Bloggers you should be reading’. Here popular bloggers such as Khaya Dlanga, Ndumiso Ngcobo, Zinhle Mncube, Nonkululeko Godana etc are mentioned.
Arts blogs fanatic and artist Matete Motsoaledi believes that ‘Bloggers are mostly specialists in that they gravitate towards a certain subject and thus save me time weeding through adverts, announcements etc. that other publications have.” Bonapono blog’s Motsoaledi, an aspiring photographer used to run The Kriel Chapter blog.
Given Hollywood’s influence on processed information whereby most aspiring bloggers choose fashion, gossip and celebrity scene as trending topics maybe the question should be; ‘are Blacks blogging their reality or re-packaging Dion Chang and Perez Hilton’s posts?’.
Socialite Lelo Boyana carved a niche blogging for TVSA content that insinuated a Hilton influence. She told the blog Jucy Africa, “For you to be successful in blogging, you need to love people, you need to be a sociable type, love partying, coz that's where the gossip comes out.”
Dlanga recently posted ‘I am unAfrican’ which could have been a tongue-in-cheek spoof of President Jacob Zuma’s festive canine bashing. He claimed it was inspired by Thabo Mbeki’s speech while posting a picture of a youthful Nelson Mandela playing with a dog. While mainstream Black bloggers post largely about socio-politics, thoughts and market trends; which one can argue are South Africa’s ever hot topics, Mathetha feels most blogs have become pretentious and impersonal and are now dictated by market-generated content.
 Motsoaledi believes even with a proliferation of ‘micro-waved’ fashion and gossip blogs quality bloggers will prevail, “We do have a unique voice. Although our stories are universal, we tell them differently because we have a different perspective and influence from other people elsewhere. If only we could allow our more opportunity to let our voices dominate. We have plenty to share.”                                 

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