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Friday, May 25, 2007

The SA blogosphere is 'entirely' white

Not that it's worrying. But a small concern it is. The SA blogosphere is nearly entirely white - I realised since starting to blog. I went across many blogs on Amatomu, the SA blog aggregator, and you hardly ever come across a blog by a black person. I asked qDot, one black who features reasonably well on the SA blogosphere, what the cause may be. He briefly explained it this way:

Why the lack of [black] bloggers. I think...

  1. Expensive bandwidth
  2. Technophobic apathy
  3. Some just don't know

I don't doubt that he is right about any of these, generally. But I really believe that anyone who wants to express themselves will find a way of doing so - all the better fast ways let me rather say. Even if it means stealing a moment of their own lunch time to propagate their own cause, their laundry, or the hot night they had yesterday with their unsolicited partner. Whatever choice of topic.

I suspect that, worryingly, black people may be turning more and more less expressive and opinionated in some spheres of life - so anti-1976 youth spirit. They maybe becoming less mouthpieces of their own cultures and somewhat feel a bit off-ish for laying bare their writings in a blog for fear of judgement. True, 'some just don't know'and I've come across them whilst publicising my own blog.

But they speak, mostly, of a phobia of reading and the lack of writing ability - the kind that may be of palatable chew to other people. I don't know if that's such a good shot that people love reading and writing less and less. And on chats with friends, I noticed that it is not really that - the issue I mean.

The problem is that of incentives. And yes, blogging is not very good or good at all in offering much of materialistic incentives or return on (time) investment - and us blacks, as Chika Onyeani of Capitalist Nigger fame said, we love material and we want to show it all off. Can you realy show off a blog? Well, I'm showing off mine. And in fact, it inspired me to re-incarnate that long lost dream of writing my debut book.

And more for, as this black man that I'm, I get incentives in that by blogging, I sharpen my writing daily. I discover new technologies of my generation and thus, am embracing them, such as blogging. I also get to write what I like (albeit responsibly because my name is laid bare here) and I feel, somewhat like Biko when he said, "I write what I like".

I feel that blogging can do a lot of good for the black people, notwithstanding the lack of resources to doing so. But one thing for sure, resources are available (limited of course) and are accessible. Down-town Johannesburg is laid with salon/internet cafes opened by ever-joyful and restless entreprising Nigerians and Sunnyside in Pretoria is also nicely-ridden with same salon/tech shops with cheaper internet-user rates.

More so, there is internet access of great bandwidth in companies where we all work and we can always spare a moment to Shakespeare or Biko a word or two. Especially if we are able, already, to spare time to read and forward all those interesting jokes in viral mass emails (which work nearly alongside blog concept, in terms of syndication and extensivity of reach).

I think apathy is rather extending itself from the black individual to the black mass - certain groups together, not entire mass as such. The struggle youth, those in Fred Khumalo's group/'generation', are the masses that embraced the prominent cultures and trends, although with caution, of their times and came out to be the kind of admirable writers they are today - and lead in other fields.

So the problem is only partially,

  • 'Expensive bandwidth'
  • 'Technophobic apathy'
  • 'Some just don't know'.

The answer is more cultural than just resources access one.

I'm not choosing blogging for the black brothers and sisters for there is more to life than to blog. And I'm not speaking to those who don't like the arts or new technology - 'every man his own'. They can express themselves in other ways.

But would black people really want to remain under-represented in a phenomenon where interesting and insightful debates take place? I know Patricia De Lille didn't choose to be left out of this blogcake.

I didn't mean to write this entry. But the blues song In the mood by Glenn Miller inspired me to kill my fingers a little. Haaah, what relieve to write! You so maar forget it's cold outside.

"Judge of a man by his questions, rather than by his answers." - Voltaire


Tania said...

Hehe, this is a coincidence. I discovered your blog this morning, but didn't see this article. Later in the day I saw a link to this article at Muti, and I thought, "No, that dude doesn't know about Izzi's blog". Then I noticed that the link had been posted by Izzi himself -- to his own blog! I think it proves the point; and although I can think of several bloggers who are NOT White, e.g. Rafiq Philips, Ebrahim Rasool, Vinny Lingam, a couple of Johannesburg women whose names I don't remember and "Alleman" -- they are definitely in the minority.

Izz said...

You are right. I also happen to have a list of the black bloggers holding the flag, but that flag is too small, although somewhat significant in terms of the content of their blogs.

But a minority it is, in a country where black is the majority. It is just an interesting observation to make, and surely, if one stretched (objectively) to interpret other parts of of society with that, some insight may come of it.

Melt du Plooy said...

Wow, what a very interesting post. I truly hope that the number of black bloggers increase. There is certainly something that stood out from this post for me. Perhaps it is the way you feel about it. It really comes across that while you're not concerned you are really wondering why. How would you get more black people to switch on to blogging. I have no idea.

Izz said...

It is in deed about wondering than a worry. Would be great to see them come on board and spread their own opinions here as it is the fastest, borderless platform. But then again, I wouldn't attempt to invite the mass, as much as I should introduce my clique. The former, I will fail in, the latter, I stand a chance.

qDot said...

You are right. The culture thing is probably closer to it. I do try to influence my friends though. We I go out and have constructive conversations with people I do make a recommendation that they start a blog. I do my best to explain it to them what a blog is. I dont think i do a very good job explaining what it is but most get the idea.

imnakoya said...

What a delight to read from a black South African!. I hope more will take to the blogosphere; it's such a wonderful place. Be well.

South Africa Flights said...

Very interesting article. The most vibrant black online presence in South Africa is the Friends of Jacob Zuma website at http://www.friendsofjz.co.za/

Of course Thabo Mbeki has his weekly column, and his love of the internet has been written about.

There was at least one black blogger at the mweb blog, and there are some more at myspace.

It's a pity that more blacks don't blog, as I believe that it's through discourse like this that cultural barriers are broken.

Sword Inc said...

We blogged since 99 on Yahoo Geo then Xanga moved to myspace while blogspot hit a mark in user friendliness(does that word really exist) **I dont care less**. Anyways, we got bored and didnt matter anymnore about impressing some onion farmer in Wichita.

There are a lot of BLACK SA folks who blog...hmmm.. But keep a low Profile. Not forgetting that majority of ekasi folks would rather drown on a Carling rather than blog.

Ms Porcelain said...

Hmmmm... Interesting blog there. I must say that I have been struggling to get my friends to join the 'blogosphere'.

I think there are still a LOT of black people who are do not have Internet access. I first had 'Internet access' when I reached Varsity and it wasn't until this year that I had Internet access at home. And there wasn't a computer at my parents house until two years ago. If you don't have Internet access at home, you don't have the opportunity to get 'Internet savvy'... That's my two cents for the day :)

Just out of interests sake, how can you tell if a blogger is Black or White?

RK said...

Try this one:


RK said...

Or this one:

Izz said...

It would be hard to tell black from white blogger, except for browsingn through MyBlogLog. Also, by looking at the comment patterns of other bloggers. For me, I used a small group of bloggers that I know and their clique and those they connect to. But it's a bit complex than that, and thumb suck wouldn't arrive you at an evil opinion.

I don't know how to put the black people on blogs but I am aware there's a sizeable number on myspace and other sites. But still, little representation. I simply introduce my friends to blogging with my newsletter, weekly, and some have joined up, but mainly for making comments than for blogging themselves.

It will take time. But I hear we'd rather down Carling than blog. Is that so? I doubt it. More information and constant exposure could do it.

Steve Hayes said...

A couple of months ago I asked on my other blog "Where are all the black bloggers?"

That was soon after Amatomu started, and I thought it might reveal where they all were, but it didn't.

Why doesn't Vavi have a blog? Or Blade Nzimande? Or Pallo Jordan (he's supposed to be Internet savvy). I mean those are guys who always have something to say, so why don't they say it in the blogosphere as well?

Ramon Thomas said...

Very, very interesting thoughts. And I'm glad you read Capitalist Nigger. If any book can wake up non-white people it's this book. I also recommend you read the autobiography of Booker T. Washington called Up From Slavery freely available on Project Gutenberg.

Izz said...

I will get hold of a hard copy of Booker T, if it is available in that nature - I'm savvy, but prefer reading such things as books from hardcopy versions. Thanks for the recommendation.

It is important that keep developing our minds and embracing some new trends that are effective and benefitial, whilst leaving out the charf. Capitalist Nigger wins in teaching us some of that.

Izz said...

Steve, they are all scared, perhaps, of being 'first' - in a way - at some new and hasn't been confirmed to be uber-politiki by their counterparts or mates. Pity. Firsts mostly win in that they go down in history as 'Firsts'.

Ramon Thomas said...

Also checkout this challenge to find non-male, non-white bloggers to link to.

Izz said...

Checked it out. That CEO lady has a point.

Township Vibes Team said...

Hola! Izzy Mfana we believe you might be accurate on this issue. the seems to be few Black Bloggers out here in South Africa, however a large amount of our comments at Township Vibes, come from black people, stats in recent times say there is a increasing figure of "Black Diamonds" who are accessing the Internet, as to why the is a low figure of black bloggers in South Africa, it might well boil down back to:

• Costs of the Internet
• Accessing the Internet (as most is at school and work)
• Low Awareness
• General Attitude

Costs of the Internet
Izzy Mfana apparently the Gauteng Department of Education on one occasion had an ambitious plan to roll out computer equipment to all schools in Gauteng and connect them to the Internet, and boldly every child in a Gauteng School would have had an E-mail Account by now, the department was true to it’s promised in terms of computer equipment, however the connectivity issue remains disappointingly unaccounted for . Telkom to the lager extent is directly contributing to the situation in South Africa with its high costs,

Accessing the Internet
We have seen a number of internet cafes in townships come and go, Kathorus has a number of established internet cafes and places such as Soweto and Tembisa are not legging behind either, a case in particular will be Bizconnect a company which prides it’s self of providing Business Solution and Internet, Izzy Mfana those people should be sued for false impressions and lying to the public, at most they don’t have the internet that they so brag about in their marketing, the connection it’s so slow that it can’t even open a simple page like Yahoo, therefore how will the ordinary black populace ever be majority bloggers.

Low Awareness
There are just no Black Celebrity Bloggers in this country of ours, imagine if Mandoza was a blogger, I mean full time blogger, however we are quite certain that blogging will take of in a big way, in the black communities in South Africa, the has been a huge coverage about blogging in the past months in South Africa, most in print media a medium which is largely used by the black populace of South Africa. Back to black South African Celebrities they are disappointing really they seem to be lagging behind their international counterparts, their slow to adaptation if any to blogging it’s pathetic, the likes of Kabelo, DJ Sbu, Rude Boy Paul, Khanyisile Mbau infact we should encourage them to start blogging that will change the status quota.

and lastly Mfana we should start the Association of South African Black Bloggers

Israel Izz Mlambo said...

TVibes, you hit home with so many points my man. And I agree with you on all accounts.

And yes. Some of those black celebs learning to blog and infact, blogging as consistent as it can physically be possible, can bring blogging awareness to the black centres and corners of Mzansi.

Resources availability and access, as I've indicated in my entry, will always remain, regardless of what the gov does. It's the awareness and inspiration that is most needed. Like I said, if somebody loves writing and keeping a journal, and the interest is that much intense,they will find internet access.

But nevertheless it is a factor to worry about as well. I would be happier to see more black bloggers online as I would enjoy their thoughts and views on various issues that affect our cultures and country.

Imagine a second revolution started right here on the blogosphere. Like preventing koko Mantwa Tshabala-Msimang from coming back to office to spread crap about beetroot vs HIV/Aids.

Vanessa said...


This is an excellent post. I am in the America but I feel the same about the number of Black bloggers here.

Access to the internet and cost are issues here but I find that people make a way to get whatever they really want.

In America, too many Blacks, especially young Blacks, with internet access, have a MySpace page or FaceBook account or some other social networking site. Far too much time is used socializing and not educating themselves.

Reading your posts is such a joy; I'm going to do a post about it on my blog, "on the black hand side".

Thanks for the link to this. Peace.

~ Vanessa