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Where are the black bloggers?

27 March 2007

Where are all the black bloggers in South Africa?

Look at South African blog aggregator sites like Amatomu, and the vast majority of the bloggers there are white. And this in spite of the fact that it is run by the Mail & Guardian newspaper, which has several black journalists. So if there are black bloggers out there, why aren’t they showing up on Amatomu?

The disparity not confined to  blogging, but is seen in other parts of the Web and in electronic communications generally. In Usenet newsgroups, for example, most of the South African newsgroups are dominated by whites, with a high proportion of whinging whenwes. The soc.culture.south-africa newsgroup did have one very articulate black poster a few years ago, but he was not one to suffer fools gladly, and went off to play golf instead.

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.

Perhaps there is a need for some affirmative action here.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 March 2007 8:11 am

    “Perhaps there is a need for some affirmative action here” —
    You are kidding right?

  2. 28 March 2007 11:22 am


    Not at all. Why would I be kidding?

    This morning I went to the dentist and on the way there and back listened to talk radio on SAFm. Though the programme is in English, more than half the callers were black. Why not blogs?

  3. 28 March 2007 11:29 am

    You’re right! We should stop white people from blogging until it’s more representative. 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 have a strict quota on the number of blacks!

  4. Aunt Jemima permalink
    28 March 2007 12:18 pm

    I think there’s a general lack of SA Black presence on the net for many reasons (such as lack of access) and I think there could be more bloggers were this to change. Also, people have different interests. I personally find it more enjoyable to read than to write for the public and I’m content with that. I can’t say that’s the case for other Black people; contrary to what some may think, we’re not all the same. There really is no need for AA in this instance. People on the net are led by interest.

    As far as the country’s perception goes, online readers would be silly to form opinions about a whole nation based on blogs.

  5. 28 March 2007 12:43 pm


    You’re kidding, I hope.

    I proposed affirmative action, not negative action.

  6. 28 March 2007 12:50 pm

    Alomost all bloggers are black. Their text is black. Lets keep the colour of our skin out of this. Ideas, thoughts & innovation is transparent.

    • Cams permalink
      5 August 2012 9:08 am

      UNTRUE….people’s realities are diverse. The experiences of a white SA and a BSA I am sure in most cases are disparagingly diverse. Keeping skin color out of this is not really an option in this current state of sociopolitical affairs unless their point of view on all sides is to abolish all further exploitation by non-indigenous people’s to the land that is our home. Everyone else enjoys the resources of this continent and we are left fighting for crumbs. The invaders find nothing particularly wrong in that and that is in error. What is most poignantly in error- is the fact that a mass revolution isn’t afoot.

  7. 28 March 2007 12:58 pm

    Aunt Jemima,

    Of course lack of access is a problem, and yes, people do have different interests. But I would still like to see something of the variety of people and interests and cultures and options that one finds in South Africa reflected in the blogosphere too.

    And yes, it would be silly to form one’s perception on a whole nation based on blogs, but that is often the most personal contact many people have with people in other countries far away from them. So when they read various blogs, that does shape their perceptions.

  8. 28 March 2007 2:31 pm

    Rafiq… lol… too true!
    Steve… I’d be very interested to hear how you would like to implement affirmative action in the blogosphere.

  9. 28 March 2007 7:23 pm


    Think who ruins Amatomu — the Mail & Guardian. I know they have black journos — how many have blogs. I mean journos write stuff, so they shouldn’t find it too difficult to write stuff in blogs. So encourage them to do so. Surely the Amatomu guys themselves could do that. No hardsell, but just a few hints and suggestions here and there. Similarly with other existing bloggers.

    I mean, it’s not like you have to offer special discounts or anything, there are plenty of free blogging sites out there.

  10. 2 April 2007 7:25 am

    Excellent question! However, I find the “affirmative action” suggestion is a wrong call. I do not buy the notion of “limited access” as an excuse as well. The absence of black S. African bloggers maybe that this group is predominately made up of slow-adopters compared to their white counterparts.

  11. 2 April 2007 9:03 pm

    I completely agree with you – Imanakoya’s comment that “the absense of black SA bloggers maybe ………….Counterparts” completely disregards the racialised nature of technology and advantage/disadvantage in SA and assumes that there is a level playing field in the country. Why would the majority of the Black population be “slow adopters” when the majority of the population remain economically disadvantaged, educationally disadvantaged and socially disadvantaged.

    My comment on Amatomu published in “quick links” last week is:

    ***Amatomu – South African Blog Aggregator

    Launched by the South African weekly “The Mail & Guardian” this is an excellent project bringing all South African bloggers into one space. Nonetheless what the M&G needs to be doing and other established SA bloggers and techies is to find ways to support and encourage more African and people of colour in South Africa to start blogging. The Open Cafe in Potchefstroom has made some strides in this direction but Potchesfstroom is a small town and what is needed are Cafe projects like this in the urban centers but even more so in townships. As the majority of the non white population live in townships it only makes sense to start there rather in downtown Joburg or Cape Town. Back to the aggregator – the only thing wrong is I cannot find a RSS feed which seems a very odd omission.

    The view of SA presented by the aggregator is most definitely not that of the majority of the population even those that do have access to the internet and technology. I think after 6 months of living here I do speak with some knowledge of the socio-political and economic realities.

  12. 2 April 2007 11:04 pm

    Interesting points in the last couple of posts.

    I think one reasons there are so few black bloggers could be economic, especially in the rural areas. Computers are expensive, and the telephone infrastructure isn’t so good.

    Another reason may be cultural. I think black culture in South Africa generally (and yes, it is a huge generalisation) tens to be aural and oral rather than visual and written. That may be why black people have taken to cell phones in a big way, and also talk radio. Even on English radio talk shows there is a high proportion of black callers, so “early adoption” is selective.

    I’d still like to see more black bloggers, though.

  13. 11 April 2007 8:49 pm

    The problem you’re posing here is not something that can be mandated. Either someone picks up on blogging and starts their own. Has there ever been a platform with lower barriers to entry that reaches so many?

    To confine blogging to PC’s in Africa is equally ludicrous though. We need to have a mobile platform that truly supports mobile phones – not just as an add-on feature. I still believe that mobile phone accessibility will be the major opening into the greater African community.

  14. 20 April 2007 8:29 am

    See Review of African Blogs on Pambazuka News:

  15. 20 April 2007 3:06 pm

    Cool! Thanks for the link, and thanks too for the flattering write-up.

    I hope it will inspire a few more people to get into blogging.

  16. 18 June 2007 5:09 pm

    You could put some lists on your own blog, develop it for a bit, put it on a wiki…

  17. 6 May 2008 5:06 pm

    I think the key factor is that of an Oral vs Literal tradition. Even given equal economic and educational opportunity I think the deep background will dominate how one choses to communicate.

    Those of us with European roots have been culturally allied with the letter rather than the spoken word.

    I am always looking to escape the tyranny of the keyboard and the ubiquity of the printed page and find a Face to Face platform, but my culture always militates against this.

    I’m making peace with it though; looking for the advantages in the printed word.

    Well asked, Steve.

  18. daniel permalink
    28 May 2008 6:16 pm

    I do not believe my eyes ! “”””””””””””BLACK!!!””””””””” bloggers ??? who is BLACK? are you racist? I do not know even one black man or woman or white or yellow…..

  19. 8 October 2010 1:21 pm

    We are here! This is cyberspace you just cant tell the colour!


  1. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » South Africa: where are black bloggers?
  2. Global Voices Online » Amatomu: The South African blogosphere, sorted
  3. The African and South African blogosphere « Khanya
  4. Hope for African blogging? « Notes from underground
  5. Emerging, missional — and white | Khanya

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