We must write and tell our stories as Africans. We must do that across various sectors of society including in business and also with regards to innovation and technology, lest many say we have never invented anything. Narratives serve, partly, to motivate, to illustrate how Africa not only has the potential but is building technology that matters for the world.

This, telling African stories on the web, becomes even more important when we want other Africans and the rest of the world to get a full picture of the diversity of voices across Africa. Even opposing voices.

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and socio-political critic. His most famous novel is also his first, Things Fall Apart. It is often considered a masterpiece, and it is one of the most widely read books in modern African literature. He is also known for the saying "If you don't like someone's story, write your own." Highlighting the importance of telling our stories as Africans.

Take the recently revealed example of the contentious African countries’ subreddits. Although a subreddit, a page dedicated to a particular topic, is not legally owned by anyone and the moderator (administrator) is whoever registers it first, in the case of geographical subreddits it becomes problematic.

Problematic because Reddit is the world’s 20th most popular website which allows communities of people to gather around specific topics. As such, one expects that a country-specific subreddit, e.g. Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, or Eritrea, would be representative of the voices of that country. However, almost half of the pages dedicated to African countries on Reddit are run by a Canadian (username: PhnomPencil) since 2011.

Comparison of the number of subscribers each African countries subreddit has and who created them.

That’s not even the main problem.

The big issue is that the Canadian moderator only appoints pro-government co-moderators and allows the censoring of all anti-government posts on these subreddits. This, to someone looking for a community of people from their country, presents a very unbalanced picture of the sentiment around each of these African countries.

This extends beyond Reddit and even on other social media platforms. Perhaps we also need to take a closer look at ourselves as Africans and ask why we haven’t convinced many Africans to communicate and congregate on online platforms that are created by Africans and perhaps more supportive of Africans telling their stories online.

Quote of the day

β€œIf 5G towers were installed, but programmed to still display the 4G logo on devices, very few people would ever know the difference.” Tweet this

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