Conceptualising Network Politics following the Arab Spring: An African Perspective
Ashu M.G. Solo and Jonathan Bishop
Network politics is examined in the context of the Arab Spring. Network politics refers to politics and networks. These networks include the Internet, private networks, cellular networks, telephone networks, radio networks, television networks, etc. Network politics includes the applications of networks to enable one or more individuals or organizations to engage in political communication. Furthermore, network politics includes government regulation of networks. Finally, network politics includes the accompanying issues that arise when networks are used for political communication or when there is government regulation of networks. The domain of network politics includes, but is not limited to, e-politics (social networking for driving revolutions and organizing protests, online petitions, political blogs and vlogs, whistleblower Web sites, online campaigning, e-participation, virtual town halls, evoting, Internet freedom, access to information, net neutrality, etc.) and applications of other networks in politics (robocalling, text messaging, TV broadcasting, etc.). The definition of this field should significantly increase the pace of research and development in this important field.
Ashu M.G. Solo & Jonathan Bishop (2014). Conceptualising Network Politics following the Arab Spring: An African Perspective. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation 1(1), 23-28.
Citizen Journalism Practice in Nigeria: Trends, Concerns, and Believability
Joseph Wilson and Fancis Iloani Arinze
Journalism practice globally in the last two decades has experienced some obvious changes. For instance, it is no longer the case that the business of gathering, processing and distribution of information, which for several decades was supposedly a preserve of practitioners that have acquired some form of training in the field of journalism and are guided by journalism ethos or ethics. With societal development and technological advancement, individuals have delved into exercising the functions of journalists, which has led to the emergence of concepts such as “Citizen Journalism” among others. The emergence of citizen journalism obviously has its plus in the rapid development of the information society, with the active participation of members of the society processing information. However, there are several concerns. Since journalism now seems to be an all-comers affair, obviously there are bound to be deficiencies in strictly upholding the tenets of Journalism profession such as truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, authentication of sources and public accountability. This chapter explores the nature of citizen journalism as practiced in Nigeria, the channels that propel citizen journalism practice in Nigeria, the concerns in respect to ethos or ethics and whether Nigerians believe the products of this new form of journalism (things posted online) and why.
Joseph Wilson & Fancis Iloani Arinze (2014). Citizen Journalism Practice in Nigeria: Trends, Concerns, and Believability. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation 1(1), 63-92.
Editorial for the special issue on Africa and social media
This editorial is for the first issue of the International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation, which is envisaged for each issue will be a special issue on a relevant and current topic. This special issue, on Africa and Social Media has come together from a number of specialist author’s responses to calls for participation, reflecting issues in Africa as they have been affected by the mass availability of social networking technologies.
Jonathan Bishop (2014). Editorial for the special issue on Africa and social media. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation 1(2), 3-4.
Between Flaming and Laudation: Political Websites, Social Media, and Democratic Participation in Niger
In Africa, like elsewhere in the world, political actors are now increasingly using websites, blogs, online discussion forums, interactive newspapers, and online television and radio to foster civic participation in communities. Social media recently played a central role in what came to be known as the “Arab Spring” and is also being used by modern African political actors in order to contribute to democratic change. This paper analyses the contributions of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to democratic participation and online political discussions in Niger and particularly focuses on the use of ICTs for political mobilization and related strategies that actors (parties, rebel organizations, Diasporas, and citizens) are deploying on various digital platforms. The paper argues that traditional notions of power relations and political communication, as well as the nature of the digital tools used, are determinant in conferring (or not conferring) a democratic character to online discussions and political participation.
Gado Alzouma (2014). Between Flaming and Laudation: Political Websites, Social Media, and Democratic Participation in Niger. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation 1(1), 29-61.
The equitable participation of women in government and politics is essential to building and sustaining genuine democracy. That was a message to students at the first ever African focused Women in Government and Politics conference entitled “Increasing the Numbers: Access and Progress.” This was the maiden edition of the Women in Government & Politics Conference took place at the Central Hall Westminster, between12-13 November 2013.
The conference began with an opening ceremony at the House of Commons on Day 1. Students and other delegates were encouraged to seize the opportunity as change drivers in Sub-saharan West Africa. Conference convenor, Mrs Winihin Ayuli-Jemide, welcomed the diverse attendees to the centre of UK policy making and debate. “Importantly, we have students, young girls. And one young man,” she told the conference. “This is particularly important to me, because we cannot have this conversation without succession planning.”
The students who attended the conference walked away filled with new enthusiasm for a better world. Doctoral student and conference facilitator, Zainab Usman, is reading International Development in the Department of International Development, at the University of Oxford. “I had the privilege of facilitating one of the group discussions which involved some of the policy makers, academics and activists in attendance,” she said. “The practical recommendations proposed included the need for constitutional safeguards and quotas, value re-orientation among both men and women using the media, building support networks among women, supporting existing civil society initiatives and building a resource base, such as the African Women’s Development Fund.” A manifesto document is being prepared based on the agreed outputs from the delegates of the conference. Another key outcome is the campaign to generate 1 Million Signatures online, to advocate for more women in government and politics. The campaign is well underway. Every woman, from every country and from every walk of life is invited to sign up for this history making drive that will see better socio-economic outcomes for many nations of the world through the appointment or election of more women.
While the men in suits surround Parliament in defence of its traditions, a new generation of students were in Parliament to put forward the case for more women in politics and government. Westminster Cathedral was taken by storm with the maiden Winihin Jemide Series conference, which brought together women from about 22 countries. The conference, “Women in Government and Politics 2013 – Africa Edition,” had its opening ceremony take place in the House of Commons.
One of the attendees was Zainab Ushman, who is a DPhil student in International Development at the University of Oxford. “African women have made remarkable strides in positions of leadership and authority across the continent,” she said. “This has been especially evident with the wave of democratization over the past two decades.
“Women now occupy presidential seats in Liberia and Malawi, foreign ministry portfolios in Rwanda, Kenya and Somalia, the leadership of the African Union and many other positions hitherto regarded as the exclusive domain of men.”
There is still more to be done, however. Mrs Winihin Ayuli-Jemide is founder of The Winihin Jemide Series and the Women in Government and Politics conference organiser. She says this is only the first of many conferences. “The Women in Government and Politics conference will boldly explore issues and concepts surrounding women’s increased involvement in Africa’s political arena with consideration given to succession planning and the next generation,” she said. “This will be an annual conference aimed at raising the global profile of the growing role women play in the heart of African public life.”
Another speaker at the conference, Mr Simon Wooley, a self-described activist and Director of the UK-based Operation Black Vote, sought to rally the conference behind its cause. “We are not asking for justice, we are not asking for race equality, we are demanding it,” he said. “And we will use our electoral clout, to decide whether you win or whether you lose.” The conference was left inspired by the Honorable Proscovia Alengot, who is the Ugandan Member of Parliament for Usuk County Katakwi District. “When I was a child I always wanted to become one of the most important people in the country,” she told delegates. “I said I would be someone important in this country, but I was really so ambitious that it was a dream, but a dream that became true.
“My dad died, and I took over from him, and who of you could take on being in politics one week after your dad or mother’s death?” she asked. “If your dad was a politician, you could still have that pain in you, as I had a pain in me, but I said no. “I looked at the young children we had – we had eight in the family and I was the second one. But I had to take the courage, and I told my mum, ‘I don’t want you to cry, everything is okay, because I am going to stand as a Member of Parliament.” One might argue that the only question young people could ask is; “What type of activist should I become, and when can I next stand for my national parliament?”
A manifesto document is being prepared based on the key agreed outputs from the delegates of the conference. Another key outcome is the campaign to generate 1 Million Signatures online, to advocate for more women in government and politics. The campaign is well underway. Every woman, from every country and from every walk of life is invited to sign up for this history making drive that will see better socio-economic outcomes for many nations of the world through the appointment or election of more women.
More than 20 countries in the world today have a woman holding office as the head of a national government. But as delegates at a recent conference at the House of Commons in London discovered, whilst the global participation rate of women in national-level parliaments is gradually improving, there is still a lot to be done.
The Winihin Jemide Series conference sees its role as a change driver in Sub-saharan West Africa. It drew together about 22 countries in Africa to what was described as an “extremely significant gathering.” The conference brought together academics, students and others in the field in order to help inspire better public policy and to capture their views in a participant-led manifesto taken from those views expressed at the maiden edition of the Women in Government & Politics Conference series.
The aim of the two-day conference was to articulate steps and concepts that will make government leaders, law makers and academics, who jointly influence policy, to support an increase in female numbers and to begin succession planning for young African women. “We need to pull up as many women as possible up the ladder and put aside petty grievances and nuances” was the message of Dr. Diezani Alison Madueke, the Nigerian Minister for Petroleum Resources, who delivered her message to the conference delegates. “We must educate, empower and mentor more of our women, it goes without saying, to ensure that they have the compelling attributes and capabilities that make us as good as anyone else that may be considered to occupy any job or any office,” she stated.
Sponsors of the conference included the Onboarding Impact Consultancy, a Nigerian owned public sector and soft-skills training firm. “As a sponsor of the first Women in Government and Politics Conference we are honoured to have had the opportunity to support the efforts of the Winihin Jemide Series in their drive to Increase the Numbers through Access and Progress for women participation at all levels of Government and Politics,” a spokesperson said. “We look forward to playing a bigger role in the next edition of the WIGP Conference.
“We believe through our collective participation we can make a significant difference for this and future generations.”
Also attending the conference was Jessica Jemila Kawra, otherwise known as Miss Tourism Ghana 2013. Forming a key part of the conference’s breakout sessions, Miss Kawra explains why taking part in the conference was so essential. “Part of my mission as Miss Tourism 2013 is to encourage Ghanaian girls to aspire to be leaders, no matter the area of endeavour they find themselves in,” she said.
The conference left women inspired and motivated, all knowing that sex equality is not something that could happen in the future, but something that can only happen in the present. “You cannot really achieve anything unless you have gender equality, because gender equality and progress, and the eradication of poverty are inextricably linked,” was how the anchor for the BBC World News service, Zeinab Badawi, put it.
Congresses across the world have made efforts to increase female participation in government and politics. It is often thought to be more challenging for women to access and exercise these rights, particularly in the African Continent. But one recent conference in London has sought to challenge this perspective.
The African edition of the Women in Government and Politics Conference was held in the House of Commons in November 2013, running with the theme, “Increasing the Numbers: Access and Progress.”
Its convener, Mrs Winihin Jemide, shared her vision with the conference that was made up of a convergence of women drawn from the 5 Regions of Africa, who were already active in public politics. The conference objective was to agree on the core themes and resolutions that will be adopted into a manifesto document. Mrs Winihin Jemide, whom this series of conferences is named after, believes that the time to start thinking about change is now. “It is time, therefore, for us to bring our strengths together, and it only takes a thought, it only takes a vision, it only takes a moment,” she told the conference delegates at the opening ceremony in the House of Commons. “It is time for us to begin to articulate, in a cohesive fashion or manner, the sorts of stories we’ll be handing over to leaders of government, to allow them to sit up and listen.”
The conference has the full support of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria. “The subject matter in question is one that is close to my heart,” he said. “I have persistently driven to advance the cause of women, in all levels throughout my time in government. As part of my transformation agenda, and as a deliberate policy move, I have ensured that over 30 per cent of positions in my government have been given to women.
“My administration has also seen the highest office being held for the first time by a woman.
“As I stated in January 2013, I personally view the appointment of these women as the beginning of a very positive era of politics in our country.”
The conference’s manifesto document, which is delegate led, is being put together by Dr Nic Cheeseman of Jesus College at the University of Oxford with the collaboration of School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. The manifesto will be based on 25 key points agreed by conference delegates, and will be directed to Heads of Government.
The conference has already won plaudits from African governments. Malawi’s President Joyce Banda, stated that more women need to take front row seats in Government and Politics. “I believe this Conference is taking place at such a time where more women are needed than ever before in elected and appointed offices,” she said.
Another key outcome of the conference is the campaign to generate 1 Million Signatures online, to advocate for more women in government and politics. The campaign is well underway. Every woman, from every country and from every walk of life is invited to sign up for this history making drive that will see better socio-economic outcomes for many nations of the world through the appointment or election of more women.
Social networks have been alight with news about a fake interpreter at the memorial service of Nelson Mandela. The actions have been described as a “special shame” in light of the late former South African President Nelson Mandela work against the oppression of deaf South Africans.
Kate Davidson is a sign language expert. “My social media has been a-buzz with this since last night, and it’s clear that not only isn’t it SASL, but it couldn’t be a sign language,” she said. He’s not spelling any names in the introduction, no use of classifiers for verb spatial phrases like ‘join us in South Africa.
“It’s a shame, though, that so much of the coverage says ‘man does fake sign language’ or some variation, as if all sign languages were the same. It could have been a teachable moment on the variety of sign languages.“