Recently, I decided to stop this blog in June or July of this year. That would have been about one year of blogging. There were three main reasons for this. Firstly, it takes time. Believe me, summarising IMF reports or discussing the gini co-efficient in your second language is not easy. Secondly, I was beginning to bore myself. Blogging anonymously means you have to leave a lot of yourself outside of the blog. So what is presented is not as complex or as interesting or as real as it could be. Another week goes by and there’s kifimbocheza, tapping away at the keyboard and giving out about something. Yawn. Part of me is kifimbocheza, but only a small part. Also, I expect to be busy with something else in the second half of the year.
As it is, I have decided to stop it now. The furore over the entirely innocent post made by Pernille, and the ensuing hate campaign, has contributed to this. I got involved in it to a certain extent and I have no regrets about that.
Given that the hate campaign against Pernille emerged from nothing, I no longer felt comfortable. I felt uneasy for a number of reasons. It was clear to me that part of the reason that she took so much heat was that she is white and, to an extent, because she is a woman. Having read the posts on Michuzi, some of the comments (most of them appeared to support her, we should not forget) and the bile on the facebook group, I’m pretty sure of this. More unnerving was the silence from other Tanzanian bloggers. I feel like I’m in a particularly unpleasant bar, where it could all go off at any minute. So I’ve decided to get my coat. I feel a lot more comfortable in the real Tanzania than the virtual one.
Before anybody gets upset about that last paragraph, it is not a commentary on Tanzanians in general. It is a commentary on the type of dynamic that can emerge from some elements of a young blogging/online community that is drawn from a wafer-thin stratum of Tanzanians, both here and overseas. It was started by some guy called Suby, using Issa Michuzi as his channel. Then a kid in Chicago puts together a hateful facebook group that is publicised by, that man again, Issa Michuzi.
It is also a commentary on the general lack of thought given to ethics in this realm, the Swahili language blogosphere. Another example is the way that the jambo blog network would just steal people’s content for their own (advertising driven) site. I appear to be the only one to have complained on a blog. But I know I’m not the only one who was unhappy about it. All you had to do was ask, lads. Is that so difficult? To paraphrase the late Professor Chachage, we appear to have a soko holela rather than a soko huru in our small Swahili speaking bit of the blogosphere.
I share one characteristic with Pernille. I’m a white foreigner. But what does that mean? We come from two very different countries, with very different cultures. I should know – I was once mbeba box in Copenhagen, working nights and sleeping six to a room. I know that some, though not all, readers of this blog thought I was Tanzanian, but I’m not.
I’ve enjoyed blogging. Maybe after some time I will emerge with something different. And I have a few ideas.
Meanwhile, if you want to think a little more about identity and the internet, click here.
And I had some good posts in my head – fired up and ready to go! But this dog is going for a walk. So, if you want to know how to track the movements of the presidential jet, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.