Open Source is a daily paper produced during the Highway Africa Conference reporting on the various projects presented and the issues discussed during the panels. On this year’s first issue, they had a nice article about the first panel of the Digital Citizen Indaba which focused on the Right to Language. We should be able to upload a Pdf of the whole issue soon, but in the meantime we wanted to share that article here:


Raising Africa’s digital dialects
Written by Lara Salomon

This weekend marks more than just the beginning of the Highway Africa Conference. Yesterday afternoon, citizen journalists from around the country gathered in Grahamstown to attend the fourth Digital Citizen Indaba (DCI).

Although Highway Africa is aimed at journalists from all over the continent, citizen journalists sometimes feel ignored. This is where the DCI comes in. They try to tap into this underappreciated audience bringing reporters together from all walks of life. According to the co-ordinators, “our aim is to bring together bloggers, citizen journalists, media practitioners, industry experts and representatives from civil society all under one roof.”

Elvira Van Noort, who co-ordinated this year’s Indaba together with Jane Duncan, has been involved in three of the previous DCIs. Before this year, the Indabas looked at a number of technologies, teaching the delegates how to use them to create a digital voice. However, DCI 2009 will only focus on successful projects from previous years. Van Noort explains that “the emphasis is still on creating digital voices, but to also work on making them as loud as possible”. However, Van Noort explains that trying to raise African voices in digital media may be difficult because peoples’ communication may be limited by language barriers on the internet. As English is the dominant online language, messages from a community that speaks kiSwahili will not be widely understood. According to Van Noort, this poses a big problem: “Can one have a digital voice in an indigenous language?”

The Indaba hopes to answer these kinds of questions. The issue has already been raised: Kafusha Mfula, Elia Varela Serra and Eduardo Ávila yesterday afternoon specifically discussing language issues. Van Noort also hopes that “when [delegates] return to their community they can find ways of implementing similar projects to assist in digital activism and social justice”.