The best way to keep a conversation going with a new person is by talking about the weather. It works perfectly. In Africa, we don’t follow the weather forecast that much, do we? If you are an African who pays attention to the weather forecast, raise your hand [in the comments section.] If you’re one who keenly pays attention to the weather update on your phone, say aye! Those were really few ayes.
So after the greetings and niceties, dive into the weather talk to avoid any awkward silence.
“How’s the weather over there?”
“It has been raining over the last two days.”
“Yeah. We do need the rain for the crops.”
“That’s right. We need the rain.”
“And here? What’s it like?”
“What’s what like?”
“Ah, yeah. It hasn’t rained here since last week.”
And you’ll just find yourselves cruising in the conversation in no time.
I’ve used this approach several times and it has never let me down. I used it as an the opening line at a Skype interview I had. The interviewer on the end of the web opened up on what was happening where they were. It was a perfect way to get my spirit to relax. I made it to the next stage of that interview process. The weather talk did wonders I think.
Anyway, I wish blogging in Africa was as easy as striking a conversation about the weather. I’ve read a number of blogs by people taking part in this blogging challenge. There are issues with internet connectivity and cost and access to and availability of electricity, two important factors to keep someone online. How will a young man or woman in the rural parts of this continent learn and explore the possibilities of what blogging is or what it could be? Maybe they’ll write their thoughts in their notebooks. Maybe they’ll pen them down on sheets of foolscaps and keep them in a file. Maybe, just maybe.
I wish I could read blogs written by Africans in any African language or Kiswahili or even French, Arabic, or Portuguese. I wish words were as universal as art, music or smiles. I’d have an easier time reading what people share. Maybe Google Translate will help me.
I think the number of bloggers on the continent is increasing. I believe most of them live in urban areas. Their stories and all the content they share are relevant. We don’t have to wait to read about Africa from a news source based in another continent. We don’t have to wait for someone out of Africa to drive our narrative.
With more Africans sharing African perspectives online on travel and lifestyle, food and drink, activism, fashion, entertainment, creative non-fiction pieces and any other field, these voices are adding up and shaping the storyline of this continent. Bloggers in Africa have a big role to play in shifting the perception of people who have never been to this continent and whose only source of information about us is the internet. Blogging has a place in Africa. And it is an important place.