The Zambian blogsphere is growing. Two years ago one would struggle to find a regularly updated blog covering any meaningful issues. I am happy to report that is now changing. New blogs are being created at pace faster than I can count. And the good news is that what were personal entries are now being transformed into meaningful blogs that seek to encourage dialogue and trading of ideas. The fun blogs are there, but increasingly we are seeing more focused blogs geared towards Zambia's development. It is impossible to review all the blogs, but here is a brief slice of the sort of Zambian blogs that are out there.
Issues Over Matters is a blog written by freelance journalist Gershom Ndlovu focused on political and social issues. Gershom was once victimised for opposing former president Frederick Chiluba's third term attempt. His case is catalogued in the Zambia Human Rights Report 2001 and MISA's So This Is Democracy: The State of the Media in Southern Africa 2001. His blog is a reproduction of the weekly column that appears in the National Mirror in Zambia. Here is an extract from one of his entries Dying for a Cure:
It is rather unfortunate that the Minister of Health, Brigadier-General Dr Brian Chituwo portrays a picture that such shortcomings in our health institutions are not a big issue going by his recent statement that led to two HIV positive people protesting outside parliament and ending up being arrested for trying to attract the attention of higher authorities to the plight of medical and paramedical staff.
Of course, the political elite and those close to them end up being evacuated to the now famous Morningside Clinic in Johannesburg even for simple illnesses like flu. Many poor people in need of renal dialysis are asked to pay huge amounts of money for the service at local hospitals while those with connections are taken to South Africa for ruptured ear-drums, depression and a myriad of ailments that can easily be taken care of locally, and all this at tax-payers’ expense. What is sad is that the facilities to which the well-connected are sent, are manned by Zambians who have emigrated.
Zambia Gamefields Investment Journal is kept I P A Manning who has several fascinating blogs to his name including Elephant Times and Zambia Forests. All of his blogs are focused around conservation. The Games Investment Journal is the more personal of his blogs as it is geared towards his experiences as a conservationist and the many battles against the system. But here is a recent blog on from another of his blogs called Zambia Conservation which probably comes close to illustrate I P's passion for conservation:
…..news that Laura will arrive in Zambia bearing thousands of mosquito nets, is terrible news for the fish stocks of our countless rivers and, ultimately, for the villagers who are so dependent on them for some protein. Everywhere these nets meant to combat malaria are being sown together and used to remove every living fish, egg and spawn from our waters. We need money to flow directly to the people through local trust structures and associations. In the one million acres of mountain, alluvial plain, rift valleys and rivers of the chiefdoms in which I work, our wildlife is being massacred by ivory poachers and the agents of the bush-meat trade. The killing fields of Africa asserts itself with renewed vigour while the money pours in, propping up governments which are no longer connected with their people. We need funds to go directly to villagers so that they may have an incentive to conserve their resources. Who will be accountable for seeing that this ‘doubling’ of funds actually produces an improvement in the lot of the poor?
Maravi is kept by Mr.K and is probably the oldest and most well known of all Zambian blogs. It brings together commentary on Zambian news, politics, economics and society in general.
New Zambia was created by myself in February. It aims to create a non-political platform for Zambians to trade ideas on the most challenging issues facing the nations. The blog is written from an economic perspective. Since its inception, the blog has had various guest bloggers, including my nephew Herman Kunda based in Lusaka who wrote a challenging piece on Addressing the problems facing Zambian universities:
The challenge of unemployment is further compounded by the presence of foreign expertise in jobs that can easily and competently be executed by locally trained graduates. Though, I appreciate the various merits that come with foreign investment such as advanced skills and technology, the fact that most foreign firms come with their own professionals renders our highly trained graduates disused.
Mwankole is a relatively new blog kept by social commentator and counsellor Kashikulu. Since its inception this month, it has covered a range of topics from challenges of isolated settlements to music. Here is an extract from Kashikulu on Witchcraft in Politics:
There is a general belief that some of Africa’s long serving leaders, only manage to hold on to political power that long, on the sustenance of the magical powers of witchcraft. Examples of such leaders though few and rarely established include Zimbabwe’s Mugabe. The case of Zambia’s Katele Kalumba who hid in a rat size hole at his farm, while on the run from police is well documented in the press and police arrest records.
ICT Journalist is one of three regularly updated blogs by authors based in Zambia. Brenda Zulu's blog covers issues related to the development of the ICT sector. Another notable blog covering similar issues and based in Zambia is kept by Mweshi.
Mwenya's Diary is a new blog kept by Lusaka based journalist and environmentalist Mwenya Mukuka. His recent entries have focused on challenging social issues as this extract from his blog on Gender and HIV illustrates:
Traditional leaders in get defensive at times in discussing HIV out of fear of supporting racist caricatures of hypersexual men in Africa and sexual frenzied African women. At the same time commentators, dancing the fine line between ignorance and racism, politely suggest that African traditions support polygamy, and thereby promiscuity, and consequently the spread of HIV. It is sad that in some societies men have continued to view sexual contact with many women as a sign of manhood. They say the more women – the more of a man you and some tend to believe that ‘live’ sex that is without a condom is the best saying a woman should feel the ‘heat of the mans bullets’. And for a poor woman, the poorer is, the less educated, the lower the ability to choose who to sleep with and the fewer rights she will have to negotiate for safe sex subsequently the higher the rates of HIV infection among women