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Burkina Faso: Blogs Help Burkinabe Skirt Censorship

In Burkina Faso, blogging is more than a pastime. It is the eyes and ears of thousands of net users.

That's why from October 11th to the 17th, during the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Thomas Sankara, Burkina Faso's internet connection was cut in order to prevent those commemorating the assassination from making their voices heard.

In a country where there is still so much secrecy, blogs free minds. In a country where censorship reigns and traditional media live in the shadow of power, bloggers are often the only real journalists. They are the only ones who can publish information offensive to the government.

Although blogs have yet to catch on with most Burkinabe, some citizens and journalists are blogging. Some publish news that has already come out in print, radio, or television. Others analyze news and give account of what they have seen and heard.

But they also publish banned articles. The blog becomes a place of controversy, an opportunity to spark debate on how politics is made and unmade in Burkina.

And so a state that deprives its people their right to this form of expression should be considered a dictatorship. An obliging authoritarianism eats away at the country's democratic space. Censorship and self-censorship sap freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Journalists feel muzzled, but so do the public. They have the impression that things are being hidden from then. The underground press plays an important role, but the blog gives everyone the right to express themselves without fear and a forum for seeing their personal experiences appreciated by others.

Amétépée Koffi, one of those rare Burkinabejournalists to have a blog, hopes that blogging will have a positive impact on mainstream media in Burkina Faso.

“I have the hope I will see my compatriots and public opinion follow the movement. I hope Burkina media will join the debate. They
will have the capability to give new path of analysis, expression and democracy…hopefully be without limits or censorship.

The dissident blogger

Dissident blogger Felix Amétépée Koffi says he created his blog, le10sident two years ago to promote free expression and citizen journalism on the internet.

Most of the posts on le10sident are already published in the paper version of the satirical weekly, Le Journal du Jeudi, where he works. Koffi also puts on his blog stories or critiques written by his colleagues.

Lefaso.net, the portal on Burkina

Lefaso.net is a news portal which publishes articles written by various newspapers in Burkina Faso. Readers can leave comments, and so it is also a space to debate about many subjects.

Lefaso.net has also gained notoriety and the numbers show it. The newsletter has nearly 6,000 subscribers and the site, 2,500 visitors per day mainly from France, Burkina Faso, the United States, and Canada.

Four years after its launch, Lefaso.net has become the main source of information for the diaspora.

A small thing opened on the world

“Welcome to all those who want to share joys and sorrows, hopes, struggles for justice, signs of love: another world is possible!” writes Priest Lacour on his blog.

Lacour has been a missionary in Burkina for 30 years. He created his blog to share his passions: Africa, Christian life, justice and peace, philately and genealogy.

He wrote his first post in April 2006, a letter that he wrote for Nicolas Sarkozy other European interior ministers.

Many of his posts are articles written for the daily Le Pays or abcburkina.

Show Burkina and promote its culture

The web portal monburkina wants to promote the traditional culture of Burkina Faso by creating opportunities for artists, artisans and tourist guides. It is also a forum for the exchange for anyone interested in Burkina Faso. Monburkina has videos on masks and traditional dance, and educational films about AIDS as well as poems and stories.

“News is a right, demand it! ”

“News is a right, demand it! Frederic Ilboudo, a journalist at the weekly L'Opinion, also writes a news blog.

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