We have been fortunate to cross-post an interview with Wavuti founder Subi Nukta, whose website regularly attracts knowledge seekers of all ages. The interviewer, Clare Coultas, blogs here and will also be posting media on Vijana FM. Here are the questions she asked Subi…
1. Could you tell me a bit about your experiences with blogging, and why/how you got started?
I like computers. I like testing software and applying different effects. I was fascinated by Jikomboe Blog, wanted to do the same, so I started experimenting with Yahoo’s 360 approach to blogs. Two Tanzanian bloggers saw me there, Edo Ndaki (blogger) and the owner of Jikomboe Blog, who encouraged by to move and try using blogger, to which I agreed and started nukta77.blogspot.com.
I didn’t blog much, I was pre-occupied with tampering the HTML codes and trying different stuff to customize and make things look different on my blog. That’s what I like doing. I therefore didn’t update much of the blog with news for a while because I didn’t have any to post. I then revived the blog in 2008, this time posting scholarship opportunities, trying to help Tanzanians looking for financial support for further studies.
I also used to fetch for news from Tanzania. I wanted to know what was happening in or said across the world about Tanzania. I’d send some of these interesting news to veteran bloggers such as Chemi Che-Mponda (Swahili Time) or Michuzi (Michuzi blog) to share on their blogs. I’d share the news also other Tanzanians living abroad, until one day (one day many times) I received messages from people that I didn’t know, wanting to be added in my list so they could receive news I share with friends. The list grew longer. If I never shared any news, they’d ask “what’s happening?…” That pressure, and when Chemi asked me to start a blog (to which I replied I had one, only posting scholarships, she asked me to open another one for news sharing)… Then an idea came that I could share news and scholarships on the blog, labels and create a mailing list. It is then when I started blogging again, this time putting a mixture of information.
Since I didn’t like blogging in a single page (I thought it was too much information on one page), I wanted to have pages and sections (apart from labels/categories). So I started looking for an alternative, a better platform from blogger. I tried wordpress, I didn’t like it. I tried blog.com wasn’t different either. I tried Microsoft’s Small Business but it also has some limitations as one could only create static pages and one blog where people must be signed on in hotmail/live to be able to comment. It was during my search I came across weebly.com that provided most of what I wanted.
In October 2009, I moved and started wavuti.com which I maintain to this date.
So blogging to me started out of curiosity, I had access to the internet and some free time. It grew as a hobby and now it’s like my second and most demanding job.
2. What opportunities do you think social media can offer Tanzanians, also possibly comparatively to what it is in the West?
Social media can be helpful to Tanzanians if formal schools appreciates the power of, and start teaching, the positive use of social networks such as meeting new people, exchanging array of positive ideas, sharing scholarship and job opportunities as well as help people organize and actually meet for a common cause such as helping a needy community, planning on developing their surroundings with what they have, how to become good citizens, how to air out what they think isn’t right, sharing information in a timely manner of what’s happening from one part of the world and finally socializing, as in parties, sports events and who knows may be even getting a spouse.
3. What do you see as the main challenges to the use of social media and do you foresee any new challenges to come?
The main obstacle right now for a typical Tanzanian in using the social network is the availability of power for their devices, and a reliable and capable internet connection. Other challenges I think cut across the globe such as the positive and conscientious use of social networks and being responsible for what’s said/posted. With the way people update their statuses, I see some people treating their pages artificially, such as an utopian life or a dream life, while others posting the real happenings in their lives as if there was no privacy anymore, thereby attracting rather, unnecessary attraction which leads to unnecessarily comments — mostly provocative or overboard. I am saying that with regards to how I’d picture a person saying and behaving in public the same way they do on social networks. I don’t know, may be that’s their inner true self they want to portray but are being suppressed by society norms and culture.
What I foresee is, we’re going to be a society divided between those who have a lot of information in their fingertips and those who don’t, thus needing to be fed and always feeling like left apart. These two groups are going to grow further apart because one may become tired of feeding the other or one becoming tired of being receptive. May be they’ll both jump in. I don’t know, but there are a lot more people stubborn too to change.
With a lot of quotes, fabrication and day-dream-life posted on social networks, it’s going to become difficult in knowing whom and what to actually trust. For some of us who’ve lived a life before social networks and now are “forced” to have a social network page, it’s hard to leave one and live the other or live both at once. To me, it’s too much. I’ve deactivated my social networks a couple of times, I think one day when it becomes possible to completely delete the page, I’ll happily do it and just stick to blogging and experimenting stuff/trying to be creative.
4. What do you believe are the most important steps towards promoting and sustaining the use of social media in Tanzania?
I think print media as well as, to the greater extent, audio/visual such as in radios and on TV’s is still the best way to promote and sustain social media in Tanzania. Young people have some favorite stations they listen to most of the time, places they meet and newspaper/magazines they read, the same to older people and to a lesser extent, women (as an isolate group of interest).
5. What are your opinions on the use of blogging as an alternative to news media?
Blogging has managed to challenge and transform news media. It has provided some extra information which usually gets censored or filtered due to news media ideologies, or restriction by laws as well as limited space to cover the whole message. On the other hand, some blogs have been misleading and used for propaganda especially in light of religious differences, politics and such.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Subi!
Reflecting on what has been said on this interview, what social media tools do you use? Which do you find would be effective in learning stuff (if any)? How do you see social media affecting the Tanzanian “news” space in the future? We look forward to discussing these questions and other ideas below.