Last night saw the first Alloco-blog party of 2011; alloco being the delicious fried plantains you see pictured. It was a great evening for about 30 or so of us to exchange on the topic of blogging and the Ivorian webosphere. It was good to see new friends and meet some people for the first time ‘off-line’. The idea came from organiser Manasse Dehe, who thanks to blogging has now become a regular writer in a local newspaper. The event was proof that many events in Abidjan are simply lacking the courage of someone prepared to say: “X event is happening at this time, at this place and on this day. Come.”
Despite some promising signs, the Ivorian blogging world remains under-developed and unfortunately too many people are still preoccupied with making money from blogging before they’ve even become regular content-creators. Although some people in the world do make their living from blogging, they remain rare and blogging tends to be a form of writing enjoyed for the ease of which you can publish something rather than as a way of getting rich. Add to that, that the comparative advantage of Ivorian bloggers is blogging about Ivory Coast, a market for which online interest is limited. Ivorian bloggers either need to be very clever in touching on universal themes (food, love, poetry) or else get a reality check.
People seem to have missed the point about blogging, which is that anyone with access to a computer can now be a published author and can express themselves in the public domain. It’s a way to tell new stories and hear new voices. For most bloggers in the world blogging is a hobby, whereas in Ivory Coast hobbies tend to be limited and the preoccupation is making ends meet. But making money must be secondary and considered a fortunate add-on, if it’s even possible. Some people in the world make money from eating food, playing computer games and kicking a football, but you don’t tend to start doing these things to make money, and if you do, you risk leading a frustrated and sad life. In addition, until you are regularly engaged in an activity, how on earth are you going to see if you’ve got that extraordinary talent that means you’ll be paid to do what tens of thousands do for nothing?
If people were prepared to put money-issues a side, it may well help liberate the community to find a new expressive vein and to simply enjoy the pleasure of telling the world about life in Ivory Coast, a place very few people know anything about.