We are a:
“…small group of people who experiment with digital media in South Sudan. When these “rucksack reporters” started out, they often squatted in the bar in hotels like the Juba Grand because they provided reliable access to electricity. Quaint as this sounds, the impact they had was profound: de Ngong has received death threats because of his writing. The hotel eventually proved hostile and management there removed wall sockets to prevent the bloggers from hanging around. This is why those working in South Sudan’s digital media eventually founded the
Association of Facebook, Twittersphere and Blogosphere Operators of South Sudan (or AFTABOSS), which intends to pool members’ resources to provide reliable internet access and electricity. Much hope for the future of new media in South Sudan rests on this example of grassroots collaboration. If others follow the example of de Ngong and AFTABOSS, it is likely that blogging and citizen journalism will continue to become more established in South Sudan.”
Media and Makers 2012: http://mict-international.org/images/m&m_20130430_lores.pdf
Also on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/413209488738387/?fref=ts
AFTABOSS Internetional: Association of Facebookers, Tweeters and Bloggers of South Sudan, also informally known as Association of Facebook, Twittersphere, and Blogosphere Operators of South Sudan, is a new dynamic grouping of all the South Sudanese netizens and citizens (online and offline), their friends and associates, both inside South Sudan and in the Diasporas.
MISSION: To unite South Sudanese netizens (citizens online) all over the world to contribute in unison for the promotion of their solidarity, freedom of expression, right to information and development of their talents and careers by exchanging, sharing and shaping information and opinions.
This mission cannot be carried out on just a blog, it’s a blogathon, a collection of blogs on one common topic of our peoples’ interests.
VISION: The “Internet’ionnel” at AFTABOSS envision a South Sudanese one family comprising home-based and diaspora, both netizens and citizens (online and offline), sharing ideas and shaping ideals for the protection of their freedoms and rights and the development of their talents and their nation.
1- To enable South Sudanese and their friends to know themselves and associate from different corners of the globe
2- To promote freedom of expression among the citizens and netizens of South Sudan both inside and outside South Sudan
3- To build strong solidarity and information sharing between South Sudanese internet users both in South Sudan and in the Diasporas
4- To encourage writing and reading culture among the South Sudanese both at home and outside
5- To promote information sharing across many audiences for and about South Sudan around the world
6- To help develop members’ ability to make good use of internet-based media or social media.
7- To connect members to other organizations for opportunities around the world
8- To protect members from persecution and prosecution on incidences of their freedom of expression (by solidarity of publicity through ‘blogathon’ on that particular victim).
READ FULL TEXT FROM THE REPORT TITLED: The Role of Digital Media In South Sudan (By MEDIA AND MAKERS: JUBA 2012, OPEN KNOWLEDGE & SUSTAINABLE MEDIAFORUM)
In addition to official news websites, there is a small number of political blogs; the group blog PaanLuel Wël, written by South Sudanese expatriates in the United States and other countries, is a prominent example. Updated daily, PaanLuel Wël features news analysis and opinion pieces as well as poetry, petitions to government officials and an overview of news items related to South Sudan.
However it has only very limited reach in the country itself. s blog, Weakleaks, is one of the few blogs maintained by a resident of South Sudan. However, as de Ngong pointed out, news items often find their way into the country via the blogs maintained by expatriates so these too have an important function in the South Sudanese media landscape.
As in many other African countries, mobile network coverage in South Sudan is much more widespread than internet access. There are five mobile phone service providers who maintain a total of 317 aerials in the country, the majority of which are located in the states of Central Equatoria and Upper Nile. Remote areas such as Jonglei and Northern Bahr el-Ghazar have significantly fewer aerials. Considering this state of affairs, perhaps it comes as no surprise that new technologies play an almost negligible role in South Sudan’s media sector. Apart from NGO-operated offerings such as The Sudan Tribune or MICT’s The Niles, there is hardly any content produced exclusively for the internet, hardly any multimedia journalism, hardly any journalistic use of social media and hardly any use of online communication for feedback, in an interactive sense, or as a tool for citizen journalism.
However, there are indications that this is changing. For example, the citizen news outlet, NubaReports, has become an important regional player. Mobile phone footage of recent clashes between civilians and security forces in Wau was aired by the international news service, Al Jazeera, based in Qatar.
2. CASE STUDY: WeakLeaks
Weakleaks is an example of a news outlet that straddles the deep divide between South Sudan’s “pre-market agrarian society” (Peter Biar Ajak) and the small digital elite that has managed to establish itself in Juba. The blog’s producer, De Ngong, is keenly aware of the contradictions of the situation. During a discussion about the proposed media laws in South Sudan, he questioned whether the same regulations would apply to traditional media and new media like Facebook and Twitter.
The eventual reply given by Joy Kwaje, an MP for the ruling SudanPeople’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Chairwoman of the Information and Culture Committee in the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of South Sudan, indicated another problem: local politicians’ lack of familiarity with these media. Kwaje had assumed they would all be covered by the same law. Of course, it is impossible to regulate social media in the same way as traditional mass media. The problem of rumour and slander that comes via social networks makes this clear – and it is a problem that also affects South Sudan, where images of crimes allegedly committed in Juba cast local authorities in a dubious light. De Ngong, who has been harassed by the government for his critical posts on Weakleaks, knows this from experience. “Due to the culture of sharing on the internet, it’s very hard to get to the source,” he said. “This raises questions about the legislation of defamation on social media.”
hide from after quitting his job as an editor at The Southern Eye. He says he was inspired by PaanLuel Wël and that other bloggers have been inspired by him in turn. There is a constant exchange within the small group of people who experiment with digital media in South started out, they often squatted in the bar in hotels like the Juba Grand because they provided reliable access to electricity.
Quaint as this sounds, the impact they had was profound: de Ngong has received death threats because of his writing. The hotel eventually proved hostile and management there removed wall sockets to prevent the bloggers from hanging around. This is why those working in South Sudan’s digital media eventually founded the Association of Facebook, Twittersphere and Blogosphere Operators of South Sudan (or AFTABOSS), which intends to pool members’ resources to provide reliable internet access and electricity. Much hope for the future of new media in South Sudan rests on this example of grassroots collaboration. If others follow the example of de Ngong and AFTABOSS, it is likely that blogging and citizen journalism will continue to become more established in South Sudan.