« To counter the steam-roller effect unleashed by the information highways, side roads, tracks and paths will need to emerge, creating furrows in which the seeds of diversity can germinate, forming little streams which will irrigate the memory of peoples ». Gaston Kaboré, Burkinabè filmmaker.
Compiled in collaboration with the Anaïs network in an effort to contribute to the preparation of the « Rencontre des Passerelles du Développement » in Bamako in February 2000, this dossier has made some choices.
First of all, the choice not to launch into an analysis of technical assistance policies. All the international organizations, all the technical assistance agencies, have their internet development programmes and are working to reinforce the African countries’ capacities. It would be interesting to carry out a survey to apprehend North-South relations better: a survey which goes beyond the official discourses, and highlights the contradictions in order to avoid being superficial. But that goes beyond the scope of this dossier. This collaboration has allowed us to bring our editorial line to the fore, giving the African players a chance to speak themselves, and combining interviews and the reports by our correspondents.
What they have to say is powerful: their words are the words of a fighting, optimistic, and lucid generation, which has seized this tool to get Africa on the go. It is not the tool itself which is causing a revolution (as the media who fall into the trap would often like to have us believe), but rather the way in which it is being appropriated. And the word revolution is probably not the right word, as there is a sense of deep historic continuity: that of a culture which has always managed to integrate syncretism to its advantage, without ever failing to select and to impose its rhythms.
It is clear the extent to which the question of the internet’s appropriation is close to that of development: it is not a matter of catching up, but of taking control of tools with a real project which respects local cultures and people. Whilst at the same time remaining conscious of the nature of the tool ! For, the net very rapidly becomes the panacea of the great world trade, and reinforces the cultural and technological battering currently underway. Far from reducing it, the fantastic acceleration of technological progress accentuates the divide between the North and the South more each day, whilst also reinforcing the standardization of the world.
We are not fooled by the technological, neo-liberal ideology crammed full of egalitarian illusions about the global village: the divisions of technology and skills means that the internet is not knowledge for all, but rather yet another demonstration of a two-track world! More still, this ideology confuses techniques and content: it masks the imposition of a way of doing and thinking on the world. It forgets that the more we communicate, the more the differences emerge. And the more we confine the Other to his/her difference, ultimately considering him/her to be what we need him/her to be: the one on whom we can project our inadequacies, and who must be taken care of to make him/her like us. Impoverishing him/her in the process. The burden of civilization Fanon refers to is still present in white minds… While the fear of technology is legitimate, it is not just in the sense of being gobbled up, but also in the sense of being limited to that which one is not, of not being able to live one’s otherness. This implies a struggle. The voice of the young African generation clearly affirms its desire to be present in a multicultural world which allows everyone, whether peoples or individuals, an autonomous and responsible place.
This is the essence of Africultures’ own development: starting out simply to build a long-lasting tool; building, without going too fast, and beyond the bounds of State logic, a French-African- Diaspora network of people and associations in order to create a blend of autonomous actions, rather than a convergence towards a centre. We too have opted for the new technologies by developing a robust internet site to complement the printed journal, giving us the opportunity to overcome the obstacles posed by books in Africa: namely their distribution and their cost. But the internet offers us much more: the possibility of multiplying the means to bear witness to diversity through partnerships with African groups – and soon to offer on the web, in all equality and diversity, the multi-editorial journal we dream of.
///Article N° : 5415