Monday, December 31, 2007

Entrepreneurship Off the Hinges in New Orleans

Two Cent is a collective of artists, DJs, poets, musicians and activists who are responding to the situation in New Orleans. Their web front page has a video about the use of the devastation in New Orleans for tourism. As they say, there is more money in devastation than in regeneration. "We make sure we preserve this, just for your tourism.. if you pay $75 on one of the tour buses going around the city!" Their web site a critique of racist media and some examples of the sort of racism that is prevalant on Fox News and other channels. There is also a look at the controversary around the N word."So hold your change, cause we're putting in our 2 cents...Everyone has issues but they don't all have the outlet to get heard. So 2 cents to the rescue. That's what we here for!"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Carols for Palestine

New York Human Rights Carolers Debut Songs Protesting Lev Leviev’s Israeli SettlementsNew York, NY, Dec 22 – Fifty New York human rights carolers sang parodies of holiday tunes today in front of LEVIEV New York to protest Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev’s destruction of communities in Palestine, Angola and in New York City. This was the fourth protest at Leviev’s Madison Avenue jewelry store since its gala opening on November 13.

Leviev’s companies are currently involved in building homes in at least four Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. All Israeli settlements violate international law according to a broad international consensus. Two weeks ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice specifically criticized Israel’s plans for construction in Har Homa, one settlement where a Leviev company is contracted to build. In Angola where he mines many of his diamonds, a security firm working for Leviev was accused of physically abusing workers. In New York City, his developments with his ex-partner Shaya Boymelgreen have come under attack from the community group ACORN and the Laborers' Union.

Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY commented, “Because Leviev has made it impossible for many Palestinians to live normal lives and to celebrate the holidays of Eid Al Adha and Christmas this month, we will spoil his holidays and continue our campaign against his human rights abuses.”

Stealing Palestinian Land (to the tune of "Winter Wonderland")
Sales will ring, are ya list'nin'?
In the lanes jewels are glist'nin'.
A beautiful sight, Leviev's happy tonight,
Stealing lots of Palestinian land.

Gone away is the bluebird;
Here to stay is a boo-bird.
We'll sing you this song as he goes along,
Stealing lots of Palestinian land.

In the meadow he will build a snowman,
And pretend his lawyer is in town.
He'll ask, "Now are you legal?" Lev says, "No, man!
But I won't let the question get me down!"
Later on, he'll conspire
As he dreams by the fire,
And face unafraid the plans that he's made
Building lots of homes on stolen land.

[Softer] And face unafraid the plans that he's made
Building lots of homes on stolen land.
[Softer] And face unafraid the plans that he's made
Building lots of homes on stolen land.

The protest closed with a rousing song to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”:
Leviev the Red-Faced Magnate (to the tune of Rudolph)
Leviev the red-faced magnate
Likes to uproot olive trees
And the way he can fund this,
Is with every shopping spree.
But if you spend cash elsewhere,
Palestinians won't lose land,
And Leviev the crooked jeweler,
He'll just have an empty hand.

Two days be-fore Christmas eve,
We're here to announce.
Leviev won't sell gems tonight,
We know customers will do right!

Lev we all hope you're listening,
Stop building on stolen land,
We'll be here almost weekly,
Until you don't have more demand

This caroling is similar to actions taken in Manchester UK in 2004.See:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Let 1000 Transmitters Bloom!

BERLIN 01.-09.01.2008 Call for Participation
Berlin Radio activists will host „Liberation Radio Week“ transmissions Jan 1-9,2008 LIVE and ON AIR from Berlin. Berlin Free Radio will be listenable via multiple micro-fm transmitters and an internet stream, fully legal but without license.* We want to demonstrate both the necessity of a live and active community radio, and the ease by which it can be made in Berlin and everywhere. Each day of programming will feature reports from sister projects around the world, beginning with
Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and in the days following, reports from around Europe, and finally (in primarily German language) a focus on the current activity in the Federal Republic of Germany, with a full day to discuss the various radio initiatives in Berlin.Ways you can support the project:
1. Re-broadcast and/or relay the live stream by whatever means accessible
2. Contribute reports from your region and neighborhood
3. Spread the word by linking to Mikro-FM site and posting the news of Liberation Radio Week on net lists and community
bulletin boards

For more info: (english version soon) Contact and feedback:

* In Berlin, Brandenburg broadcasting on the airwaves requires a license, which is only purchasable through the MABB ( MedienAnstalt Berlin Brandenburg, which regulates all broadcast media in the Berlin region). Mikro FM is based on the community radio innovations of Tetsuo Kogawa, which in this local circumstance does not violate the media laws.
The founder of the Micro Radio Movement is Tetsuo Kogawa. He is on the right in this photo, taken on the occasion of DeeDee Halleck's visit to the site of his long running radio program, Radio Home Run, in Tokyo.
A paper giving the history of Radio Home Run and the Micro Radio Movement is on nettime.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saint Clair Bourne Passes

Photo Credit: Chester Higgins, Jr.
"Most of mainstream and public television in the late ’60s, and even during the ’70s,” he said, “was from the point of view of an outsider looking at a subculture — white people looking at black people. We said we identify with and are a part of the subjects we are filming.” -- SCB

St. Clair Bourne, pioneer filmmaker and activist, died on Saturday due to complications following an operation to remove a brain tumor. His many great documentaries will continue to be a definitive collection of African American art and history. He did the key biographical films on Paul Robeson, Amiri Baraka, Walter Mosley, Gordon Parks, John Henrik Clarke and Langston Hughes among others. His film on Spike Lee and the making of "Do the Right Thing" was called as tense and ingrossing as the film itself. In addition to producing and directing many films that chronicle the experience of Black Americans, St. Clair founded Chamba Notes, an important list serve and website.
The New York Times Obituary has a video of him on their site.
Arrangements have been set for 7:00 pm on January 25th, 2008 at Riverside Church to memorialize the life and untimely loss of St Clair Bourne.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Way Beyond YouTube! Wiki on US PEG Streaming

The Alliance for Community Media has set up a Wiki with links to streaming PEG (Public, Educational and Government) channels in the U.S. You can get a sense of what sort of programming is being presented on these channels. Access centers can add their own url if it has not been included on the interactive site.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Street Art Workers

This is a stencil from 2004 when the theme was media.

SAW was founded in March 2001. Every year our members pick a theme, make art, and put up each other´s work. We aim for the largest possible impact by posting art simultaneously across North America. Most people in the network exchange posters, stencils or stickers designed for guerrilla wheat pasting or spray painting, but SAW submissions are limited only by your imagination. Submissions need to be mass produced, easy to ship and relatively easy to display. Production costs are covered by each artist, and distribution costs are covered by SAW. The group is run by volunteers with a shoestring budget, but our collective strength promotes all of our work.

The most recent project is about globalization.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

From Nicaragua: The Dilema of Information and Communication

Dilemas de la información y la comunicación para un "buen gobierno" Arturo Zamora, Nicaragua, 07-12-2007
“Escuchar es el principio del entendimiento”

La información y la comunicación no pueden, ni deben seguir siendo manipuladas como factores de poder desde una concepción autoritaria, sino que por el contrario, debe ser vistas como bien social, como recursos útiles para propiciar la participación ciudadana, racionalizar recursos, facilitar la solución de problemas y necesidades sociales y agilizar los procesos de desarrollo y de transparencia que el país y sus ciudadanos anhelan. No se debe, pues, discutir qué tipo de control hay que tener sobre la información, sino, qué tipo de sociedad deseamos: Autoritaria o democrática.

Apremia abrir las instituciones publicas y hacerlas más participativas, democráticas y eficientes. Compromete transformar los sistemas de información y comunicación entre el gobierno y la ciudadanía. Obligan nuevas relaciones con los medios de comunicación y los trabajadores de la información y la comunicación social. Hoy apura cambiar radicalmente este tipo de relación pervertida y conflictiva entre gobierno y ciudadanos. Precisa la creación de un Consejo Nacional de Información y Comunicación Social.

La exclusión, el control y la erección de barreras para evitar el acceso a la participación ciudadana en la administración pública, fue entre otras, una de las características predominantes de los dos últimos gobiernos en Nicaragua. Estos gobiernos trabajaron por la desmovilización de los ciudadanos, acostumbrados a afrontar con entereza problemas comunes. Fustigaron permanentemente a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil, generando temor, pasividad, apatía, alienación e impotencia; con la consiguiente pérdida de los valores de solidaridad social. Generaron desconsuelo, desconfianza e incertidumbre.

Se fomentó la confrontación entre los servidores públicos y la gente, en vez de propiciar la colaboración para solucionar problemas sociales que afectan a todos. Desarmó consejos y estructuras que permitían la participación de diversos sectores sociales en la formulación de políticas de salud, educación y otros ámbitos de bien común. Fomentó la impunidad, la evasión de la justicia y de la verdad. Subestimó la energía potencial de la gente para “empoderarse” y contribuir a solucionar problemas, que la administración pública debía resolver. Ensalzó la displicencia, la falta de ética. Premió el arribismo, la ceguera; el yo no fui.

Si en las administraciones anteriores la información y la comunicación estuvieron centralizadas, hoy debe ser descentralizada. Si estuvo restringida, para adormecer la inteligencia ciudadana e inmovilizarla, hoy deberá ser abierta para acrecentar el conocimiento y fomentar la movilización de la población. Si se manejaba como propiedad de la burocracia, hoy debe ser entendida como de utilidad pública. Si la información sobre la gestión gubernamental, el acceso y utilización de la misma obedecía al modelo autoritario, hoy debe corresponder a un modelo horizontal, inclusivo y democrático.

Si la comunicación fue vertical, jerárquica y vocinglera, hoy debe ser dialógica y de doble vía, y más aún, debe darse de múltiples formas. Debe propiciar equilibrio, estabilidad social, respeto, empatía, solidaridad, participación ciudadana. Debe ser inclusiva, responsable, educativa y movilizadora. Estos y otros, son los dilemas de la información y la comunicación del gobierno actual en Nicaragua.

Aunque la mayoría de los problemas que afronta el país no pueden ser resueltos a través de la información y comunicación únicamente, son una herramienta que usadas adecuadamente pueden contribuir a modificar hábitos y costumbres que nos atrapan en el atraso y oscurantismo autoritario. La información y la comunicación por sí solas no van a reducir la pobreza ni los problemas del desarrollo del país, mas sin embargo, campañas eficaces de información y comunicación educativa, contribuirán a la convivencia ciudadana, educarían a la población sobre alternativas para sus vidas, motivarían a la acción, acrecentará sus conocimientos y reforzara las conductas que se deseen modificar. Arturo Zamora es Sociólogo y Comunicador Social


Niger journalists free, but two still in prison
Niamey - Police in Niger have released two journalists held for allegedly defaming the country's finance minister but they still face prosecution, a press association said on Friday. "They have been freed but the prosecutor has notified them that legal procedures will follow their normal course," Boubacar Diallo of the Association of Independent Press Editors told AFP.

Soumana Maiga, founder of the biweekly L'Enqueteur, was detained Wednesday, while Ibrahim Souley, the publication's director, was briefly detained last Thursday before being held again for questioning five days later. L'Enqueteur published a series of articles last month that included allegations that Finance Minister Ali Lamine Zeine had been involved in embezzlement and favouritism in ministry appointments.

Two other journalists are also being held in Niger. Moussa Kaka, Radio France Internationale's correspondent in the country, has been detained since September 26, while Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, director of the biweekly Air-Info, has been held since October 9. They face charges over alleged links to a Tuareg rebel group active in the country's north. Prosecutors at Agadez, in the north of the country, questioned Manzo Diallo for the first time on Friday, grilling him for three hours in the presence of his lawyer Moussa Coulibaly, who also represents Kaka.

Niger Radio Station Head Taken to Prison

Monday, December 3, 2007

Music in the Korean Workers' Movements

A new Korean documentary shows how Yeon Yeongseok, a popular Korean singer, uses his work in support of Korean workers.It is called To the Bitter End and shows the determination of the Korean workers and how Yeon's music is part of their struggle.His music is played at rallies and recordings are brought to sit-ins.
Labor activists in Korea have used video for decades. There have even been contracts negotiated which require that companies pay a video-activist (chosen by the union) to record working conditions and labor issues in a particular work site. The tapes are then played back in the lunch room of the factory. Korean documentaries are often very emotional, this one showing the pain and courage of the striking workers as they band together when the police try to disperse them.
A recent dispute within the union community concerned the rights of migrant laborers. Migrants are given three year visas. They are not allowed to bring their families into Korea. Their pay is low and their working conditions are harsh. Many work as much as twelve hours a day. Some of the traditional union members did not want to support these "irregular workers" but others felt that this would be siding with the "bosses".A tactic often used is sit-ins. This one at Koscom ended with an agreement to bargain in good faith, but further negotiations were stymied.The documentary is directed by Tae, Jun-seek, Produced by Lee, Sangyeop. Contact:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

World AIDS Day Intervention- Dia Mundial de Sida

Bacanalnica is a web site which is visited each day by 10 million young people from throughout Central America. In an effort to intervene in that space, the following tape was posted.
My friend Arturo sends this message:
Después de hacer las gestiones personales con Bacanalnica, he puesto en la Web el anuncio de Perrozompopo. Dialogo intrafamiliar para la prevención del VIH.
Haga circular la direccion del Blog

La epidemia está afectando principalmente a personas entre 20 y 34 años (58%). Ahora se desplaza rápidamente hacia los adolescentes y jóvenes de 15 a 19 años.

En el año 2006 los adolescentes en este grupo de edad representaron el 6.8% de las nuevas infecciones por VIH en Nicaragua, mientras los niños y niñas de 0-14 años representaron el 5.6% de nuevas infecciones.

Las mujeres jóvenes y adolescentes en Nicaragua son más vulnerables.

El 71.4% de los nuevos casos de VIH en adolescentes de 15 a 19 años, ocurrieron en mujeres en el año 2006.

En Nicaragua la principal causas es por la falta de información objetiva, específica, científica y actualizada, derecho que se encuentra establecido en el artículo 44 del Código de la Niñez y Adolescencia, que indica: “Que las niñas, niños y adolescentes tienen derecho a recibir una educación sexual integral, objetiva, orientadora, científica, gradual y formativa, que desarrolle su autoestima y el respeto a su propio cuerpo y a la sexualidad responsable, el Estado garantizará programas de educación sexual a través de la escuela y la comunidad educativa”.

Los cambios sólo se pueden lograr con la participación de la juventud. 1. 5 millones de habitantes de Nicaragua (25% de la población) somos adolescentes y jóvenes, que con información y habilidades podemos lograr un cambio en el comportamiento de la epidemia del VIH en el país.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

International Radio Event for Migrants

Radio 1812/2007 invites you to Tune in on International Migrants Day!
It is estimated that some 200 million people live outside of their home countries. And this is not a new phenomenon: Europe, America, and Australia were all built on the influx of millions of people in search of a better life. Since 2000, the international community has designated 18th of December as International Migrants Day, to celebrate the achievements and highlight the struggles of migrants around the world.
Last year, December 18, the international advocacy and resource centre on the human rights of migrant workers launched Radio 1812, a global radio event where community stations, commercial radios and national and international broadcasters in over twenty countries stretching from Australia to Peru produced and broadcasted on one day more than 50 programmes in the most various languages, from Chinese and Thai to Spanish and Kazak.
December 18 was also honoured to welcome the support of former Irish President and Human Rights defender Mary Robinson, and of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour. Both used the Radio 1812/2006 event to reinforce their message: that human rights for all means human rights for migrants too.
This year, supported by UNESCO and ™Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, amongst others, Radio1812 is back hoping to bring together more radios, more migrants and more concerned citizens to take part in the celebrations on 18th December 2007.
Rene Plaetevoet, Director of December 18, says: "Last year, Radio 1812 was a successful and exciting new initiative that put the voices of the often-voiceless at the centre of the debate around migration through the power of radio. This year, we call on all radio stations and migrant solidarity groups around the world to come together and join this exciting second edition of Radio 1812 to celebrate International Migrants Day 2007."
For a taste of what happened in 2006 you can listen to a short remix of last year's event and browse through all of the content from the past edition on our new multilingual radio portal.
In 2007, audio programming on migration will be updated regularly thanks to the generosity of all the radios that wish to share their existing and future programming on this issue. Regular feeds on migration-related news, exciting features and briefings and helpful tips on how to take part in Radio 1812/2007 are some of the new additions to this year's initiative.
For more information on how to take part in Radio 1812 or to share any existing audio content you may have on migration, please check the Radio 1812 website, or contact us at:

The mission of DECEMBER 18 is to promote and protect the rights of migrants worldwide. Our goal is that the human rights of all migrants are recognised and protected effectively, and that an environment is created for migrants to be full participants in any society. We promote an approach to migration policies that is based on existing international and regional human rights instruments and mechanisms.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Students in India Take to the Airwaves

From India Times: Campus radio has students hooked 8 Nov, 2007, 1637 hrs IST,Shreya Biswas, TNN
NEW DELHI: It's time to tune in folks! Ever since the government announced revised guidelines on community radio service (CRS), hordes of educational institutes and universities are hitting the air waves with their own versions of FM radio. While FM radio service by some premier universities such as Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi, University of Agricultural Sciences and Holy Cross College in the south have already gone on air, scores of others are planning to jump on to the bandwagon including IIT-Kanpur. There are others such as IIM-Kozikhode and Lucknow that have chosen to launch Internet radio, a students only initiative to provide a live and interactive platform their community. While IIM-K's K-dio is already
operational, IIM-L is plans go live shortly.

In the last one year alone around 10 campus radio stations across the country have become operational. "The CRS initiative didn't get as much response initially and institutes were reluctant to sign on due to some infrastructural issues," says M V Vijayan, under-secretary, FM, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. "However, in the last one year, after the announcement of revised guidelines, they are responding well and institutions who stayed back due to lack of awareness are now coming forward."

Delhi University's campus radio, launched last month, has already got the students hooked. There have been three auditions for the various programmes and students create the content. While the number of students for the initial auditions was a mere 20-25, the fourth audition has attracted close to 100 applicants. "Almost 50% of the content will be for the students and the issues they are attached to and the rest will be for the community around the campus," says Vijaylakshmi Sinha, head of the project for DU and former director-general, AIR. She adds that the response has been "great".

The programmes are of general interest like girls' safety or academic like career counselling besides softer genre programmes on junk jewellery, eating jaunts, music and discussions. That's exactly what the community radio initiative is aimed at, providing the students or the community an interactive platform to reach out to each other, discuss issues of common interest and provide a platform to develop talent.

IIT-Kanpur, which plans to come up with its own community radio by next March, wants to reach out to the community around the college besides the students. There are plans to air programmes on agricultural research, newer technologies and topics of general interest. "By March next year, the studio would be operational. It will operate within a radius of 15km, reaching out to the students and the people around the campus and addressing topics of their interest." says Sanjay Dhande, director, IIT-K.

Till now, competition from FM channel and limited reach has restricted the success of such community radio to a few. Pune University's Vigyaan Vaani launched in 2005 is a case in point. The channel is received within a radius of 7km of the assigned 10km while majority of its target audience is in the centre of the city. Obviously, they can't be reached. Besides, the huge
competition from FM channels has also been a cause of concern. "Unless we can reach out to more students and people, no one will know the utility of such an effort," says Anand Deshmukh, director, Vidya Vaani. "Though there have been efforts to make it interesting, the efforts are noticed only if you reach out to them. What we have now done is to put up the programmes on the website of the channel so that it is accessible." The channel airs various programmes on issues related to student community, general interest and music where students perform. This, the institutes feel is a good way to nurture talent and give them an opportunity to connect with their immediate neighbours and come up with ideas for problem solution.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Korea's RTV Celebrates 5th Anniversary

RTV is the first public access channel in Korea. It is celebrating its fifth year of broadcasting.This project grew out of the work of Mediact, an impressive media center in the heart of Seoul.These sorts of flower towers are a Korean tradition. There was an entire row of them sent by corporations who do business with the channel.To celebrate the anniversary, there was a seminar on community media, with international guests: Catherine from Vive TV in Venezuela, Adilson Cabral from Brazil, Myung Joon Kim from Korea, Ellie Rennie from Australia, DeeDee Halleck from US, Supinya Kiangnarong from Thailand, Kate Coyer from Hungary and the US and Jon Stout from the US. This is a trio from the US, Brazil and Thailand. Supinya Kiangnarong has been struggling to get freedom of expression in Thailand.Myung Joon Kim, coordinator of Mediact, the Korean media center, explains the exhibit of five years of Mediact's work.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hype Vs Reality in Internet/Lap Top Development

A lot of buzz at the Tunis meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (organized by UNESCO and the ITU in 2005) was generated by a presentation by Nicholas Negroponte about an MIT project to design and implement an inexpensive, hand-cranked laptop which could be marketed (sic) to poor countries to "bridge the digital divide". The "unveiling" of the device brought out a crush of TV journalists, radio reporters and eager bloggers. At the time, a Kenyan communication specialist remarked privately,"The project is so "American"." He explained that the whole notion of INDIVIDUAL (or as they are called PERSONAL) computers is a concept that is not necessarily the best solution to information problems in places like his country. He mentioned the successful community telecenters where technology and skills are SHARED as being a model for the more practical immediate needs, and of course the over-ridding need for backbone infrastructure access. He also scoffed at the trials of the machines--mainly done with MIT grad students not in the dusty environment of an African village. Without any basic trials, Negroponte seemed to imply that they would go into massive production of several million and that orders were in place from Brazil and India. That would be without even trying a larger test of, say, several hundred in a variety of situations-- urban barrios, villages, etc.
Last week, with similar hoop-la, Negroponte presided over a UN event for the lap tops. After being questioned by skeptics in the discussion period Negroponte admitted that the massive orders had fallen through, but that they were going ahead with production on a large scale. A useful accounting of the UN event is at The questions posed in that article are quite striking. For example, why would the UN sponsor this presentation by a single company/institution without opening up a broader discussion of the various problems with connectivity in developing countries? Why was there no discussion of the infrastructure needed to provide broadband? Or, for that matter, no discussion of the real divide: the stark poverty of townships in Africa compared with the shiny commodity-filled malls of Cambridge and Boston (and Sandton in RSA and the YaYa Center in Nairobi).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

liso Labantu: Photo Project in South African Townships

liso Labantu is a group of photographers who live in the townships around Cape Town, South Africa. We are using point-and-shoot digital cameras to document our neighborhoods one by one. Every other month, we meet in a new neighborhood and shoot—all of us—for 48 hours, from sun up on Friday until late on Saturday night. We then edit, print, and laminate the work. On Sunday morning we hang the photographs on the streets for the community to see. We call these 'Flash Photo Weekends.' Collectively, we are documenting our lives, our families, our struggles and our accomplishments.The group is growing, as well as getting more professional. And, we are in need of more equipment. Here’s where you can help.Do you have:
* old point and shoot or SLR digital cameras (3.2 Megapixels and up)
* Battery chargers
* Flash Cards or Memory Cards
Or.... Maybe you have...
* an old laptop?
* hard drive
* firewire cables and power chargers
We are also building a library for the organization. If you have photography books that you would like to give a happy second life, please consider donating those.
Send to Sue Johnson
169 Avenue A #13
NYC, NY 10009

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Filmmaker Florian Opitz facing 14 years of prison in Nigeria

from: Opitz was arrested in Nigeria by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) and has to appear in court today. He is accused of 'endangering national security' and faces up to 14 years in prison. Florian Opitz is a freelance documentary filmmaker, author and journalist. His last very successful documentary "The Big Sell-Out"is a political film. In various episodes the abstract phenomenon of privatisation is depicted in stories about very concrete human destinies around the globe. The documentary tells tragic, tragicomic but also encouraging stories of the everyday life of people, who day by day have to deal with the effects of privatisation politics, dictated by anonymous international financial institutions in Washington D.C. and Geneva, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO)."

Arrested with him were filmmaker Andy Lehmann (Berlin), Danjuma Saidu (Nigeria) and Judith Asuni (US/Nigeria), doing research in the Niger delta for their next film. They were alledgedly taking pictures of oil refineries, pipelines and ships. The Niger Delta has seen many bloody conflicts about resources, oil revenue and distribution of wealth, often depicted as 'ethnic conflicts' by neighbouring tribes. Judith Asuni has lived in the region for 36 years and works with the peace work NGO
Academic Associates/PeaceWorks.

The Niger Delta moved in the focus of attention with the trial against Ken Saro-Wiwa, author, television producer, and environmentalist who received the Right Livelihood Award in 1994 and was nominated for the Peace Nobel Price in 1996. He was executed in 1995. The German Journalist Association demands all four arrested to be released and calls the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene.[tt_news]

Florian Opitz has screened 'The Big Sell Out' during the last Globale film festival in May in Berlin together with Andrej Holm, leading to a public debate about privatisation. Before he left to Nigeria he left us his card and said "Call me if there is anything I can do to help from from there." It's up to us now to help
free him.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Niger Radio Station Head Taken to Prison

Niger: Moussa Kaka Taken to Niamey Prison Without Explanation Reporters sans Frontières (Paris) PRESS RELEASE 25 September 2007Reporters Without Borders today condemned the transfer of radio station head Moussa Kaka to Niamey prison after a prolonged period in custody without being taken before the prosecutor or being given any explanation, as demanded under law. Kaka, of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya, and correspondent in Niger for Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Reporters Without Borders, was moved to prison on 24 September, four days after his arrest."It is astonishingly lax to arrest one of the country's most prominent journalists without producing any serious proof and flouting the law. In such a serious case, it is beyond belief that the Nigerian authorities should show such contempt. It gives legitimate reason to question the credibility of the procedure which led to Moussa Kama being sent to prison," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. The journalist was held in custody for a four-day period which expired at 6pm on 24 September without ever being formally charged.

The only indication of what the journalist is accused of came from the prosecutor general of the Niamey appeal court, Adama Harouna, who said on 21 September that he faced proceedings for "violating state security", because of his alleged links with the Tuareg rebellion of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ). His lawyer, Mr Coulibaly said that he should be taken before the prosecutor's office during 25 September.

In a statement released yesterday, RFI voiced its "very serious concern about the fate of our correspondent". "In the absence of precise facts setting out the details of the accusations against our correspondent, RFI questions the exact reasons which led the authorities in Niger to arrest and then imprison a journalist, well known for his professionalism and independence," it said.

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has more than 120 correspondents worldwide.

Niger journalists free - for now

Niamey - Police in Niger have released two journalists held for allegedly defaming the country's finance minister but they still face prosecution, a press association said on Friday.

"They have been freed but the prosecutor has notified them that legal procedures will follow their normal course," Boubacar Diallo of the Association of Independent Press Editors told AFP.

Soumana Maiga, founder of the biweekly L'Enqueteur, was detained Wednesday, while Ibrahim Souley, the publication's director, was briefly detained last Thursday before being held again for questioning five days later.

L'Enqueteur published a series of articles last month that included allegations that Finance Minister Ali Lamine Zeine had been involved in embezzlement and favouritism in ministry appointments.

Two other journalists are also being held in Niger.

Moussa Kaka, Radio France Internationale's correspondent in the country, has been detained since September 26, while Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, director of the biweekly Air-Info, has been held since October 9.

They face charges over alleged links to a Tuareg rebel group active in the country's north.

Prosecutors at Agadez, in the north of the country, questioned Manzo Diallo for the first time on Friday, grilling him for three hours in the presence of his lawyer Moussa Coulibaly, who also represents Kaka.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Participatory Communication by Alfonso Gumucio

Photos from a Theater Project in Nigeria to encourage innoculation against polio.
Most rural and urban communities in the Third World do not have a voice. The globalisation of communications during the last decades has imposed over the world not only biased information but also a daily culture that very often is in conflict with local traditions. The communities that have resisted to changes that may annihilate their moral and ethical values have based their strength in their own culture. But many were not strong enough to resist, so they have disappeared as cultures. They only remain as people, added to the margins of the globalised economy. Communication has a very important role to play in defending and promoting cultural identity. In my work I have always kept in mind that communication is tool for participation and organization. Only organized communities, that use communication to strengthen their traditions and to preserve a live memory of their past, can face the challenge of resisting to a uniform and globalised world. I have supported communities to build their own communication systems in several countries, using all possible communication tools, from community radio to popular theatre. I have used film to support the organizational activities of workers in Nicaragua and peasants in Bolivia, rural theatre to promote immunization in Nigeria, audiocassettes to help networking among rural communities in México. Each concrete situation has brought me to develop different communication responses, strategies and tools.From a report on theater for health initiatives:The advantages of popular theatre in Nigeria is that it can be built on existing ritual manifestations, taking advantage of local culture to communicate new messages of benefit for the community. Gumucio (2001) reported that the important and immediate impact of the popular activities resulted from marrying the dramatic performance with service delivery. For cultural reasons, many women in Nigeria did not immunize their children. However, after Jimmy Solanke's performance of The Postman Calls, nurses had to deal with hundreds of women and their children of all ages lining up to get their immunization shots or drops. This had a double benefit: on one hand it created greater awareness among the people in the villages; on the other hand it ensured that the health staff from the local government would go out to the villages on a regular basis, which they were often reluctant to do. **********************************************************
This is Alfonso's contribution to a "chat" about folk culture and development from The Communication Initiative:
In my understanding, folk media is closer to communication than mass media. And there is a simple reason for that: mass media deals with one-way information, whereas community media and folk media deal with two-way communication. We shouldn’t even be specifying that communication is a two-way process, but many still don’t get it. From the Greek and the Latin origins of the word itself, “communication” means sharing and participation, the same as dialogue. Communication that doesn’t involve dialogue and participation is just information. Why do we have two words, “information” and “communication” if people keep using them randomly, as if they were the same? Maybe some do not really like the word “folk” because it relates to “folklore”, which, as we all know is a devaluated and frozen-in-time form of cultural expression. However, the word “folk” means “people”, and we need to rescue it from any distortion in its use. In Spanish we use “popular theatre” or “popular communication” to refer to it, however in English “popular” has become a synonym of popularity, in a frivolous sense. Folk communication (as I prefer to call it, rather than “folk media”) has been around for many years as a tool for development. Brazilian Luiz Beltrao wrote several books about it in the early 1960s and explained in detail its relevance to development. It doesn’t include just popular or street theatre, it also relates to other forms of local cultural expressions, including songs, drums, poetry, puppets, dance, and a wealth of other creative expressions. Durgadas arguments are more than convincing about it, so I won’t repeat.

I’ve personally supported community theatre in programmes in Nigeria, Haiti and Papua New Guinea, in isolated localities in those countries where mass media had no reach or impact at all. It they had reach, their impact was null because it didn’t speak the language and the local culture.

This is precisely why folk communication is so relevant in development, because it interacts with local culture, in the language and themes that are important to the communities. While mass media “campaigns” are aiming larger “publics” with very general messages, folk and community based communication is addressing issues in specific ways and is doing it through local engagement and participation. And we know already that only participation in development leads to ownership of the programmes. You don’t get communities to have ownership by bombarding them with mass media messages. Information does not contribute to sustainability, communication does.

One important issue rose in my own experience with folk media and community theatre: the question of continuity. Communication, as a process, has to be sustainable and sustained. If we want sustainable social change and development, then we also need sustainable communication. In Nigeria we had trained one local theatre group in each Local Government (46 by the time I left) so they could go around the 300 communities within the geographical area covered by the Local Government. I was so enthusiastic about it that I wrote a book: “Popular Theatre” (1995).

The above is to say that folk media has to be a permanent exercise, not just once in a while. It has no impact if performances and activities are conducted once a week, or once a month. It has to be a regular communication activity, built into education, culture and social development. Impact of folk media can only be noticeable if experiences are multiplied by hundreds. Message to development agencies: spend less in your own visibility through mass media and think about development that can be sustainable through participatory communication, including folk media. --Alfonso Gumucio-Dagron

Friday, September 28, 2007

Google Banned in Myanmar

Burma bans Google and gmail Friday, September 28, 2007 Mungpi-- Mizzima News ( June 26, 2006- Burmese authorities have blocked the well-known Google search engine and its mail service gmail, according to internet users in Rangoon. "It has been about a week that we cannot access our mails and use Google," a Rangoon resident said. Users attempting to view either of the sites are confronted with a message saying "Access Denied". An official from Bagan Cybertech, Burma's only internet service provider, confirmed that both Google and gmail were inaccessible but declined to comment further.In an effort to control the flow of information in and out of the country, the Burmese government has banned several websites including yahoo email and hotmail. Amyotharye U Win Naing, a Rangoon based independent political analyst and gmail user told Mizzima, "I think it is because of the increase in internet users . . . Because gmail has a big storage and is easy to use so a lot of people, even government servants, have started using it."This is from, which provides news of the uprising.
This is also from the Ko-htike site.

Citizen Journalists in Myanmar

Citizen Journalists' Evade Blackout On Myanmar News
Blogs and Shaky Videos Find Way Into Mainstream; By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER
Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2007
As Myanmar's regime cracks down on a growing protest movement, "citizen journalists" are breaking the news to the world.
At 1:30 yesterday afternoon, a cellphone buzzed with news for Soe Myint, the editor in chief of Mizzima News, a publication about Myanmar run by exiles in New Delhi.
The message: "There is a tourist shot down" in Yangon, the center of recent protests by Buddhist monks and others against the military junta in Myanmar, formerly Burma. Troops there were clearing the streets, telling protesters they had just minutes to go home -- or be shot.
The text message wasn't from one of Soe Myint's reporters. In fact, he doesn't know who sent the message. He believes it came from one of the more than 100 students, activists and ordinary citizens who have been feeding him reports, images and video of the violent events unfolding in recent days.
In the age of YouTube, cellphone cameras and text messaging, technology is playing a critical role in helping news organizations and international groups follow Myanmar's biggest protests in nearly two decades. Citizen witnesses are using cellphones and the Internet to beam out images of bloodied monks and street fires, subverting the Myanmar government's effort to control media coverage and present a sanitized version of the uprising. The Associated Press reported yesterday that soldiers in Yangon fired automatic weapons into a crowd of demonstrators as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters converged in the capital. Wire services have reported the number of dead at nine, citing the state media.
The BBC, which has a Burmese language Web site and radio service, is encouraging its audience to send in photos, like the ones it received of a monk's monastery that had been ransacked by authorities. A shaky video, now on YouTube, shows a sea of chanting and clapping monks draped in red robes marching down a street, past Buddhist monuments. One blog features a photo showing two abandoned, bloodstained sandals.
Another blog was updated at 3 p.m. Myanmar time yesterday with a few English lines: "Right now they're using fire engines and hitting people and dragging them onto E2000 trucks and most of them are girls and people are shouting." Below the post is a blurry photo of trucks with the caption, "This is how they come out and try to kill people."
Who produced these reports -- or how the information got out of Myanmar -- hasn't been established. But that's the point in a country where people caught protesting or writing against the government risk years in prison.
The last time there was a protest of this scale in Myanmar was 1988, when a pro-democracy uprising was crushed by the military and more than 3,000 people died. First reports of that event came from diplomats and official media. "Technology has changed everything," says Aung Zaw, a Myanmar exile whose Thailand publication Irrawaddy has been covering events in Burma hour-by-hour, with reports gathered online. "Now in a split second, you have the story," says the editor.
According to the AP, on Thursday Myanmar's state-run newspaper blamed the protests in Yangon, formerly called Rangoon, on "saboteurs inside and outside the nation." It also said that the demonstrations were much smaller than foreign media were reporting.
The events are a trial by fire for so-called citizen journalists, who cover events that professional journalists can't get to. The Myanmar government has successfully kept out many reporters, some of whom are filing their stories about events in Myanmar from India and Thailand.
The AP, Reuters and other media have been retransmitting photos and reports given to them by exile media organizations like Mizzima, Irrawaddy, and the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma. Those outfits are acting as a clearinghouse for images and reports produced by people in Myanmar.
Time Warner Inc.'s CNN, which had its own reporter in Myanmar on Wednesday, has also been airing 65 clips and pictures from tourists and Myanmar residents sent in via its "ireport" citizen-journalist system.
"When traditional methods and professional journalists can't provide footage, and personal safety allows, citizens rise to the challenge time and again, often with remarkable material," said Ellana Lee, the managing editor of CNN Asia Pacific in an email. "Even in countries like Myanmar, the spread of the Internet and mobile phones has meant that footage will always continue to get through and the story will be told, one way or another."
Still, working with inexperienced journalists can be a challenge for news organizations that want to publish credible, balanced information. Reuters, which has a reporter stationed in Yangon, says content from citizen journalists is rigorously checked for accuracy.
Speaking of his correspondents, Aung Zaw, the editor of Irrawaddy, says, "They are doing their job on the ground, and nobody is even giving them the assignment. It is our job to check again with our sources, to see how close to the truth it is."
For example, he says his staff had a long discussion on Wednesday night about how many deaths had occurred during that day's bloody protests. The government was reporting one death, but his sources were saying possibly three, six or seven people died. In the end, after counting known specific cases, Irrawaddy made the "very difficult call" to say there were six deaths, says Aung Zaw. "We also said this number couldn't be confirmed."
After Mizzima's Soe Myint received his text message about Thursday's tourist shooting, he asked one of the 10 reporters who work for him in Myanmar to verify the claim. An hour and a half after the initial report, Mizzima reported on its Web site that a 30-year old foreigner was injured in gunfire, and that an American flag was found with his bag. Security people also seized his video camera, the report said.
Soe Myint says his grassroots reporting system is in place because his organization has been building a base of supporters in the country for years: "This is not the work of one day. We have been getting ready for this for the last nine years. People know our work and how to reach us."
The safety of everyone trying to report from Myanmar now is cause for concern. Yesterday, a Japanese photojournalist was killed, and another foreign reporter was injured, according to reports. State media yesterday reported 11 people were injured in Yangon on Thursday, but it didn't specify who they were.
One blogger dubbed "Moezack," whose photos and descriptions of the protests -- sometimes posted minutes after events occurred -- were picked up by the international press, had stopped blogging. His "Today Burma" blog is currently empty, and his whereabouts are unknown to several international groups, though he might be blogging under another name.
The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders says that many of the people sending reports out of Yangon are former journalists and activists, some of whom have at some point been jailed for their work. "They do it because they are part of the struggle," says the group's Asia program director, Vincent Brossel.
Myanmar is hardly a technological hub. Cellphones are expensive, and the Internet penetration rate is less than 1%. Even before the recent clash, the government has taken serious steps to censor Internet content, blocking access to popular foreign news and email services. A 2005 report by the Open Net Initiative, run out of several universities, said that Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council has implemented "one of the world's most restrictive regimes of Internet control."
Yet activists and students in Burma have become particularly skilled at using technological tricks to bypass those restrictions -- some of them borrowed from China, where the government also censors the Internet. These include using proxies, which create a hole in the censorship network by connecting directly to one computer outside the country.
Reporters Without Borders says that at 3 p.m. yesterday, authorities disconnected most of the country's cellphone lines, preventing journalists and demonstrators from reporting on events. Authorities have also closed some Internet cafes in Yangon, effectively shutting down many blogs and Web sites.
The Internet has slowed so that it has been difficult to send out photographs and video. It took several hours for pictures to emerge of Wednesday's shootings, says Mr. Brossel.
So now groups determined to get news out are turning to costly but independent satellite phones, which can't as easily be monitored by the government. Irrawaddy's Aung Zaw remains confident. "The more they try to suppress information, the more will come out."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Alternative Channel

The Alternative Channel is an independent television-over-internet news channel webcasting high quality documentary and public affairs videos created by citizen journalists guided and assisted by a professional news team. We support all major web-fed platforms. We will be streaming content, and we will be offering video on demand.
Alternative Channel
5685, Fullum, Suite 103,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H1Y 2H9
+1 (514) 277.1201

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Philly PEG Progress Proves Persistanse Pays!

This is a picture of Inja Coates who has lead the fight for public access in Philadelphia, the last major US city to have PEG (public, educational and government) access. For years she, Media Tank and other activists have held forums, have challenged the city council, have marched in the streets to demand their rights to community media. This week was a huge victory for everyone in Philadelphia!
This notice was posted by the Alliance for Community Media:
Alliance members nationwide celebrate the announcement of formal agreement between the City and Comcast to open a Public Access facility in Philadelphia, PA. Our congratulations go out to all the elected officials, company executives and, most of all, the dedicated community organizations and activists, such as the Philadelphia Community Access Coalition, who have worked tirelessly for almost 25 years to bring this about. It has been a long, hard struggle, but finally the city which historically most represents the ideals of democracy and freedom will have the benefit of Public Access—the voice of community in the electronic age.

According to Alliance Executive Director Anthony Riddle, “Today, the City underscores its support for the ideas of freedom and participation for which we all hope. We cannot offer mere lip-service to free speech. Freedom is a process of growth that depends on the real structures we put in place. Public Access is a means for us to protect those freedoms we hold dear." The Alliance appreciates this commitment to the public interest at a time when community needs are so often overlooked.
The Alliance for Community Media is a national membership organization representing 3,000 Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) Access centers across the nation. PEG channels are used by 1.2 million volunteers and 250,000
community organizations. Local PEG programmers produce 20,000 hours of new programs per week –more new programming than all of the broadcast networks combined.

Anthony T. Riddle
Alliance for Community Media
666 11th Street NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC 20001
202.393.2650 p, 202.393.2653 f

Index to Earlier Posts

Molo Songololo,
-- a unique children's magazine in South Africa
Alfonso Gumucio Dagron
--on the Difference Between Journalism and Communication
Radio Rootz
-- youth radio project in Louisiana
Native Hip Hop
--sample of music from a lively California band
Community Media Survey
--Please take this survey and send to
Farm Workers Radio
--A Prometheur Radio Barn-Raising in Oregon
La Voz de Guaicaipuro
--Community Radio in Venezuela
Rasa FM
--Interview with Molefi Ndlovu, radio activist from Soweto

Thursday, September 13, 2007

APC launches new book on WSIS

Developing Countries and Civil Society: Time for lessons learned
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay -- The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has been roundly criticised in the past and this new study from APC concludes that the summit “is not the best starting point for new action.” So, what is the point of looking at how developing country delegations and civil society fared at the summit? Because, says the author “it is always important to learn from experience – particularly where it did not deliver up to expectations.”

The book “Whose Summit? Whose Information Society? Developing countries and civil society at the World Summit on the Information Society”, commissioned by APC and written by David Souter draws on participants’ observations, detailed interviews with forty key actors and case studies of experiences rooted in five developing countries.WSIS holds many lessons for developing countries and civil society organisations aiming to exert greater influence in international ICT decision-making fora. Some lessons demonstrate what worked well – such as the highly successful, multi-stakeholder Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The majority illustrate what did not work so well – not least, holding a four-year long meeting on such a fast-changing topic. ----Association for Progressive Communications

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mexico Approves Media Reform Bill

The Mexican Congress, today (September 12, 2007) approved a bill that requires broadcasters to provide up to 48 minutes a day freely to political parties for the purposes of running federal campaign ads. Parties cannot buy additional time, and are limited to time equal to what other parties receive. Mexicans broadcasters, a tight and powerful monopoly, aren't happy with the projected loss of revenue.

This is an extraordinary step forward for Mexican politics which in recent years has closely mimicked the failures of US electoral policy. Vincente Fox won the presidency in 2000 for the right-leaning, neo-liberal PAN Party breaking more than 60 years of one Party domination by the PRI party. Fox won partly from a US style campaign run with US political campaign advisers - a first in Mexican campaigns. Fox's successor, Felipe Calderon (also of the PAN) won the next presidential election in 2006 in what most observers believe to have been a stolen election over progressive candidate Manual Lopez Obrador. Calderon also had heavy support from US campaign advisers and ran the dirtiest negative-ad campaigns in Mexican history.

Rejection of Calderon is so strong that on Sept. 2nd he was prevented for the second time from giving his 'state of the union' address in Congress by dissenting parties. Broadcasters cut oppositional voices in Congress short and instead cut to a presidential statement delivered from another location. Today broadcasters sent their more popular television hosts to testify against the new bill - and of course carried their testimonies live nationally.

Hopefully the new campaign law will help move Mexican politics further away from the current US model having such a negative impact there. And hopefully the US Congress will take notice and follow the lead of Mexican lawmakers in standing up to the broadcasting lobbyists and ensure that democratic principles are protected - not likely, but we can hope.--Michael Eisenmenger

Of course there are rumblings in the mainstream press about this: "Electoral Bill Could Hurt Mexican Broadcasters"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Plans for an African Satellite News Service

This is from a press release circulated in Africa to announce a new satellite service. Chris Cramer, former head of international channels for CNN, will take a leading role in the launch of the multimedia, all news pan-African channel, A24. The respected global media executive, who promoted coverage of Africa across CNN¹s programmes and channels, will become non-executive chairman of A24's Editorial Advisory Board once the channel gets start-up funding.
A24, due to be launched next year, will encourage intra-African dialogue by presenting relevant stories, told by African journalists, going beyond the norm of disease, poverty, and corruption. Instead, A24 will explore investment, development, and trade, among other subjects -- areas frequently ignored by the world¹s media. A24's programming will create economic opportunity and promote freedom and transparency among African nations by painting a new, exciting, picture of the continent.Salim Amin, the channel's chairman and founder, has worked with Cramer for more than a decade. Amin runs Camerapix, East Africa's most successful news production facility. His award winning documentary, "Mo & Me", about his father's 40-year career as Africa's top photo and video journalist, has been screened at dozens of film festivals around the world, including Cannes. Mohamed Amin

"I am delighted that Chris had agreed to become part of Africa¹s most exciting media project," says Amin, 37. "Putting his experience with the BBC and, more recently CNN, to use for the African continent will help make A24 the African broadcast news leader. He has always been a strong advocate of African journalism and A24 will turn many of our mutual aspirations into reality."... A24's aim, over a period of time, is to open 46 two-person bureaux across Africa and in London and Washington DC. A24 will operate a multi-media platform to make it accessible to Africans through a range of distribution methods. Streamed highlights of A24 content will be available on the internet and video and audio podcasts will be created. The service will also tap into the growing mobile phone market in Africa. It is expected that in the next three years an additional 150 million people will have mobile phones on the continent. Daniel Rivkin, A24's Managing Director and co-founder, welcomes Cramer¹s input in the development of the channel. ³Chris is a master of content. As we move towards launch, he will give the channel a clear sense of editorial direction.

Amin adds, "A24 will make a difference because it will create a new kind of voice ­ truly African, beyond local politics and prejudices, offering up-to-date information that will be accessible as part of the mainstream media."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nollywood: Nigerian filmmaking

From Ethan Zuckerman's blog June 6, 2007 Turning the camera on Nollywood
Franco Sacchi, an Italian filmmaker living in Boston, has just produced a remarkable film about Nollywood. Nollywood is the third larget film industry in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood. The Nigerian film industry makes 2000 films a year, as of 2006, which means that every week, 40 to 50 films are being made on the streets of Lagos and in cities throughout West Africa. The industry has created thousands of jobs… and it’s happened against all odds in a country where it can be very difficult to live and work.

Sacchi is drawn to this story because he was born in Zambia, and because his father lived much of his life in that country. “I left when I was three, but that’s where I learned to walk. That’s where my family bought their first home.” He tells us he wanted to tell a story about Africa’s complexity, a story that’s more than the despair and sadness we get in most pictures of the continent. He found a newspaper story about Nollywood and started researching the subkect. As he learned more about the subject, he contacted a friend, a veteran of years with National Geographic, who told him “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a story about a place that’s got more hope and is more fun.”Saachi’s film - This is Nollywood - follows a Nigerian filmmaker, Bond Emeruwa, who’s making a film about police corruption, titled “Checkpoint”. He’s got nine days to make the film. Saachi follows his process as well as framing the larger phenomenon of the industry. We see a six minute clip of the film, where people talk about the filming process as well as what Nollywood films mean to them:

- “You can make a movie in seven days for $10,000″
- “These are films for the masses, not for the elites”
- “This is subsistence filmmaking”
- “We’re making films for people who make a dollar a day”

Sacchi notes that Werner Herzog once said, “I need to make films like I need to breathe oxygen.” He believes that this is true of many of these Nigerian auteurs. (Saacchi wonders whether Nigerian filmmakers are doing what independent filmmakers in the US and Europe are trying to do - just go out and make a movie.) It’s possible for Nigerians to do this because non-linear editing has become so cheap through computers, and because you can now buy “an amazing camera for $5,000″. The films don’t screen in theatres - they’re recorded on VCDs, at a fairly low quality, but are sold for a few dollars or rent for pennies.

“Imagine a world with food and shelter, but no stories,” Sacchi asks. “It would be meaningless.” Bond Emeruwa tells us, “I don’t see us exhausting these stories in our lifetime, in ten lifetimes.”


Sunday, September 9, 2007