I cannot recall with precision the ‘how’ of my first meeting with Global Voices. However, I know that it was a chance encounter.
It was in 2011, the year of Nigeria’s general elections and we were witnessing the usual theater of the absurd and normal that has for ages characterized Nigerian politicians their politics. I wrote this blog post on the Endless Chatter in Naija’s Political Space. Somehow, I had chanced upon the Global Voices site that very day, I was impressed although I knew nothing about what GV stands for. I did an email to Ndesanjo Macha, the GV Regional Editor for Sub-Saharan Africa in which I shared the link of my post and asked if it could be republished on GV. Ndesanjo responded in the affirmative and had it published as a quick read.
After a series of email exchanges and I told him that I would love to become a contributor. I must note that I was quite impressed with the frankness of our discussion, Ndesanjo laid out the cards on the table. It might seem too trivial, but living in a milieu that is characterized by the arrogance of ‘big men’ syndrome, I was surprised that he even responded to my mail at the first instance.
Now why did was I eager to join Global Voices? It might take a bit of an explanation, so pardon the long read. I have been writing for a while, sending op-eds to local newspapers. Initially it was a smooth ride and my posts were published. However, with time, I neither received acknowledgement of receipt of my posts nor were they ever published. As you can imagine, it was quite frustrating. This happened at a time when there was a stemming topical issue and the public sphere was divided. I got the feeling that my views were at variance with the predetermined position of some newspaper editors and thus would never be published. I complained to a friend of mine and he said, “Why don’t you just start a blog?” I did and the rest they say is history.
However, it was also during this period that I stumbled upon GV. Thus I had no hesitation to join. As I told Ndesanjo:
“I am most glad and look forward to covering the Nigerian blogosphere for Global Voices. I don't really mind being a volunteer, since the main reason why I started blogging was to jump the gate keeping of local print media. As such, I see it as an honour to contribute for you.”
Understandably, my first post was on the controversial presidential debate. Subsequent posts followed and are documented in the Global Voices Special Coverage of Nigeria Elections 2011. What struck me and has remained remarkable till now, is the strong family spirit. It’s so natural that despite the great diversity, GV community was built on a strong respect of each individual’s opinion and also world views.
This online warmth was made real for me during the GV Summit in Nairobi. That summit is a story for another day. The oneness and non-affectation displayed in Nairobi was too real to be true. Yet it was so. I have had various online and offline dealings with GVers and I have never had any inhibitions to state my views the way I see them. Although the other party might not agree with me, but at the same time I am sure that I won’t be ‘judged’ for my position. The absence of this arrogant condescension in GV is certainly a rarity in other networks I have been associated with.
That’s my story, that’s my Global Voices…
Lost in the web
Recounted by stewards
Who while the world talks
Are ever listening
We narrate history
We tell hidden tales
We’re the voice of the mute
We take it personal
We’re the Bridge
We’re Global Voices!
*“The Bridge” part of an upcoming book: Blazing Moon (a Collection of Poems) by Nwachukwu Egbunike.