A journey through Malawi’s Blogoshere

I recall that when I was 13 years old, I wrote a transcript for a ‘book’ (for lack of a better word) based on Shaka Zulu and his murderous regime in South Africa. It filled one of those school notebooks and I must say I was pretty amused with myself. My mother, a former teacher, would have been equally as excited, I think. I was a hopeless reader and she probably believed I had no writing skills at all. Soon after authoring this book I headed off to boarding school and don’t remember what happened to that transcript of mine.

Fast forward many years later I embarked on a blogging journey writing as Austin Madinga’s Big Mouth. Perhaps I wanted to rediscover my writing skills once again. It was a slow start but I was supported by a great community. In January 2006 the Malawian Bloggers community in Lilongwe organised a braai at Mike McKay’s house. Mike is an American who had been blogging before most of us and encouraged us to start. It was at this braai that I was urged to scale up my writing to which I happily obliged.

Enjoying a few cold ones at the Malawi Blogging community braai

Enjoying a few cold ones at the Malawi Blogging community braai

Malawian Bloggers

The community grew and we had the likes of Steve Sharra, Soyapi Mumba, Levi Manda and Edmond Kachale to provide much-needed inspiration. The other members included seasoned journalists like Gregory Gondwe and Victor Kaonga. One person’s blog I always made time for was our very own loony Dannie Grant Phiri (the good type of lunatic here!). Then there were those I never met like Jess and Muza Gondwe. Ndesanjo Macha, a Tanzanian and editor of Global Voices, made a couple of visits to Malawi to encourage us in our blogging efforts.

Along the journey, we lost a fellow blogger and good friend, Mangaliso Jere. Soyapi’s eulogy sums up the community’s loss.

Along the way, I lost steam and eventually moved from Blogspot to Google+. I strongly believed, at the time, that it would be a better place to blog. It was a great social platform, to me (many would disagree), but not necessarily a blogging one. The fire slowly extinguished. I wrote a few articles over the next few years but they were posted on platforms like LinkedIn and Medium, often deleted after a few months. Not sure why I did this.

Helping new bloggers set up their spaces on Blogspot

Helping new bloggers set up their spaces on Blogspot © UNICEF Malawi/2017/Chagara

I am back!

But it looks like the blogging bug has bitten me once again. Over the years my interest in (not so) long-form content has grown. My Pocket and Flipboard apps are overflowing with unread articles and it’s not for lack of reading effort. I have come to realise the need to blog about online marketing in general and my digital marketing work in particular.

A recent social media and blogging workshop organised by Unicef and facilitated by Sandra Thier has strengthened my passion. Who knows where this will take me – a book? Ok, dreams aside! But it was great to help out new Malawian bloggers set up and take them through the ins and outs of Blogspot. It was also an excellent opportunity to meet other bloggers that have arisen during my hiatus. Really looking forward to a revival of the community!

My blog name remains Austin Madinga’s Big Mouth. I can’t promise I will court controversial issues or poke fun at politicians like I did in the past but I will sure make my opinions are heard. Wish me luck! And come back for more reads.

 


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2 Responses

  1. soyapi says:

    Congratulations for re-opening your big mouth, Austin. Our ears itching for your stories. And I will be joining you soon in the blogosphere. My first step is resisting the temptation to just tweet this comment to you.

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