ugandan blogosphere

the blogren

Even when I disagree with the 27th Comrade, I still can’t help but admire him. This time it’s because of The Blogren — the term he coined to refer to Ugandan bloggers.

The Danish blogumentary filmmakers who were here last month assembled an “anthropological study” of The Blogren — an examination of who they are, what they write about and how they interact with one another. They describe blogren(s) as “young, sexy, cool, intelligent…[and] opinionated.” These are part of a string of adjectives that have been used in connection with Ugandan bloggers — Lovely Amphibian likes funny, witty and neurotic. Pernille prefers caring, schizophrenic, spiced up, courageous and honest, and I’ve used lovely, thoughtful, hilarious, raw and titilating.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering about nouns. When I was designing the Uganda Best of Blogs, I struggled with how to categorize the many, many people who could be considered Ugandan bloggers. For the purpose of their documentary, the Danes were focusing on Ugandans who blog from Uganda. This is the most narrow definition, but there are also non-Ugandans who blog from Uganda and both Ugandans and non-Ugandans who blog from elsewhere. Do you include expats whose blogs are of the “Hi Mom, I made it and I’m alive, don’t worry” variety? Or Ugandan residents who blog only about their daily lives? What about Ugandan expats who write more about where they live in now than about their own country?

Frustrated about the way bloggers responded to the Mabira riots, Owera defines a Ugandan blogger as “a blogger keeping a journal [about] the situation and events [in] Uganda and not necessarily a Ugandan native blogging.” This would exclude most Ugandan expats, a lot of the younger bloggers and some members of the Makerere School, but would include blogs like I Left Copenhagen for Uganda, In an African Minute, Uganda-CAN and Jackfruity.

The Danes write that “an unknown number [of Ugandan bloggers] is considered blogrens,” and the creator of the term has yet to weigh in on the subject, but I prefer a definition that falls somewhere between the focus of the documentary and what Owera has to say. I believe the Ugandan blogosphere should include non-Ugandans and Ugandan emigrants/expats who blog heavily about the country — not just because that’s what I do, but also because these authors can provide new, outside perspective on Ugandan issues and events. I also believe that Ugandan residents who blog about their daily lives play an important role — their accounts of school, family life, dates and pop music, while not as politically charged as some of the other blogs, give the Ugandan blogosphere depth and nuance. It’s this group — Uganda-focused and Ugandan-resident bloggers — that I mean when I say The Blogren.

Tangenitally related is the 27th Comrade’s manifesto on the function of Ugandan bloggers: “Uganda is not one of them countries where bloggers are dissidents….” Definitely worth a read.

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