I’ve come to the realisation that I’m hooked on three things: Ghana, conferences and knowledge. I got to feed all three addictions at the Our Media 7 conference these past few days.
Our Media is a gathering of academics, community workers and activists in the field of community media. This year’s theme was Identity, Inclusion, innovation – Alternative Communication in a Globalised World, and it was held in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
I attended Our Media 6 in Sydney last year and that was also a great conference – new ideas, inspiring projects, powerful stories. OM7 offered all this but with the benefit of African perspectives and in particular, a strong injection of Ghanaian culture. Ghanaian culture, as I’ve mentioned before, is rich in symbolism. I’ve realised it’s more than symbolism, it’s non-verbal language, and these non-verbal communication systems are widespread in West Africa. Adinkra I’ve mentioned before, but these systems include dance and of course talking drums. I had a fascinating conversation with a Nigerian academic who has been working on a voice recognition system that will understand Yoruba. Yoruba is a tonal language so as a first step, he set up a system that can interpret the language of talking drums. He also told me about a Yoruba divination system that he believes was originally a maths calculator.
You’ll be hearing more of this, but for now I need more time to process the absolute overload of information I’ve been taking in this week, and to make sure I can provide some useful links to some of the projects and theories I’ll be writing about. Not sure when that will be as we are embarking on a bit of tourism and sight seeing, starting with the Homowo festival today. Well, it’s only a ‘we’ if I can drag AM away from online Manga.
So just briefly, other highlights of the conference were:
- Watching and then dancing with the Ghanaian National Dance Ensemble.
- Hearing a Ghanaian woman with some clout talk about the necessity of preserving national treasures (like cloth)
- A number of presentations on how alternative media (such as community radio) is used in conflict zones.
- A community radio program in Kenya that has resulted in adults listening to children’s concerns and also in development of the local community
- Research on YouTube and social movements
- Digital media projects in marginalised / emerging communities in Sydney and in the UK
- Talking with lots of smart, interesting, committed people.