A Kalahari village homepage is launched!

A web page for the villagers, about the village and by the villagers.

Screenshot_2019-03-05 Welcome to Letlhakeng.jpg

On October 19 2018 the web page www.letlhakeng.com was launched. It is the result of the project’s wish to give something back to the generous, kind inhabitants of the Botswana village where an important portion of the project’s fieldwork was conducted, and where the PI has carried out fieldwork regularly since 1990. Our original idea was to organise a seminar in the village kgotla for all villagers to come and hear about the findings from the project that were of interest to the village. However, based on our findings, and new reflections, we decided that it would be of greater value for villagers if we assisted in creating a web page for the village.

 There are several reasons for why we landed on this strategy. First, we found that especially many villagers were not able to utilise programs and schemes that could improve their lives because they lacked relevant information. A web page could be an ideal platform for disseminating information about such resources. Secondly, although the village belongs to the peripheral part of Botswana it is placed in the intersection of several routes that both tourists and Batswana frequently use. Thus, an easily accessible information hub containing practical information for visitors and passerbys could boost local businesses. Thirdly, we found that there is not one, unifying information hub for villagers. As their access to the internet becomes consistently easier and cheaper, a village web page can well serve such a purpose. Especially as the various local institutions would increase their own outreach if they made use of the page. And lastly, our experience so far has shown that it has already become a source of pride for the village’s inhabitants. As the village chief expressed it, this web page places Letlhakeng on the global map!

 Thus, the web site is non-profit, non-commercial – about Letlhakeng, for Letlhakeng and by people from Letlhakeng. Its goal is to contribute to a positive development of Letlhakeng village, by providing useful and transparent information to villagers and other interested parties.

 www.letlhakeng.com is co-owned by the research project and Letlhakeng village.


The www.letlhakeng.com team!

 The following individuals contributed to the creation of the page October 2018, and are still engaged in running it:

 Main working editor: Kaone Phuthego

Editors: Nametso Laretsi; Thero Keikotlhae

Journalists and photographers: Keemenao Carven Keresiane; Katso Garebunantse; Kebafilwe Moselesele; Mary Gipadileng; Chinana Bontle Keikantseng and Boemo Keoepile.

 From the Norwegian side: Niels Theissen (Editor in chief), Ardis Storm-Mathisen (mediafrica researcher) and Jo Helle-Valle (head of mediafrica project).

Homepage creation in progress …

Homepage creation in progress …

An Advisory Board consisting of Lesego Phillip (Principal Library Officer); Itsoseng Gaoonwe (Village Kgosi); Felicity Nyoni (Youth Development Officer); Kenny Kenanao William (teacher of English at Mphuthe Junior Secondary School). A person from VDC will also be appointed.


'My life 20 years from now': The role of media and gender in village teenagers’ future visions – book chapter

'My life 20 years from now': The role of media and gender in village teenagers’ future visions – book chapter

This topic is covered in Ardis Storm-Mathisen’s book chapter ‘'Gender representations and identity constructions among young teenagers in Botswana  - exploring the influence of media' published in: D. Lemish and M. Gotz, Eds (2017).: Beyond the Stereotypes? Images of Boys and Girls, and their consequences. Nordicom, p. 173-181.  Your can read the chapter here and the full book here.

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MediAfrica at ASA 60th Annual Meeting in Chicago

The MediAfrica team was left, right and center at this year's African Studies Association's 60th annual meeting in Chicago.

Katrien Pype chaired and presented in a double panel on Techno-Economic Challenges to Humanism, in dialogue with Achille Mbembe (and last year's Abiola lecture) as well as a series of ground-breaking scholars in African studies. Several of the papers spoke to the role of new media and digital technologies in shaping circulation of goods, ideas, values and people across the continent. 

Nanna Schneidermann and Katrien Pype discussing project plans over lunch

Nanna Schneidermann and Katrien Pype discussing project plans over lunch

Jo Helle-Valle, Ardis Storm-Mashisen and Nanna Schneidermann presented papers in the panel Gender, Concerns and New Media Practices, each in their way beginning to unpack ideas and material generated during fieldwork with the MediAfrica project. 

New media on new media. Jo Helle-Valle presents research from Botswana

New media on new media. Jo Helle-Valle presents research from Botswana

Book launch

Letlhakeng book front page 20117.jpg

November 3rd 2017 the PI’s book “Histories of Letlhakeng village, Botswana” was handed over to various persons and institutions in Letlhakeng. It is the first book about this village’s historical roots. Of course, with few written sources, relying mostly on the memory of the old there are many stories, not one history. Added to this, history seems to become increasingly politicized in the village, as some envision having their own kgosi (chief) in the House of Chiefs in the capital. To that end history is a strong legitimizing force.

Letlhakeng book to library 2017.jpg

The picture shows the author handing over two copies to the local library. Copies were also given to the sub-district chief, the village chief, the deputy village chief, the local Council Secretary, and other persons who have contributed to the book.

Follow-up fieldwork in Botswana

The PI and dr. Storm-Mathisen are near completion of their second period of fieldwork in Botswana. Five weeks of intensive work, partly in Gaborone and partly out in Letlhakeng, Kweneng West.

Jacaranda bloom Gabs 2017.jpg

Even though only one and a half year has gone since the last field visit visible changes have taken place in the village. All the main roads in the village are now paved and street lighting is a striking visual change. It is claimed that this has made it safer for women to move around after dark.

Letlhakeng street light 2017.jpg

Of course, in a land with still unreliable electricity grid but unlimited access to sun rays these lights are solar-powered and light sensor regulated. Good technology!

A great opportunity to learn about development in Africa

On December the 14th 2016, from 6 PM Morten Jerven, Economist and Professor in Development Studies at NMBU (Norway) and Grieve Chelwa, Economist and Post Doctor at Center for African Studies, Harvard University will meet to discuss economists (mis)understanding of Africa's economic development and what is acutally happening on the continent.

The seminar is open and hosted by Norwegian Concil for Africa and takes place in Kulturhuset, Youngstorget 3, 0181 Oslo.

Reflections on the richness of visual data at Visual Research Coference

Helle-Valle 1990, Botswana

Helle-Valle 1990, Botswana

Storm-Mathisen and Helle-Valle gave a talk, titled Visuality re-acting  at the Thirty-Second Annual Visual Research Conference, November 14-16, 2016, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Orgnizers and Chairs: Thomas D. Blakely, Andrea Heckman, Jerome Crowder.)

Read the abstract here.

Innovative uses of our project's homepage

Informing the public about a research project, as well as keeping interested individuals and organisations oriented about the project’s ongoing activities are the principal functions of a project home page. These are important functions but not the only uses such pages can be put to. In Mediafrica we have taken the homepage’s functionalities a couple of steps further: First, we have now used it to launch a web survey in Botswana. And we have also opened the project's Facebook page as a platform for data collection.

On February the 19th 2016 we launched – with the very good help of Niels Theissen, the project's web editor – a survey by way of the homepage and our accompanying Facebook page. Such a task is not a walk in the park and a great deal of work was put into it. For one, the technical side must be functional and reliable; we must be sure that those taking part access the questionnaire and can complete it without much ado. Moreover, as it is a survey about and for people in Botswana we needed to make sure it only reached those living in Botswana.  It was also important that the questionnaire was designed and presented in ways that met sound methodological standards. And last, but not least, we needed to make the survey known and desirable to take part in. Two strategies were chosen; prizes were set up (three nice tablets) and solid PR. In addition to promoting the survey on Facebook, and making it public on the University of Botswana’s Blackboard, we chose to approach the largest privately owned radio station in Botswana, the Gabz FM. They met us with great enthusiasm. We wish to thank them for their very positive and creative response. Not only were they willing to give us airtime – on three different occactions actually – but they also gave advice to how to best promote the survey.

In addition, in order to spur the interest of possible respondents we launched 'teaserquestions' on our Facebook page every day for three weeks prior to the opening of the survey. The response to these questions have proved to be an interesting source of data for the project.

 As it is now nearing its closing date (18th of March), we can surely conclude that the web survey has been a great success. A lot of work has been put into it (and some trial and error) but it now seems that we will receive more than a thousand responses. Too early, of course, to say anything about the content but we look forward in anticipation to sit down and analyse the results. 

Web survey on new media and development in Botswana launched today

With strong support from Gabz FM we have launched a web survey on new media and development in Botswana. All Botswana residents are invited to take part, it will be open until the 18th of March and it takes no more than 10 minutes to complete. By taking part you give your contribution to a better understanding of how new media influence the development of Botswana. In addition you might be among the three lucky winners of a Lenovo tablet (Tab 2 A7 - 10). 

The winners will be drawn on air, by Petula and Gabriel!, on the 21st of March, and if possible they will call you up and congratulate you. Nice, eh?

Get started on the questionnaire today! 

Invite your friends to participate in the questionnaire: 

Household survey completed in Kweneng West Sub-District

A survey consisting of 200 household- and 200 individual questionnaires (stratified randomly sampled) was started late January 2016 and completed 12th of February the same year in the village of Letlhakeng (which harbours approx. 1000 households and 8000 inhabitants). A couple of hundred questions spanning from general background information to specific ownership and use of new media were presented to the selected villagers. In addition almost 900 pictures were taken of the households that consented to this. Six enumerators were recruited locally. Some with completed Form 5-education and some not so much. But all proved highly competent and made did a great job. 

Thank you to all six for your splendid contributions: Mary Gobadileng, Vollie Kebainee, Boemo Keoepile, Sylvia Obakeng, Elisa Phokeng and Sedilane Segwagwa.

Thank you to all six for your splendid contributions: Mary Gobadileng, Vollie Kebainee, Boemo Keoepile, Sylvia Obakeng, Elisa Phokeng and Sedilane Segwagwa.

Project meeting with Botswana partners at University of Botswana

Project meeting with Botswana partners at University of Botswana

On tuesday oct 27th, PI Prof Jo Helle-Valle, Oslo University College and Ardis Storm-Mathisen from University of Oslo, met withHead of Sociology Department,  Head of Sociology Department, Professor M. Mogalakwe and Dr. Gabriel Faimau to discuss and prepare for the ICT/media-use survey to be conducted in Gaborone households before Christmas.

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