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New Pan-Africanism?: Expressions of African identity on Twitter
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication. (NODE)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4774-4643
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Department of Media and Communication Studies. (Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0009-2972
2016 (English)In: Gender & change : challenges for Africa: Nordic Africa Days 2016, Uppsala 23-24 September, Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute , 2016, , 144 p.56-57 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This article will interrogate the question whether a collective identity of a new Pan-Africanism is emerging through social media in Africa. The study focuses on the use of the hashtag IfAfricaWasABar by Twitter users across the continent in July 2015. It will entail a qualitative content analysis of tweets that were accompanied by #IfAfricaWasABar to analyse the issues raised by African Twitter users as regards their identity. #IfAfricaWasABar was started by Motswana author Siyanda Mohutsiwa and was trending for several weeks in different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The hashtag called upon Twitter users across Africa to satirize the Western media narrative of Africa as a country by coming up with hilarious lines that imagine the continent as a bar, which has interesting characters who in real life would define the continent's culture, politics and social life.

Studies of Twitter use for expression of identity in Africa are few although there has been a marked increase of citizen participation on this social media platform (Portland Communications, 2012). Twitter has indeed turned into an interesting platform for deliberation and daily conversations among citizens. Such kinds of citizen engagement are turning out to offer an interesting forum for jokes as well as serious social and political discussion for discourses that appeal to citizens across the continent, who are both online and offline. In fact, in their recent study on the use of Twitter by Kenyans, Tully and Ekdale (2014) conclude that 'playful engagement' on Twitter is spurring significant deliberation as users "infuse developmental agendas in their comments, actions and interactions" (p.68).

The article will argue that more than offering a platform for deliberation, Twitter as a new media technology in Africa is enabling African citizens to recreate an African identity in the global space. It will seek to revive the old debate on Pan-Africanism and its expressions on media space, which has so far been overshadowed a process of globalization. It will further trace and discuss the discourses in the nexus of Pan-Africanism, identity as well use of Twitter in Africa. The article will pose the question whether through Twitter, a "New Pan-Africanism" is emerging, where ordinary citizens rather than elites determine how Pan-Africanism should be defined and expressed on global space.        

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute , 2016. , 144 p.56-57 p.
Keyword [en]
Identity, media representation, Pan-Africanism, Twitter, #IfAfricaWasABar
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-47976ISBN: 978-91-7106-787-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-47976DiVA: diva2:1075396
Conference
Nordic Africa Days 2016 conference, September 23-24, Uppsala, Sweden
Available from: 2017-02-19 Created: 2017-02-19 Last updated: 2017-05-15Bibliographically approved

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