The following electronic interview was between Sechaba Keketsi ( Lyrical Bacteria ) and Ms VuyoKazi Yonke who runs the U Write What U Like blog under the topic; The Internet age : Using internet positively for the growth of African arts and Literature through websites, blog and social networks.
Sechaba Keketsi (SK): When you and others who are administrators of the African Poets and Writers group on Facebook, what were the sole intentions of that (aim and objective)?
VuyoKazi Yonke (VY): The whole idea is to get more people reading and writing from an African vantage point. The group would then serve as an online platform to share work with other literary enthusiasts.
SK: How long did it take those who joined to have a solid understanding of the group and its intentions?
VY: The group has been in existence for a while before I joined. I was only made an admin on the group sometime in 2009 by its creator, Emmanuel Ekosse.
The group was already in full swing with discussions on poetry, literature and African authors, so I think they grasped the idea when they joined the group and shared their work with us.
SK: Was there reluctance for people to share their poems especially those who didn’t know any of the administrators personally?
VY: The group is an open forum, where poets and author’s have the space to share their work. Should one not feel comfortable to post their poetry, it is their right not to post on the discussion board.
I do understand the reluctance that writers may have, considering that when you do publish online your work may be considered as published.
Others have the fear of plagiarism. I personally have no qualms about my work appearing online, as I write purely for the aesthetic value rather than having a profit motive or fame in mind.
It is also the same with the U write what U like blog, there is an open invitation to anyone wanting the opportunity to be published; you can refer to this link for more info on the project:
SK: Was the birth of the blog influenced by how the group was growing or was it a planned move even before the group?
VY: The group was a long time in existence, the blog I started in June 2010. We had discussed publishing an anthology, and providing an online platform for literature, similar to another literary website in America.
The site would be used for authors to post their works and others would give feedback on it. The site would be outside the social networks where anyone can join in and contribute. It would also serve as a resource to collect literary works.
This website is still in the pipelines for 2011.
One of the challenges with online forums is the lack of internet access in homes and the costs thereof in Africa.
SK: Thus far, except from the fact that an anthology was born from the Facebook group, is the group and the blog achieving more in terms of appreciation, new projects, new contributors and all achievements worth writing home about?
VY: The AfroConscious literary journal came out in December 2010 and will need time to grow. That is where my main focus is at the moment – to see it established locally and for it to reach many readers in different parts of Africa.
I am compiling the second volume for 2011 and I try getting new contributors to the journal, from different parts of Africa. I’m working on getting wider distribution thereof, and having the journal launched this year.
On the U write what U like blog, I have access to visitor statistics and they do reflect quite favourably, as we get visitors from all parts of the world.
Below are the most viewed pages from the blog.
1. AfroConscious Dec 8, 2010, 3 comments 74 Page views
2. About the project Oct 6, 2010 51 Page views
3. I am an AFRI-CAN! Thabo Mbeki Sep 5, 2010 48 Page views
4. Fat Lady Next Door Jul 28, 2010, 3 comments 48 Page views
5. … on women… to women… for women… Aug 4, 2010, 2 comments 46 Page views
SK: How do you think aspiring poets and writers can use the internet (except social networks and blogs) to achieve more in their field and create themselves more platforms?
VY: Certainly in the digital age you have to have your material online for greater exposure of your craft to a greater audience who would not have had the opportunity to hear/read/see your work.
Artists can utilise You Tube and MySpace to reach a greater audience.
U WRITE WHAT U LIKE blog: http://uwritewhatulike.blogspot.com