Africa has grown in very paradoxical ways, while it remains to be the most endowed continent with its vast resources still untapped . The biggest problem that Africa seems to have suffered from is the inferiority complex where defeatism and weakness rather than meekness has eaten it to the core.
The fact is that Africans and their project models seem to always look up to the unseen ‘white savior’ reminiscent of the old grouchy colonial days when the settler called the shots, by taking over vast land and even the creamiest and fertile lands to themselves, Africans were confined to camps where they were closely watched, a few ‘leaders’ were handpicked from the natives based on inferior friendliness to manage the rowdy uncultured Africans. They would then be used as spies for any dissenting voices in exchange for a few “white pleasantries”.
Few generations later Africa has not healed from the mentality of the savior from the west, and this has played out well in determining who is believable between a native and a westerner. As it clearly plays out even in the projects including the .africa project a major feud that has played out in a local mailing list. The AfriCANN list hosted under the AfriNIC has been taken over by an unknown Uniforum supporters that were hardly in the picture until the .africa tale started.
Africa has had a few visionaries of the African internet including Nii Quanyor a Ghanaian a scientist and engineer who has played an important role in the introduction and development of the Internet throughout Africa. He was also the Vice Chair of AU dotAfrica Taskforce.
Pierre Dandjinou is the Director at INFOCOM Intelligence, Chairman at AfriNIC, E-Governance Advisor at the United Nations Development Program, and the President of the ISOC Benin Chapter. Also, a chair of AU dotAfrica Taskforce.
Others include Anne-Rachel Inne who was the longtime Manager of Regional Relations for Africa at ICANN and now the COO at of AFRINIC. She began her career as a translator for the UTA/Air France for the Niger office before her career at ICANN. Her term at ICANN was characterized with serving AfriNic and its communities and what she personality believed is a community instead of the larger African constituency, therefore the Africa Agenda at ICANN went nowhere under her management.
Then surfaced Sophia Bekele in 2005 in the ICANN world. A business executive , an entrepreneur, ICT activist, and a policy adviser on ICT and Telcom with an international exposure, she is the founder and CEO of CBS International and DotConnectAfrica. Though a late comer at ICANN than her predecessors above, Bekele is credited as the first woman to serve on the ICANN gNSO council and aggressive on African issues, including the need an Africa Agenda. After garnering her experience during her time at the gNSO, she got credited for initiating the African project that is now .africa and the the IDN policy she championed at ICANN on behalf of the global IDN community. She later on dissipated out of the African internet community crowd due to the alleged sabotage over her works as a result of her interest in pushing the .africa agenda
The African Divide that started:
Tired of being pushed back as an outsider in the small “African Internet Community” that existed, Ms Bekele built her own start-up and community of supporters and led a tremendous Yes and NO campaign on the African soil and beyond, ensuring that her own organization’s story was vividly told.
The divide that emanated from this is now beyond the Africans. It is now under the tussle of Caucasians whose attacks on DotConnectAfrica and its principle Bekele from the mailing list and blogs, with increasing velocity especially on the African mailing list that was beforehand dominated by African voices.
The then majorly constructive topics have shifted to the coerce voice of Caucasians who freely attack DotConnectAfrica and anyone who has dared mention .africa. The most dominant addition mainstreamed to attack and police email headers and sniff out any apparent opposition to Uniforum and the most common is a Dr. E. Lisse, a Gynecologist by profession, however is affiliated with the .NA the Namibian ccTLD, whose character could be easily described as absolutely derogatory and disrespectful, calling all Africans clueless in a series of his emails. He remains to retain his reputation of a racist including staunchly stating that .africa shouldn’t be given to blacks. He periodically dismisses any logical conversation to a name calling harangue that is distasteful and unpalatable.
Some other recent active people are Calvine Browne,a director at Uniforum and a new entrant Nigel who has expressed interest in the ccTLD market in Africa and especially post .africa, and of course the main man Neil Dundas who is the CEO and director at Uniforum, a man behind all activities that have resulted in the spirited fight to wrest .africa, and finally not to leave out Kevin Murphy, an ICANN industry watcher, who has been picking up .africa stories that are affiliated with anti-DotConnectAfrica discourse lately.
The emerging reality is that the divisions and character assassinations has resulted in the Black Africans retreating and the Caucasians are now taking over, not only in the mailing list but in actual fact of reporting and misrepresenting the bidding efforts.
The so called Black Pioneers of the internet have lost the .africa from their hands unwittingly giving it to the White South Africans. They have unknowingly been relegated to being facilitators and blind promoters of UNIFORUM a South African company. DotConnectAfrica’s initiative on the other hand has remained constant run by Africans and supported by Africans.
The resultant trajectory from the past is that if DotConnectAfrica losses the fight it will clearly demonstrate a loss by Africa for Africa by Africans . How did this happen? The handlers of the project have forgotten to guard what was theirs well and have enlisted guardians who will willingly mint and rake in millions from the .africa cash cow and invest it wherever, the direct loss will the infrastructure that we all want badly.
Its unfortunate that the same Africans also copied Ms. Bekele’s model and her case of campaigning for .africa and rendered it to the white individuals to run it unfortunately.