Observe how natural and calm the title of this post is. The everyday-ness of it. How technical. As though the writer couldn’t be bothered to craft a title that reflected how unique the event was, how charged and exciting the atmosphere felt for those gathered in the Main Auditorium of the Kofi Annan ICT Centre at 5:30pm!
(welcome to part 2 of my possibly 3-part recap of #BlogCamp13. Part 1 is here. )
(What struck me as I entered the Auditorium was this: we are really a community. Sometimes it takes a physical manifestation of a thing to make it real. After all, those gathered in the Auditorium represent a segment of a group who meet every day on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and on blogs. People who share details of their lives and who together remain quite critical about our collective reality as Ghanaians. We’d come out to recognize and award those who are best at this social media thing and in so doing, we’d revealed the strength, the diversity, the youthfulness, the together-ness of our community. Yeah, yeah, I feel like this every time. Still, I cannot thank BloggingGhana and the #BlogCamp13 Team enough.)
(Oh, while there wasn’t a red carpet celebrity entering/people gawking part to the show, rest assured that there were lots of beautiful people and a handful of comedians.)
(The Main Auditorium was still packed although a few of the day’s participants had left at the end of the afternoon session. Ms. Dorothy Gordon, Director of the Kofi Annan ICT Centre, would later marvel to me that she couldn’t believe that ‘they’d stayed’)
It began with two poetry performances. The first by Nana Asaase (@AsaaseNana) and the second by The King of Rhymes (@rhymesonny). Both were utterly fantastic. There was also a painter who painted a scene while the poets performed. Obviously, as evident by the tweets, the poets rocked!
(Not to be out-done, @OsabuAnny tweeted that he had ‘a poem on ‘Dumso’ and wondered if it would be accepted. For non-Ghanaians, dumso refers to electricity outages, specifically the current unbearable regime of load-shedding.)
Next, a fun twitter competition; the person who posted the fastest, correctly worded tweet acknowledging the sponsors of #BlogCamp13 wins a Blackberry z10. The winner was:
(While I like to win freebies as much as the next person, I don’t join in the competition. I have the worst luck with raffles and such. It goes back to my high school in Zimbabwe. My school, Chisipite, organized a raffle and the grand prize was months of free groceries. Well, the headmaster of the school won the competition; he claimed he and his wife had bought tons of tickets. He actually kept the prize. I never got over this betrayal, never. But I digress)
Next, Golda Addo (@GhanaMOMONI) and Fred ‘Faf’ Frimpong (@paakoti) both of #BlogCamp13 Organizing Team, got on stage and briefed those assembled on the motivation behind the awards, the nomination and the selection process. They offered the following Achebe quote:
“Until the lions have their own histories, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”
Some stats and info: Award process stated in January 2013, 1,126 nominations for 13 categories, Awards team shortlist the nominations based on a set of criteria, public vote, judges judge.
(Golda and Faf go to great lengths to explain the work of the Awards Committee, especially that awards are to acknowledge those who do it best, those who are brilliant etc. You can sense they’re wary of the flack they’ve had to endure over past 3 months. This is good, I think. These awards are a big deal! )
(The US Ambassador to Ghana, Gene A. Cretz, arrives).
Next, the three-member judging panel are introduced. They are Maximus Ametorgoh (@maxihere), Miriam Aggrey-Quansah (Social Media Producer for the BBC) and me. We are invited to remark on our work as judges. Maximus advises bloggers to keep their audience in mind and present their created content within context.
I enjoyed my judging duties although it was quite involved. I’d no idea about the diversity and numbers of Ghanaian blogs on the web. I will blog about them in the coming months. Generally, blogs were of similar quality. My one disappointment (huge) was in engagement of readers. That is, encouraging and responding to comments. Much room for improvement for all of us.
Next, Gene Cretz, the US Ambassador to Ghana gave a short speech. He talked about social media in Ghana; ‘applauded BloggingGhana for its efforts to encourage hundreds of Ghanaians to express themselves on a broad array of topics affecting daily life’; and commended Ghana Decides and its coverage of the 2012 Elections. A very good speech that, most importantly, recognizes the efforts of our online community. You can read the entire speech here.
Oh, and Amb. Cretz launched the embassy’s blog at #BlogCamp13: USEmbassyGhana.tumblr.com
(The US Embassy-Accra has a twitter account and I like responding to their tweets. I think they find me annoying or irritating at times. I just don’t know why? But I’ve backed off, at least for a while. Last week, I invited them to celebrate (US) National Poetry Month with me. All because the Ambassador did good!)
Back to the Awards and we are now ready to announce winners (@jabdulai, with relief, reports that the Livestream is ‘back up’. There’s been a side conversation of livestreaming but seriously, kudos to BloggingGhana for ensuring that people could follow the entire day’s proceedings online).
*Drumroll or one of the music selections that @WizSharifah uses in Ghana Decides’ videos*
Best Blog goes to Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women
(A strong group of finalist blogs. @Adventuresfrom focuses on the ‘sexuality of African women and the blog is dedicated to African women as a space’ for us to dialog openly. Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, @nas009, accepts the award and dedicates it to the 20K monthly readers of the blog. )
Best Business and Commerce Blog goes to eStock Analysis.
(Patrick Edem Agama, @peagama, accepts his award. He’s published a touching backstory on his blog on the help and encouragement he received from other bloggers whom he met at #BlogCamp12, and the impact that’s had on his blogging career. Results, results!)
(@kajasha tweets that “the thank you speeches of the social media awards makes this event very Oscars”. I am holding my acerbic tongue, she’s BloggingGhana Chair!)
Best Technology Blog goes to Techy-Africa.
(@MrAyitey and his colleague accept their award. The blog is gives a comprehensive overview of tech happenings in Ghana. Suggestion to bloggers: a few articles on how Ghanaians are using tech would be nice 🙂
Best Organisational Blog goes to AccraDotAlt.
(@AccraDotAlt is all about the alternative arts scene in Accra. In fact, they’ve become the scene. The pictures on their blog are fab!)
Best Showbiz and Entertainment Blog goes to AmeyawDebrah.com
(As expected. Nuff said.)
(@EkOwMaisSe tweets “I hear @Amegaxi is headed for Twitter court over the Best Blog Award. I recommend Sir John as his lawyer”)
Best Activist Blog goes to Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women
(Okay I see @kajasha’s point. I was expecting a booming voice to announce “this is the second blog award for Ms. Sekyiamah. She won the Best Blog category”. Nana Darkoa says this award, given what @adventuresfrom is about, is the one she was really hoping to win.) She’s all about the activism!)
Best Citizen Journalism Blog goes to *HOLD UP*
(The two finalists, @osarpong and @jabdulai assure us that their intense canvassing for votes was all in the fun of competition. BUT, it got quite steamy there in a hot retweet. There were blog posts, videos, infographics, jingles, data sets from the Statistical Service, graphs with trend analysis, cold calls, you name it, it was employed and deployed. Those two run an effective get-out-the-vote campaign. Did we expect anything less, they are @GhanaDecides Team members afterall! )
Best Citizen Journalism Blog goes to Circumspect
(Jemila Adbulai’s sister, Annatu, accepts the award)
Then Ms. Dorothy Gordon is asked to present an award and she says:
Honorary Award for Exemplary Social Media Activism goes to Ghana Decides!
(I’m surprised and beyond happy. Thanks all around, to the team and by the team.)
Best Lifestyle Blog goes to Ganyobinaa.com
(Nana Oyoo Quartey, @GanyobiNaa, accepts her award)
Best Creative, Literary, Short Stories, Poetry Blog goes to Ganyobinaa.com
(Ms. Quartey accepts her second award as @madjetey tweets “Ah, @GanyobiNaa I didn’t even finish tweeting & you’ve won another? Congrats again”)
(@EkOwMaisSe tweets “There’s been a coup by the women bloggers at first Social Media Awards. The men are headed for courts”)
Best Photo Blog goes to A window to Ghana and Africa – Nana Kofi Acquah
(@GhTog accepts his award. He draws attention, in his acceptance speech, to progress of @MutomboDaPoet in photoblogging since #BlogCamp12. Just so you know, Nana Kofi leads a pack of wonderful photographer bloggers in Ghana. And thanks to @Amegaxi who has complied a list, I will feature their photos in my posts. With permissions/credit, of course!)
Award for Personality with the Best Social Media Presence goes to @mutomboDaPoet
( In his acceptance speech, he urges us to ‘not just sit in our homes tweeting, but to come out and take action’)
Best Original Content goes to Kodjo Deynoo Poetry
(Kodjo accepts his award. )
Congratulations’ to all the winners. Prizes includes cash (Ghc1,000 for best blog and Ghc 500 for the other categories. Plus other goodies).
I wanted to pick one tweet to represent the sentiments of participants of #BlogCamp13 and attendess of the Blog and Social Media Awards. But I couldn’t; all the tweets after the event simply gushed “wonderful” or some similar words.