Malaka has asked me to give a ‘blow by blow’ account of how we (and I really feel this is a collective effort from everyone who contributes to Adventures – those who read, comment, and our tech team at Web4Africa) won ‘best overall blog’ and ‘best activist blog’ at Ghana’s 1st Social Media Awards organised by Blogging Ghana which took place yesterday in Accra at the Kofi Annan Information Techonology Centre.
I nearly didn’t attend this event. I had looked at the agenda and the item that looked most appealing to me was the ‘Women and Social Media’ session so I tweeted @BloggingGhana to find out who was moderating the session and I was told @KinnaReads. Phew, I knew the session would be in good hands then, and so I thought, “Yep, this is the session I will definitely go to.” However, yesterday ended up being one of those hectic days, and before I knew it was 5pm and I’d missed the session. “Was there any point in still going to Blog Camp?” I wondered. “It’s only going to look like I came in the hopes of collecting an award and if I don’t win anything I will have one of those awkward Oscar moments when the camera lingers on the face of the nominee who lost”. Ah, i decided in this case the cliche ‘better late than never’ would have to hold true, looked for clothes that didn’t need ironing (we had no electricity the whole day) and sett of for the Kofi Annan Centre. I arrived a few minutes to 6pm and bumped into @osarpong in the reception. He gave me a hug and said “The auditorium is full. You’ll have to sit upstairs”. I could hear the voice of Kobby Graham intermingled with laughter from the audience as I sashayed up the stairs. I found somewhere to sit and peered over the railings. Yes, it was a full audience. People were laughing, interacting with others, whilst simultaneously on their phones or laptops. On a projector behind were displays of live tweets about #BlogCamp13 which caused much hilarity.
Then the MC’s (Kobby and Kuukuwa) announced that it was time for the Blog Awards. You could feed the anticipation grow in the audience. I was intrigued and enjoying my bird’s eye view of the proceedings when suddenly Edward of Nandi Mobile (one of the organisers) tapped me on the shoulder. “We need you in the auditorium” he said. “But the auditorium is full” I protested. “I will find you space” he said, as he picked up my chair and started heading downstairs. “Does this mean good news?” I asked him. “No” was his response, “all the nominees need to be in the auditorium”. “Hmmm, don’t come and shy me o” I retorted whilst following him down the stairs.
Edward placed my seat at the rear of the auditorium next to a couple of sisters and after a couple of seconds the woman sitting next to me remarked, “Are you Nana Darkoa? We were looking for you in the ‘Women and Social Media’ session”, the woman sitting in the row in front of us turned and said “I’m really happy to meet you. I was looking to meet you earlier”. I felt so bad that I’d missed the session and apologised saying, “I’ll find a way to make it up to you.”. “You should speak to Kinna” said the first woman who had spoken to me, she was telling us how important it is for women to blog, we spoke about a group for women bloggers, you should speak to her about it. I agreed to follow up.
The US Ambassador to Ghana was invited to present the award for the best blog, and started off with a speech that lasted for about 10 minutes. What I remember from that speech was him saying that the US Embassy had launched its first blog that very day at BlogCamp, congratulating the organisers and numerous volunteers behind Blogging Ghana, mentioning that the US Embassy had recently recruited a woman called Abena to manage their social media assets, and that MacJordan had also been recently named their Internet Freedom Fellow …not bad I thought whilst saying hello to friends like @paakoti and @MutomboDaPoet who had happened to walk behind my seat during the speech. His speech came to an end, and I started to pay attention again. The long list of nominated blogs went up on the projector, and in the next breath I heard ‘the best blog goes to Adventures from…’ I was so happy. This was unexpected. There had been so many blogs listed in this category and even though I knew ‘Adventures’ deserved to win the category I didn’t know that we would. I walked up to the stage to receive the award. It was heartwarming to see so many smiles, and hear so many people say ‘congratulations’ as I went up. My dear friend Nana Kofi Acquah who had himself been nominated in this category screamed ‘that’s my girl’ from the side of the stage. I was overjoyed. The best blog award came with a prize of GHC1000 (approximately US$500), a phone, a plaque, certificate and a goody bag filled with souvenirs from sponsors including Energy Solutions Foundation, Google Ghana and Tigo.
A few minutes later I also picked up ‘Best Activist Blog’ for ‘Adventures’. My happiness was complete. I wanted to congratulate Graham who had 2 blogs nominated in that same category, and I think is a good example of a passionate activist, but couldn’t think on the spot of how to do this graciously so spoke instead about, “this was the category I wanted to win the most because it means that people recognise that Adventures is not about mere titillation although of course, titillation is very important”. People in the audience broke out in murmurs and laughter. “Titi what”, “tittilation?” ,”brofo” ( for our non Twi speaking readers brofo translates as ‘English’ with the implication being ‘Ei. You are speaking big English o). It was all said in good fun.
The awards ceremony soon came to a close and I felt very special as lots of people came up to shake my hand and congratulate me. A lovely lady asked to take a photo with me and also took the pictures of me holding the award below. Thanks sis.
I am really happy Adventures won these two awards. I am happy because the most important place to gain recognition is in your home country and this doesn’t happen often especially when you tackle taboo subjects. A good friend of mine at the event said, and I paraphrase, “I am really happy you won because sometimes the way people talk about homosexuality I get scared. This shows that people are more progressive than we think”. It is my hope that those sentiments are true.
Some of you may be wondering. So what will you do with the prize money? I’m thinking to split it in 3. A third to be shared by Malaka and I (a while ago we agreed that if we got any money from Adventures we would split it 70:30 in recognition of the different amounts of work we have invested in the blog. Abi MASI?). A third to be invested in the blog – currently we’re in the final stages of developing our new blog and we can use some of this money to renew our domain name for the next couple of years and commission or purchase some images. The final third will go into a fund for Adventures to be used for the Adventures anthology whenever that comes out. This anthology will be sold online and via Amazon and future proceeds could be used to pay regular contributors who write for the site. How does that sound? Do our contributors and readers have any thoughts on what else this final third could be used for?