The other day we had a meeting for Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) and very weighty issues were raised. If you do not know much about it you can read the introductory piece by Kachwanya, the comments section is very informative too. Kenyan poet has also made a nice summary on the Global Voices site.

To be honest, I can’t remember how I became a member but I remember the idea being discussed and somehow I was in… it doesn’t matter now….am in 🙂

Some of the issues raised are common during the formative stages of most associations or movements that involve many people. Here is my take on some of the issues, that I know will come up at one stage or another.

1. That BAKE is mainly composed of known bloggers and may end up being elitist

I am always fascinated when people say something is elitist, yet they have never attended or tried to make their ideas heard and they were declined. I think it depends on how you view yourself, whether you have the conviction and courage to speak your mind, and contribute, even though your contributions are minimal.

I am the kind that pushes her way around; no matter what, if I feel like the group has any value to me, I will stay, it doesn’t matter if my accent is not good enough or what am contributing is not valuable now, who says it will not be tomorrow?

I remember the days we revived the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), the women in that group were very good journalists and I was not even a good writer then. My only contribution was in dropping proposals from one donor agency to the other. I had much more free time than they had. I hang on there until I had my big break, which I got through AMWIK. The point is, I was the social climber,  my contributions were probably unnoticed, but I got what I wanted.

Sorry to digress but if you know what you want, the the body can not be elitist, because you will have a way to achieve your objective. For instance, if your goal is to interact with others and learn how to make money from blogging or become a better blogger in a certain field, then the group will have value to you.

If you still think its elitist, come join us, we have room for one more elite.

2. That there is no need to organize

My feeling is, we do things because we like. If you are not the kind that is comfortable in groups, please dont get into one. The idea of coming together is for those who think there is strength in unity and not everybody does.

There is no doubt that at one point we have benefitted because we participated in a particular event, then you met someone who ended up impacting your life in a certain way; you just never know.

3. That there will be control

I can imagine that when we hear about an Association, we start thinking registration fees, soon there is a committee that will be in charge of our money, they will eat it, wrangles will start and it will become like a party etc…

I am not sure whether this is the control that was being alluded to or is the control by authorities but either way, I don’t think control is good for anybody. There is the element of responsibility, which has been discussed in other forums; if you go around insulting and defaming people and you are known, its only a matter of time before the jurisprudence catches up with online antics.

The upshot of it is; if you defame people and the government unmasks your username or traces your Internet Protocol address and arrests you, it will not be because you are a BAKE registered member, it will be because you did something wrong and they are lifting the veil (that you may be hiding in).

4. That bloggers will lose their independence

Now, I will disagree with anyone who tries to tell me what to do or how to do it. Your blog is your free space, say what you want, as long as your conscience allows.

The funny thing is, at a past BAKE meeting, we were discussing how some people had gotten warnings from companies that wanted to gag them. Its a way of sharing ideas and knowing that you are not alone. There are various ways you can lose your independence but I don’t think BAKE will be one of the ways, it has to be your choice.

5. Who gets to join?

Anyone. Whether you have been blogging for years or started yesterday, you are welcome to join.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that all bloggers must join or that they must buy into the idea, of course there will be those who are better at destroying than building, they will say all manner and sort of stuff but I don’t think it matters.

All what matters is whether you think BAKE will add any value to your work, if yes, join, if not, don’t join. But remember, value can be one way but in most cases is reciprocal.

I am sure you have heard stories of how online engagement has helped people break barriers and sail in unchartered waters, the online space in Kenya is barely scratched, you never know!

Bottom line is that most of us came to this city to make money, at times you may never know where that money comes from and the opportunities that may spring from nothing.

This may be one of them, so, seize the moment, and if you dont know how to do business, thats your problem!