I have a blog. It’s not the greatest, the most popular, or the most visually appealing, but it’s mine and I’m proud of it. There’s something satisfying about logging into your own little space on the Internet, where you plan out your thoughts and publish it, like a diary or journal of sorts. That feeling of pride when you google your name and something actually pops up.
As sensational as it is, there are a sea of bloggers out there. As exciting as it is to see a wave of young, bright Africans putting proverbial pen to paper and expressing themselves through their blogs, it can also be a daunting arena to enter. So many blogs. So many people who have come before you and established themselves. So many topics and themes to choose from. It can be overwhelming at times, wading into this unfamiliar territory. Success stories such as Siyanda Mohutsiwa can push you to continue with your blogging, but at the same time, it can make you self-conscious about your humble little blog. What will make my work readable, so much so than someone who already has a wide audience?
For months I grappled with this blogger’s insecurity. I scowled whenever I thought of how much attention my writing wasn’t getting, wondering if it was all worth it or not. I pushed on, planning and editing and polishing. As I got more comfortable in the role I relaxed and let go of my worries and fears, although my insecurity would flare up every now and then whenever I read of a blog’s success story. Over and over I asked myself, ‘what am I even doing this for?’
It was a chance encounter that made me realise why I kept writing. There I was in my dining hall at university, scooping up peanut butter with my spoon, mulling over whether I was actually going to eat it or not.
“You blog, right?”
I looked up to see a student in front of me. She repeated the question. I replied in the affirmative, not quite sure where this was headed.
“I’ve seen your blog. It’s really cool. I like it.”
And with that, she was gone. There I was, standing with a saucer of peanut butter and a tablespoon in the other, unsure of what had just happened. Someone complimented my work. Someone actually read my work. Not someone on Twitter or Facebook. A real person. It was a moment of quiet realisation. Not like a light bulb or ‘aha’ moment, but like the ringing silence on top of a mountain, where it’s just you and your thoughts.
Why do we blog? It’s simple really. We blog because we have a story, each of us do. Whether it be fashion, politics, poetry or science, we all have something stirring in our minds that we cannot just keep to ourselves. We blog because we have found a vehicle to express ourselves, a vehicle we can change and adapt to fit our individual style and personality. We write, we photograph, we record, because we understand that what we share with the rest of the digital world has meaning. The lucky few become brand names and their blogs become the catalyst for a career and recognition. For many others, it’s a space where they can control their story, using their voice to tell their story in their medium. In a continent whose narratives have so often been neglected or misrepresented, there’s power in having ownership over your story, regardless of whether or not it goes viral. For that reason alone, blogging is important.
I have a blog. It’s not the best blog, it’s not the prettiest blog, it’s not the most popular of the bunch. But it’s mine and I’m proud of it. It’s a story that I own, a story that I share, a story that is one of many little stories that colour Africa’s digital horizon. My story matters. Your story matters. Our stories matter. So let’s keep creating, sharing, and blogging.