31 Aug 2023

Kollegienhaus, Petersplatz 1, Basel, HS102

Gastvorlesung / Vortrag

Fredrick Ogenga: "Maskani Pan-African Digital Peacebuilding" (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2023)

Das Zentrum für Afrikastudien in Zusammenarbeit mit swisspeace lädt alle Afrika-Interessierten herzlich zur diesjährigen Carl Schlettwein Lecture und zum anschliessenden Apéro ein.

Fredrick Ogenga (picture by Wilson Center)

As we continue to witness the trends in social media today characterised by the advancement of modern technology, there is a growing concern regarding the contribution of social media in society well captured in the growing scientific inquiry that seeks to explore relations between technology and society. One emerging area of concern in this context is centred on the ambigous nature of social media in peace and security – They have been considered to escalate conflict but at the same time viewed as useful tools for mobilising collective action towards peacebuilding. The latter has informed an area of study called “AI for Peace” which is primarily concerned with how Artificial Intelligence is being harnessed for peacebuilding within the “Tech for Good Mantra”. Maskani is a digital peacebuilding innovation inspired by tech for good that uses WhatsApp and Facebook powering over 70 youthful micro-influencers in six public universities in Western Kenya. Maskani was invented out of fears of social media instigated violence in the highly charged 2022 elections, which were characterised by ethnic polarisation disguised as class struggle. Maskani ventures into positive interventions online and offline around electoral polarisation and other conflict pressure points using digital tools, and arts and cultural strategies respectively. Maskani is grounded in Pan-African philosophies of Utu (humanity), Umoja (unity) and Harambee (collective responsibility/pulling together) in the context of critical theories of technology and media in everyday life evidenced in its “#NguvuPamoja” or “unity is strength” digital campaign slogan. This lecture reflects critically of the role Maskani continues to play beyond the 2022 controversial elections and on lessons for the future.

Fredrick Ogenga is associate professor of Media and Security Studies at Rongo University. He also serves as director of the Center for Media, Democracy Peace and Security, and CEO of The Peacemakers Corps Foundation of Kenya.

The lecture is held in the framework of the Conference: "Science, Expertise and other Modes of Knowledge: Trends, Patterns, and Prospects" (2023 conference of the Swiss Association for the Studies of Science, Technology & Society)

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