Inspiring a new generation of young Zimbabweans to stand up and be heard
Zimbabwe is a young country, with 62% of the population below the age of 25 years. But young people in Zimbabwe suffer from lack of freedom of expression, high unemployment and are often used as political tools. The upcoming elections in 2018 are a significant moment for the country during the transition towards a more peaceful, prosperous and inclusive future. Young people are now more hopeful than ever that they can play a central role in building it.
Magamba Network rose to inspire young people to be part of the change Zimbabwe needs. They decided to create change through fun, creative tools that speak to young people in a language they understand: from hip-hop to satire, from social media to innovation. They believe in a Zimbabwe with participatory democracy, strong alternative media and a thriving creative economy. They believe in being the change they want to create and are committed to social justice. Magamba’s award-winning initiatives include Shoko Festival, Zimbabwe’s longest-running festival of urban culture; Moto Republik, Southern Africa’s first creative hub; the internationally acclaimed Zambezi News satire show, the weekly political news show The Week and the pioneering citizen journalism project, Open Parly. Magamba’s newest intiaitives include The FeedZW, a video news project focused on young people, and the Citizens’ Manifesto, a platform that Magamba works on collaboratively with social movements to fight for a new Zimbabwe.
In response to mainstream media not engaging with or representing the views of young people, the B.The Media Project aims to allow young people to create their own narratives and tell their own stories. The B.The Media project focuses on inspiring and incubating a new generation of young citizen journalists who can speak truth to power.
Open Parly is one of the initiatives created from B.The Media. It empowers young people to participate in political processes by training young citizen journalists to report live with news and analysis from the Zimbabwean Parliament. Open Parly’s website and Twitter provides young people with immediate access to information about parliamentary activities and invites them to respond by engaging with MPs in conversations on social media. The engaging youth reporters and their analytical assessment of Parliament proceedings, increases government transparency and accountability to young people. Open Parly has now also evolved into one of Zimbabwe’s leading breaking news initiatives providing live coverage from demonstrations, press conferences and more. Open Parly is seen as one of the most important twitter handles to follow in Zimbabwe garnering over 5 million impressions per month on Twitter. Open Parly has also been central in campaigns such as #DataMustFall that forced government to keep mobile data affordable and #DearRita that pressured the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to reverse a policy that would make it difficult for young people to register to vote.
The news and analysis that Open Parly provides is vital to motivate youth involvement in politics and the electoral process ahead of the upcoming elections. The Open Parly model is now being spread to other African countries.
Magamba Network has most importantly inspired a new generation of young Zimbabweans to stand up and be heard and be part of a positive movement to change Zimbabwe for the better.