There’s so much you can do with Twitter in Zambia these days, but it’s amazing how an account, Insaka Chat, just took the bull by its horns and decided to dominate Twitter every Sunday from 6pm till tweeps (Twitter people) who follow the account decide to get offline later in the night.
Insaka Chat focuses on issues that affect Zambia or are trending in the country, except politics. Call it Twitter parliament except it’s not political, no bills are passed, nobody vetoes tweets and everyone’s a speaker.
An insaka is vernacular for a meeting place where people come together and discuss issues affecting a community. It totally nails the group’s motive on it’s head.
All you have to do to be a part of the week’s discussion is follow Insaka Chat on Twitter @InsakaChat, find out the topic of discussion and tweet with your contribution and replies to other tweeps using the hashtag #Insaka. Simple.
I got to talk to Bwalya Chileya, (@missbwalya), who is behind the Twitter profile, about the origins and purpose of Insaka Chat.
Who started Insaka Chat?
Early last year Muchemwa Sichone (@WriteRevolt) and I were lamenting the fact that as Zambians on Twitter much of our focus is on politics and not necessarily on other issues that affect our day-to-day lives. He suggested we do Sunday topics that are of the non-political variety, and that’s how this initiative was born. I picked a hashtag that I felt would align with the objective of the Sunday topics, and would also be easy to remember, hence #Insaka.
Our inaugural topic as suggested by Katupe Naulapwa (@BanaChibwe) was “The Preservation of Cultural Heritage.” We posed various questions to people about how we as Zambians (and Africans for that matter) can retain our languages, cultural norms and customs in a constantly changing world.
2. When did it start?
We had our first Insaka discussion on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 18hrs CAT.
What has the general response been like?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We not only attract Zambians on twitter but others of various nationalities. People appreciate having an online platform on which they discuss a myriad of issues that affect us as Zambians and Africans, and aren’t centred on politics or politicians.
As result of one of our discussions on Branding, a group of us set up the #TopZedBrands initiative which is aimed at recognising our best brands. We will be doing it again this year because of the feedback we received from those who participated.
Our primary participants are Zambians (at home and abroad) as well as others from various countries. It all depends on people’s level of interest in the topic and how much chatter we generate during the chat.
What topics are covered?
We cover all sorts of social issues though we are strictly non-political. Examples of past discussions – Child Sex Abuse, Homosexuality in Zambia, What It Means To Be A Man, The Women’s Movement in Zambia, Changes in Marriage Practices.
Has any discussion ever brought about an actual change in society or is it all talk?
We are certainly not all talk as the purpose of Insaka is to speak up on issues, share ideas and ultimately learn from others. Based on feedback we continually receive, people see this as a needed platform for dialogue – that’s change – people aren’t just bickering online. There’s a fluid exchange of ideas.
How do you spread new about discussion for that week?
We typically announce the topic for discussion on Tuesday or Wednesday, and spend time between then and Sunday advertising and reminding regular contributors to brainstorm and come prepared.
So, if you’re a tweep passionate about everyday life and its issues in Zambia, join in the chat every Sunday. You might just help make a mark on Zambia and help change it, one tweet at a time.