Taking the reality of rural Kafanchan across the world
The Fantsuam Foundation team that attends national and global events always has to justify and clarify its presence and participation at these events. Whether we are in Lagos, Abuja, Melbourne, Johannesburg or London we carry in our head the realities of a different world and sometimes we struggle to make sense of that world outside our rural constituency in BayanLoco, Kafanchan.
When Comfort attends the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid global forum’ in Singapore, or Teresa is invited to an experts’ consultation on children and teenager's rights in Africa to input into the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion. Or if John is invited to join the Nigerian working group on internet freedoms and freedom of information in Abuja, we always ask ourselves the same questions: 'Should I really be here at this event? Or what is the relevance of these frontline, top-level issues to those villagers whose homes have dissolved in the recent floods, or to the patient with the burst appendix who cannot afford to pay for an operation, or to the children whose school has been closed for months because the contractor paid to renovate their classrooms has absconded?' These daily interactions in our communities can easily drown out the outside world.
Ambassadors for the unseen and unheard
But…. and I think this is why we must keep tabs on what is happening in the bigger world outside: the grinding poverty and exclusion in our constituency that takes up all our resources are often the consequence of the exclusive national and global policies that have no room for the folks at the bottom of the pyramid. So we must provide a reality-check to the national and global audience and remain true ambassadors for our unseen and unheard rural constituencies.
So we will continue to contribute our chapters to international publications like the GRACE on the “emancipatory potential of ICT for rural women" or the 2014 GISWATCH on "Nigerian Government undemocratic engagement on mass surveillance". We will attend the global internet governance forum (IGF), knowing fully well that addressing formidable barriers of high illiteracy and lack of affordable internet access remain our primary assignments. It is our way of making local realities intelligible to a global audience.