Blogging Ghana, a non-profit association of bloggers and social media enthusiasts, has been using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to encourage Ghanaians to discuss issues surrounding the 2012 elections and to go out and vote.
The organisation’s Ghana Decides project has worked to get people to register, enabled them to follow and join discussions on questions relevant to the election and the country’s future, and gave them platforms to share their views with the public.
Ghana Decides is being funded by STAR-Ghana, a multi-donor program that has supported 44 organisations to enable them to ensure peaceful, transparent and fair elections, as well as a smooth transition in the aftermath.
Blogging Ghana has partnered with a number of organisations also receiving funding through STAR-Ghana, helping them disseminate information and educate the public through both Ghana Decides’ and their own social media platforms.
“The project has used its platform to extensively sensitise and educate a broader group of stakeholders on the use of social media for Ghana’s elections,” STAR-Ghana’s program manager, Amidu Ibrahim Tanko, has said, and “has given the youth a sense of ownership as they are able to share their own information instantly.”
Ghana Decides uses text and photo sharing platforms, and engages people offline, but most of the campaigns also rely on videos– those produced by the project and those produced by everyday people.
The videos have been viewed over 74,000 times on YouTube.
In an early campaign, Ghana Decides encouraged citizens to register on the new Biometric Voter Registration system and then to send in photos and videos of themselves waiting in line, registering and holding their new ID cards.
A later campaign urged peer-to-peer video sharing. People filmed themselves talking about the elections and then “tagged” three to five of their friends who would then make their own videos, “tag” more friends, and so on.
The project also produced videos of citizens talking about what it means to be Ghanaian, to help foster a sense of collective identity.
Politicians have spoken to the electorate through Ghana Decides’ platforms, as have local celebrities. Rocky Dawuni, a reggae star, has urged all those eligible to go out and vote, for instance.
And a video of a heated debate on the feasibility of immediately implementing free senior high school education is one of the most viewed on Ghana Decides’ YouTube Channel.
But the most popular video remains that of a food vendor who, full of emotion, talks about the loss of Ghana’s president, Atta Mills, last summer. In fact, seven out of the ten most popular videos are about the former president, a testament to the mark Prof Mills made on Ghana as he presided over the country’s continuing stability, but also a reminder of why peaceful elections this year are so crucial.
Photo: Four friends holding up their ID cards after registering to vote.
Photo by Ghana Decides.