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OURMedia 7 Meets in Accra, Ghana
by Alfonso Gumucio-Dagron

In August 2008, OURMedia, a nonprofit organisation focused on participatory communication, held its seventh conference in Accra, Ghana.

OURMedia’s first conference, in 2001, was held in Washington, D.C. Since then, meetings have been held in a broad array of places. The organisation’s accomplishments are possible only because each new conference, from its inception, is a breath of fresh air.

The Ghanian conference drew people from 42 countries. From Monday, August 11 to Friday, August 15, we had 11 plenary sessions, in which more than 30 research papers, experiences and reflections were presented. In addition, 18 workshops and parallel sessions focused on a variety of topics, including simultaneous video exhibits in three conference rooms.

We began on Monday morning with a beautiful African invocation, including music and poetry by poet and scholar Kofi Anyidoho.

Next, Alfred E. Opubor interacted with a video message sent by John Downing, one of OURMedia’s founders. Downing’s video asked “Ten Questions for Grassroots Media Activism,” and I moderated a “virtual” discussion between Opubor and Downing’s video, in which the former answered Downing’s questions.

As in previous conferences, an entire day was devoted to a field visit. We went to Radio Ada, which celebrates its tenth anniversary, and we visited rural and fishermen communities that partner with Radio Ada. We were received by traditional leaders of the Dangme East District. And a welcome ceremony was conducted before the day’s actual programme began. Colleagues from Radio Ada, with Kofi Larweh, offered us sabo, a traditional Ghanian dish similar to tamales of Central America and Mexico, though in Ghana, the maize is mixed with groundnut.

That morning we had a panel on community radio, the only panel conducted outside of Accra, and I was asked to facilitate in an unusual environment, under a bucolic palm roof and with the traditional authorities of Ada in the audience.

One of the key features of OURMedia 7 was celebration of AMARC, the World Association of Community Radio’s 25th anniversary. No fewer than 45 members of AMARC participated and held parallel meetings to discuss the rebuilding of the AMARC Africa network, which recently went through a serious crisis. The dialogue between OURMedia and AMARC opened new possibilities of future collaboration.

The conference, marked with the strong presence of African culture, concluded with a communiqué by the Ghana Coordinating Committee urging African governments to enact their official commitments signed in various high-level meetings: the 1990 African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation (Arusha, Tanzania); the 2001 African Charter on Broadcasting (Windhoek, Namibia); the 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of the Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul, The Gambia); and, most recently, the communiqué from the 2008 World Press Freedom Day (Maputo, Mozambique).

Note: For comprehensive coverage of the meeting, visit OURMedia’s Web site

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