We met Didier Lalaye, alias Croquemort in Chad, about two years ago. He is part of the upcoming music scene in Chad, where thanks to new technologies the government can no longer contain critical singers. Instead ICT has given them a platform which these young people are increasingly testing for possibilities. It is part of a new wind blowing over the African continent, where people increasingly realize and exert their power to make their voices be heard. ICTs have enabled a reflection on their daily realities of oppression and poverty. Authoritarian and corrupt governments can no longer neglect these voices.

Didier is also a doctor, and working at the hospital in Chad is a daily encounter with the misery of the people in Chad. People who have lived a post-colonial history of oppression, war, hunger and mal-governance. Despite the fact that Chad has a wealth in oil, the majority of the population is still deprived of electricity, while a minority constructs huge houses and drives expensive cars. Today the capital Ndjaména only has electricity from 6 pm to midnight.

Didier and his friends counteract this reality by dedicating their energy, their courage, in short their life to change. They take advantage of the new technology to make their voices heard. Showing an image of Africa that does not reach our media.

The interrelation between communication technology, the often harsh life in Africa and societal change is at the core of our research programme ‘Connecting in times of duress’. This programme follows the recent developments in Central and West Africa and compares it with similar developments from the past. Engaging with Voice4Thought, people like Didier, his considerations, relation with society, in short his biography helps us to develop an alternative understanding of the past and future of Africa. This is an interactive engagement where the Voice4Thought become co-authors of our research.

Different genres of expression meet in our reflections: songs, paintings, written text, film, activism, academic debates….

The story of Didier also ties into previous research we have been doing in Chad and the region. His story allows us to relate to these data: about political history, different cultures, economic life; In short Didier’s story invites to share knowledge.

Mirjam de Bruijn and Sjoerd Sijsma

The first impressions of the on-going work for this project can be read and seen on the blog: http://mirjamdebruijn.wordpress.com

Part of the research programme: