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Where is the African Flickr?

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This is a young blog. We’re just starting out, and nobody has put in more than their time and effort to get things up and running. That is why we are hosted on a free service and make the most of Flickr’s Creative Commons licences when we’re sourcing pictures for our posts.

We have had some difficulty, however, finding images that we feel are directly relevant to the issues we blog about. We started the blog hoping to highlight issues in Kenyan business and IT and, for the most part, we have stayed true to that vision since we started. Lately, however, we have noticed that we have a hard time sourcing pictures that relate to Kenya – or Africa in general – relating to business, IT, or any setting that isn’t a stereotypical tourist shot, or a one-off piece about somebody’s unique focus.

There are image agencies out there: Getty Images maintains a hugely fascinating library, while its South African subsidiary, Gallo Images, does an impressive job in providing relevant and topical pictures. The only problem is, at present we can’t afford them. And searching through thousands of Flickr CC-licensed pictures for each post can end up taking more time than it takes to write the content itself.

We asked ourselves: where is the African Flickr? Where is the depository of free-to-share pictures that reflect daily life in the continent’s countries? The boring business scenes with non-caucasians? The candid shots of a non-white housewife doing the weekly shopping? Anything at all that is not Europe or US-oriented? Where is our Flickr?

And there isn’t one. Not because we don’t want one, but because it just doesn’t seem important enough. The Kenyan IT scene does seem to be geared towards app development, and photographers would rather be paid than give away their work for free. But the fact remains: as long as this situation persists, Kenyan blogs and websites are either going to be paying extortionate fees to picture agencies and/or paying out for their own photo shoots. One of the boosts to the Kenyan – and the black web diaspora generally – would be to have a resource similar to Flickr where we could access CC-licensed pictures to use on our websites.

It’s not a matter of demanding free content (hell, anyone can ask for that). It’s a matter of representation for those who have not yet reached the giddy heights of a mainstream media organisation.

[Image by Alexander Drachmann]

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