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Madagascar: The voice of a young blogger and translator

During the 2010 Global Voices Summit in Chile, a young girl from Madagascar asked me whether I am really from Japan, the country where she is passionate about everything including language, culture, and especially sushi. I was impressed that she could speak better Japanese than myself despite the fact that I have been living in Japan for two years already.

She is Radifera Felana Candy, translator for Global Voices Lingua Malagasy. Only 15 years old, Candy is probably the youngest member in the Global Voices team. Her participation in Global Voices has not only improved her language skills, it has also allowed her to promote her country's language, Malagasy. Candy, currently a high school student, wants to know more about infographics in college and she hopes to use her blog as a tool for social change. This advocacy via the blogosphere is laudable.

Candy together with her dad, Maminirina Radifera Ranaivoson (left); Leonard Chien, Global Voices Lingua Director; and Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Uganda, one of winners of Breaking Borders Award

I interviewed Candy via e-mail about her personal life and her blogging activities:

1. Tell us more about yourself:

I'm RADIFERA Felana Candy, 15 years old, and I was born in Madagascar. I'm a sophomore high school student. I learned Japanese during my first year in high school but at that time I was only taking lessons here and there on the Internet. I decided to take a language course one year after.

2. How long have you been blogging? Why?

I first heard about blogging through the “Foko Madagascar” Project. I participated in a blog training they organized. I have been blogging since 2007. But at that time I was not very active. I didn't have internet at home and I had no idea about what to write about. I started to blog because I always loved writing stories since I was very young.

3. What kind of blog did you start with ?

I wrote about everyday life, about the things that surprised me, interested me, or made me angry.

4. Is your family open to new technologies? Are they supportive of your online activities?

Yes, since both my parents work with computers, and especially my dad because he is very passionate about photography. My dad is also a very active blogger. As long as I don't talk about politics, it's ok, because here in Madagascar, especially during a crisis, politics is a very sensitive topic.

5. What do you like most about blogging?

Blogging allows me to share my opinion to others, to let them know about what is happening in my life and my community. I value this opportunity to share something about myself to others, and to interact with readers. It's a kind of way to communicate with others. But apart from writing, I also love to create my own blog banner, I love to edit photos, even though I'm not very skilled yet.

6. What do you think about blogging in Madagascar?

Access to blogs is very limited in Madagascar since only 1 or 2 percent of Malagasy people can access the internet due to its price. But I know there are many individuals who really want to blog. If we can improve web access, I believe blogging can contribute to change/ameliorate the way of life of Malagasy people.

7. What is your expectation from blogging for yourself and your community?

I hope to attract more people to blog, or maybe that I will change the views of some people by sharing my views, especially about blogging. I remember when I told some of my friends about blogging, they said that it's a waste of time.

8. You are translator for Global Voices Lingua Malagasy. How do you like your role with GV now?

GV is a big community, its a major website, and it's rare for this kind of website to be translated into Malagasy. Malagasy is not a widely known language, and it's an honor for me to translate GV articles into my language. It's also a way for me to improve my English and Malagasy language skills. And now that I've attended the Summit, I feel more motivated to do translations. I love to do it. GV became something important to me, and I'm proud to be a part of GV Community.

9. How do you picture yourself in the future?

After high-school, I will study IT, or infographics. I hope I will also be more involved with GV.

10. What is your message to fellow young netizens?

Be more open to the world. Blogging is an easy way to share your opinion. It is never a waste of time especially if you write something interesting and useful. Through blogging, maybe we will find other bloggers in the world who also share our views, and who can understand and help us in our lives. When I participated in the first blog training of Foko, I asked them what I can write on a blog. One of the answers was that I can use blogging as a diary. It's true, but be careful not to share something intimate on your blog, someone can use it against you (to “hit” you)

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