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BRIEF HISTORY

The seeds for the On Line Africa Knowledge Foundation were sown in 1969 when our founder, Professor Robert Jones first set foot on the African continent and realized that nearly everything he had learned about Africa was one-dimensional, unbalanced, and often purposely skewed.

Over the next 25 years of his career in communications and media around the world, he adopted an old African proverb to explain his goals to others--"Until the lion can write and speak, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter". Today this saying is the driving force behind the OnLine Africa Knowledge Foundation.   

Founded in 1993, the OnLine Africa Project served as consultants to the Leland Initiative for Internet Connectivity in Africa, an early USAID project and the National Demonstration Lab for Interactive Media at the Academy for Educational Development. OLAfrica succeeded in its mission to provide computer and internet training to African women through its allignment with the Network of East-West Women, University of Maryland, University of Ghana, Balme Library, Wits University and US telecommunications companies for whom we performed feasibility studies. In 1995 we participated in the first multipoint Internet videoteleconference between the World Bank Group and 16 universities, including the founders of the World Bank African Virtual University project.      <more history>

MISSION of the Foundation

To assist global people of African descent to develop their capacity to use information technology and mobile multimedia to empower themselves while simultaneously helping to reinforce Africa's public, private, governmental, social, political, busiess, non-governmental and educational institutions so they can make more effective contributions to Africa's development. We aim to ensure that groups of citizens can effectively leverage power by playing a greater role at all levels of the local and national agenda-setting process. The Foundation has also established a "micro investment" program where individuals, business owners and NGOs collaborate to provide seed money for indigenous African communications-related enterprises that have transformative social powers when applied at the village level.

PURPOSE

The OnLine Africa Knowledge Foundation is dedicated to advancing the shared vision of our founder and the late Dr. Thomas Odhiambo, one of Africa's foremost scientific innovators, educators and earliest technology visionaries. They first collaborated in 1995 to design Africa's first long distance electronic mentoring program "DESSA" (Distressed Expatriate Scholars and Scientists of Africa) which provided people of African descent opportunities to contribute to development in Africa without necessarily having to move back to the Continent. The On Line Africa Knowledge Foundation celebrates Dr. Odhiambo's professional and humanitarian memory and pledges to carry on his selfless work.

One of our primary objectives is to develop a networked cadre of responsible, dedicated and responsive citizen journalists/ communicators at the village level who have the skills required for engagement in creditable news and information generation so they can contribute to their community’s future development and prosperity by localizing the media skills that currently must be outsourced.

Ultimately, the Foundation aims to provide Africa with a continent-wide audio-visual production and distribution center and global gateway for life-long learning, news and bi-directional information content that will help off-set some of the negative impact that indigenous and non-African information sources have had, and continue to have, on people of African descent around the world.

NEED

Because media skills are useful far beyond the realm of news reporting, this work will not only benefit media, but also how people communicate and support development. Writing, verbal and visual skills are vital components to just about every endeavor one can think of today. Yet, people of African descent still find themselves reliant on purchasing a growing number of goods and services from outsiders rather than producing these items themselves. This Foundation believes it is vital for Africans to begin producing alternatives to the often skewed and exclusionary content that is widely circulated in the name of educating and informing global citizens about Africa.

Too often, western-sourced news programs only present negative and unbalanced views of Africa while excluding the “good news” that could inspire African people to exceed their own often-limited self expectations. Even educational materials, that feature varied people as symbolic role models, seldom reflect adequate levels of African inclusion and cultural sensitivity. As a result, students often have difficulty relating these materials to the reality of their own lives. In order to aspire to greatness, young people need role models with whom they can identify.

Our solutions to these pressing dilemmas center on increasing the capacity of African people to produce and distribute a wide variety of life-long learning and business materials for low-tech, high-tech and no-tech audiences worldwide. We provide opportunities and resources for people to tell their own compelling stories and focus on such role models, past and present.

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