Published in The Citizen Newspaper – ِAugust 17th, 2013 in my weekly column Blography of Sudan
Though not a blog, #Nafeer is the word that united the Sudanese blography and other online communities during the last week. The word in classic Arabic refers to call for war; however it is used in Sudanese-Arabic to describe a form of volunteer work organized by neighboring groups. A Nafeer can be organized to build a school, help a neighbor in need rebuild a wall in their house or during the harvest time. The word is being utilized by Sudanese bloggers, tweeps (Twitter users) and Facebook users in a form a hashtag in both Arabic English (#Nafeer #نفير) to collect information and organize volunteer work and donations to help families that have been affected by the heavy rains that again surprised several Sudanese cities this fall.
The hashtag first appeared last week and rapidly gained popularity as it was spread as an SOS message that users can include in tweets reporting areas affected by the rain. These reports along other resources were used to create a crowd map reporting and documenting damages and other incidents such as missing family members. Later on field volunteers used the hashtag to report their findings and needs whether in texts or images. #Nafeer volunteers also use the hashtag to announce dates, locations and outputs of their meetings as they invite others to join them. On the #Nafeer hashtag –on Twitter and Facebook- one can find lists with specific materials that the affected families are in desperate need for, mobile-phone numbers where phone credit can be sent as a form of donation, donation drop off locations, details on how to join #Nafeer volunteers and pictures of the affected areas that make you want to do much more. Though later on official #Nafeer accounts were created on Twitter, Facebook and Flicker (image hosting service) we saw tweeps change their names to Nafeer, Nafeer supporter or Support Nafeer from the very first days of the movement.
It also didn’t take long for the Sudanese Diaspora to pick up on the hashtag and use it in organizing donations for the movement as we can see the ongoing #Naffer of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, UK and other countries.
Another hashtag on the topic is the more bluntly phrased #KhartoumIsDrawing which was used by the Sudanese blogger NubianQ (@QNubian) in her post #KhartoumIsDrawning and No One Seems to Care (http://nubianq.com/2013/08/05/khartoumisdrowning-no-one-seems-to-care/) in which she also addressed the #Nafeer movement and efforts.
The spirit of unity the #Nafeer #نفير hashtags brought, the faith these hasthags are creating in our own ability to protect, help and save our community are ones that haven’t been seen in the Sudanese online communities for quite a while now.
#Nafeer #نفير the hashtag and the network it created are the reflection of real work on the ground of a community that raising to its own needs when no one else did, utilizing new technology to apply old solution techniques on current crises.
#Nafeer is an initiative worth supporting, developing and studying. More information on the #NAfeer activities can be found on the hashtags #Nafeer and #نفير on Twitter and Facebook as well as on its official accounts
Flicker (image hosting): www.flickr.com/photos/99881011@N08/
The images accompanying this article are a few of those documenting parts of a much larger destruction that affected many areas and families in several Sudanese cities. These images were provided by the #Nafeer Flicker account. These are not the kind of images one can enjoy, however, this is a situation we as community can still change.