Is it the hip urban youth chatting online and the techies writing code for their next breakthrough product? Or is it the lack of internet access and digital mobile devices that a three-year-old can handle but a 60-year-old person is struggling with?
One way or the other, digital divide manifests itself in diverse forms across the world.
With the digital transformation pushing forward, the digital divide gap is growing worldwide.
But there is a silver lining – digital change makers and pioneers are role models who make sure that no one is left behind. They resolve the alleged contradictions between traditional and contemporary lifestyles, between urban and rural areas, and the use of digital technologies in these communities because digital change happens in places where you may not be expecting it.
That is why the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) launched the exhibition “Chiefs in Tech”, implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Kwaku David Photography.
BMZ invited Chiefs and Queen Mothers from Ghana, who are digital pioneers in their communities, to be part of this photo exhibition and to showcase their engagement with digital technologies. For many people, digital technology such as a mobile device is already an integral part of their daily lives in remote areas just as much as in cities.
Digital technologies already help us attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Beyond solving development challenges in a variety of sectors, such as healthcare, agriculture and the energy sector, digital technologies accelerate access to knowledge, jobs, foster equality and ensure participation of different groups.
The photo exhibition “Chiefs in Tech” portrays female and male traditional authorities from different (rural) regions of Ghana.
Behind each portrait lies the story of fascinating individuals who function as digital pioneers utilizing digital technologies in their communities to close the digital divide.
NAME: FATIGI -TO WURA TAKORA I_DABOYA
CROWN JURISDICTION: CHIEF OF DABOYA IN THE WASIPE TRADITIONAL AREA
REGION: NORTHERN REGION
Technology has helped me in so many ways. The first digital device I used was a laptop and I still think these devices can help to preserve our traditions. They can bring the world closer to me and make it easier to access information across the globe. Personally, I use the phone and the tablet in my daily routines to book appointments, write notes, save information and data and surf the internet for research purposes. In this way, I am able to take photos, videos and record audios of our festivals and important activities in the community and share them with the world. Furthermore, I am active on social media platforms, such as Facebook and WhatsApp.Thus, I can keep all information and data for the future and I can organize my social activities and access my calendar to plan upcoming events. Digital devices give us access to social media. Although social media exposes one to educative materials and funny things, it should be used for rightful purposes. It should be beneficial to the user and the user should not abuse it. I think that my use of digital devices makes me a modern chief.QUOTE:
“I think that my use of digital devices makes me a modern chief.”
NAME: MAMAGA AKUA SABEA NYABOR VII
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: PARAMOUNT QUEEN MOTHER OF AKROFU TRADITIONAL AREA
REGION: VOLTA REGION
As a traditional ruler, I use digital devices to communicate easily with my people. The first digital device I have used was the mobile phone. I am an active user of various social media platforms. Digital devices are valuable tools because they help develop an individual in every aspect by facilitating the accessibility of information. I use these digital devices and social media platforms to organize my social obligations as a Queen Mother. I also use it to advertise my festivals and every activity I perform in my community. To me, the use of digital devices has its positive and negative sides in terms of preserving our traditions. On the one hand, digital devices and electronic media have helped to modernize our traditional practices as people are easily exposed to our traditional beliefs and practices and it informs them. On the other hand, I also believe it has made our traditions lose their purpose and value.While I have concerns with the rapid circulation of information on social media, it was also an enabler to meet very experienced Queen Mothers, who have really affected my life as a person and as a Queen. QUOTE:
“While I have concerns with the rapid circulation of information on social media, it was also an enabler to meet very experienced Queen Mothers, who have really affected my life as a person and as a Queen.”
NAME: MAMAGA TOLEYIFOE V_Ve
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: Of Ve TRADITIONAL AREA/ AFADZATO MOUNTAIN
REGION: VOLTA REGIONMy first digital device was a laptop. I use the internet on the smartphone, particularly to send E-mails as well as messages via social media platforms. The device has helped me make my work very easy, as I can use it to advertise my products and services and to organize my life.Whether the use of digital devices is a tool to preserve a tradition, is a matter of perspective. Personally, I use it to take pictures of our traditional lifestyle and report on it.
I think, if you are using the device in a good way, you have nothing to lose. The internet enables you to learn new things continuously and therefore, I think digital devices are adding value to people’s life immensely.
“Whether the use of digital devices is a tool to preserve a tradition, is a matter of perspective”
NAME: MAMAGA TSYRAWAH IV
CROWN JURISDICTION: PARAMOUNT QUEEN MOTHER OF HAVE
The use of digital devices has made my life easier. My first digital device was a Toshiba Laptop and I still use it for business purposes, which is mostly for E-Mails and other correspondence. The use of digital devices can preserve and disrupt our tradition in a good as well as in a bad way. Looking at the good side, personally, it has made it easier for me to communicate with friends and family members anywhere in the world. On the bad side, particularly younger generations spend most of their lifetime using digital devices, instead of spending time physically together. In this way, a new perception of time develops, however, not necessarily a positive one. I think that people abuse social media platforms and do not think about the consequences. This can make it a dangerous tool.Notwithstanding, digital devices have actually helped in the organization of my social activities. I am able to take photos of social engagements to keep memories intact. You can do many things with digital devices, you can send funny visuals to make them laugh but also you can spread educative information.
“You can do many things with digital devices, you can send funny visuals to make them laugh but also you can spread educative information.”
NAME: NANA KWABENA ACHEAMPONG_BIAKOYE
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: NKOSUOHENE OF BIAKOYE, APESOKUBI TRADITIONAL AREA
REGION: VOLTA REGIONI often use digital devices and social media platforms to organize my social activities. All meetings, information and directions are posted on our WhatsApp platform. Nevertheless, unreliable information circulates on many social media platforms. I do think that people need to be aware of this and should act accordingly. I personally use digital devices because I believe it is a modern way of life. However, I have concerns with hackers, because sometimes, I am unable to respond to unknown inquiries. My user stories include joining groups and platforms that enable you to share knowledge and information. With the use of digital devices, I can keep and access the photos and memories of my fellow Chiefs and Queen Mothers and thereby, I can contribute positively to the preservation of our tradition.QUOTE:
“I personally use digital devices because I believe it is a modern way of life.”
NAME: NANA OGYEDM AMA TSETSEWA I
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: MANKRADO OF GOMOA OGUAN AND OSUMPAHEN OF GOMOA AKYEMPIM TRADITIONAL COUNCIL
REGION: CENTRAL REGION
I usually communicate with my followers on WhatsApp and Twitter rather than bringing all of them together to provide them with information about our tradition and culture. My followers tend to listen to me as they perceive me as part of the global system of transformation. It is also cheaper and cost-effective to be working on digital devices. I also think the use of digital devices helps in preserving our tradition in terms of saving information and data. Before the inception of the use of digital devices, information has been written on paper and animal skin. Until recently, we could not even trace most of them from our archives. Now, we can save data and information on multiple devices to access them in the future. During festivals I communicate with my subjects on matters of concern and educate them on things, they need to know. For example why we perform widowhood rights. I am very active on social media, I tweet, I use WhatsApp and I am on Facebook. I believe these devices really add value to us. They enable us to reach a wide range of people within a short period of time.
There are misconceptions about Chiefs and Queen Mothers. This is why I use my platform to educate my followers on why we do what we do and dress how we dress.QUOTE:
“I am very active on social media, I tweet, I use WhatsApp and I am on Facebook. I believe these devices really add value to us.”
NAME: TIAAH AMPEM-DARKOA
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: MAAWERE HEMAA OF APIREDE
REGION: EASTERN REGION
The use of a digital device allows me to spread the word on my role as a Queen Mother to the world easily. Thanks to tools like Facebook live, I can reach out to people, to attend our annual Odwira Festival. Thus, we can share with the world our rich culture. Selling Apreade-Akwapim to investors can create new jobs and markets, and thereby helps town folks to sell their hospitability, too. Indeed, the phone becomes a marketing tool. However, technology has two sides. On the one hand, it does not help in preserving our culture, and it can interfere in individual privacy. On the other hand, the use of the phone and the internet also helps to broadcast information quickly. In this way, people know what we are doing and why we are doing it.
In general, the use of digital devices definitely adds value to me and the world: It helps to connect with our families in other countries and keeping the family together. Most importantly, it helps to exchange our cultures, values and traditions.QUOTE:
“The use of a digital device allows me to spread the word on my role as a Queen Mother to the world easily.”
NAME: NANAHEMAA ADWOA AWINDOR
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: NKOSUOHEMAA OF AFIGYA-KWABRE
REGION: ASHANTI REGION
I had an interesting experience with digital devices when I started using the camera. Everyone around me got very excited because people were not used to seeing such tools in reality. They have only seen cameras on television and could not believe their eyes when they first saw one in real life.
As a documentary producer and Queen, I document everything concerning our community engagements and outreach programs.
With the help of digital devices, I do engagements, I communicate with my Queens from different organizations. I also post most of the events we organize on social media to pre-inform people to contribute to our activities.
Digital devices have made life easier and convenient for me. My work with the camera has also motivated other young women to explore that opportunity. Digital devices definitely add value to my life because I am virtually dependent on them. QUOTE:
“My work with the camera has also motivated other young women to explore that opportunity”
NAME: NII OTSEDZEN ASHONG BORTIER II
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: DZASEHENE OF SANTOR-KANAWU AND OYIBI
REGION: GREATER ACCRAThe world has become a global village where everything moves very fast and communication has become very accessible and easy. The first digital device I used was a mobile phone and I still use my phone to organize social activities. Since my daughter taught me the purpose and usage of YouTube, I started using the platform. To me, the use of mobile phones is preserving our tradition. For instance, in the past, a messenger had to be sent to deliver messages to the kinsmen but in this era, you just need to call or text to deliver any information or messages. This saves a lot of time and it helps to avoid accidents.QUOTE:
“Since my daughter taught me the purpose of YouTube, I started using the platform.”
NAME: QUEEN BORESAH IDDISAH JEDUAH I BOLE
CROWN OF JURISDICTION: DIVISIONAL QUEENMOTHER OF BOLE TRADITIONAL AREA
REGION: NORTHERN REGIONI do use digital devices and social media platforms to organize my social activities. The first digital device I used was a mobile phone, which is therefore somehow symbolic for me personally.
The use of the digital device to some extent disrupts our traditional rules. For instance, due to the use of these devices my visit to my community is minimal because I tend to use video call tools. I am concerned with the rise of hackers, hence my inability to discuss certain salient issues via phone or send some information via social media. Our traditions need to be held sacred.
All in all, I use digital devices because I feel they provide the easiest ground for sharing information. In this way, I can easily communicate with my kinsmen. Importantly, I can also reach the Northern Region and do not need to travel for each meeting. This has immensely improved communication with different regions across Ghana.QUOTE:
“Due to the use of digital devices my visit to my community is minimal because I tend to use video call tools.”
By: Kwaku David (Photographs by Kwaku David Photography)