"For the Tonga people like me, there is something deeply biblical about the word MULONGA, yet it is a modern story too. One of massive but unshared technology. One of plentiful water but perpetual drought."
Dominic Muntanga
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Tonga.Online @ Ars Electronica 2004
Tuesday, 27 January 2004 00:00

The prestigious Prix Ars Electronica 2004 – the world wide recognised International Competition of CyberArts which is based in Linz / Austria - is offering a new prize category of relevance to African readers. The category "Digital Communities" of Prix Ars Electronica focusing on the political potential of network systems will award two first prizes (10,000 EUR each) to community projects of great socio-political relevance and for innovative social software.

For more details please visit aec - communities

Deadline for online submission is March 12.

The Tonga.Online Project has been encouraged to submit an application for this new category of Prix Ars Electronica and is keen to follow up this call.

There is no doubt that the project is a very good example for the successful use of modern information technology to promote the voice of a local community. Tonga.Online is fostering a local area network of communication and the generation of local content. With the extension of the project from Binga Highschool to Siachilaba and Siansundu schools the foundation is laid for even greater outreach to the Tonga community at large.

The Tonga community has been rather adversely confronted by “the cutting edge of progress” with the advent of electric power generation through the construction of Kariba dam 50 years ago: it was split in two parts, driven out the homeland along MULONGA – The Great River (how the Zambesi is called in chiTonga language) - and dumped in appalling semi-desert conditions further inland. Only their resilience and vibrant cultural heritage enabled the Tonga to survive. The promised electricity has not yet materialised for many villages.

As an offspring and outcome of an extensive cultural exchange between Austria and Zimbabwe the Tonga.Online project is now offering the community access to the most advanced technology. And the Tonga people are keen and busy to make best use of ICT for the development of the community and for the promotion of their cultural heritage.

The project is preparing to submit an application for the Prix and to participate at the forthcoming international "ars electronica festival" scheduled for 2nd - 7th September in Linz / Austria. The participation should reflect the project and its implementation and raise further attention and support for the Tonga in Zimbabwe and abroad.

In 2002 the Tonga.Online project has already been recognised with a "honorary mention" in the Net Excellence category of Prix Ars Electronica and was invited to take part at the Ars Electronica Festival under the theme "UN/PLUGGED - Art as the Scene of Global Conflict" from 7 -12 September 2002 in Linz. See the special feature THE LOOP, and read more: aec - ars 2002

Watch the progress of our application online on www.mulonga.net and www.aec.at. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and comments!

Peter Kuthan
Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association
Linz / Austria