Accepted paper:

Rural goes Global without Urbanisation


Nicole Germiquet (University of South Africa)

Paper short abstract:

Understanding rural mobile phone usage as alternative modernity through local innovation. The innovative use of mobile phones to transfer songs between rural and urban parishes of the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique serves to unite communities across rural and urban spaces.

Paper long abstract:

Through the mobile phone, the distance between the rural and the urban is minimised enabling myriad developments and changes in the economic, social, and cultural sectors. In seeking to understand how rural and urban identities in Africa are changing, this paper focuses on the innovative ways in which people in Sub-Saharan Africa are using mobile technology to suit their needs, as well as the opportunities that arise when activities in local lifestyles and environments are combined with this technology. It is proposed that rural mobile phone usage offers an alternative modernity where people living in rural areas have access to the urban, as well as the information and possibilities that exist on a global level without depending on urban spaces for this access.

Fieldwork conducted in 2013 brings to light innovative uses of the mobile phone in rural Facazisse, Mozambique. One use in particular shows the implications of music traveling between rural and urban spaces: the transfer of songs through the mobile phone between the women's Activistas church groups of Antioka parish (rural Facazisse) and Khovo parish (urban Maputo) of the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique. With their common heritage in the Swiss Mission, these rural and urban communities regularly share their songs through this technology. Not only does it 'decrease' the physical distance between them, but the sharing of songs between these parishes leads to the development of a community that interweaves the rural and the urban, where, coming together during Church celebrations, they are united in song.

panel P123
The urban and the rural in biographical constructions of urban African middle classes