Cultural Promoter

Tonga.Online – an offspring of cultural exchange and ICT4D project

2001: The Exhibition "Tracing the Rainbow – Life in Southern Africa" at the Schloßmuseum of Upper Austria province in Linz invited AZFA to present some results of the vast cultural exchange programme between Linz / Austria and the Tonga area in the context of this exhibition. The invitation sparked the idea for the TONGA.ONLINE project as a way to communicate with the Tonga community concerned in a more direct way. Therefore a TONGA.ONLINE Project Room was established as a laboratory where visitors of the exhibition had an opportunity to get immediate access to information about the Tonga people and Tonga culture using the Internet as a tool for communication. For at least a short period of time The Big Blue Van, a mobile computer lab on a lorry moving from village to village on site in the Tonga area, provided for at least some glimpses of direct communication via email postings to the website

Statement of purpose for Tonga.Online, by Keith Goddard

“Twenty years after independence, arguments still continue about what is appropriate intervention in the Tonga area and what constitutes interference or corruption of these simple people. Why don't we leave them alone? Why do we wish to take them out of their natural habitat and whisk them off to foreign countries? Why are we spoiling these people by introducing them to our western ways? Why are we giving them false expectations in life that they can never realise and introducing them to unobtainable desires? Why are we displaying them to the world as examples of exotic culture? Why do we waste money on bringing computers and the internet to an area where people are dying of hunger and need the basics of grinding mills and fertiliser?

Tonga.Online @ Ars Electronica 2002

Tonga.Online project has been recognised with a "honorary mention" in the Net Excellence category and is invited to take part at the Ars Electronica Festival from 7-12 September 2002 in Linz. This will provide for a platform of reflection and interactive communication for the project and will contribute to raise attention and support for the Tonga community.


“The avoidance of begging bowl politics is why the KUNZWANA/AZFA cultural relationship with the Tonga has little to do with humanitarian aid. It has not involved food drops, grinding mills or the building of clinics. It is founded on the principle that cultural identity forms a vital function in terms of human survival. When forcibly removed to make way for the building of Kariba, the Tonga lost everything including the fixed assets of their material culture such as their shrines. Their cultural styles were automatically transported with them because they filled no extra space and could not anyway have been separated from the bodies being moved. The Tonga maintained their identity by organising around what remained of their culture and, because the culture was dynamic, it helped them face and adapt to the massive challenges that their new environment presented them. Put very simply, the Tonga invested heavily in their culture and this meant they survived...

Tonga.Online @ Ars Electronica 2004

In 2004 the Tonga.Online project received an Award of Distinction from the prestigious Prix Ars Electronica 2004, in the category "Digital Communities". The award was handed over by Austrian Secretary of State for the Arts and Media Franz Morak in New York City’s Metropolitan Pavilion on 23 June 2004 in conjunction with the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit.

Austrian Education Highway featuring Tonga.Online

(Sunday, 14 November 2004)

The Education Highway is keen to promote school partnerships and e-mail exchange between pupils in Austria and Zimbabwe, especially pupils of Binga High have been invited to join.

There will be a live and online discussion with Peter Kuthan, chairman of Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association, on 23rd November, 10 am.

The Austrian Education Highway – based in Linz - is a special Internet Service Provider and ICT Innovation Centre catering for more than 600 schools in Austria. They are currently running a project to promote learning and discussion about development issues in schools focusing on UN Millenium Development Goals. Every month from September 04 until May 05 another developing country and local development project will be highlighted. Zimbabwe, respectively Tonga.Online is featured prominently there from early November onwards.

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