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[rpd] [Community-Discuss] Thoughts and introspection

Badru Ntege badru.ntege at
Sun Jul 17 05:26:31 UTC 2016


Just for the record and in the spirit of moving forward as a community I have responded to Andrew off-list copying both chair and CEO.

I do believe some work needs to be done to bridge and seal the Trust cracks and fault lines we are witnessing.

We all have no option but to find a respectable way for all of us to contribute to the future of AfriNIC.

But you cannot sustainably do that without righting wrongs so I'm hoping we start from that point.


On 16 Jul 2016, at 1:50 am, Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at<mailto:Andrew.Alston at>> wrote:

Hi All,

Let me start by saying, I send what follows wearing no hats, other than to say, I have thought long and hard about what follows, and I send it as myself,  and with only my own reflections guiding what I write below.

Over the last few days and months, I have thought deeply about what we have seen within AfriNIC over the last few years, and I have some observations I would like to share.

Firstly, we may not all like each other, we may never see eye to eye as a community, as members, or anything else.  But in the end, our like, or dislike of each other, is immaterial, as is even our respect for each other.  What we do have to respect , and attempt to strive for, is the best interests of AfriNIC as an organisation, as a community, and as a critical part of the Internet on both the African continent and within the global context.  We have to strive to apply our own individual minds to the problems faced, and the solutions required.  Then, as part of this community, we have to attempt to voice our thoughts and our opinions, and in some cases those thoughts and opinions will be accepted, in others they will be rejected.  I don’t believe any of us have a perfect track record of perfect proposals, because we are all human, and humans are prone to error.  The ideas and thoughts and views that are proposed then need to be weighed by the community, not based on position, not based on the age of the speaker, not based on the linguistic background of the speaker, not based on the geographic location of the speaker, but entirely based on the merits of the arguments put forward.  Sadly, this is not what I am seeing in the last few years, and let me state clearly, that I am as guilty of the issue I describe here as anyone else.  What I am seeing is a community that is no longer attacking the issues, but attacking either the person, or a subset of the community.  I see us divided along so many different lines, and sadly, those divides are not leading to the spirited debate that will end in solutions, instead they are slowly tearing us apart.  As I said, I am not placing blame on any person or collective here, I believe this is a far wider problem than that, and I also state again, I am as guilty as any other here.

We use procedures to divert from argument, we fight from a point of view of “I’m right, and you’re wrong, so everything else you say must automatically be wrong.”  We have gotten to the point where so often at meetings and on these lists, instead of listening to one another based on the merits of the ideas, views and suggestions put forward, we divert from the content of the proposals and ideas and views, and instead attack, for the sake of attacking a person, or a collective.  This makes no sense, it is deeply harmful to growth on the continent, and it is dangerous, because it creates a snowball effect that amplifiers and propagates.

Having worked in academic environments, one of the things that is valued in academia and in research, is open mindedness.  Academia welcomes debate, and it is through debate that we grow, mature and learn.  It is through spirited, and sometimes even heated exchanges, that our ideas grow and blossom.  That being said, there are many forms of debate.  If I examine the work by Don Lindsay, I can see many forms of debate that he describes as fallacious arguments creeping into the community exchanges across these lists.  If you read I am sure you will see some of the forms of argument listed there as echoes of what we have seen of late.

As I say, use of these forms is not unique to any person, and I to fall back to many of these types of arguments, but it is something we need to work repairing.  We need to work towards a point where our arguments, our thoughts, our ideas, our views are spoken to build rather than destroy.  Every time we resort to the behaviours described above, it simply amplifiers, propagates and spreads, and the damage it causes may one day reach a point where it creates terminal injury.

What I would like to ask of everyone one of us, is that we, myself included, started to look at each other’s thoughts and ideas based entirely on the merits of the arguments.  Let us follow academic principles and research the positions we are taking, carefully, holistically, understanding all the facts surrounding our positions.  Then let us debate these views from a point of view of knowledge, and from a point of view that we are debating in order to find the best possible path for AfriNIC as a community and as an organisation.  I strongly believe that if we, and again, I include myself, can approach things in this manner, we can all have our perspectives changed, and all ideas can contribute to a better future for this community.  Please do not misunderstand my position here, I am not suggesting for one second that we cease debate, I am simply suggesting that all of us attempt to focus more on the issues at hand, rather than attacking the proposer, the collective, or anyone else.

I truly believe that the members of this community all want what is best for AfriNIC, I just am of the opinion that we have very different ways of approaching it.  Ways that are born based on the experiences we have all had as we have moved through life.  This is not to say that any one way is better than another, it is just to say they are different, and sometimes entirely unique in nature.  However, when you combine this diversity and this uniqueness you end up with a stronger whole.  Let us respect each other, and as Africans, as members of this community, as interested parties, attempt to move past our prejudices, whatever they are, and work together for what is in the best interests of the organisation and community.  Let us leave the personal behind, and focus on the issues and what builds, rather than what tears down.

With all of this now said and done, I personally would like to extend a hand to anyone who is willing.  I am prepared to sit and engage one on one with anyone who wishes to do so, to explore their point of view, and for them to see my point of view.  In the spirit of seeking common ground, so that where people feel that my actions are the cause of any discord, let us attempt to mend the issues, and go back to academic principles where we are debating the issues in an attempt to build a better, brighter future for us all.  I am available on Skype, via email, or face to face if anyone wishes to engage in that manner and finds themselves in close geographic proximity to me.  I believe that healing has to start somewhere, and I believe in life, that if you desire change for a better tomorrow, that change has to start somewhere.  So, if it must, let that change start with me, and my actions, and my words.

I look forward to engaging with all of you, and I hope that together, as a community we can move beyond the divides and come to a point where we are mutually seeking the best for AfriNIC, with respect for each other, and each other’s views.

I am sending this to all three lists, RPD, Members, and the Community, because I believe that the same issues that plague our debates in one forum, spread across all three, from the policy side, through the member base, and into the wider community.  I personally would welcome engagement from any member of any of those lists.

Yours Sincerely

Andrew Alston
AfriNIC community member

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