Farewell tabloid – Welcome electronic – The African Bulletin goes digital


Hard copies are now collectors’ items!


From September 2017 The African Bulletin has become a fully digital only newspaper to the surprise and disappointment of some, but also to the delight and satisfaction of others.

Those used to having their monthly copy or copies, passing them on to friends including those I regularly distributed to, were regretting not to be able to lay their hands on the tangible physical issue of TAB. Those around the world do no longer have to depend on posted copies.

Though the decision to go digital makes perfect sense (see further below) digital can never replace the feel, comfort and ease of a real newspaper.

Farewell Tabloid

Tabloid is the name for a newspaper size, as well as is broadsheet. While tabloid is an A3 size with five or less columns, broadsheet can have up to seven or eight columns and is almost double the size of the broadsheet. Though tabloid is now generally understood as a more compact size of newspaper, the tabloid was and is favoured by ‘the boulevard press’, which publishes less serious or less reliable news like society scandals. Think of the successful ‘The Sun’ newspaper in the United Kingdom. Almost all papers in The Netherlands now use the tabloid format, though their layout and text on the front page usually gives away their character.

For a list of online newspapers in The Netherlands go to:

The African Bulletin or TAB

The African Bulletin has always been a truly African newspaper since August 2002, or as the slogan goes in the above caption ‘News from the African Perspective’. It has never missed an issue and has become a hugely popular newspaper among the African community in The Netherlands. TAB has since 2006 printed with 32 full colour pages and distributed its 50.000 copies in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and other EU countries. See the text box below for TAB’s ascent from its humble but decisive beginning 15 years ago.

TAB has subscribers around the world, which paid for or subsidized the cost of postage.
The Publisher and Editor-in-Chief is the Nigerian immigrant Prince Iwa Adetunji, an amiable, slightly soft spoken, well-articulated, keen business executive.

The ‘TAB Media Kit’ and the ‘TAB Case Study – Major Minority Media Challenges’ available on request from TAB give more statistical, demographic and evaluative data.

Why go digital?

Not to be confused with online, TAB always maintained online presence since 2003!
When so asked I received this answer from the General Editor, Anthony Aranse.

“In the last 3 years, more and more of TAB paid subscribers (they only pay/subsidise the postage) have requested for digital copies sent to them via email. With the inception of WhatsApp and other digital media, the request skyrocket. Most receivers of the digital version wanted to forward and re-forward to others in their contact list. With this came our careful study of the trend and we started collecting and updating our database on readers. It dawned on us that a decision to go full digital would substantially reduce our overhead such as printing, bulk mailing, time and travel costs for hand delivery by our staff in parts of Amsterdam, our biggest market. The savings on the overhead cost would therefore be passed onto our advertisers for lower rates, even though we are able to reach far greater number of readers. When we determined that we had collected sufficient database that even surpass our circulation figure, we knew it was time to make the move.”

TAB’s ascent from August 2002 – September

– TAB debut August 2002: 12 pages (10,000 copies) only front and back pages colour
– The first 2 editions (August & September) were for 12 pages
– From October 2002: 16 pages – 12,500 copies (until Dec 2002)
– In July 2003: 20 pages (20,000 copies) additional 2 full colour pages
– In November 2004; 24 pages (25,000 copies) additional 2 full colour pages
– In April 2004: 28 pages (30,000), maintaining 6 full colour pages
– In January 2004: introduction of French pages
– In February 2006: 32 pages (50,000 copies) with ALL full colour pages since then
– In 2008, TAB published a special edition of BUSINESS for AFRICA magazine, showcasing African oriented businesses in the Netherlands with splashes of popular African artistes, models, sportsmen and women around the world.
– From September 2017: TAB goes fully digital @ http://mediablackberry.com/

My favourite articles
As the professional online network LinkedIn posted my ‘ten year work anniversary’ to all my contacts, I realized that I had written a 120 columns or articles, while also contributing to the Events page frequently with short interesting items.
Some of my favourite articles are:

• Cameroon month in the Netherlands – TAB August 2007
• Evaluating Netherlands Development Cooperation in Africa – TAB March 2008
• Living in, no integrated in Aburokyere, but is it home? – TAB October 2008
• International Women’s Day from a Man’s Perspective – TAB April 2009
• Back to Ghana, the head of King Badu Bonsu II – TAB September 2009
• Belanda Hitam, the continuing story – TAB July 2010
• Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and now Rollywood? Then there is Callywood and Kamwood as well! – TAB February 2011
• Health of African Diasporans questioned! – TAB June 2011
• African Diasporas: Stand up and be counted! – TAB January 2012
• Are you an African? – TAB June 2012
• What is your African Cultural Heritage? – TAB September 2012
• Out of Africa, into Europe, through Malta! – TAB November 2012
• Will your children speak your indigenous African language?” – TAB October 2015
• “Is your new Calendar, Julian, Gregorian, African or Afrikan?”- TAB January 2016
• The Bali Nyonga of Cameroon – a story of African migration, and a personal encounter – TAB May 2016

Some of these columns are still available on the TAB website, surf to:

Personally I always enjoy writing my columns for TAB. However, I was always even more delighted when I received the real thing, the printed TAB. That usually gave me the satisfied feeling that my article sat well on the familiar page twenty six.

So it will be nostalgia for me and what about you?

*Ato Bob is a former Dutch Diplomat who now consults with various NGO’s on African issues. He lives in Rotterdam and may be reached on atobobhensen@hotmail.com