Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My TEDx Nairobi... Part Two

Paula Kahumbu - WildLife Direct

This self professed tree hugger does not watch TV. Instead she has 'the wild' for her daily dose of actions and admits she fights for the environment for a selfish reason. She just wants to enjoy it.

Many Kenyans, including me, have grown up being taught that we should conserve and preserve the environment for the sake of tourism. To get the much needed foreign exchange! But do we value the abundant resources that are bestowed on us for our own sake. She made an interesting comparison between our GDP KSh~25-30Bn compared to what the US makes from Bee Industry KSh~15Bn.

To 'save the world', ecologically, there needs to be invested a sum of $45Bn towards conservation, preservation and restoration efforts. The ROI on this is estimated to be upwards of $1Trillion. Aly-Khan Satchu would agree that this is a damn good investment, she quips!

Paula runs WildLife Direct whose focus is communicating real stories in real time concerning WildLife and Environment preservation and raising funds to create awareness on the need to do so.

Boniface 'Tear-Jerker' Mwangi - Picha Mtaani

Knowing Boniface from his accolades of Photo-Journalism, there I was wondering how one who expresses his experiences through a camera lens would do so without one now that projector' s (Tonee's PC) was just being M$. His piece was definitely last but not least. Infact IMHO this was the climax of the event.
Don't think I'd tell it better than the TED vid will. Born to a mother of seven, fathered by five and orphaned at seventeen, the story of his life up until the PEV and the awards that followed his pictures is nothing short of breathtaking.

As, I'd said before the Vids should be out from soon

Thanks Kaboro for the invite!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My TEDx Nairobi... Part One

Now this was one event I that will live in my heart. It was as it promised to be, a confluence of people with ideas worth spreading! For a moment there, I couldn't help notice that there was a little part of me in everyone who spoke... and what was most thrilling was the emotional roller coaster that we rode.

The Line-Up

Moses Kemibaro (Dottsavvy)

Crystal Watley (Voices of Africa for Sustainable Development)

She, like I do, believes access to knowledge is a basic human right -infact it is the line tha seperates the rich and the poor. She runs three local non-4-profits that help distribute information and skills to some dis/misinformed rural communities. She says many women where she works do believe that their fate is to live through struggling.

From her experiences in trying to get them informed, she describes listening as not asking the community-folk how they can be helped, but rather having the patience to know the right questions to ask.

Crystal and her team are soon launching self-sustaining MICEYs(Mobile Information Centre Empowering Youth) which are similar to the government's Digital Village, but on wheels.

"Information impoverishment causes material poverty."

"The road to where I am has been long and streneous, but through faith, creativity, and determination, I know we will change the future of Kenya".

AlyKhan-Satchu (Rich Management)
Author: Any one can be rich.

Call me slow but still did not get the Alphabet Soup Title. Correct me if I'm wrong (L-Burst, V-Boom-Burst-Boom, W-Boom-Burst-Boom-Burst-Boom)? Anyway in such a gathering it would be prudent to believe that I was surrounded by genius!

Aly-Khan Satchu was born in Mombasa , read Law at the University of Durham and worked for 15 years in the City Of London. He now runs a finacial portal, which again, is disseminating live information from the NSE floor. I think this became the informal theme of the event... Since 2003 Aly-Khan has been trading his own funds primarily Commodities (particularly Oil) Currency Futures and Options, Equity Indices and Single Stocks.

One of the interesting facts that he mentioned was that Kenya has 1.75M share holders registered at the NSE compared to about 100,000 at the JSE, insinuating that we have a very volatile yet unpredictable stock market that could swing both ways.

Africa – The Old Story is one of exploitation, where 90% of trade has been crude oil which has only benefitted the power brokers.
Africa – The Last Convergence (ie the Last Frontier in terms of information - Fibre), is plugging in the 'Little Boy', by investing in Information.

Tonee Ndungu

Now this is the 'act' I was waiting for, and Antony said he had prepared for this one. He fell just short of a stand-up comedian, but pushed through an inspiring message.
Having studied IR and Journalism at USIU he's worked for UNDP and a local FM station, he cheekily contrasts the former as one where most knew more than he did and the latter where most knew less than he did.

He is passionate about helping young kenyans to use new media for self expression, self assertion and self reliance. He founded Wazimba (swahili for extraordinary). He is also working on a project (NOCON- Blue Tooth Stumbling) for virally disseminating potentially powerful information which I had described here.

As many people tell us the information that we require to transform lives in Africa is at our fingertips. Tonee is more worried about 'who' these fingertips are. He poses a challenge to us, the informed 'finger-tips' to play a role in forming partnerships and networks like his and be the difference.

“The story of my life is rather simple. It's complex.”
To twitter-folk, “We don't want to change the world.”

Elizabeth Njoroge ( The Art of Music / Classics Magazine)

Liz is a pharmacist turned musician who began the story of her life from her undergraduate years in the UK and her love affair with music. When she finally came home she was baffled by the lack of appreciation of Classicals, a genre that's typically regarded as 'un-african'.

Liz decided to tak it upon herself to bring together listeners and musicians alike who appreciated the music and began a five page newsletter. The newsletter is now a full-run magazine. She runs a weekly show on Capital FM where she plays classical music and encourages it's appreciation and performance.

Amongst other projects she uses music as a platform to teach kids from dis-advantaged background certain values such as patience, teamwork, their culture and hopefully for some to take up the music itself to another level. This, she calls Edu-tainment.

Liz also runs Classicals Evenings (Monthly) – Safaricom Sponsored, Kenya Boys Choir (Obama's inauguration performers, Robert de Niro's -private bash:-), whose debut album, Spirit of Africa was successfully launched in London at the end of June,

and now documenting folk music. She wound up her talk with a very very BEAUTIFUL 'Benediction' song. This was definitely one of my highlights.

Dr. Nyokabi Musila (Sci- ArtCulturist)

Nyokabi is not your typical Doctor who knew didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up. She couldn't bear complacency with the fact that scientists loved to work in their own 'little box' away from the people they are trying to help.

As a health care professional and honorary post-doctoral research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, she however believes in the fusion of Arts and Sciences. Nyokabi drew inspiration from Leornardo da Vinci (personal favorite) who was a polymath, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer - The Rennaisance man.

Nyokabi wants to change the world by spreading happiness and challenging us in the science field to discover our artistic selves.

"You are an artist, what's the canvas of your expression?"

Kwame Nyongo (jimmy humuhumunukunukuapuwa's little brotha ;))

I first came across Kwame Nyongo's work here. He's an advocate for the promotion of arts and animation in Africa. At TEDx, Kwame presented 'A Case for animation in Africa'.

Citing the Japanese Animation Industry, of Naruto etc fame, Kwame would like to see Africa's Artists take the this form of art and make it theirs. Instead of trying to make the 'Cow and Chicken's' which are based on foreign markets, Kwame sees a great opportunity for providing local content.

He has recently been involved in the UNESCO Africa Animated Priject where he served as an animation trainer and has more such workshops planned for the near future.

Kwame spent much of the fall of 2008 working as a Computer Art Director for Tiger Tinga's 'Tinga Tinga Tales'. This 52-part 11 min childrens animated series is set to become the next big thing when it hits the world's airwaves on The Disney Channel and BBC C-Beebies in December 2009. More on his online portfolio...

Paula Kahumbu (Wildlife Direct)


To Be Continued

Monday, August 3, 2009

Skunkworks Meeting/Talk: Dr. Bitange Ndemo

There will be a Skunkworks Meeting, this Tuesday, 4th August at Teleposta Towers, 4th Floor, MMU. The we are honored to have the Information and Communication PS, Bitange Ndemo, giving the talk. The talk will cover the following topics:
  • ICT Entrepreneurship in Kenya
  • Fibre; What it can do for Kenya
  • The one million laptop's project.
Meeting starts at 6pm.I understand there will be 'swagger'... Refreshments will be served.

Invitation to Public Talk on "Technology and Business in Kenya"

Time: 2.30 pm Date: Tuesday, 4th August
Venue: Engineering Department, University of Nairobi
Speaker: Dr. Luke Ouko

Luke Ouko graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's
Media Lab in Media Arts and Sciences specializing in Media Technology.
He did most of his research at MIT's Architecture department's
E-Commerce Architecture Group as a fellow. Previously he studied
Computer Science at Stanford University, Public Policy at Georgetown
and Marketing at Nairobi University.

Ouko's main research interests are in the areas of technology and it's
impact on learning, innovation and development, the semantic web and
cellular automata.

Ouko is currently in charge of technology at an IT consulting company,
Verve, where their main focus is providing information management
solutions to local organizations. The company is also building a
portal for grey (unpublished material) in the East African region.