Hundreds of Fabulous Kenyan Women signed up to #SayNoToManelsKE

Back in May 2016, I wrote for the Daily Nation on this nefarious issue of all male panels, otherwise known as manels. They are pervasive. They are normalised.  They are problematic. The reactions to the piece have been interesting to follow, primarily via the #SayNoToManelsKE and #SayNoToManels hashtags.  (Other hashtags highlighting this issue globally include #AllMalePanels).

I am very pleased to see, and be part of many conversations around this. It is encouraging to note  increased awareness on how frequently we are treated to all male panels – in the media, in conferences and events. In turn, these shape perceptions, in many ways, and perpetrate the vicious circle of gendered norms. Some of the popular media shows are notorious for these manels.

Since the fallacious arguments that there aren’t women qualified or willing to show up are often used to perpetuate and justify manels, Ory Okolloh and I decided to put together a database of women in various sectors and industries across the country. 376 women and counting have signed up, and most importantly, THEY ARE WILLING to show up.

The publicly viewable and searchable database can be found here: http://bit.ly/SayNoToManelsKE 

You can search by industry of interest eg tech, health, oil etc.

If interested in specific contacts and for any queries, you can write to saynotomanelske@gmail.com. 

 The database is populated through this form: http://bit.ly/WomenSpeakersKESignUp

Efforts to tackle valid reservations to participating are also being pursued. For instance, public speaking workshops are being organised for those who have indicated interest.

 

We encourage more women to sign up, and help in tackling misrepresentation in our public spaces! If you cannot make it to an event/conference/panel you’ve been invited to, you can use this list to recommend other women, and encourage others in your industry to sign up.

Dear men, once again, a reminder, you can (and should) take a pledge not to take part in manels. We welcome a movement of bold men who will create and take such a pledge.

We need  champion organisations to also pledge to not organising manels!  In the meantime, we keep calling out manels as witnessed; it’s a critical first step in breaking the norm!

By the way, an all male panel with a female moderator is still a manel!

A special shout out to Sophie Mukhwana and Nanjala Nyabola for helping with organising the list, and public speaking workshops respectively. Mashujaa ni nyinyi! 💪🏾

 

 

 

On Writing about Tech in Africa (part 2): our toothbrushes, toilets and bulbs

 Back in 2009, some journalist -perhaps trying to make her story about “the pearl of Africa” land some eyeballs- stated that Uganda was “a place where cell phones could outnumber light bulbs.”

Now, that little nugget has morphed into the widely parroted factoid, that there are more mobile phones than bulbs in Uganda. It’s been cited in keynotes, presentations, maybe even helped advance some careers.

By 2010, we were being regaled with a UN statistic, that there are more people on earth with access to cellphones, than to toilets. It’s only upon digging deeper that one finds that the toilets benchmark for this factoid, is the flush toilet. Assumedly, it is the gold standard of toilets to access.

This particular statistic has been unleashed more specifically on India; though it is cited as both about the world in general, India specifically, and with pepperings of the country of Africa.

It is a tragic irony to think in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones,” so many people “cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet,” UN University director.

Perhaps one day cell phones will bring to half the African population something else they lack — clean toilets.” The World Bank’s Chief Economist, MENA region.

Friends, it’s now 2016, and we are comparing mobile phone access to…drumroll please…toothbrushes.

Behold, the rush to quantity Africa, and indeed the “developing world”. We are our mobile phones, toilets, bulbs and toothbrushes.

Have pointed out severally how uncritical and condescending these kinds of comparatives are; even more unfortunate is we — as Africans, or “global Southerners” — tweet, ooh and aah at these nonsensical references.

So it seems the number of bulbs, for instance, is picked from household surveys, as this Ugandan who was just as tired of that uncritically trumpeted statistic about his country sought to investigate.

Other than to tingle the senses of those excited about “Africa rush 2.0″, what do such findings – flaunted and cited ever so excitedly – do for the perceptions of Africa, not just to the rest of the world, but also ourselves?

As someone rightfully asked, what logical policy conclusion does one draw from these stats? I mean…toothbrushes?

Am I too cynical to think this part of the bigger digital colonialism creeping upon us? Or the digital era’s version of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness?

One’s tingly senses are activated when one grows increasingly familiar with how such projects have worked to keep us in need, lacking.

Of toothbrushes, toilets and bulbs in Africa. And the mobile phone takeover.

I am the first to acknowledge that there is a dearth of data to help many actors make sense of the continent. This is more so in certain parts than others, such as the absence altogether, of Central Africa on many maps.

But for crying out loud, this has got to stop. What next, more mobile phones than coconut trees? (Oh snap, did I just inspire some Africa research “expert”?)

On mobile phones, we need a serious push back on the thinking/operational hypothesis that a mobile-first Africa will make for a digitally transformed continent aside from generating consumers for products that will predominantly be from elsewhere.

For all our excitement about Silicon Savannah, most emerging market countries — including India — are rounding errors when we look at their share of global revenues on the app stores. Revenue is concentrated into a handful of markets that take the lion’s share back into their own countries, with local sales from local developers almost absent except for unique markets such as China, South Korea and Japan,Winners and Losers in the Global App Economy.

No app will make up for a lack of political will.

So, for crying out loud, enough of these insulting comparatives. There simply is no other way to rationalise that kind of framing.

And as always, Africa is not a country. There is no buy one, get 53 free.

Just stop it.

PS: Some may also want to scroll through “On Writing about Tech in Africa“.

What About the People?

Many democratic societies today are grappling with upholding and defending free speech, as well as drawing the lines on where it crosses over to hate, or even dangerous speech. Hate speech remains a term without a universal definition. In Kenya, recent history is littered with evidence of the impact (but not necessarily a direct correlation) of speech on violence, especially during election periods. In 2007/8, we saw the addition of SMS and social media platforms to the propagation of rumours, but also to the creation of innovations like Ushahidi to fill the media gap with crowdsourced and verified information. It was after that unfortunate time that we also saw the introduction of hate speech into law.

Article 13 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008 provides a framework of what constitutes hate speech and ethnic hatred. Article 33 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 guarantees the right to freedom of expression, but points out that freedom does not extend to propaganda for war, incitement to violence, hate speech or advocacy of hatred – constituting ethnic hatred, vilification of others, incitement to cause harm- or based on any ground of discrimination as contemplated in article 27(4). For reference, article 27(4) highlights that the State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including  race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth. Further, article 91 of the katiba reads that political parties shall not (a) be founded on a religious, linguistic, racial, ethnic, gender or regional basis or seek to engage in advocacy of hatred on any such basis; (b) engage in or encourage violence by, or intimidation of, its members, supporters, opponents or any other person.

However, as often is the case, the problem is not the absence of legal frameworks. It takes people and institutions to enforce the words in these documents.

Over the past week, YouTube clips of former Nairobi mayor, George Aladwa addressing an audience in Kibera during Mashujaa day have done the rounds, and stirred reactions, ranging from outrage at his utterances,to a spirited defence against his arrest. Nor is Aladwa the first political leader to be careless with his words. There have been comparisons to Moses Kuria’s words to energised youth in Gatundu a couple of months back. What dominates discourse now is the political party affiliations of each, and how the law has (not) been applied in each case.

Those defending Aladwa posit him as a victim. That he was arrested and grilled for hours while the same didn’t hold for Moses Kuria, for instance, does merit a spirited debate. What is worrying, however, is the notion that his words were taken out of context, an argument brought forth, by, among others, Raila Odinga. In so doing, the discussion is now along blurred lines, and the issues condensed into one false narrative: Aladwa, as a symbol of some injustice.

I would like to bring back to the fore the audiences who have been subjected to Aladwa’s, Kuria’s and other politicians’ charged speeches. One trend observed since the 2005 referendum about inflammatory political speech is that it moved from being overt to covert; more parables, proverbs, and nuanced. The coded language doesn’t outrightly call for action to be taken against a certain group, and the framing is in passive tense; ‘we must take action against group X’ has become ‘action must be taken against some people’. This is left to the audience to decipher who the people are, and what the action to be taken is. Whether by design or by default, this seemingly exonerates the speaker – often a politician wielding significant influence over the audience addressed – whose defence then becomes that they cannot be held accountable for the actions taken by his audience. We have also had hate speech and/or ethnic incitement cases taken to the courts, none of which have resulted in full prosecution or sentencing. The NCIC, in the meantime, has been employing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); which has basically entailed speakers (mostly politicians) being asked to apologise to the audience they offended. How effective that mechanism is, we can’t know for sure, but perhaps the symbolism of it does resonate.

In the recent case with Aladwa, CORD, in speaking out, had a chance to be the bigger party, to condemn the clear incitement that was, and then address whatever context they insist was misinterpreted. Jubilee politicians, in their reactions, did not have to resort to the set of adjectives they did, to describe Mr Aladwa’s actions. In all this, it is the audience susceptible to incitement that is all but forgotten in the discussion; the people of Kibera who were present that day, and those who were at the rally in Gatundu. What did they take away? How are those words sitting in their minds and hearts, and are they contemplating acting on them? What is being done to counter the impact of the charged words meted out on them? What about all the other cases that are unrecorded or brought to (social) media attention?
History has a way of repeating itself, if we fail to draw lessons from it.  As the swahili proverb goes, fahali wawili wakipigana, nyasi huumia.

This article also appeared on the Daily Nation on October 26, 2015. 

On Writing about Tech in Africa

(As posted on Medium)

Read an article (on international media) lately about some tech startup or innovation in Africa? Have the words “disrupt”, “revolutionise”, or phrases like “the next big thing” appeared? Have you found yourself believing that there’s a “tech revolution” across the continent (country) of Africa?

It is understandable that the rest of the world (Africans included) is now a bit more aware, and perhaps (more) vested in the “Africa Rising” narrative. As a friend once put it: “Africa rising ; someone opened the oven early, the yeast is not ready”.

It is tedious, to always be on the reactive side of matters Africa — be it in the political, humanitarian , and now, tech framing. The instruments of global opinion-shaping media are skewed to the global North, even though there are, and have been concerted efforts to “Africanise” them; solutions offered to the “time to tell our own African stories” mission, if you will.

Reading piece after piece about African tech startups or tech innovations, coupled with working in one of the emerging ecosystems in “the home of the Silicon Savannah”, I have noticed the range of lexicon used to describe them. “The [insert Silicon Valley enterprise] equivalent of Africa/country X in Africa.” “ Startup X or innovation Y will “revolutionise” or “disrupt” industry Z.” Share others that come to mind.

It is tiring, and irking. But more importantly, it’s problematic for a number of reasons.

I appreciate that media works in a certain way — globally, regionally and internationally. Sensationalism seems to be here to stay. All that aside, my contention really is with the tech determinism that is created in framing nascent endeavours as “the next big thing(s)”. And it is interesting to note that many of the innovations/start-ups are often still trying to figure out what their business, profit and sustainability models are/will be, perhaps even trying to grasp the operating environments, the challenges and opportunities preceding the tech. Forward thinking is always welcome, but creating a false determinism, especially given the oft missing context of operational environments is, in my opinion, tainting the outlook on tech in Africa, by Africa, for Africa. I also don’t believe that many, if any of the startups or innovators interviewed (when interviewed) get to review the final drafts of these media articles. Even if they do, one would not fault them for not correcting the descriptions created, or for even performing to the media spotlight (no such thing as bad press, right?) . In an attention economy, you have to do what you can to gain traction, as many probably argue. It’s not to say that the industries in which tech innovations or startups operate or innovate won’t be disrupted; the framing in many a news article or documentary creates the false notion that this will happen in the next year, or two. And when that doesn’t happen, whispers of “why aren’t we seeing another M-PESA” start to be heard. Impatience starts to creep in. Any new or recycled attempt to figure a role for tech in some sector catches the hungry media’s radar. Another news article is quickly and eagerly put together. Yet another “next big thing”, another startup/innovation that will “revolutionise” or “disrupt”. A vicious cycle.

For our dear friends in local and international media who feel vested in writing about tech in Africa, note the following: You are not necessarily helping by using such bold declarations and descriptions, especially if research or background assessments to establish the context(s) around which these innovations/startups emerge is/are not part of the consideration. If you haven’t been informed already, please understand: technology is NOT a panacea. I do see why it is so tempting to make that the case for Africa. What were your news organisations writing about Africa (local and regional ones included) five, ten years ago, after all? A startup or innovation in, say, edtech, will not “revolutionise” learning. At best, it will amplify the preceding efforts. At worst, it will create further divides.

To appreciate social media’s impact in Kenya, go beyond the surface

There’s a lot of opinion-sharing on social media and blogging in Kenya.Unfortunately, not as much as analysis which is a much-needed exercise in humility for some.  At the Bloggers Forum  recently hosted at the iHub it seemed, for instance, that the working definition of the term ‘blogger’ was anyone who tweets, has a Facebook account, and maybe a website. Or, to quote David Makali from the forum, “bloggers are the younger brothers of journalists.”  Problematic as that in itself is – the pitting of bloggers against journalists especially-  I would like to address points raised by Njeri Thorne, in her piece: We need mature debate on social media. The long and short of my rebuttal is that there is plenty of mature debate on these platforms just as much as there are many ‘immature’ attacks or debates.

 

To appreciate the unfolding impact of social media in Kenya, we need to curb the selective assessment of what happens on these platforms. (Cue Chimamanda Adichie’s oft-cited offering, on the danger of a single story).

 

Let’s start with the point on which I agree with Njeri and other opinionistas of Kenya’s social media scene. Indeed, there are emerging segments of our community, voicing their thoughts and opinions on Facebook, Twitter, forums, blogs and other interactive, Internet-enabled spaces. As she rightfully says, they indeed are affirming or challenging Kenya’s state of affairs. This story is still writing itself, so at best, we will all do well to analyze it as it unfolds, but to do so in context!

 

Njeri discusses the autonomy of social media users and their (lack of) commitment to critical-rational thought. Her sweeping declaration that online discussions are absent of ‘personal considerations on policies,governance and the state of affairs in the country’ leads me to think that she may not spend much time on these spaces to see its manifestation. As an example, I point her to the conversations that took place online in the build up to, and during the 2014 Saba Saba rally. Even though it seemed- through conversations and convictions, online and offline – that the country would tear at its already weak seam, there were interesting bits within these that hinted at alternative ‘Ukenya’ perspectives (ones that went beyond political,religious or ethnic affiliations). #EthnicHateinKenya was a very honest assessment of the issue in the country. I recall cringing at the sight of the hashtag, but as I analyzed the content further, I appreciated the bold attempt to talk through ethnicity as an identity, in spite of the heightened political climate of the time. I invite Njeri, and others opining on social media to take a closer look at the content in the subject matter. This is simply one example, in a publicly searchable Internet archive of many.

 

Kenyans on social media will use humour, satire, vitriol, Bible verses, and yes, even hate to express themselves on issues as they arise. For one, it is fallacious to group Kenyans online into any homogeny; as Africa is (NOT) a country, Kenyans on social media are (NOT all) hate-mongers or ethnic/political bigots. Nor should this point constitute a mere ‘but’ or a silent admission in the many rants about Kenyans on social media.

 

Njeri mentions a simple litmus test: ‘ask the most vocal within the space to define debt ratio, let alone what Kenyan debt ratio is!’ Unless her take on this was based on experimentation, I have a difficult time taking this seriously. And even if it isn’t, there’s a whole other conversation to have about social network structures and the information flow architecture on each social network. Point here being, Kenyans on social media (and especially on Twitter, the ‘digital public baraza’) engage in some of the most stimulating conversations and interesting thoughts on the state of our economy!

 

Yes, there are times sense and logic take a backseat on social media. However, rarely is that the only angle in any conversation. Counter-narratives abound, to hate, incitement, irrationality and illogical thought, and are expressed in a truly Kenyan blend of styles.

 

‘Bait and switch’ approaches to analyzing Kenya’s social media dynamic miss the point, and risk tainting the bigger picture and could be a bigger threat to the underlying freedoms enjoyed online than the very conversations that are (selectively) critiqued .

 

So, dear social media analysts, go beyond the surface and the highlights. The Kenyan social media scene is paving the way to (re)shaping  and consolidating Kenyan identities.

 

This article also appeared on the Daily Nation, on February 19, 2015.

Dear Kenyans, Tweet On!

Social media are playing a critical role in lending and amplifying citizen voices in Kenya today, contributing to what has been termed a ‘networked fifth estate’. Citizens are finding and amplifying their own collective voice; we no longer have to wait for the media, the opposition, civil society, religious institutions,the government or any other ‘intermediary’ to ‘speak on our behalf’ or to represent our views while we passively watch/listen.

 

There is no shortage of issues and problems plaguing Kenya today, heck, it’s like a cruel game of whack-a-mole. Coupled with the politicization of virtually every discourse on any issue in any sector, to be a diligent Kenyan, practising one’s constitutional right to public participation is no small feat.  

 

Our country, for all its misfortunes and blunders has one interesting tool whose impact we are just realizing: the Internet. We have Internet Freedom(the efforts to curtail them,though, are a discussion for another day). Coupled with the proliferation of Internet-enabled mobile devices at increasingly affordable rates for an increasing percentage of the population, we are well on our way to writing an interesting chapter in world history on use of these devices and tools to shape our democracy.

 

Take the controversial Security Laws (Amendment) Bill discussion for instance. Public discourse  began with news pieces from our media that were shared online. The interaction and reactions that ensued largely entailed demanding access to the draft bill that only journalists initially seemed to have access to. Relentless efforts by vigilant citizens tweeting at journalists and legislators to avail the draft saw it uploaded online for wananchi to read and scrutinize for themselves. Problematic clauses in the draft have been highlighted and discussed at length on Twitter for instance, arguably with more depth and diversity of insight and contribution than on traditional media’s coverage. Pressure to allow for public input to the draft has largely come from the online community, when it was noted that this had not taken place.

 

The turnout at the public forum earlier this week was low, despite the flurry of online engagement on the issue. This is where critics of social media’s impact come alive and scorn at the poor translation of online activity to offline action. However, it must be noted that different times call for different strategies. Traditional forms of turning up – physical rallies, street protests, town hall meetings- while significant, are no longer the only forms in which we can exercise civic engagement. We need to be open to the fact that they may no longer be relevant. Besides, don’t we have a  ‘digital government’, in the home of the ‘Silicon Savannah’? This, to me, says that it’s time to rethink public consultation forum models. The newspaper announcements for sessions that are held at impractical times during the week should not be simplified to indicate apathy. In this case, one afternoon session, in one location (Nairobi), on a law that would affect all Kenyans cannot be counted as representative by any stretch of the imagination.  Pressure must be mounted on government, at both county and national levels to rethink effective ways of facilitating citizens’ public participation in governance issues given the various contexts in which they operate. Online consultations have been leveraged before, and are flaunted as a success by the government. I refer to the famed crowdsourcing of contributions to the National Budget by President Kenyatta back in 2011 when he was Minister of Finance. Though we never got to know how citizens’ contributions contributed to the final budget, the approach taken heralded new thinking that shouldn’t be abandoned now.

 

Yes, social media use is not representative of the population. Yes, we have a long way to go before we can talk of all Kenyans being represented online. But this should not give cause to dismiss what is playing out in the online spaces that Kenyans occupy. I contend that these spaces are perhaps even more democratic than ‘offline’ barazas or whatever predated social media as a means for congregating citizens and having them engage in discussion. I contend that for the first time, more Kenyans are transcending physical boundaries and engaging with fellow Kenyans and the rest of the continent and the world, through these online social networks. We have, for a long time, been trying to figure out what national cohesion and integration in Kenya means. Some form of it is being practised on social media. Frictions abound, as they would offline. Insults are hurled, and every so often, dangerous speech (speech with a potential to catalyze violence) rears it ugly head. However, it doesn’t carry the day. Kenyans online must be applauded for the self-regulation mechanisms they engage in to minimize toxicity in their online space. Kenyans ‘cuff’ hate by naming and shaming such speakers, countering such messages, and even drowning them with more speech, something observed by the Umati Project that monitors online public conversations to better understand hate speech dynamics. What is interesting about this trend is that it primarily stems from the citizenry. Calls by media, civil society and even government to ‘stop hate speech’ cannot be said to be the most impactful in easing any online tensions that often arise. The ‘traditional authorities’ do not always hold sway in the online space.
It would be unwise to underestimate the significant role social media is playing in aggregating citizen voices on issues affecting them. So dear Kenyans, tweet on!

 

This post also appeared on the Daily Nation, on December 17, 2014. 

Art Attack: Reclaiming Art

Art is not a preserve for those who fail or aren’t good at ‘everything else’! Art is the revolution!

If nothing else sinks in, let this be the take away!

Society has been perpetrating this notion that the pursuit of career or livelihood through artistic ventures should warrant a pity party, is the work of the idle, maybe even the hopeless, or a conclusion that those who dare try are people who failed at all else; they didn’t excel in the ‘subjects that lead to meaningful careers’.

It’s time we paused and questioned why we are sacrificing the beauty of art at the altar of ignorance.

Art is what it is to be human, first and foremost.

Let’s explore some definitions of art, shall we?

  1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power
  2. Works produced by such skill and imagination
  3. Subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects)
  4. A skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice

Many more exist, but let’s work with these. Worth noting here that a person who is skilled at an activity is an artist. If you consider yourself skilled at something, congratulations, you are an artist!

Artistry, therefore, doesn’t solely apply to the production or skills in art works, such as painting, singing, writing, and any other endeavour we typically consider art. Art involves connection (an interaction with a recipient/someone who notices it) and generosity (sharing it for it to be noticed).

Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn’t something sold in a gallery or performed on a stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another.

This ought to be our point of departure when discussing and imagining art,artistry and artistic works.

So, when we (sub)consciously look down on ‘art’, or artists, what or who are we really looking down on?

It’s looking down on your dreams. The very thing we all desire deep down; to live out our dreams. It’s condemning thought and imagination; elements that produce creative solutions to complex issues. It’s  looking down on the courageous and daring among us; those being the change we always say we want to see. They’re doing their bit, and we are making it all the more difficult by not being supportive, or at the very least not one of the obstacles they have to face.

 

Art Is Frightening… there’s no doubt about that!

Art isn’t pretty. Art isn’t painting. Art isn’t something you hang on the wall.

Art is what we do when we’re truly alive.

If you’ve already decided that you’re not an artist, it’s worth considering why you made that decision and what it might take to unmake it.

If you’ve announced that you have no talent (in anything!), then you’re hiding.

Art might scare you.

Art might bust you.

But art is who we are and what we do and what we need.

An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it (all of it, the work, the process, the feedback from those we seek to connect with) personally.

Art isn’t a result; it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul.

Art is difficult and risky, especially in a world conditioning us to be averse to such. It’s also the only option if we choose to care. Art is not for ‘other people’.

Art met Industrialization, and Art was systematized.

We live in a world of industry and systems that offer us skills, job security and some form of stability. In many instances, not much of you is required to meet job targets. In fact, we now have devices that can do most everything, all we have to do is show up to the office, fire them up, pull out templates and models, cut,copy and paste. In such situations, which happen to be a reality for a significant number of people the world over, not much of one’s art is evoked. Not much of your creativity, imagination, insight nor ideas is required. And that is where art goes to die.  A slow, painful death.

The education that is supposed to support and nurture art was also systematized. The Kenyan education system, for the most part, only requires one to exercise the commitment of chunks of information to memory, long enough to pass an examination, that entry barrier to ‘having a good life’.

It’s not art that is to blame here. That would be to fault an essential part of what makes us human beings. Nor should we be in the business of blaming or condescending. A lot more people need to engage in the business of reconnecting with art, and all the wonderful complexities it’s out to bring. I dare say that the societal angst looming over us is frustrated art within people, art that is yearning to be exercised!

The ‘industry’ that systematized art, in and of itself, was a creation of art! Any industries that have, can and will emerge to sustain careers in the arts are/will themselves be…you guessed it…works of art.

On realizing that art could and should inform everything we do, regardless of profession,interests or skills, we will be a step closer to shedding away the patronizing and condescending attitudes we hold towards those who’ve made art the core of who they are and what they do.

Leadership for instance, not only requires leadership skills or some professional expertise, it requires art as an adhesive; that commitment to brave through uncharted territories towards creating opportunities for others to excel. Tactics are no replacement for art. I can’t imagine a more beautiful existence, than one in which leadership is ASSIGNED (not abandoned) to one artist by a society of artists, a people who embrace imagination, creativity and innovation. A society, or a critical mass of people who acknowledge vulnerability, uncertainty, who are restless under a status quo…that is a society well on its way to excellence, because art is not relegated or delegated to a few, it’s a reality and the only  choice for most.

Art has no right answer. The best we can hope for is an interesting answer.

So instead of looking down on or being afraid of art, try embracing it. You’ll come to admire those who make it their daily mission to share their art with us – bills, financial obligations and uncertainty (unassured stability) notwithstanding.

Thoughts are inspired by, and most quotes are from, Seth Godin’s book: The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? 

Kenya’s Traffic Rules…And Fines

Catch up with the rules and fines in a series of 140 characters. Be informed…or warned.

Catch up with the rules and fines in a series of 140 characters. Be informed…or warned.

Tech 4 Traffic: Insights, Platforms and Suggestions (Part 3)

SUGGESTIONS:

Here are some of the propositions Dr Aligula and the KIPPRA team have offered for improving public transport:

 A Nairobi Bus Rapid Transit System.

(Listed here as an investment opportunity.) Continue reading “Tech 4 Traffic: Insights, Platforms and Suggestions (Part 3)”

Tech 4 Traffic: Insights, Platforms and Suggestions (Part 2)

 

In Part 1 of the series, the tech-driven platforms showcased at the Tech 4 Traffic  event were profiled. The fact that from a policy perspective, we have the problem figured out all wrong was also introduced, as was shared by Dr. Eric Aligula,acting Executive Director of the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).

 

INSIGHTS:

The insights shared by the kind policy chief are captured in a series of infographics below(mostly self-explanatory):

From a policy perspective, the role of transport is hinged on the cost effective MOBILITY of people and goods, not so the movement of vehicles. Therefore any traffic/transport solution,tech-oriented  or otherwise,must serve the former for it to be truly efficient.

In addition, the mean daily trip generation(number of trips/person) is 4.29(average), and the average total daily waiting times(in minutes/person) is 63.77(average).

 

 

 

Road crashes are a consequence of the interaction between the supply of (transport infrastructure) and demand for transport services.  Status of road crash patterns is one indicator of the performance of this interaction.

(Kenya’s road crash patterns have been on a steady incline since 1963, with a slight decline in 2004,during the peak of Michuki Rules‘ effectiveness.)

Check out part 3 for suggestions/propositions on the way forth as regards Nairobi’s road safety,traffic management.