Tag Archives: bloggers

The Kenyan Blogosphere Still Has Great Talent

If you were blogging back in 2005, it was amazing to see the talent and energy found in the African blogosphere, and Kenya was a leader amongst the countries involved. I’ve spent a lot of today working through 350+ blogs who were nominated for different prizes for the annual Kenya Blog Awards put on by the Bloggers Association of Kenya (@BAKE_ke). It’s humbling to see so much quality. As a judge, certain categories are extremely difficult due to the parity of the entrants.

Who knew that we had such interesting food and fashion blogs? I certainly didn’t, and was happily sending the food links to my wife as I read through them. The photo bloggers are insanely good, but that shouldn’t be surprising to most of us. The Creative Writing category was huge, in both size and number of quality writers, we truly are blessed in this country – people have a way with words.

Kenyan bloggers Sharon of ThisisEss has her photo taken by Steve Kitots (both linked below)

I thought this picture was great, as it takes two Kenyan bloggers – Sharon of ThisisEss and photographer Steve Kitots (both linked below)

Since I can’t name who I’m pegging as my favorite, I thought I’d just throw a couple links here to show you who’s blogging well in different categories. [Note, I'm only throwing down 5 of the 15 categories here, and listing a bunch in each one, in no particular order.]

Photo Bloggers of Kenya

Mwarv
Mutua Matheka
Steve Kitots
Joe Makeni
Louis Nderi
Ben Kiruthi

Food Blogs from Kenya

Healthy Living
Kula Chakula
Delish
Pendo la Mama
Foodie in the Desert
Yummy

Fashion, Beauty and Style Blogs of Kenya

This is Ess
Nancie Mwai
Toi Market
The Vonette Way
K Smith Diaries
The Funshion Mistress

Kenya’s Entertainment and Lifestyle Bloggers

Niaje
Hood Junction
Kimani wa Wanjiru
Mr. Young Scholar

Creative Writing Blogs in Kenya

Even Angels Fall
Cizoe_Poetry
Biko Zulu
AIDEEDYSTOPIA
Kenyan Voice
Potentash
Mwende the Dreamer
Fasihi Arts
deMaitha’s Blog
Minamilist Eric
Do Not Feed the Bloggers

(I told you there was a lot on the creative writing side, this isn’t even all of them…)

To those of you who write these blogs, keep it up. You’re doing an amazing job of capturing the essence of Kenya and providing an open discussion forum for all to take part in. You’ve made my life quite a bit more difficult, having to choose my top picks, but it’s been worth it due to the reminder I received of how the blogging talent is still here in Kenya, still growing and better than before.

See 2012 winners

At the Best of Blogs as a Jury Member

I’m in Bonn, Germany as the English speaking judge for Deutsche Welle’s “Best of Blogs” awards (aka The BoBs). There are 11 judges, each representing different languages, and we each get to present one blog for each main category and each get one vote for the winner. Being the English judge is actually quite challenging, where many of the language judges need only focus on a single region, I have to contend with the fact that there are English blogs all over the world, so many that I can’t know all of them.

House Help and Human Rights

Blogs give voice – they lower the barriers, allowing stories to surface that would otherwise not be seen or heard.

The first vote today is for a Special Award on Human Rights. It’s a sobering start to the morning, going through blogs where people are doing courageous writing, shining a light on atrocities from Mexico to Germany to China. My nomination was for the blog Migrant Rights in the Middle East. It’s a blog put together by Mideast Youth, led by Senior TED Fellow Esra’a al Shafei out of Bahrain – a true grassroots effort.

One of the top contenders in this category is the Chinese blogger Teng Biao’s blog, a prominent human rights lawyer, writer and professor from Beijing. He was arrested this February dung the first day of China’s Jasmine Protests.

Migrant Rights won the award. I think this is largely due to the fact that what the team at Mideast Youth is doing hits on a subject that is so rarely spoken of. There are millions of house help and casual laborers that work in homes throughout the middle east, they come from all over the world and they lack a voice. Their stories get picked up from time-to-time in mainstream media, but there’s a need to follow this all the time (with resources and a database of activities), across the whole region and that’s where Migrant Rights fits in.

Expatriate workers are a crucial part of the fabric of Gulf society and economy, where they make up to 80% of the population in some states…

Whether we are a Qatari citizen who has grown up with a team of domestic staff at home, a Saudi woman who relies on her Pakistani driver to go to visit her girlfriends, or a western expat who benefits from a Filipino cleaning lady and works in a smart, modern office tower that was build from the back-breaking work of Nepalis, Indian, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, we all owe these individuals a debt of gratitude. Yet instead these individuals are undervalued, ignored, exploited and denied their most basic human rights. This is modern day slavery.

Congratulations to Esra’a and her team for providing a voice to the often voiceless.

Other Jury Winners

I was also in charge of the Best Blogs in English category, and I’m very happy to announce that the winner is Sandmonkey!

(Note: For those counting, 3 of the 6 jury winners are from North Africa and the English winner is also from the continent. All for good reasons of course, the activity in this space has been amazing since just January. Now it’s time for sub-Saharan African bloggers to up their game. Part of that means nominating the really amazing bloggers who are doing incredible work in your region. )

5 More African Conferences/Events

A few more conferences to add to my earlier list of events going on around the continent, though one is in the US and another is in Europe, and are about Africa.

In Africa

Tech4Africa – The Technology for Africa conference has a group of really interestin speakers from around the web, mobile and ISP space in Africa. A lot of grassroots guys who are actually doing things, intermixed with some international, and well-known, speakers.
Dates: October 3-4, 2008
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Int’l Bloggers Roadshow – Still being put together, it sounds like an interesting group of US-based big name bloggers will be heading to South Africa. More by Matthew Buckland.
Dates: Unannounced
Locations: Unannounced

FOSS4G (Free and Open-Source Software for Geospatial) – A meeting of international mapping gurus. Hopefully we can get some major African mapping work started here.
Dates: September 29 – October 3, 2008
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

In the United States

BarCamp Africa – Organized in California as a way to bring people interested in Africa, on a variety of levels and topics, together in one place for a day of exploration, connection and enjoyment. Some big Silicon Valley names are getting behind this. (more on Twitter, Facebook and the wiki). Note: not the real logo above, I made that up…
Dates: October 11, 2008
Location: Pending

In Europe

Surprising Africa @ Picnic’08 – A one-day program designed to inspire and update the Picnic public – creatives, innovators, trendsetters and technologists – with a range of cross media and culture happenings from various Africa countries. From South African urban identity photography to Ethiopian architecture, to mobile banking to Kenya (online) critical writing, amongst others.
Dates: September 26, 2008
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Barcamp Nairobi – June 21st

Coders. Designers. Bloggers.

Barcamp Nairobi \'08

If you’re in Nairobi on June 21st, mark your calendar! We’ll be meeting at Jacaranda Hotel, going from 10am-5pm for Barcamp Nairobi ’08.

What is a Barcamp?

BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants.”

All you need to know is this: it beats the hell out of a normal conference.

There is no pre-planned schedule of events, or speakers. There are set timeframes and rooms for anyone who comes in to sign-up for a time to speak in. You attend the ones you find the most interesting. It’s also less speaking than it is conversation and discussion around a specific topic.

Ideas for Barcamp Nairobi ’08
I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty of other items that are well worth having a discussion about. Here are some of the things on my mind that I hope to hear and/or talk about:

  • Local mapping (Open Streetmap, Green Map, etc.)
  • Blogging tools and trends
  • Mobile phone apps (Android in Africa, FrontlineSMS and RapidSMS)
  • Using Google’s App Engine for building web and mobile services
  • I’d love to hear from some of the EPROM guys that worked with Nathan Eagle
  • OS curriculum for universities
  • Studying users (mobile and web)
  • Building into social networks

Of course, I’ll do a talk on Ushahidi. Not just Ushahidi though, but some of the really interesting and open areas surrounding the crowdsourcing of content in Africa using mobile devices. Then, augmenting that content with web services like Google Maps, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

Oh, I didn’t mention that Ushahidi will be providing free t-shirts for attendees. You have to be signed up on the Barcamp wiki to get one, so head on over!


Barcamp Nairobi '08 shirt

Sponsored by Ushahidi, Yahoo and O’Reilly so far, get in touch with me if you’d like to sponsor as well. We could use a few more shillings to cover some of the expenses. And schwag, attendees can’t get enough schwag… :)

You can also RSVP on the Facebook event page, but know that for the t-shirts you need to be registered on the wiki.