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Meet Sam Wakoba of TechMoran Blog

Bloggers Association of Kenya profiles Sam Wakoba who runs Techmoran blog. Techmoran won the award for the Best Technology Blog in Kenya this year:

We caught up with Sam to get some insights into his blogging journey.

Who is Sam Wakoba, in a few words?

Sam Wakoba is a humble and hardworking Kenyan, passionate about bettering lives in any way he can. He believes that, with the right information, anyone can be empowered to become a better citizen, employee or business person. My calling has been to dedicate my life and time to empower communities. This is just the start.

How did you come up with the name for your blog. Why ‘TechMoran’?

A Moran is a warrior and tour guide in the Maasai community. As tech ‘Morans’ we want to protect our local tech ecosystem as well as guide those who are new to it. International media covers African tech in a bad way – focusing more on NGO backed companies. We want to show the world everyday innovations in Africa hence protect the entire ecosystem

Scroll Through Madagascar History Via Vintage Photographs

Online Photo Museum of Madagascar with their Permission

Online Photo Museum of Madagascar with their Permission

Access to the visual history of most former colonial countries in Africa is usually a challenging proposition because former colonial powers restrict access to historical archives. Helihanta RAJAONARISON and Tsiry Fy-Tia SOLOFOMIHANTA in Madagascar sought to solve this issue and make the history of Madagascar more palatable to the general public by creating an online Museum of Madagascar through a collection of vintage photographs.

The website went live on July 27, 2015, and offers a glimpse of everyday lives in Madagascar from 1850 to 1960. The collections is organized in four major periods: Pre-colonial Period, Colonial Period, Major Constructions, Everyday Life and Independence.

Here is Why Nairobi is Africa's Most Successful ICT Hub

Elvans Kidero explains the secrets behind Nairobi's success in ICT sector in Africa:

Where is Africa’s ICT hub? Is it South Africa, Nigeria or Nairobi, the capital of Kenya? By growth, it would have to be Nairobi, with my county’s ICT sector expected to grow by 15 per cent this year, compared to around 6 per cent for the economy as a whole.

Kenya and Nairobi – dubbed the “Silicon Savannah” – has boomed in recent years through international partnerships and home-grown products, the most famous being M-PESA the mobile money transfer service that has revolutionised financial transactions for hundreds of millions across the world. Innovation spaces such as iHub have helped spur growth for young tech entrepreneurs offering opportunities for co-working and incubation. Other products such as M-Farm, an app providing an online marketplace and real-time prices for agricultural buyers and sellers and iCow, an SMS-based service for farming information – just to name a few – have seen Nairobians’ technology spread far beyond city borders.

Only this month, in a real boost for Nairobi, IBM opened a new big data research centre in our city, underlining our new front-runner status. This body will assist in analysing big data, support the decongestion of traffic and improve accessibility and speeds for accessing information and services.

So why has Nairobi been growing so fast?

Documentary ‘Too Black To Be French’ Wants to Start an Honest Conversation on Race in France

Screen capture of the trailer of the documentary "Too black to be French"

Screen capture of the trailer of the documentary “Too black to Be French”

Too Black to Be French” is a documentary made by Isabelle Boni-Claverie, a French-Ivorian writer and filmmaker. Boni-Claverie's goal is to provide unexplored ideas and start a conversation on French society's inequalities and discrimination.

The documentary includes commentary and analyses from renowned Francophone thinkers such as Eric Fassin, Pap Ndiaye, Achille Mbembe, Patrick Simon and Eric Chalaye, along with testimonies from anonymous people of color. Some of the main arguments in the documentary are the conspicuous lack of minorities in the public media sphere, the lack of acknowledgment of colonial history in the fabric of the nation and the absence of quantitative data on discrimination at the workplace.

The documentary ignited a trending hashtag #TuSaisQueTesNoirEnFranceQuand (Translation: You know you are black in France when…) on Francophone social media.

How a Young Kenyan Doctor Fell in Love With Medicine

Dr. Claire Kinuthia, a Kenyan doctor and blogger, writes about how she fell in love with medicine:

How it all began.

Medicine found me when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I have a particularly vivid memory of hearing my dad get up in the middle of the night to go attend to an emergency in the hospital. Dad was already a hero in my little beating heart but that night, lying in bed imagining what he’d been called to do and how many lives he’s get to save, he was elevated to superhero status. I remember trying hard to stay awake and wait for him to tell me all about his “adventures”. Sadly, sleep won that battle. However, the seed had been sown and I always knew I’d be a doctor one day, a superhero who saved lives

Introducing Swaziland’s Most Prominent Poetry Movement

Sabelo Mkhabela blogs about Swaziland's growing poetry movement:

Swazi poet and visionary Themba Mavuso speaks with a humble, unrehearsed tone. He looks nothing like a poet – his hair is neatly combed and he spots a corporate office-ready white shirt and black chinos. Adding street to his attire is a pair of black Chucks.

Themba, along with Lusolotja Ginindza and Sicelo Shabalala, is a founding member of Swaziland’s prominent poetry movement, Rooted Soulz. The collective has helped unearth prominent poets such as Qibho Intalektual and The Last Man, among others. They’ve also showcased their roaster at one of Swaziland’s biggest arts festivals, Bushfire.

According to Mavuso, perhaps with the exception of typically elder praise poets (timbongi), “The poetry genre in Swaziland was previously non-existent prior to the birth of Rooted Soulz.” The group’s poetry sessions started out in a venue in the Swazi capital, Mbabane, where they were held until their audience became too big for the space and relocated to the Swazi Theatre.

Below is a YouTube video of poet and emcee Qibho Intalektual and his music partner Sands:

Candlelight Vigil for the 23 Victims of Boko Haram Suicide Bombings in Chad

Images in the aftermath of the bombings from Eric Topona with his permission

Image in the aftermath of the bombings from Eric Topona with his permission

Two suicide bombings killed at least 23 people Monday (June 15) in Chad's capital N'djamena. Chad government stated that four attackers belonged to extremist group Boko Haram and were killed by the blast which targeted police. More than 100 people were also injured in the incidents. Chad has committed his army against Boko Haram in Nigeria. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has repeatedly threatened to attack Chadian interests before monday's bombings. Chadian activist Abdelkerim Yacoub Koundougoumi Egrey announces that a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with the victims will take place in Paris, place de la république on June 16 at 18h.

candle

Will Topless Women Save Kenya's Tourism Industry?

Is going topless an effective strategy for reviving the Kenyan tourism industry following attacks from militant group Al Shabaab?:

Nominated Senator, Mbura allegedly asked women in the coastal region to go topless so that more tourists can visit the region. This has raised questions as to what the value of the coastal woman is. Is that all she is worth- An object of trade?

Trials of Being an African Musician in New York

Osekre, the leader of New York based Afro-punk band Osekre and The Lucky Bastards, reveals the trials and tribulations of being an African musician in New York:

I wish I received a heads up by friends in the real world about the reality of being a musician in New York City. It is no joke! I had decided to pursue music full time, some time in 2010. I had just graduated from Columbia University, and I saw this as my time to break away from certain kinds of responsibilities, expectations and deadlines set by college, my family, my friends, and the burden of “being a migrant in Rome.” I just wanted to pause, to live, and breathe easier. The only thing on my agenda was to get my band, Osekre and The Lucky Bastards going once again.

At the time, I was inspired by an increased interest in African music in New York in general. Columbia alumni, Vampire Weekend, were heroes on campus, and had sparked debates in the world and indie music communities with their song “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” as they fused what they felt were soukous licks with indie sounds. The spirit of Fela Kuti’s work was being reinvigorated in the underground music spaces, where DJs and hip hop artists were finally spinning and sampling Afrobeat. K’naan was making waves with incredibly poignant stories through rap, wit and lyricism; introducing the world to the struggles of Somalis on his album Dusty foot Philosopher. Nneka had released her song “Kangpe”, which was all over EA Sports’ FIFA soccer games, and was about to debut on Letterman in New York. I had enough sources and stories to keep me motivated about the opportunities and possibilities for young African cats doing their music thing in NYC. What no one explained was exactly how much work that was going to involve and what it meant to start from the scratch, or scratch the start.

2 Reasons Why Madagascar's President Hasn't Been Impeached Yet (Contrary to Media Reports)

Screen Capture of Media Headlines about Madagascar via Google News

Screen capture of media headlines about Madagascar via Google News

Numerous media outlets have reported that Madagascar's President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has been impeached. While members of parliament have voted 121 in favor of his impeachment out of 125, there are a few reasons why the president is still projected to stay in charge for the time being:

  1. The constitutional court has to approve of the motion to impeach. The procedure may require a prolonged period to review the allegations.
  2. The legitimacy of the vote has been challenged over accusations of fraudulent counting.

Malagasy observers have weighed in on the motives behind the motion of impeachment.

Zambian Businessman’s Lawyers Petition GoDaddy To Pull Down News Site

Zambian citizen media website Zambia Reports is facing legal threats from a local businessman, Rajan Mahtani, is petitioning GoDaddy, the website’s hosting company, to kick Zambia Reports off of its servers.

According to the Zambian Watchdog, a rival website, Zambia Reports has been accused of publishing defamatory articles on Dr. Mahtani, who is the founder of one Zambia’s biggest indigenous banks, Finance Bank and a chain of other businesses.

A letter said to have been written by Rajan Mahtani's US-based lawyers to GoDaddy.

A letter said to have been written by Rajan Mahtani's US-based lawyers to GoDaddy. Used with permission of Zambian Watchdog.

The US lawyers have that GoDaddy cease and desist from hosting Zambia Reports and remove its contents from GoDaddy’s servers.

African Startups Win FinTech for Agriculture 2015 Competition

Two African startups have emerged winners of a regional competition organised by Village Capital:

Village Capital today announced the first winners of its innovative program, East Africa: FinTech for Agriculture 2015. The program supports entrepreneurs in making financial services more affordable and accessible for smallholder farmers and other underbanked individuals in East Africa. It is supported by the DOEN Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, and Duncan Goldie-Scot.

Over 65% of Sub-Saharan Africans do not use financial institutions or mobile money accounts to save or borrow money. Access to financial services can be especially difficult for smallholder farmers, often far from a financial access point. Furthermore, many promising early-stage entrepreneurs addressing this issue cannot find the resources they need to get off the ground.

Village Capital East Africa: FinTech for Agriculture 2015 provided these resources to 12 high-potential, early-stage entrepreneurs from across East Africa. The program also supported them through business development training, mentorship, and opportunities to meet potential customers and pitch to investors. At the end of the 12-week program, the entrepreneur-participants ranked each other on six criteria, and chose two companies to each receive a 50,000 USD investment. The two top peer-ranked companies are:

Atikus Insurance (Rwanda); expands access to credit by increasing the capacity of MSME lenders via reimagined insurance and technology risk solutions.

Farmerline (Ghana, expanding to East Africa); provides accurate and timely agricultural information to farmers and also provides technology to stakeholders to work better.

53 Echoes of Zaire: Popular Painting From Lubumbashi

Liese Van Der Watt, a South African art writer based in London, writes about 53 Echoes of Zaire, exhibition of popular painting from Zaire that is going on in London:

The exhibition was curated by Salimata Diop from the Africa Centre in London in cooperation with the Sulger-Buel Lovell gallery. It comprises 53 paintings by artists Louis Kalema, C. Mutombo, B. Ilunga, Ndaie, and Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, belonging to the Belgian collector Etienne Bol whose late father Victor Bol collected these works while spending time in Zaire in the 1970s.

The artists are all self-taught and the exhibition shows a series of works all executed in a style similar to what is sometimes called the Zaire School of Popular Painting. The most famous of this so-called school is probably Chéri Samba, who shot to fame after he was included in the Magiciens de la Terre (Magicians of Earth) show at the Pompidou in 1989. These works are painted on flour sack rather than canvas, often with a limited palette of poster paints and with thick brushes.

Storipot: A News Aggregator for Ugandan Blogs

Keep up to date with news and conversations on Ugandan blogosphere through Storipot, a news aggregator created by Dignited:

Storipot is a News aggregator that provides you with headlines of the latest stories (“Feeds”) curated from websites and blogs by or about Uganda.

Storipot helps you filter through the noise of today’s vast information by bringing to surface a summary of the day's most important stories on a single page.

We are currently doing this through clever computer algorithms that routinely crawl through our large database of more than 250(as of launch) Ugandan content sources. We analyze and gauge all this content to bring you the most compelling content on the web from Uganda.

However, with the understanding that nothing beats the human judgement, Storipot also employs human editorial curation mechanisms. With a team of long-time experienced bloggers and journalists, we sieve through the blog sphere to discover and bring you great content that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Designed for both readers and publishers.

Kenyan Blogger Defamation Case Highlights the Need for Education

Shitemi Khamadi argues that a case where a telecommunication provider, Safaricom, has sued a Kenyan blogger Cyprian Nyakundi for defamation highlights the need for education on the law and Internet in Kenya:

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) in whose mandate is to promote online local content has been running a project called ifreedoms. The project seeks to enlighten Kenyans of all walks of life about the law and the internet in Kenya. It conducts these training’s in various locations around the country. So far, these training’s have been held in Nairobi, Kisumu and Nyeri. It intends, in the long run, to go nationwide.

It is in the interest of BAKE that Kenyans know how they should conduct themselves online so that they responsibly, accurately and consistently tell their own stories online through blogs and social media platforms. Certainly when a blogger has a legal issue, BAKE may intervene when the cause is genuine and especially when it involves its members. It does these by assisting with legal counsel, popularizing the issue on social media and documenting it.

This Nyakundi court case validates what BAKE is doing. Nyakundi is still innocent until proven guilty. However, if he knew his legal rights and obligations, he probably would not be in the situation he is today. More importantly, more Kenyans should take queue from this to learn how they should conduct themselves online.

Winners of #HackAgainstEbola Represent Ghana at 2015 Global Editors Network SUMMIT

The winners of the “#HackAgainstEbola” competition at the 2014 Editors Lab organised by the Global Editors Network (GEN) and Penplusbytes in Accra, Citi FM are in Barcelona participating in the 5th annual GEN Summit:

Citi FM, last year, competed with other major new rooms in Ghana at Penplusbytes New Media Hub in a two-day #hackathon to develop digital tools for newsrooms to effectively report on challenges posed by the Ebola outbreak. Their product, Citi Ebola Updates – a Mobile Platform that enables people, both educated and uneducated to receive information and updates on the status of Ebola in the country in their preferred local language, was adjudged the best to win the 2014 Editors.

Human Rights Activist Begins Hunger Strike for Migrants in Front of Macedonian Parliament

The growing migration crisis has recently also affected countries in southeastern Europe, with new issues arising almost daily. Reacting to the inhumane treatment of migrants who pass through Republic of Macedonia, renowned human rights activist Suad Missini started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament building in Skopje. He began the strike immediately after publishing his three demands in a Facebook post on Sunday, June 14, which garnered almost 300 likes and over 90 shares in just the first day.

I am just starting a hunger strike.
In front of the Parliament.

I demand urgently and immediately:

  1. Urgent adoption of the changes of the Asylum law, that would enable safe transit or temporary stay of refugees passing through the Macedonian territory, as well as free use of all publicly available means of transport.
  2. Concrete and publicly announced measures by the Ministry of Interior in view to safeguard the life, security and possessions of refugees passing through Macedonia.
  3. Immediate liberation of all refugees and migrants detained in the Gazi Baba center and its immediate closure.

The strike will not end unless these demands are fulfilled.

Suad Missini

Thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other war zones pass through Macedonia, traveling from Greece towards Serbia on a path to try to reach Germany or other well-off EU countries. The migrants used to follow the railway tracks on foot, suffering horrific “accidents.” Lately the migrants buy bicycles, reportedly at inflated prices, in southern Macedonian towns and cycle on the main highway. Many of them fall victim to human trafficking rings and gangs of robbers. Some of the refugees are held as “witnesses” in the Reception Center for Foreigners “Gazi Baba” in Skopje in what Macedonian Ombudsman Idzhet Memeti has called “inhuman, unhealthy, and undignified” conditions.

The Government is supposed to discuss the amendments to the  Asylum Law on June 16.

After Citizen Uprising in Burkina Faso and Burundi, Are Niger and Togo Next?

Protests in Niamey, Niger via Abdoulaye Hamidou on twitter (with his permission)

Protests in Niamey, Niger via Abdoulaye Hamidou on twitter (with his permission)

20,000 Nigeriens took to the streets in Niamey, Niger on June, 6. There are multiple causes for the protests: endemic poverty, mediocre governance and restricted free speech are among the main grievances from Nigerien civil society.   These protests come on the hill of similar uprisings in Burkina Faso, Burundi and Togo. The government resigned in Burkina Faso while elections are postponed in Burundi. In May, citizens in Lome protested presidential election results  that saw Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe won a third term.

On Assisted Dying Ruling By a South African Court

Professor Pierre de Vos weighs in on the debate about assisted dying in South Africa after a South African High Court ruled that a dying person is entitled to be assisted by a qualified medical doctor to end his or her life:

It is important to note that the ruling does not force any person to end his or her life or to assist anyone else to do so. It remains a personal choice. The judgment thus confirms that the criminal law (or, I would add, the ethical rules of the HPCSA [the Health Professions Council of South Africa]) cannot be used to enforce the moral, religious or ethical beliefs of some on everyone. However, this does not force those who hold such moral, religious or ethical beliefs to act in breach of their beliefs.

Moreover, if the Constitutional Court confirms the judgment it would be desirable for Parliament to pass legislation to establish a system with minimum safeguards in order to protect patients. In the absence of such legislation a patient would have to approach a court for permission to be legally assisted to die.

Second Most Spoken Languages in Africa

Don Osborne discusses a news feature on the Olivet Nazarene University website showing a map of “The Second Most Spoken Languages Around the World.” He points out key problems from the map:

The first issue is assuming that “The most spoken language in any country is often obvious; usually, it’s the official language of the country.” In Africa this often is not the case, if by “most spoken” one counts number of speakers. An example is Mali, whose linguistic profile was explored on this blog in discussing the long-tail of languages – Bambara is certainly more used than the official French.

Official language is a category that doesn't lend itself to ranking use of languages in Africa, beyond the (admittedly important) context of official use and its spillover to popular use. In the case of two countries at least, this runs into additional problems:
•South Africa has 11 official languages (the Olivet site incorrectly lists only one of them – Zulu – as official). So one of the official languages will be second most spoken. Perhaps that is Xhosa as indicated, but the model focusing on official languages hasn't worked here.
•Rwanda has three official languages (Kinyarwanda, French, and English), and Central African Republic two (Sango and French). Since the site doesn't consider these official languages in discussing second most widely spoken, it is reduced to stating that Swahili is “second” most used in Rwanda, and that indigenous languages are used in CAR – which doesn't tell us much.

Read part 2 of his discussion here.

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