Stories from Quick Reads and Sub-Saharan Africa
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.
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?
“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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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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.
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.