With the first time use of biometric voter registration kits, technology is certainly shaping up to be an important element in Kenya’s forthcoming elections. In this light Google has launched the “Kenya Elections Hub, to facilitate increased access to information leading up to and during the March 3rd voting exercise. “The requirement and need for information is more important now than ever before.
There are 29 million mobile phone subscribers and 14 million Internet users…Technology will be at the core of the activities around the election,” reiterates Joe Mucheru, SSA Ambassador and Google’s Country Manager, Kenya. As demonstrated by Ory Okolloh, Google's Policy Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, the site aggregates content—both articles and videos—from local and international news outlets, blogs and Twitter hashtags into one portal for ease of use by interested parties.
Similar platforms have been used in Brazil, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Mexico, Netherlands, USA and more recently in Senegal and Ghana. Accessible in both English and Kiswahili, through the “trends” tab, users can find out how a candidate fairs (by day, week and month) based on mentions across Google’s various platforms. The “toolkit” gives customized responses based on the user’s needs. For example, the best tool for a journalist would be the trends page while Google ads would be best suited for a media consultant.
Acknowledging that “this will be one of the most watched elections in the world”, Ory stated that the site will focus a lot on local content. She says, “It is important that we tell our story during this election.”In a press statement, the Google team shared that they’d trained local journalists, civil society and political parties on digital tools for elections, and partnered with local media organizations to support the use of Google+ Hangouts for interviews with candidates. Additionally, Google has provided the IEBC with open source technology that is powering their online voter tools, including registration confirmation online and via SMS, mapping the polling stations, and a developer API.
Nicknamed the “North African Jimi Hendrix”, Vieux Farka Touré is the celebrated son of legendary Malian artist, Ali Farka Touré. In June 2010, Farka re-introduced himself as a maestro of “Desert Blues”, during the opening concert of the South African World Cup. That same month his live album, “Live”, was available to fans.
Kenyan-based literary network, Kwani? Trust previewed a new mobile app during the 2012 Kwani Lit Fest. MKwani was developed by Timothy Mruttu of On Demand Mobile and is currently in beta testing stage. “About a year ago, Angela and I discussed the possibility of creating an app and because the lit fest was coming up, we thought to incorporate some of the information into the app,” says Mruttu during the soft launch of the app at the National Museum of Kenya.
Nawal El Saadawi cuts an impressive figure on the Kwani? Litfest stage at the Louis Leakey auditorium, National Museums of Kenya. Clad in a white top, black trousers and red boots, her snow-white hair seems to assert her matriarchal authority that comes with age, captivating a silent, attentive audience. And she is indeed a brilliant personality, able to locate the missing link between medicine and literature, herself an accomplished physician and renowned writer. Of this she says, “Science and writing both thrive on knowledge. The creative process must be founded in knowledge drawn from a free system.” She goes on to criticize the education system that places emphasis on memorizing and obedience, a trait she blames for breeding oppression and political domination of peoples across the world. According to her, schools offer fragmented knowledge that splits people from the reality.
By Mark Namaswa
Erykah Badu was a sight to behold. Wild, wispy brown hair crowned by an orange Indy hat; blue turtleneck knotted at the back; orange figure-hugging pants decorated with a highway of white arrows; bold, chunky chain dangling from crotch to base of the spine; left hand adorned in a set of five gold-coloured circular bangles bordered by a Maasai bracelet while a black leather clasp run from wrist to elbow on the right hand; bronze ring in the shape of Africa; woolly socks peeping out of black ankle boots.
By Wanjeri Gakuru