Saturday, June 28, 2008

Clearly, I am excited to be in Budapest....

Proudly blogging about Kenya, Juliana

Enjoying meeting people

Daudi joined the party....

Juliana, David, make the village pose famous ....

We enjoy meeting people, those we know, and those we dont...

Kenyans meet

When biases meet biases: the case of China

No skyscrapers, this is Budapest

The St Stephen's Church is the tallest building in the city. All other buildings have to conform to this.

The buildings have medieval architecture, its very good looking. Old Russian style buildings, make the place a tourist attraction.

You gotta give it up for Japanese tourists

More photos

Live blog session: Day two

Friday, June 27, 2008

Live blog session 4- Frontline activists meet the academy: tools and knowledge

Live blog session 3- Living with censorship

Live Blog - Session 2 'Citizen Media and Online Free SpeeAch

Question time

Fellow bloggers and apathy, do they have time for cyber activism. They think that some bloggers write bad stuff and if they are censored, whats the big deal? But when you have international attention, they get interested.

What can other bloggers do to help, first support, especially mainstream media and the internet.

Don't block the blog!- Pakistan (Awab Alvi)

Awab is a dentist from Pakistan, you may wonder what he is doing in blogging, and he will say, he leads by example.

Blogspot was the blog that led to a blanket ban on all blogspot bans.

Pakistan has an aggregator now, an attempt to help people read blogs in a more effective way. helped where bogspot had failed.

Google also changed the Blogspot IPs which helped with the ban, because people were able to access blogs again.

Musharraf was given the middle finger salute for his efforts (laugh)...hahhahhoo

He wanted Pakistanis not to hear any truth, see or read, he was determined to block everyone.

Sms was used to blog especially after Bhutto assassination and the first days of martial law. was used for email and sms blogging.

If the number is compromised, one can be tracked down and blocked, so its still a challenge.

Censorship in Japan- Chris Salzburg

Net bullying, mobile phone content is restricted in Japan.

This guy who killed people in Akihabara shopping mall confessed online that he was going to killing people. Now the ISP can give the IP address to the police, now that people have come up with phony threats.

Filtering by the ministry to protect children from all harmful stuff on the internet. A survey found that 67.8 support internet regulation and 76 % said they support filtering.

Others say regulation/censorship will stop innovation and Japan will be left behind by other countries, that the regulation was contradictory and the regulation process is not transparent.

The government loves to be told to filter the web. Web censorship means different things to different people, awareness is key.

Its funny the society is supporting the government on censorship. Thats Japan for you!

Using the courts to censor in Egypt--Alaa Abdel

The Kenyan courts may not know what is blogging and how it relates to defamation but Egypt has a different story.

They do not filter the internet using firewalls but they torture blogs and use the courts to jail. They create an atmosphere of fear, beat you up so that you can reveal your facebook, blogger or you tube account. covers torture in Egypt and tags the posts with the names of the police officers, and raises the stakes. When you go to court, the evidence is there, which means the same courts will also be used to block the blogger.

A lady blogger had to lose her job, after efforts from her family to stop her from blogging failed. She stood up to her father, which meant she lost a place to stay. Now she works at a radical newspaper/site.

Libel laws in Egypt were designed to protect the system, its criminal and the onus is on the blogger to prove.
for instance, a blogger blogs about a company dumping waste into a public water space. was blogging about the environmental effects and was sued for libel.
The laws require the blogger to prove the company is emptying waste into the lake, if you prove 3 out of 4 allegations, you still go to jail for failing to prove one allegation.

In other jurisdictions, the onus would have been on the company to prove that its not emptying waste to the lake. The company would have to prove its clean.

The upshot- use of fear and courts to silence bloggers.

But are bloggers above the law. Should they be supported whether they make mistakes or not? Food for thought......

Torture, cat and mouse game

Sami Ben Gharbia shows a video about torture and police violence in Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. It represents so many African countries, it has become acceptable and its now wished away. of course the police deny.

The mainstream media denies existence of the incidences but the bloggers and you tube videos are changing repressive regimes.

It reminds me of the stories in Kenya's Mt Elgon area, the cat and mouse games games between the army, the Sabaot land defense forces and the residents. people have come out, stripped in public, showing torture marks, yet the government and the army denies, so who is fooling who?

Now that we have Googlemaps, youtube and other online services, the residents can provide such evidence online, now that its their word against that of the army.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission, instead of empty talk, should empower the residents with technology, to burst the bastards.

I wonder what the police and the army will say, if such videos stream online. Will they vilify the commission and anybody else castigating the army and torture of Mt Elgon residents.

We need to embarrass the security forces.

By Ethan Zuckerman


GV now translated to Malagasy, spoken in Madagascar.

Translation, lingua has incorporated many other languages.

GV advocacy, led by Sami Ben Ghabia from Tunisia. He leads the underground bloggers, how people can use online media to speak out, governments are also working hard to control what is coming out.

People doing stuff to protect online speech and the technical improvements to beat the tough firewalls.

Global Voices summit By Rebecca MacKinnon

Intro by Rebecca MacKinnon

The desire to improve coverage of international news, increased research and the need to improve use of internet inspired Global Voices online.
From 2004, the group has grown and more continue to volunteer services.

from 2006, it has grown from just being a website to a forum against censorship, advocacy and community media, beyond the educated elite. Rising voices reaches to voices that may be underrepresented in the mainstream media.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The sphinx and the village pose

Outside the Hungarian Opera house, I have to do the village pose wherever I go.

Hungarian Opera house...

I was impressed by the statues of all the famous people who performed there, including Beethoven. How I look forward to this at the Kenya National Theatre.

Beer for all......Germany won

Germany won, we were all happy... so the beer was on the table....

Looking for soccer...

It was Turkey Vs Germany. It was a good one for the evening... I did not care who won, just wanted to watch the game.

Flowers from a vending machine...

At the airport you can buy flowers. I thought such was for coffee. Lessons, I can see.

From Budapest........

we met at Cairo Airport and the Sudan and Kenya team decided to get together. Daudi, Denno and Andrew.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The day Bitange Ndemo was just the lecturer...

It was befitting that Bitange Ndemo, Paul Kukubo and Eunice Kariuki chose to come to Barcamp in Casual wear, it was hard to notice them, that is if you do not know them, they gelled so well with the crowd.

During the discussion on our education system, Ndemo drew on his experience as a university lecturer, saying that of all the students in a class, only 5 per cent are exceptionally bright and know more than the lecturer, 40 percent are average and 55 per cent are happy to drag along and get the certificate (read those who dab and engage in all manner of crime just to get the certificate).

It was nice to hear Ndemo admitting that our university lecturers are frozen in time and do not appreciate technological developments. He argued that most bright students fail, not because they do not know, but mainly because the lecturers may not understand what the students are writing. Not all the bright students get first class, he said.

Ndemo was concerned with spirit of entrepreneurship saying that it needs to be inculcated at an early stage like in the US where kids engage in business and understand the principle of profit and loss.

“Here people take the capital and imagine that it’s the profit, and that’s why businesses fail”

He was contributing on the debate about lack business skills and lack of capital within IT sector, especially young people starting up.

Barcamp experience: people from all corners

Techies, government, businesspeople, students.....they all came to share and listen...

Barcamp experience

It was my first Barcamp, can’t explain why I missed it last year, but I made it this time.
It was nice listening to people, the applications and the innovations they are developing. It’s sad that people think Kenya does not have solutions for some of the problems.

For instance, one guy from Moi University explained how they developed certain applications for the university, yet the university ignored them and invited multi million bids for the work they could do.
The students went a step further and simulated the university’s lighting system and showed how it could be controlled from one computer.

What did the university say? We are not interested.

Somehow the students lost faith and started doing other things.

But Kiania Dee wondered whether the students had proved a business case, arguing that there is need to teach entrepreneurship skills to engineering students. Others thought poverty and hunger for employment had killed innovation.

It was argued that most engineering students are snapped by companies like Pricewaterhousecoopers immediately after university and family responsibilities force them to abandon their dreams.

It was very enlightening.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Good connectivity at my tribal bank and women talk Pumwani maternity

The other day I went to one of my tribal banks for a transaction and was amazed at how interconnectivity has eased the level of transactions.

I think they did well to invest in a bigger local loop pipe because earlier it was taking ages to communicate with a rural branch. So I was happy the teller got the information from my rural branch so fast……but she said….aaiiih (I hate it when people say that coz it doesn’t end well, it’s a sign someone will complicate your life).

So it happened that I have to go talk to the manager to sort me out. Of course there was a queue but was moving.

There was this guy ahead of me on the queue who looked rough, with un-tucked, halfway buttoned shirt, a khaki trouser, and funny rubber shoes. He looked like the lorry operators who have money but you can never tell.

Anyway, he started a conversation how he dreads it when a woman is the one in front of him on the queue, apparently because women take long before they can sort out the actual problem that took them to the manager.

“Wanaenda kuongea juu ya pumwani maternity, sijui watoto wamezaliwa wengi,” he said with a grin on his face.

“That’s rude and unfair,” I said, waiting for details. He just laughed and was joined in the conversation by another young man who said how the woman ahead in the queue had said she was to take some time.

Well, the woman took some time and I understood what the maternity guy meant, when she came out, she smiled and said, “sija kaa” and we just smiled back, after all, she was out.

When I went in and found that the manager was a woman, I thought, that guy was actually a chauvinist; he knew the manager was female and could be dragged to maternity matters. Anyway, he was a nice guy, full of jokes.

My day at the bank ended well. The manager very helpful!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The mess that Safaricom IPO has become

Investing in Safaricom was supposed to be easy, a matter of buying shares in Kenya’s most profitable company and getting refunds for shares not allocated. It was well known that it was going to be oversubscribed.

It started with controversy over government’s decision to offload the shares and whether it was right. It was a campaign tool, and some people were urged not to buy the shares but the boycott call was later retracted.

Then the IPO kicked off, long queues and endless advertisements of how our lives are going to change. Yes, it is good that we get to own shares but at what cost?

The allocations did not justify the hype. Queue a whole day, get a loan from the bank at 15% per annum interest, and then get allocated 420 shares. But again, those who feel the allocations are low should buy now that they are floated.

Then the next scene in the drama is the refunds. Brokers holding the money, Safaricom pointing fingers at unscrupulous brokers, CBK acknowledging the problem, asking the Capital Markets Authority to intervene and the CMA is just silent, how much more drama do we need.

It was argued that the IPO will benefit the ordinary person but now the only thing I see is the people trying to get their refunds to pay off the loans and the high interest rates and others sitting back waiting for the chaos to end before making the claims.