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March 8, 2013 / githinjimuchiri

Peace Propaganda in Kenya Might Just Save Kenya


keep calmIt’s Thursday night, I am watching TV following the election results. The slow rate of returns gives me much time to think of what is going on in Kenya. I remember of something I overheard at the iHub. Someone said that she has never seen anywhere with so much peace propaganda. Now, on its own propaganda is usually a bad word. However, when coupled with peace, it gets me excited. I am hopeful of the future of Kenya.

I go on to do some research to see how extensive this peace propaganda is. True to it, Kenya is filled with messages and threats of peace. I say threats because if you said anything against peace, you are faced with the wrath of the whole country (Ask CNN). The first thing I notice is the TV. Every TV station has taken an interesting approach to this election. Every reporter says the word peace at least once every ten minutes. When there is nothing to report, the TV is running Ads about peace. They are reminding people that #peace is important for Kenya.

Next, I listen to Radio. Every message I have heard on the radio, whether from Classic FM or Kameme FM or Musii FM or any other vernacular radio, peace is being dealt out every minute. Just before the election, I happened to listen to Classic FM’s Maina Kageni explaining that in the 2007 election, 4 million people did not vote. I guess people heard that and took initiative (I had the pleasure of queuing for seven hours in my hometown).

Social media is beaming with peace propaganda. Twitter trends showed that on Election Day, #peace trended, solely because of #kenyansOnTwitter. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are being used to spread peace propaganda. Any comment that threatens the peace is dealt with ruthlessly (with peace messages of course). I am impressed at how, even the most cynical people on social media are moving with the tide of peace propaganda. YouTube channels with wide viewership in Kenya, such as XYZ and Mavulture are using their popularity to promote peace in the country.

This brings me to music, my favorite peace propaganda. In 2008, a sight of the General Service Union (GSU) would send fear to anyone. They were feared for their brutal approach to riot control. Now they are featuring Rufftone on a peace song. The song, Mungu Baba (Lord Father), is a prayer for peace featuring the national youth orchestra. Besides it catchy melody, it inspires Kenyans to see the police as just fellow Kenyans. There are other musicians preaching the peace message using their music. Juliani is leading the Mavulture movement and Camp Mulla recently released their peace track, If you believe. The music is inspiring and is filled with peace propaganda. I love it.

Moving on, I look into film. Film in Kenya is growing at an encouraging pace. From the lead actor of Nairobi Half Life, we get Nisisi (It’s we). Late 3rd of March, I happened to catch the film of Citizen TV. The movie dealt with the issues of 2008 post election violence that left our brothers and sisters dead by the hand of their neighbors. It also deals with the potential of politicians to cause chaos through divisive politics. The film evoked guilt and sorrow for the people whose lives were turned upside down. The film made me wake up early the next day and spend 7 hours on the queue with fellow Kenyans talking of the peace that Kenya deserves.

Other artists are making a difference by furthering the peace propaganda messages through creative arts. Some time in 2012, Nairobians awoke to provocative graffiti in the city center. The art demonstrated how the greedy politicians had divided the country. This art may have had a small impact at the time but it had an impact for the thousands who passed the graffiti. This has inspired others to share such thought provoking art on social media.

Now it is my turn to contribute to the peace propaganda movement. Peace leads to development. The rule of law and respect for our new constitution is the most important thing right now. I have seen politicians trying to influence the public through press conferences commenting on the election. These same politicians dealt a blow to Kenyans in 2008. They should be shunned and forced to follow due process. No matter who becomes the fourth president of Kenya, we must keep the peace. As 2013 rolls on and we draw closer to 2030, peace is the fuel we need to get there. Keep and protect the peace.

March 5, 2013 / githinjimuchiri

Kenya and the International Media


“Those Luos,” said David Wanjohi Chege, a member of the Kikuyu ethnic group, speaking derisively about another one of Kenya’s major ethnic groups. “Those Luos won’t stop at nothing.”

Kenya votesThis statement in a New York Times article, made me angry. The subject of the story, was refferred to as “a member of an ethnic group”. This reminded me of the twitter uproar against a CNN report of the arming of gangs. There has been debate on how Western Media sees Kenya and Africa.

In my view, Western Media focuses on the viewers’ interest in Africa. Africa has a reputation of poverty and suffering. The western media focuses on this approach to keep the stories interesting. Look at the headlines on the historic elections we held yesterday (March 4th), they are mostly focused on the negative.

Not that the negative is not relevant to Kenya’s situation, it is. However, while local media focused on the positive that was happening, the international media kept referring to the worst that happened 5 years ago, pointing out that tension was high around the country.

As I write this, I am part of a monitoring group that aims at ensuring that no one injustice goes unnoticed. Something interesting occurred while we were working on the platform, an international camera man( I think French), asked to see our map. I enthusiastically showed the outcome of what had been done by volunteers for two days straight. The next question he asked was whether he could see the points of violence mapped. This makes my point, western media is biased when dealing with African affairs for their viewers’ sake.

This is probably not going to stop any soon. But we could always do something about it. The #somebodyTellCNN twitter uproar made the world notice that we are present and aware of the image portrayed by western media houses. The online community, in Kenya and around Africa has to push for a fair portrayal of Africa in the international media.

 

October 16, 2012 / githinjimuchiri

Power Page for Kenyan Businesses?


A reader recently read my article on Google’s kbo. She left me a comment suggesting that there was a better resource for Kenyan businesses: Powerpage.co.ke. I went ahead this morning to the site to open my own personal website.

Powerpage.co.ke is a website that lets individuals and businesses start up websites. The registering party is allocated the sub-domain name they chose. For instance, I got githinjimuchiri.powerpage.co.ke ( I have since deactivated it). I have to say, after going through the start up process, I am somewhat disappointed. When I heard of the site, I thought that finally, there was a Kenyan born website competing against the big companies (ie. Google & WordPress). however, the website I got was not pleasing.

First off, the website owners are distributing a free template from the web. Not that there’s anything wrong with using free web resources; but they have changed the name of the initial template developers. Also, everyone gets the same looking website. You would think that if a website was going to distribute free templates it would get a variety.

Secondly, the website has a very curious signup process. I had to give up a lot of information to be allowed to sign in. I am not comfortable with a website demanding that it has to have my phone number and address. It’s not like I will be transacting anything on the site. The process also takes forever and you have to wait about ten minutes to get your site.

To be fair though, I am not all disappointed. The website has taken a bold step in marketing its personal and business websites. The How it Works page is very promising; if only they could deliver on the actual websites. I liked the business website, it allows for businesses to showcase a lot of their products (good template choice). I found it curious that a majority of business websites here were car dealers.

I also liked that the website allows you to deactivate your website easily, came in handy.

August 10, 2012 / githinjimuchiri

Dare to Disagree [Video]


Today’s Friday and I really don’t have much to say today. But here’s a video that will inspire your weekend.

Courtesy: TEDYoutube

You have to be ready to change your mind.

 

August 8, 2012 / githinjimuchiri

Deals and Shopping in Kenya Heating Up: Sahizi


Shop onlineI recently attended a discussion about online shopping in Kenya. I got some very interesting insights into the views of  normal Kenyans on shopping online. The discussion involved a group of eight young guys, many of whom are in school or doing small business. Each of the individuals had at one time purchased a product or service from a Kenyan website. There were mixed views about the quality of the services offered but there was a general agreement that there was great room for improvement. Apart from this, I also noticed some interesting trends; most of the start-ups coming up are focusing on discounts and they are focusing on mobile money as the main form of payment. 

Kenyans love bargains.

Kenyans love their mobile money.

For this reasons, there are over five sites trying to make it by selling bargains to Kenyans. Questions is, how are they doing? From the insights I collected from the group, there are a few too many kinks that need to be straightened if Kenyans are going to move their shopping online. Perhaps the highest concern for the eight young Kenyans, was delivery. I am sorry to say that the track record for this start-ups on delivering what they sell is not pleasing. For this start-ups to attract the mass market, they need to improve on how they deliver to their customers.

That being said though, you have to appreciate the energy these companies are putting towards their success. Many of them do not have the money to advertise offline like Deal Fish or Google, but they make sure their daily deals are known on social media.

The recognizable players in the Kenyan online shopping are Zetu, Rupu and Mocaltiy for daily deals and Google Trader and Dealfish for peer to peer selling. And now there is a new Kid on the block: Sahizi.

The concept of Sahizi is group buying. The more the people that agree to buy a product the better the deal you get from the merchants. It is an interesting concept since in a way, it is similar to buying goods on wholesale, then dividing them up among several people. While Sahizi is just starting, it is bound to disrupt the not yet established market. I look forward to experiencing the modelling and formation of the online shopping market in Kenya. 

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