Mark Kaigwa

Posts Tagged ‘Kenyan Pundit’

The Gathering (TED Viewing)

In Happenings, Perspective, Real Talk on June 15, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Carrying on from where I left things with the Sneak Peek.


It was slightly hectic for most people who I approached to host the event. It was a week to the date, and most venues were either booked, or had a strict booking policy. All of which was understandable. This was an impromptu event with a minimal budget.

I hesitated to invite all the people I knew would want to come, partly due to the short notice, and the fact that I hadn’t organised a projector and a sound system yet, let alone get a venue. After Joshua and I sending out emails to all the connections we knew, all that was left was to make phone calls and hope for a confirmation or interest in hosting. They weren’t able to come through.

Over the weekend, though, I met with  Phares Kaboro, an active member of Skunkworks-Kenya who reminded they would be hosting their weekly meeting the following Tuesday, at Teleposta Towers. I let him know about the impromptu TED Video Screening idea and he seemed interested. He in turn floated it the Skunkworks team and bada bing! We had a venue.

So, with a venue, and a day to ‘wrap it all up’ it became a matter of arranging for a projector or TV. My brother has an awesome (and quite portable) speaker system he uses in his studio, so I knew I had the sounds, all that was left was to source for the elusive projector. It was time to think on my feet, after placing a number of phone calls to hear people charging alarming rates for projectors I double-checked the situation with none other than my Mom to hear her thoughts. All this time, I had forgotten about the office next door to my Mom’s which rents/sells laptops and projectors – personal friends of ours too. I got a great out-of-this-world deal on a projector, and we were good to go. Only thing was by the time this was ‘landing in place’ it was three hours to the event.

This partly explains my reluctance to do more than tweet about the event, I apologise to those who I wasn’t able to inform in time.

The Event

That evening, it rained. And for anyone in Nairobi, whether you understand Nairobi or not, you understand that rain breeds the longest, noisiest, most disorganized choking and clogging of all arteries out of the Central Business District. Some refer to this as traffic, but the definition of ‘traffic’ doesn’t cut it. Needless to say, the rain didn’t dishearten many a TED fan. I arrived to find Phares making preparations, and we quickly gave the whiteboard a sprucing up. It was to welcome (and direct) guests to the event.

I got there semi-soaked actually, but in one piece. Luckily, Erik was in Westlands where the sound system and projector were awaiting pick-up from my Mom’s office. He gladly picked them from there that afternoon.

Guests began streaming in slowly as the downpour outside turned into more of a light drizzle. Things did start a little later than expected, but they began on a good footing. The crowd, for an impromptu event, was impressive. I spotted +25 people there including all of the other TED Fellows I mentioned.

Quick intros, and with the gadgets fired up, we proceeded to start with Andrew Mwenda’s controversial but very poignant piece on what he calls ‘The African Question.’

…to look beyond the media’s stories of poverty, civil war and helplessness and see the opportunities for creating wealth and happiness throughout the continent

This talk was at TED Global in 2007 in Tanzania, and it set the tone for plenty more strong protagonists of the Dead Aid school-of-thought to emerge. It’s an amazing talk that I had watched once, but got plenty of insight this time around, I’m sure you will too.

It was between Erik and Joshua to pick some of their favourite speakers from TED Long Beach 2009 Next, we watched Nathan Wolfe’s mind-blowing take on pandemics and the micro-biological work he’s been doing. Interesting stuff, lots he

…outwitting the next pandemic by staying two steps ahead: discovering deadly new viruses where they first emerge — passing from animals to humans among poor subsistence hunters…before they claim millions of lives.

Following this, was one of Sheila Ochugboju’s favourites, Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on Creative Genius – a new way to think about it…I don’t really know how to describe this, and I know I don’t want to spoil the surprise. It was one of the highlights of the talks, provoking the most chuckles (several being from me) especially coming out of a creative field, much of what she said resonated with me, and yet she still kept a broad appeal from the audience, while being remarkably unique and genuine.

…muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

Erik at this point, challenged the crowd to whether they would prefer to watch a video from TED Global or another one from TED 2009. The crowd was highly in favour of the TED Global Talk. This talk could be considered an African classic by firebrand economist George Ayittey. It is a must-watch if you’ve never heard his talks before. Here he gives his famous Cheetah vs. Hippo Generation Talk, which so happened to be the very first TED Talk I ever watched.

(When it got to the Fisherman/Boat story, for time concerns, we moved on – though I’d still recommend you have a look at the story) Quite something, isn’t he?

To cap the night off, was one of the most watched TED Talks around. Bill Gates hopes to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using a new kind of philanthropy. In a passionate and, yes, funny 18 minutes, he asks us to consider two big questions and how we might answer them.

Great event so far, and I believe the official event will be in July (This was an impromptu gathering, which just so happened to occur when quite a number of TED Fellows were in town)

But I look forward to your thoughts, if you were there or not, and if you’re new to TED, do let me know what you think. Big thank you to Joshua, Phares, and everyone who came out.

Read the rest of this entry »

A sneak peek post of The Gathering.

In Happenings on May 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm

FYI: This is a precursor to the actual blog post that will be up by end-week.

I threw a curveball to Erik Hersman, known on the interwebs as The White African of Ushahidi (Who just won a Kenyan Open Source Award – Congratulations to them) and Afrigadget fame. Upon getting his tweet that he just got his new set of TED DVD’s.

I’ve been familiar with the TED Movement for a couple years, and had watched a load of the talks online. And since I don’t happen to be very blessed with the bandwidth on this side (Oh, for the days in The States where I would stream videos… ='(

TED, beside having one of the coolest Felllowships ever (I ought to mention that we have two East Africans selected this time around, Mobile Technology Evangelist Jessica Colaco and Jonathan Gossier, an American based in Uganda. The founder of AppAfrica Labs) has worldwide conference with some of the most fascinating speakers from around the globe with some of the best ideas around.

TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design and they get people from these disciplines to speak and engage the crowd in 18 minute talks.

At yesterday’s gathering we viewed 4 of the Talks, favourites of the different TED Fellows present. We  laughed, chuckled, nodded heads and networked.

It was hectic to put together, especially since most of it was out of pocket, but it really was worth it. More on the rollercoaster of bootstrapping together a meetup like this. I know I didn’t invite people, I forgot to tell others…it started a little late, but it happened and people seemed to like what we put together. Big (big) thanks to Skunkworks and The ICT Club for the venue. The notice was very short.

The TED Fellows who showed up included Ory Okolloh, Erik Hersman , Sheila Ochugboju and Joshua Wanyama

That’s all for the ‘snippet’ sneak peek version. ‘Real’ blog post on events + TED Videos shown will follow. Including a tweet-out to all who showed up (lots of Twitter folk came through, on short notice)

More to follow.