Outsiders, please stop saving Africa!

Dominik Wind, my friend and colleague at we-magazine, has written an impressive article on the “Kony2012″ issue. You’ll find it here. You really should read it!

And watch this video – an outcry of a young African woman asking outsiders to stop saving Africa. She is an Ugandan journalist, her name is Rosebell Kagumire – she makes some pretty remarkle points on this entire issue!

Grand Slumfest Five – 2011

Last year in August I went for the first time to Huruma, Nairobi Kenya. Together with Albert Nashon and a few of his colleagues he showed me around – this documentary (snapshots) was produced by then. I very much admire what the guys at Slumcode are doing – help people to help themselves. That know what they are talking about and they love what they do from deep down in their heart – you can see and feel it! This is why I support them whenever I can – moneywise, send them laptops, write about them here in my blog or give them projects to do. It’s not much – but we continuously work together. And it’s fun!

They describe themselves as:

“Slumcode is a youth focused non profit making organization that develops strategies for community driven development through Education, Employment and Empowerment. Our success is firmly rooted on partnerships, opportunities, programs and projects aimed at improving the welfare of our under-served society. Leadership and Entrepreneurship are our main pillars.”

This week, on Oct. 15, they are organizing their 5th Grand Slumfest. It’s an annual thematic event that targets to empower entrepreneurs from low income communities by creating a platform conducive for business and networking. The event keeps exceeding expectations as both corporate and grass root interest and support grows. Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Google Africa valuing inclusion and development of young people are this time participating in line with this year’s theme: Connecting communities to possibilities.

“This year’s event brings together over 2000 participants and unite communities in a marathon, exclusive showcasing of products and services by enterprising young people and companies blended in a breathtaking performance by the Slumcodansaz and Ricardo Garcia – an artist passionate to children’s causes worldwide. Hope World Wide Kenya, I Choose life Africa and Tupange Initiative (a partnership between Government and Private Sector on Health) will conduct medical camps and sensitization free of charge hence not only presenting a platform for exposure, but follow up on capacity building, incubation, internships and long term personal development of healthy individuals. Slumfest outcomes will catalyze reduction of moral decadence, frequent crime and idleness while enhancing cohesion, increasing creativity; activate participation, marketing and linkages with private sector. A Focus group session will aim to highlight on business, health, environment, poverty and governance issues affecting youth development and employment.”

I really feel sorry that I can’t be there … but my thoughts are with Albert and his team. I know they will do something great.

Trying to go behind the stereotype …

Two days ago WE’ve published our latest edition of we-magazine: WE_africa. It literally went around the globe via twitter – very impressing to see! Thanks for sharing this with us!

WE_africa is a very personal thing for me. The idea took shape during my last visit to Africa in August/September 2010 and our idea was to try to go behind the stereotype “western” way of presenting Africa. WE wanted to present very personal stories from people who usually don’t have a voice … WE were trying to draw an authentic picture of Africa, an Africa that is very diverse and very innovative and inspriring. It is so powerful in so many different ways … I hope you can “feel” it when you flip through the pages …

If I would have to choose the 3 most important articles for me (not that I have to;-) , I would go for:

The SLUMCODE story. This is because of the picture of this fetus laying in a plastic back on the street is still in my mind. While I was walking with Albert through Huruma I realized how close hope and despair are together. There was this incredible SLUMCODE team – young people full of hope to make a change right next to the overwhelming brutal reality of every day live in Huruma. A tension you really have to learn to handle and you have to learn to live with.

– Tunisia. Tunisia has definitely a “Neckermann” image in Germany: sunny, beautiful beaches, desert, holidays. Almost nobody in Germany has a glue that 4 weeks ago a revolution has started over there. No news or media reports on what’s going on there. Why?
Why not? WE decided in the very last minute to include the Tunisian revolution in WE_africa. An interview with Lina Ben Mhenni gives you an idea of what is happening. Despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and association, the Tunisian government uses an array of legal, penal and economic measures to silence dissenting voices. And it is getting worse … Since the unrest started many people have been arrested …

– And the third one would be Richardson’s celebration of African culture. If you see Richardson dancing and singind then you will understand how important it is for young African people to understand their cultural heritage as something important, something where a lot of joy and positive energy comes from. Something what I would love to see more in our so-called western world …

As you can clearly feel … I am very very happy with our WE_africa: Bea did a wonderful job in transforming textual wasteland into a homogeneous beautiful magazine (see below) and Dominik exceled himself with WE_africa’s new website. Great job and thanks again to both of you for being with me on this journey … Let’s see what’s next.

We Magazine Africa

Talking about a Revolution: Tunisia

Netizens are deeply concerned about repressive measures used by Tunisian authorities in response to the current protests and political unrest in the country. It urges the government to refrain from the unnecessary use of force against peaceful protesters and to respect the fundamental rights of its people, including the right to freely express dissenting opinions.

The unrest began nearly two weeks ago when a young Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest the country’s high unemployment rate. The incident, which took place in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, became the catalyst that sparked widespread protest and riots that have become a referendum on the government of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Protesters are calling for an end to corruption, nepotism, and restrictions on basic freedoms. There have been reports of Tunisian security forces opening fire on protesters as well as large scale arrests and torture of prisoners. Although traditional media in Tunisia is heavily restricted and authorities have sophisticated methods for repressing internet freedom, reports of the protests have spread through non-traditional forms of media as bloggers and regular citizens have been tracking the events.

And – this is what strikes me most – hardly any news on this in “western” media.

So I felt very happy yesterday, when I got the chance to interview Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian Teacher Assisstant of linguistics at Tunis University and a blogger. Thanks again to Hisham who connected us. Lina is mainly blogging about freedom of speech, human rights (especially women rights and students rights), social problems, and organ donation awareness . She likes photography, reading, writing, watching movies. Lina is also an athlete but within a special team: The Tunisian National Organ Transplant Team.

Here is the mp3 file is here , the sound quality is not really good, but it is O.K.
A transcript will be available next week as part of the latest issue of we-magazine.

New African Film Makers: Wanuri Kahiu

Yesterday I skyped with Wanuri Kahiu, a Kenyan filmmaker. The audiofile is here. In our interview we spoke about the self-conception of African fim makers, why it is necessary to have alternatives to Nollywood, we spoke about the art of film making, why the arts are so important in Africa and what their impact is on society. Further more we were thinking about why the arts have been completely banned from the African school curriculum – a sad story …

Kahiu was born in Nairobi, Kenya. After graduating from the University of Warwick in 2001 with a BSc degree in Management Science, she enrolled for a Master’s Degree at the ‘Masters of Fine Arts’ programme in directing at the School of Film and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her movie “From a Whisper” received a total of twelve nominations and earned five awards at the 5th African Movie Academy Awards in 2009. Her latest film “Pumzi” is a science fiction short film. It was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of its New African Cinema program. The project was funded with grants from the Changamoto arts fund, as well as from the Goethe Institut and Focus Features’ Africa First short film program which are also to distribute the work. Kaihu hopes to expand the short into a full-length feature. It also won several awards, including Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009.