Monday, June 29, 2009

Columnist Young Kimaro in the Dar Es Salaam "Daily News Online" - her vision for science education in Tanzania's secondary schools

Writing in the 27th June 2009 edition of the Daily News Online in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, columnist Young Kimaro questions the government proposal for a 590 million US dollar debt to build and equip science laboratories in every secondary school in the country.

Ms. Kimaro presents her own proposal: that every secondary school in Tanzania could receive its own "science stimulus package...a projector, a DVD player, two large speakers, a mini-generator for power backup, a screen, educational DVDs, and a fair selection of science reference books and biographies to bring all this excitement about science to the children."

The cost of Ms. Kimaro's proposal? "About 17.5 million US dollars will equip all 3,500 secondary schools in the country with such science stimulus packages and have them up and running. That's only 3 percent of the 590 million US dollars that the Ministry of Education proposes to spend on science labs."

Her research and proposal make sense to me. What do you think? Click here to read the full story.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hope For Change International

I discovered Hope For Change International on Twitter.

From their website's About Us page" "Hope For Change is comprised of individuals who have been actively working with national, indigenous humanitarian organizations in East Africa and Indo-Asia for more than twenty years."

Click here to visit Hope For Change International's Home page.

Click here to read their blog, Mbele! Moving Forward
. Director James R. Smith is blogging from Sakila, Tanzania.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Digital Activism - Eric Hersman of White African and AfriGadget

To pursue my digital activism and awareness, I follow Eric Hersman (whiteafrican) on Twitter as well as on his personal blog, White African. I also read his team blog, AfriGadget, about low-tech ingenuity and microentrepeneurs in Africa.

Eric is currently attending the Global Messaging Congress in London, where he'll speak about extending the power of messaging - providing critical information in disaster zones.

I learned about Eric Hersman through digital activist Ndesanjo Macha.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Digital Activism - Ndesanjo Macha and more

I agree with digital activist Ndesanjo Macha on these points he makes in the film The Truth According to Wikipedia:

  • We need to "decolonize cyberspace."
  • "Web 2.0 is participatory...there is a sense of collective ownership."
  • "Freedom of expression is not just for journalists."
  • I'm an advocate for "the sum of all knowledge - expert and non-expert; one is not less than the other."
  • "The concept of 'truth' is socially constructed...and historically and culturally specific."
  • The original meaning of amateurs is people who love what they do.

Click this link to my Saturday, June 20 post on this blog to watch The Truth According to Wikipedia.

In the spirit of digital activism, I wanted to share three stories from the past week's news -- each one addressing a different aspect of getting Africa and Africans online.

Kenya Safaricom has launched Kenya's first mobile internet portal.

"The eagerly awaited fibre optic cable - Teams - in East Africa has run into trouble. The latest revelations come just as the Kenyan government moved in to allay fears over the East African Marine Systems (Teams) disputed landing permit at the historic cultural site of Fort Jesus, Mombasa..." Click here to read the story in Daily News Online (Dar Es Salaam).

Could mobile phone technology improve health care in rural Uganda?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Phil Bronstein: "Twitter can't cure cancer. But..."

Click here to read today's excellent article by Phil Bronstein on the Huffington Post.

An excerpt: "The right question is: what are the correct ingredients in addition to Twitter and YouTube, and what is the right recipe for journalists to paint a better picture, give voice to the most number of (real) people affected and vastly expand our old school capabilities as messengers?

"I'm the last one to figure that out. But all these tech geniuses with their armies of engineers and array of creative start-ups -- most of them claiming the higher ground desire to do social good -- ought to be able to huddle with those of us who have on-the-ground experience vetting information and weaving the narrative to come up with the real answer.

"The whole story depends on it."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Malawi bloggers Jimmy Kainja and Kondwani Munthali

Here are links to two Malawi bloggers.

Jimmy Kainja writes about "Current Affairs and Topical Issues."

Kondwani Munthali writes about "issues that affect Malawi, Africa, and the developing World with focus on Health, Education, Youth, and Socio-political governance."

Two perspectives on Africa Public Service Day

Writing and reading from the United States, I was interested to find these two different perspectives on Africa Public Service Day, now being celebrated in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

This is the official website of Africa Public Service Day
, with information about the history of this "Continental Celebration" and the 2009 programme and participants.

This is an editorial from "This Day: the voice of Transparency," commenting on the performance of public service institutions in Tanzania.

My favorite quotes from "The Truth According to Wikipedia"

Watch the film on YouTube (below) to hear these great quotes and many more in context. I agree with Ndesanjo Macha on these points he makes in the film:

We need to "decolonize cyberspace" -- and Wikipedia is one way we're doing it.

"Web 2.0 is participatory...there is a sense of collective ownership."

"Freedom of expression is not just for journalists."

I'm an advocate for "the sum of all knowledge - expert and non-expert; one is not less than the other."

"The concept of 'truth' is socially constructed...and historically and culturally specific."

The original meaning of amateurs is people who love what they do.

"Africa, the offline continent"

This excellent article, "Africa, the offline continent," discusses "Africa's struggle to get online."

I asked digital activist Ndesanjo Macha for his thoughts on this subject. Here are the key points from his reply:

"I think the future of internet and web in Africa will be on mobile devices. Mobile phone penetration is big and Africa is one of the fastest growing markets.

"The fiber optic thing along the Indian Ocean will be up soon, which will make internet faster and much cheaper. We are hoping everything goes well.

"But also there is the education part. It is not just about going do what? Digital literacy is necessary. Literacy is getting a new meaning, not only the ability to read and write, but also the ability to use new technologies for production, fun, play and all that...

"Your question is tough. What to do to get more Africans online? There are policy issues, infrastructure, skills...I guess one has to choose an area and focus on it, depending on your capacity."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Working To Empower - Resources for African Educators, Health Workers, Literacy Workers

I discovered Working To Empower on Twitter: they are "building online educational resources, over 80 articles in 28 languages in the process, all free. Most offline to-date. Most dealing with health and HIV."

Click here to visit their Resources page to access their materials
-- all free!

Working To Empower is different from other aid/development organizations for several important reasons. Click this link to find out more about how they work.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Stories are the best democracy we have."

"This is the function of books we learn how to live even if we weren’t there. Fiction gives us access to a very real history. Stories are the best democracy we have. We are allowed to become the other we never dreamed we could be."

Colum McCann, 16 June 2009
Colum McCann is the author of the forthcoming novel “Let the Great World Spin.”

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm getting interested in Creative Commons publishing licenses

From Wikipedia:

(Yochai Benkler's) The Wealth of Networks is itself published under a Creative Commons license). For example, Benkler argues that blogs and other modes of participatory communication can lead to "a more critical and self-reflective culture," where citizens are empowered by the ability to publicize their own opinions on a range of issues. Click here for more about Yochai Benkler.

Creative Commons
(CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. To read more about Creative Commons, click here.

More about Yochai Benkler - from Wikipedia.

Click here to read about Yochai Benkler on Wikipedia. You can access his "Wealth of Networks" video in the post preceding this one.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ndesanjo Macha, Tanzanian blogger, journalist, lawyer, and digital activist

Ndesanjo Macha is a Tanzanian blogger, journalist, lawyer, and digital activist. He is the Sub-Saharan Africa editor at Global Voices Online, where he writes,

"I am interested in finding ways to amplify voices from non-English speaking parts of the world. Global voices, I believe, ought to be multicultural and multilingual.

"I am also interested in the relationship between ICT and development in the developing world, particularly Africa."

To learn more about Ndesanjo Macha at Global Voices Online, click this link.

J. Nambiza Tungaraza on Global Voices Online

J. Nambiza Tungaraza is a Swahili blogger and radio presenter. I discovered his writing on Global Voices Online, where I was reading news of Dar Es Salaam and Tanzania.

Click here to read Mr. Tungaraza's bio and columns at Global Voices Online.

Caroline Anande Uliwa, Tanzanian journalist

Caroline Anande Uliwa writes the newspaper column, " I Am an African," which appears weekly in the Daily News, one of two English-language newspapers in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Her excellent columns are honest, intelligent, witty, and relevant.

Click this link to read "I Am an African" columns online.

Emmanuel Onyango and his blog, Knowledge Matters

Emmanuel Onyango writes his award-winning blog, Knowledge Matters, from Tanzania. I discovered Mr. Onyango's work at Global Voices Online, while reading news of Tanzania and Dar Es Salaam.

Mr. Onyango is a journalist based in Dar Es Salaam. Currently he is on assignment in the southern region of Tanzania, in Iringa town, doing research on tourism.

Mr. Onyango opens his May 8, 2009 blog post this way:

"TANZANIA is one of the unique destinations on the African continent that has yet to be discovered by many of its citizens who are still unaware of some attractive historical sites located in the country, probably this is due to the fact that tourist sites are far away from traditional media publicity. There are a lot to be explored in Southern Highland regions in terms of tourism for the historical and archaeological ventures in places like the Isimila stone age site where one can view wonderful stone pillars formed as a result of soil erosion on the land leaving the red standing pillars that occurred hundreds of years ago."

To read more of Emmanuel Onyango's blog, click this link to Knowledge Matters.

6th Pan African Reading For All Conference, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

I'll be presenting a paper and workshop on Peace Through Fiction at the 6th Pan African Reading For All Conference in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

I'm excited about my first trip to Africa, meeting and learning from the people of Dar and people from around the world who'll be attending the conference.

Click here to learn more about the 6th Pan African Reading For All Conference, August 10-14, 2009, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in East Africa.

"A Novel Idea" bookshop in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

I'm looking forward to visiting A Novel Idea bookshop in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, when I attend the 6th Pan African Reading For All Conference, August 10-14, 2009, at the University of Dar Es Salaam.

A Novel Idea has four shops in Dar Es Salaam, located at the Slipway, Shopper's Plaza, Seacliff Village, and Steer's Complex. Click here to visit their website.

In Minneapolis: International Reading Association (IRA) Convention

May 3 -5, 2009, I attended the International Reading Association convention in Minneapolis, and presented a paper on Peace Through Fiction.

Oberlin College Improv Conference

On April 17-18, 2009, I attended the amazing Oberlin College Improv Conference in Oberlin, Ohio.

The Oberlin College Improv Conference (OCIC) is one of the largest student-run improv festivals in the country, and has been going strong for a decade. At this year’s conference, we tested boundaries: between shortform and longform, between theater and dance, music and musicality.

Click this link to visit the OCIC Facebook page.

Friends With Benefits Improv in Cleveland, Ohio

I'm a student of improvisational performance with the Cleveland troupe, Friends With Benefits Improv...where charity is always a member of the cast.

Friends with Benefits was founded by Kimberly Pride and Deena Nyer Mendlowitz in 2008. It was born from their desire to produce high quality improvisational comedy shows while being socially minded. Shows strive to raise both funds and awareness for charities, organizations, or causes that inspire them. Past shows have raised money for Victims of Hurricane Olga (Jan. 2008), Shaw High School’s Marching Band’s trip to the Beijing Olympics (March 2008) and Milestones Organization (July 2008).

Click here to visit the Friends With Benefits Improv website.

Peace Through Fiction Overview

I wrote an overview of Peace Through Fiction for the staff of Changing Lives Through Literature, the alternative sentencing program founded in Massachusetts. They posted the overview on their blog on April 8, 2009.

Click here to read the post.