Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lessons from a White African

After a beautiful Friday night, I woke up at 9.00am (with lots of trouble!) to catch up with AlyKhan Satchu’s Mindspeak monthly event at Westgate. Ushahidi creator, Erik Hersman (who I have followed on twitter and blogosphere for a while; was the man with the Mic and top on my agenda was to know more about Ushahidi, their newest kid on the block ; Ihub, and just the person behind his better known blog name “white African”

( I think Erik ironically is more African than most of us!: will tell you why in a bit)

Eric did a great presentation and introduced us to his world, and while we know of all the success stories with the Ushahidi model being taken as far as Haiti; I mostly enjoyed how he openly shared some of the failures they face and how they go around it:

He also said something I think most entrepreneurs need to engage in their day to day: Eric follows the 80:20 rule, where 80% of his time is spent on normal work: daily routine) and the other 20 % working on edgy stuff, projects that have a high likely hood of failing: That way you expose yourself to an environment that forces you to learn more, I sort of feel that this is kind of stuff “doers” are made of.

The presentation was followed by a Q& A session which turned into a very engaging conversation; with topics ranging from regulation; incubation & pre-incubation for startups, seed capital; VC and Private Equity;and even touched on media and it’s pre-occupation with politics other than a focus on development stories. It was interesting to note that it was felt that International media is doing a better job in telling good stories from the IT world; while the local media seems pre occupied with politicking.

As a journalist I tried to defend; But also gave the attendants my two cents on how to get media publicity. It’s a thin line between free marketing/ publicity and Journalism. I would be caught dead reporting on a product launch, but I may probably call the same person to comment on an area of expertise; say development of mobile applications: and my take is that entrepreneurs have to position themselves as providers of content other than product developers. If I begin to respect your name as an expert, I am sure my audience will appreciate it. Be confident in your expertise, and use that to propel yourself as a brand.

Today’s world runs on relationships; make an effort to network, meet the “right” people, identify journalists that cover your kind of stories and interest them in what you are doing. And it is a two way traffic; as white African put it; journalists may also see you as a resource if they are looking for someone in your industry, info on different subjects etc;

White African notably dressed in a TED Tee shirt talked about something I have wanted to really blog about; I have but, a full page of rant on why we need Africans who are proud enough to be Africans.

A proud, confident person usually works, performs better than one who has tucks his tail between his legs, we need a mindset change and in my words I say “we need a to raise a new culture, a culture of proud Africanism. Then we will begin to think bigger; look at the bigger picture; and begin to work with each other.

One lady raised an issue about interconnecting with tech hubs from the UK, Denmark etc; and White Africans cultured response was that “we first need Ihubs in Africa to be networked. Ghana, Rwanda, & other African countries, raise ourselves up as Africans, and then after that we can begin to look at the Ihubs abroad.

Now that’s a Proud African.

We are usually, too quick to look abroad, finding funding abroad, when right next door in Uganda for instance, or Tanzania we could partner with like minds and make the most out of what we have. It's culture Africa has never had, and it goes back a long way. That will have to change if Africa wants to be a respected voice.

The rest of my day was spent at a Kids Easter party with Imani, left her to play and went window shopping, bought a ring which I wore on my right hand, when I got back, she look at it and said “ mum did you get married?”

That’s all folks! See you on twitter? (TerryanneCNBC)

I later set up an interview with "White African"

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just a share of your dreams

Friday is here, and while you speak of milk, honey and scoops of tiramissu
I am afraid that the weekend may walk to slow
when I have learnt to make my weekdays busy
busy enough to forget what tugs at my heart

It's not picket fences & giggling voices
or painted countryside houses with lillies and poison Ivy
It's deep & dark, and many times scary
dreams, that I have learnt to tuck away

Dreams, of nightly escapades
frothy Fridays @ the Brew Bistro and tequila at Havanna
barbequed lambchops spiced with love & laughter
and stories that are forever etched in my memory
I have forgot; and cannot retrace my steps

I lost a dream,
But I see it coming
I feel it coming
I know it's coming
But I fear

Give me just a share of your dreams

To trace me back to my dream of yesteryears

Maybe then, I will arise and embrace these new dreams, as my heart rises to the beat.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It’s been a while, damn! And consistency hasn’t been my greatest asset lately. I’ve now got a throbbing headache after my (not so much fun) weekend trip to the Coast to cover the landing of the Eassy Cable. It wasn’t as great, and as organized as the SEACOM cable. which I blogged about here.

Different strategies work for different people, but after Seacom, lets just say easy was quite the landing, Phogisio says "EASSY wasnt so easy!"

Unlike Seacoms' social media savvy launch ( They had a blog, a welldone website, had Live streaming TV from 3 landing sites, and a tweeter team ( only KTN’s Larry Madowo & I were live tweeting the EASSY event for fun) that was the exciting part.

It was a well attended event though; Sec General of the ITU Hamadoun TourĂ©, Kenya’s Minister for Info; Hon Samuel Phoghisio, CCK Director General, MTN was well represented; so were other stakeholders within the consortium. The biggest shareholder WIOCC handled the launch. It wasn’t the most organized launch I have been to. But the cable did land, and that’s good news; the rest are details:-I

While in Mombasa though, internet fever got the better of me, and I spent a whole lot of time on twitter & Facebook, keeping up to date info on the landing, the French boys ( those that keep the pirates at Bay) landed in a sweet Navy ship!

Twitter, of course is my latest online buddy. I keep tabs of who does what, where, and whatever catches my eye.

Makmende did!

Who the heck is Makmende?

Here are a few responses from the Internet:

Ken Karuri: He ain’t a person, he is THE person. He is like the love child of Jack Bauer, n Chuck Norris, fed on Rambo's diet, trained by van dam , Bruce lee".....

Twitter: When the snake tempted Makmende to eat the fruit, Makmende ate the snake:

Twitter: Makmende Turned a Toyota Vitz into a car.

Twitter: Makmende doesn’t need his vitamin pills, he swallows Orange ( Telkom Kenya) simcards.

Makmende is actually from a music video; A local rock band ( Just a Band) created their music video (ha he) around a character called Makmende, who they call ( your super hero’s Super hero)

What amazes me is the buzz around Makmende. Everyone’s talking about it; from Twitter to Facebook and other internet outlets.

It is like an epidemic that can’t stop spreading.

Took me back to a book I recently bought by Malcom Gladwell called “The Tipping Point”- How little things can make a big difference: Where it talks about marketing & branding strategies that are made as a viral and spread like an epidemic. Makmende (Just a band) mastered the art of the Tipping Point whether consciously or subconsciously., and it has spread like wildfire in the social networks. The video on you tube currently has 16, 503 viewers today 15.07 Kenyan time.( even though it is a brand new video)

Branding Strategists have a lesson to learn here:

Makmende identified the “connectors” and the viral is on the prowl on…it will be interesting to see how far this goes:

till then,

Makmende’s got me covered! :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Somersault & Dry Cereal

Imani is about to turn 4, in a few weeks time , and she does make my day! Everyday!

Just the other day I remember getting her out of the hospital clothes as we left the maternity ward 4 days after she was born.

Now she even asks me if I know what "nocturnal" means; and if She will grow into a big girl, and if she will be a mommy someday, and when she does, whose mummy will I be?

Time flies!

She is her second year of Nursery School and just won a prize for being the most creative student in her class for 2009. ( The term before she won " Best Story Teller" ( Don't ask me where she gets that from:-)

But it was a beautiful ceremony, with laughter and tears, and lots of pictures, which we will laugh over when she is older.

Imani is central to my life, and the more I think about it, the more I realise that almost every move that I make, however quick the decision may be, how I decide it, and when, usually depends on how it will affect/impact her.

That includes everything from making dinner, taking a walk after work, watching TV, my going back to school, (where and what time classes will be) Taking an evening out, shopping...etc..and even she insists if I am wearing my hot pink shoes ( which I adore), it doesnt match with my little black dress..she has the most amazing words" Mum, you need a pink dress to go with with your Pink shoes!"

A few weeks ago I asked her to go for a walk with me after work, and she was watching a nursery rhyme DVD, the conversation was something like this:

Mum: Imani will you go for walk with me?

Imani: No, I am watching my DVD.

Mum: You haven't missed me today? come, we will run together

Imani: Ok mum, why dont you go change, and when you are ready, come get me in the leaving room, then we can go.

( Pardon me, but for a minute there I was tongue tied. She is growing up (fast), and has a mind of her own! and I love the confidence!

Now she loves Somersaults & dry cereal; I wonder what it will be in another few weeks! ( I hope it will be veggies - tough luck!)

Perharps this is a note I hope she will one day read. She is my Joy, the reason I live, the reason I work (smart), and the core of my happiness.

I love you baby!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Its been a couple of Intersting days..tres' busy at work, by the time I get home, I can hardly put my thoughts together..hence my hiatus from Grains of Masala.

I recently got a couple of comments as well on why I'm posting "work" ie some of my work interviews instead of "Blogging". I suppose though that if it is a journal of my my day to day stuf.( and it is) then I'd like that to share that as well.

Last night I met up with an old friend, part of the talk included friends you need, friends you dont need and the sweetness of freedom...But that's a story for another day.

Until then; Muchos Gracias!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Here's what I am upto in the evenings...

If the Kenyan markets interest you..Press here

Have a fab evening!