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Friday, February 3, 2012

Actualizing our vision

Every problem that the country faces is being solved in some community by some group or some individual. The question is how to get connected so that the whole nation can solve problems. A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens – citizens in the fullest sense; partners in civilization. AZMA is merely a collection of citizens in the fullest sense. It is not made alive by an individual but a community of believers and doers. Believers in the possibility of change through coming together to do good, and doers who turn ideas to action!

Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.

The Japanese say that vision without action is a daydream and that action without vision is a nightmare. The AZMA idea is great, but if you and I are not willing to share our ideas, thoughts, question systems, or take part in voluntary activities, then it becomes just another idea. We are moving from the point of talking to the point of acting.

We had a meeting with AZMAtics at the cake plaza on Friday the 20th. With an attendance of about 30 people, this meeting put emphasis on the need to have initiative as an AZMAtic. I cannot emphasize enough on how much AZMA really depends on YOU and how you use it. We merely created the platform for you. It is now for you to engage with as much enthusiasm in both our online and offline activities. The future is ours! Let’s reconstruct it!

My happiest day will be when young people not only realize what this network can do but also begin using it to make that significant, insurmountable difference!

Some people want it to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen. Where do you lie??

Cross Posts from AZMA website AZMA Actualizing our vision

Mental Health in Kenya

There are 3 million, mostly poor Kenyans living with intellectual and mental disabilities in Kenya today, and only 79 registered psychiatrists. Our government spends less than 1 % of its health budget on mental health issues, yet a quarter of the patients seeking medical help in public health facilities complain of mental issues. After hearing this, what we typical Kenyans do is blame the government for forsaking its own saying “Serikali haifanyi kazi” but what have we done to help the situation?

Nobody wants to stand up and speak of this issue which is soon becoming prevalent in our society. Those with family members who are mentally handicapped are even more petrified to bring their kin out to seek medical help or even enjoy the warm afternoon sun because of the stigma, the odd stares, and the whispers that follow them. Ironically, research in South Africa shows that levels of stigma are more in the urban areas among the people with higher levels of education

So why is it that when we meet a mentally handicapped individual by the streets, we cross to the other side of the road, when we go swimming and one makes a splash into the pool, immediately we make a run for it, when in a matatu, or bus, we give odd stares and make it even more uncomfortable for the mother who is trying to make ends meet for her family, and at the same time give her child the best she can? Is it because we think we are better, more brilliant, more successful, more beautiful/handsome? No. I’ll tell you why. It’s simple. It’s because of the fact that we forget that it is only by grace that we are not in their shoes. We forget that none of us filed a petition to God to create us the way He did. We simply forget that they are as much human as we are, and deserve the same love, friendship and appreciation that you and I also seek.

We need to reach deep into our hearts, and find the love that’s within and share it. It might be difficult at first but it does not hurt to try. Imagine a life of seclusion,and total isolation..No one deserves that pain. It’s not something to think about. It’s something that we need to realize right away.

Cross Posts from AZMA website Mental Health in Kenya
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Censored Post

We want access to a fair and open Internet! Protest the U.S. House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its companion bill in the Senate, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). Both of these bills would alter the technical operations of the Internet, and threaten Internet Freedom and openness online. If these bills pass, they will change the Internet as we know it. Neither bill would be effective at stamping out online piracy, but both will have consequences for how the Internet functions as a whole.[Center for Media Justice]
ON SOPA STRIKE
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reconstructing The Future

AZMA Youth Network pays a courtesy call to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education
Wangechi Mwangi - their Chairperson, explains AZMA's purpose to James Kiyiapi, PS (Friday, 06 Jan. 2012)

.::Inspiring|Change|Agents::.

Money is nothing, do not worship it. Be wary of lost many in 35-45 year-old generation believers that life is all about acquiring more money for themselves, with littlest care for others' plight and the environment. Aspire to work and earn for a living not to live for work. Listen to your hearts.

DO NOT pursue studies solely to please your parents but pursue courses you are passionate about. Rather than identifying individual child's talents, parents routinely coarse their children to pursue courses they do not like, forcing students to either “copy” their parents careers or try to achieve what they failed to become when young. Resulting in disastrous career choices, parental-sibling conflicts in certain instances students studying for two degree courses, one “for the parents” the second “theirs” fulfiling their own knowledge passion

Hello Parents?

But do parents listen? Well known to “talk to” not “talk with” their children. Ever from high up speaking down to the youth handing down incontestable chain series of talks, instructions, advice and more. Foregone cultural norms practised when they were young but which have no place in modern society. Why they never “speak with” or “talk with” thus “communicating” two-way? Compelling the children to coalesce in their deviced youth worlds free of “insensitive parents.”

Good news to students whom have long suffered from the aforementioned challenges. From today, you have been given a license to force your parents to listen to you. To “help” them understand tell them the license is from non other that Professor James ole Kiyiapi the Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Education, Government of Kenya! Certain that will encourage them to find out more.

“Force us to listen by your actions. Also take from us, your parents, with slightly more and give to the more needy in society. Collect foods, clothes, books and more from our homes for the homeless, the
Prof. James Kiyiapi, PS, Ministry of Education listens
hungry and the less privileged in our society. Create a new caring youth revolution in this country like has never been seen before and rest assured of the firm support to AZMA youth network by the Ministry of Education,” said Professor Kiyiapi.

Echoing Prof. Kiyiapi's encouragement to AZMA was a message from Rod Beckstrom, President & CEO of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) which read: -
“Please tell them that the power of youth networking to support the youth and social change is very powerful. It is clear from the site that they are bringing forth a true spirit and heart of service, and this is where it all begins. From here it is about keeping and holding those good intentions and acting based upon that intention. I wish them the very best of luck in advancing the development of the people of beloved Kenya. Warmly, Rod”
Prof. Kiyiapi praised AZMA saying, “We are in dire need of the welcome change you inspire among our young. We embrace your quest for knowledge, peer-to-peer counselling, mentorship, outreach to the less fortunate in society and your care for the environment, youth-led “cultural reform” transforming our society to recognise and appreciate serving over always expecting to be served and youth wasting themselves away. Encourage all of them take charge and reconfigure the future, for the future belongs to you. Spread your welcome transformation throughout the country to change and benefit every child.” Ending by requesting to be included on AZMA Advisory Board.

That was yesterday when had the pleasure of accompanying AZMA on a courtesy call to Professor James ole Kiyiapi. The atmosphere was cordial enabling a conversation rich in ideas expressed.

Wangechi Mwangi their Chairperson, earlier introduced the founder-members, AZMA initiative outlining their purpose, objectives and activities to achieve their goals. Shared with the PS their vision of “the Kenya they need” and were working to achieve. Introduced Advisory Board members whom thereafter made a few introductory remarks.

Finally thanked the PS for his encouragement, challenge. Concurred with his selfless belief on the purpose of life as to live and work for the benefit of all society. Promised to follow his advice and will formulate a strategy to spread AZMA through out the country. They welcomed Prof. Kiyiapi to their Advisory Board, with immediate effect.

The visit lasted two hours having started at 11:30am and ended around 1:30pm.

As was subsequently commented in private, the message AZMA sent out was quite simple. They truly believed in Matthew 7:7,"Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Instantly concurred without a shadow of doubt.

Awespiring “do good” passion, dedication and unstoppable zeal can move change in new Africa.

Yours truly was also requested to join their Advisory Board. Which made me smile apparently since it appeared they were unaware of an earlier (2006) effort under “Focusing on the Individual Internet User” project. Reflecting on Internauts’ club launched to connect schools at Nairobi confess that my initiative came nowhere close to the success AZMA has achieved, thus far, and should not be surprised to soon hear of an AZMA Chapter at a school near you.

Thoughts:

Picked lessons including “reconstructing the future”, “money is nothing” , “force parents to listen”, “speak with your actions”, “communication (and respect) are two-way” and “the purpose of life.”

The professor posed intellectually stimulating questions, “reconstructing the future”. Is something wrong with the future requiring our a reconfiguration? Or are we witnessing a new empowered youth generation re-engineering a future free of problems adults have failed to fix?

“Money is nothing” - not in the popular culture context of “money makes the world go round” but when one asks “where did that very first currency coin and notes come from?” A goldsmith just took some naturally occurring mineral, moulded it into a coin then attached some hypothetical “value” which humankind adopted as a new standard to value everything else in life.

Force parents to listen, not because parents are mean creatures from outer planets. They are kind, caring and loving and wish nothing but the best for their child. Otherwise they would never stiggle so much to house, feed, clothe and educate their children. The problem is different. They grew up a past generation whose societal norms, values and standards were different from today's. Help them understand the changed world and adapt to its new realities whilst the youth should oppositely take an interest and learn what their parents youth life was like.

The old adage, “words speak louder than words” holds true today. Try counting the number of conferences taking place in Nairobi on any given day. Chances are that all hotels and meetings venues are all fully booked for conferences. Whereas conferences are not a bad thing, as such, but there need be a healthy balance between theoretical conference talks and dirtying our hands “doing” something talked about at the conferences. It makes subsequent conferences conversations richer with experiences gained when trying out proposals made at earlier meetings. In this regard, AZMA group were challenged to, “do more and talk less” - which I must admit would resonate very well with the Japanese culture.

Respect and communication are two-way and the purpose of life, “is to live and work for the benefit of all society” the kind lady from Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project [on video:'KSCPP at Sung Kyun Kwan University in Seoul on June 30th, 2009' at the bottom of home page] told me at Seoul in 2009 after giving me five books including one titled King Sejong the Great and making me promise to share the knowledge with others. One may wonder why or of what relevance would be books on Korean culture? Bearing in mind that I was at Seoul, South Korea attending an ICANN meeting?

You see, in the 1960s Kenya and South Korea were ranked together among "poor nations" or the world.(see pictures here) Why is South Korea now developed while we are still poor? They have best Internet in the whole world. (Various reports, such as, digital prosperity prove the correlation between internet usage and development.) Learn what they did for us to do the same in Kenya. An additional task two Social Justice advocates - Ezra Mbogori and Kepta Ombati added to Seoul ICANN meeting to-do list!
South Korea continues to lead the world on Internet download speeds, according to a 21 September, 2011 blog post by Hayley Tsukayama on The Washington Post website:
“Not that it’s a surprise, but South Korea smokes the rest of the world when it comes to Internet speeds, according to a recent study from Pando Networks. Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia and Japan also made the top of the list. Worldwide, the U.S. ranks 26th, according to the study.

South Korea outstrips the rest of the world by a healthy margin — an average speed of 2,202 KBps — which is more than Great Britain, Turkey, Spain and Australia combined. The U.S. clocks in with a mean speed of 616 KBps, above average but far from the speediest.

The group measured the speed and reliability of the world’s Internet networks. Stats were based on 27 million downloads by 20 million computers from January to June 2011.”
The book King Sejong the Great free to download and available as an mp3 recording answered my questions. Societal change is merely cosmetic until inspiring humble leadership emerges offering a new thinking and approaches that bring out the best out of all people for an irreversibly developed society. As far as I can tell, AZMA's Youth Social Internetworking-based initiative captures our development recipe's quintessential ingredient which has for long escaped our eyes and attention.
LtoR: Wangechi takes notes,  J. Kiyiapi signs Teddy Warria shares a joke
Appreciate this youth initiative, partner schools, teachers, parents, Advisory Board and especially thank Professor Kiyiapi for pledging official support and Rod Beckstrom for encouraging the youth, “bringing forth a true spirit and heart of service, and this is where it all begins.”
_______
UPDATE: A background on how AZMA Youth Network was conceptualised and instantiated - The Kuyu Project 'AZMA – Girls from Precious Blood School Creating A Social Network For Community Service'

South Korea's strong work ethic: "Getting people to take a holiday is going to take some hard work."

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What does SOPA/PIPA mean for Africa?

Watch this short (4 minute 20 seconds) video 'Internet to be censored starting today thanks to USA'

Gizmodo has just reported that Belarus Is Now Home to the Internet’s Most Insane Law

Belarus: small. Proud. Kvass-drinking. A long history of dubious human rights and piddling dictatorship. And now, bound to a law that makes it illegal to browse foreign websites.

According to the Library of Congress, the new law, which makes SOPA look like a lollipop handout, might make hitting Facebook a little tricky outside of home. Essentially, any "company" or "entrepreneur"—left to be defined broadly—has to use Belarusian internets:

The Law requires that all companies and individuals who are registered as entrepreneurs in Belarus use only domestic Internet domains for providing online services, conducting sales, or exchanging email messages. It appears that business requests from Belarus cannot be served over the Internet if the service provider is using online services located outside of the country. The tax authorities, together with the police and secret police, are authorized to initiate, investigate, and prosecute such violations.

Additionally, the Law states that the owners and administrators of Internet caf├ęs or other places that offer access to the Internet might be found guilty of violating this Law and fined and their businesses might be closed if users of Internet services provided by these places are found visiting websites located outside of Belarus and if such behavior of the clients was not properly identified, recorded, and reported to the authorities. The Law states that this provision may apply to private individuals if they allow other persons to use their home computers for browsing the Internet.

Review the paper by Jonathan L. Zittrain, “The Generative Internet,” 119 Harvard Law Review 1974 (2006).. Then take a close look at SOPA. His book, The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It
available for download under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 3.0 license.

Washington's June 17, 2011 blog post 'Everything We're Doing Now Was Planned BEFORE 9/11': “The Patriot Act was planned before 9/11 . Indeed, former Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke told Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig:

After 9/11 the government drew up the Patriot Act within 20 days and it was passed. The Patriot Act is huge and I remember someone asking a Justice Department official how did they write such a large statute so quickly, and of course the answer was that it has been sitting in the drawers of the Justice Department for the last 20 years waiting for the event where they would pull it out.”

Could “frightening” Intellectual Property theft “malaware” be what COICA, SOPA, PIPA (and possibly new others) all be posture as fixes? Along Lawrence Lessig's Code 2.0 (pp. 76) Quote:-
"That there is malware on the Internet isn’t surprising. That it is growing isn’t surprising either. What is surprising is that, so far at least, this malware has not been as destructive as it could be. Given the ability of malware authors to get their malicious code on many machines very quickly, why haven’t more tried to do real harm?
For example, imagine a worm that worked itself onto a million machines, and in a synchronized attack, simultaneously deleted the hard drive of all million machines. Zittrain’s point is not that this is easy, but rather, that it is just as difficult as the kind of worms that are already successfully spreading themselves everywhere. So why doesn’t one of the malicious code writers do real damage? What’s stopping cyber-Armageddon?
The answer is that there’s no good answer. And when there’s no good explanation for why something hasn’t happened yet, there’s good reason to worry that it will happen. And when this happens—when a malware author produces a really devastatingly destructive worm—that will trigger the political resolve to do what so far governments have not done: push to complete the work of transforming the Net into a regulable space.
This is the crucial (and once you see it, obvious) insight of Z-theory. Terror motivates radical change. Think about, for example, the changes in law enforcement (and the protection of civil rights) effected by the “Patriot Act.” This massively extensive piece of legislation was enacted 45 days after the terror attacks on 9/11. But most of that bill had been written long before 9/11.
The authors knew that until there was a serious terrorist attack, there would be insufficient political will to change law enforcement significantly. But once the trigger of 9/11 was pulled, radical change was possible.
The same will be true of the Internet. The malware we’ve seen so far has caused great damage. We’ve suffered this damage as annoyance rather than threat. But when the Internet’s equivalent of 9/11 happens—whether sponsored by “terrorists” or not—annoyance will mature into political will. And that political will will produce real change.
Zittrain’s aim is to prepare us for that change. His powerful and extensive analysis works through the trade-offs we could make as we change the Internet into something less generative. And while his analysis is worthy of a book of its own, I’ll let him write it. My goal in pointing to it here is to provide an outline to an answer that plugs the hole in the theory of Code v1. Code v1 described the means. Z-theory provides the motive.”
I wonder how many worse than dubious human rights and piddling dictatorships countries can't wait for US to enact SOPA-PIPA (and the likes) to immediately "replicate" suppression on their national laws? - Excusing themselves as "Protecting Intellectual Property along 'contemporary global best practices'"?

Hope have highlighted Africa's Free Expression advocates' concerns with US SOPA-PIPA types of expression muzzling legislations.

UPDATE: Jeremy Jahns - "Protect IP Act (SOPA) is Internet Censorship and Must Be Stopped!"

UPDATE 2: 10 January, 2012 The below videos added on 10 January, 2012



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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rejoicing Kenyan Spirit

Heed my advice and if wish to save yourselves laughing until you have to cry. And NO! Not talking about David Foster's Love Theme from "St. Elmo's Fire" which a friend managed to get me hooked to way back in 1989 as an exchange programme student at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
I mean today, steer off hotel kinds of “meetings” where Jua Cali and Nameless are expected as high table panellists addressing attendees. Slighty over ayear ago I attended one such function where the two were speakers. They can be so humerous. Oh Boy! they cracked me up in so much laughter until my ribs hurt.That said, creating music is serious business requiring a lot of hard work thus now switching to the serious part.

It was a function well-attended by over 80 local artistes with the objective of addressing bottlenecks in the way of local music creators preventing them from getting maximum return on their investment, my role being to assist by contributing own New Media expertise to the deliberations. Committed to promoting local content online and everywhere and protecting its Intellectual Property to benefit the creators for a society that appreciates and confidently expresses itself.

The artistes expressed various challenges faced with participants floating solutions. Amongst stated of key challenges included poor publicity on the media which suggestion that they consider forming company (or co-operative) then applying for an own Local Content Television channel under the digital broadcasting framework. What would viewers be treated to on such a channel if it existed?

Ushering the New Year reflecting on the budding local music industry celebrating with just but a few of their videos available online.


Nameless released Coming Home last July – an excellent high quality video whose uniquely composed “cool” lyrics speak to the joy in celebrating heroic return home. If only Nameless had a deal with KQ to play the video-song on all flights back to Nairobi, or as a give-away to returning passengers?

Inspiring the youth to “chill” choosing knowledge for great future is Sauti Sol's "Soma Kijana". Juliani release Exponential Potential advising them “hard work gets the best out of life” and Octopizzo's released Vowels last month - all quite popular among the youth.

Wyre brand of music transcends across indigenous, upper class, to international pop culture reflected on his videos Wyre & JB Maina on Mwanake, Kyraz ft. Wyre on No More and Wyre ft. Ce' Cile (Jamaican) on She Say Dat

Without forgetting Calif Records' Jua Cali and Mejja flavour speaking to hustling in the slums on Bongo la Biashara where sings “..ma-gova wakitokea hautaniona...” [if the police show up I'll have disappeared] or on Landlord where Mejja laments tenants harassment and rights violations from landords. Their lyrics also inspire, for example, Bro, Niko Poa (Barua)[My brother, I am fine] and on love Kendi ft. Mejja Mwanisema

It was 'bad' enough to listen to Jua Cali and Nameless that frankly don't think I could have survived if Mejja had been added forming a trio of panellists.

On 18 April received an email that read, “Greetings..It is my great pleasure to share with you the announcement we received that my song entitled "Simama" is the Winner of the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) 2010 - World Music Category!” - George Mutinda Wambua – Mutinda from Nairobi put Kenyan flag on world-standing music winners map.

“Mutinda - Timeless, soul-searching melodies and contagious rhythms.. Mutinda from Kenya, is a strong singer/songwriter, vocalist and acoustic guitarist playing World Music and afro-folk, which contains rare sounds of Kenyan Music meeting the global contemporary influences of today. Mutinda is a self-taught musician who began pursuing his career in his childhood by playing a home-made guitar,” his bio reads.

Agreed, his music captures and its hard to get over listening to the songs. I may not understand the words on either Vala Vandu or Osa Vinya, but I totally enjoy listening to the songs appreciative of my friend Victor's translation of “Osa Vinya” as “Take Heart.” Visit www.mutinda.com for more details.

Interested in Reggae? Listen to Abbi Mudunia Album's “Spread More Love”, “Rainbow”, “Cry No More”, “Butterfly” and “Afrika”- feat. Ashimba (from Tanzania) at his page on MySpace.com
These are but just samples of the much pleasing local talent Kenya now boasts of. But where is the rest of the music and videos, local films and animations and what can be done to bring it all to the fore?

Policy, Law and Regulations:

The National ICT Policy set the foundation for building digital local content. Kenya Information and Communications Act (Cap 411A) tasked the Communications Commission of Kenya to develop Kenya Information and Communications (Broadcasting) Regulations, 2009. where “Local content” means the total of all television or radio programmes which fulfil any five of the following conditions:

(a) the production is made in either Kenya’s native languages or official languages of Kenya;
(b) production was done in Kenya;
(c) the content deals with issues that are unique and relevant to Kenyan audiences;
(d) at least twenty per centum of the share of the production company are owned by Kenyans;
(e) a majority of the artistes are Kenyans;
(f) the location of shooting, in case of audiovisual programmes or performance was in Kenya;
(g) the author thereof must be a Kenyan national and in case of co-authorship or multi-authorship fifty per centum or more of the authors must be Kenyan;
(h) the production is made under Kenyan creative and technical control, but does not include news and commentaries;

Clearly a huge market demand for local content exists, an enabling official policy environment, law and regulations are in place. Fair to concluding by revising challenge posed to local entertainment content creators. Consider collectively applying for a digital broadcasting channel. You may opt to operate the channel as commercial or along community broadcasting guidelines. Exploit this option to solve your creative productions publicity challenges over which you asked for help to mitigate.
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