About Juliana Rotich

African, Kenyan, Global citizen, Co-Founder of Ushahidi & Mobisoko, TED Senior Fellow. Cosmic girl.

The Flow of Flotsam

I was wondering what to write about for blog action day…Deforestation? possible land grabbing in Kenya? The need for recycling bins in apartment communities? the politics of climate change…many options to choose from. I happened watch wired science tonight, and they had a fascinating yet disturbing segment on ‘the garbage patch’. A flowing mass of garbage that goes with the currents spanning several oceans. Cargo that ended up in the seas, such as 80,000 pairs of Nike shoes gave the researchers some information about the flow of trash. Weirdly, a left shoe would end up on one shore and the right shoe on an entirely different shore. Intrigued? Below is the video from PBS.

As its mentioned in the video, perhaps if we see the sheer amount of plastic that is ending up in oceans and inside the bodies of countless birds and animals, we just might think twice about how we dispose of our plastic bottles.

Habib Koite of Mali has a beautiful song that captures feelings of concern about the environment and industrialization. Can we keep chugging along on the path to the new African Century without wrecking our environment?
Listen/download ‘Kumbin’.

3 days to go: Blog Action Day, Join in and plant a tree!

On Monday October 15th, bloggers will be writing about one topic for one day…the environment. My idea for this day is to appeal to my fellow African bloggers to help make this a fun day in the African blogosphere. The idea is to make it even more special by not only talking about the environment, but by doing something, one thing. So please,

- Plant a tree
- Take a picture or have someone take a picture of you planting the tree
- Please post on your blog

I will be checking the African blogs starting on Sunday, to compile a feature for global voices online.
- Please leave a comment if you will be participating (though you don’t have to, you can tag your post with Africa + Blog Action Day)
Pass the idea along. If we can get one blogger from each country featured on Afrigator, Kenyaunlimited, Amatomu, mashada blogs etc planting a tree, we would really appreciate it.

*Incentive for the first Kenyan blogger to commit to participating: Airtime for you purchased through mamamikes!

Solar traffic lights in Capetown + Other news bits

Via Carbon Copy
Capetown is using solar powered traffic lights to buttress it from expected power cuts. As Rory points out, its a great start to making solar power more commonplace. I would love to see pictures of the traffic lights…this is a blatant hint to our South African friends at WebAddicts. Implementation of solar tech such as this makes so much sense, here’s hoping more countries see the example and follow suit. Just imagine a whole street in (_______insert African country of your choice) with solar powered streetlights. Warms your heart yeah?

In case you have not heard, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has been appointed as managing director of the world bank! For brevity’s sake, i will just say that her appointment is laudable, in part because it signals a new direction for the world bank and how it views developing countries. Please watch the talk she gave at TED Global in Arusha to see how she tied together the issues of aid, trade and African self-determinism. I hope she will be given a chance to reshape the terms of world bank’s relationship to the developing world in a way that is beneficial to Africa, and continues to shape Africa’s next chapter “A healthy, smiling, beautiful Africa”.

Speaking of the world bank and its policies in Africa, according to the Guardian, the world bank is accused of razing congo forests, thereby endangering the pygmies. I feel a bit bad using the word pygmy, because they have names that I would much rather use such as ‘The Lega’. Several years ago i went to the Nelson Atkins museum in Kansas city for an exhibition named ‘The Art of the Lega’. It was an eye opener for me because the explanations for the pieces gave me a glimpse into their society. One of the tenets i remember was the idea of peace as a fabric of society; the Lega people have a pacifist culture which was expressed in the way they chose to fashion tools – with smooth edges, eschewing sharp points. Since that exhibition and when reading stories about the Congo war and its adverse effects on the people there, I wonder if we need to rethink how we address a community that we know little about other than their stature. Stepping back to the story about the world bank making recommendations to the DRC govt about industrial logging being beneficial to the DRC, did anyone listen to the local community about how best the forest can be used to truly benefit people?

For more on Art of the Lega, the companion book to the exhibition is available on Amazon.

Quick notes

I have a new post on Global voices, rounding up environment news from blogs. You can add the code showing all the pieces I do for GV to your website. Incentive? My perpetual gratitude.

Via Carbon Copy
A cool mashup site with base maps showing CO2 emission levels, power plant locations, photos, videos etc. ExploreOurPla.net.

Cho of New Zambia has an excellent intro to the Zambian blogosphere

Confession: I do not like traffic jams at all…one thing that’s been making it bearable for me is listening to Ted Talks and other podcasts on the Ipod (o.k, ok, i watch abit at stop lights and such). Thing is, i got a weird, albeit puzzled look from another motorist at a stop light because i was clapping my hands. An unintended consequence of watching inspiring ted talks in public places.
The video I was applauding to was that of Zeray Alemseged, specifically where he said

A positive African Attitude towards Africa is the Key

Wired NextFest – looking back, wishing I was in LA

2 years ago i attended Wired Next fest in Chicago and blogged bits of it. I skipped last year’s fest because most of the exhibitions were just about the same as what i had already seen. This year it appears there is more new stuff, thus I am kicking myself for not going to LA. Instead i will look back at my old next fest posts and see what’s new this year. Thankfully the nextfest site has lots of info (doesn’t substitute for actually being there, believe me), plus there is bound to be coverage on science channel and the many blogs around the web.
Renewable energy tech
Then: GE Solar Exhibit
GE solar exhibit

Now: Sphelar
“The Sphelar solar cell can absorb sunlight coming from any angle, converting even indirect and reflected light into electricity â?? a marked improvement over traditional flat photovoltaic technology.”
sphelar solar cell

Then: PKD – Phillip K Dick project “Do androids dream of electric sheep”

Now: Albert Hubo The first ever walking robot with an expressive face (and iconic hairstyle).
Albert Hubo robot
They’ve got lots of robots this year…including one that can play chess.
*lots of other great stuff, but a full comparison would make this post too long for you ADD types, plus i’ve got to catch some zzz’s then be back to write a post for you…’Where are the African futurists?’ hint…right around the web!
For those in the LA area its not too late to attend, you can get tickets for friday 14th, saturday 15th and sunday 16th. Friday is ‘learning day’ perfect for taking your children. Borrow nephews and nieces so you can see them get all wide-eyed with wonder and jaws dropping at the stuff they will see, or maybe that just might be your reaction to Next Fest. Feel free to come back to this post, describe, gloat and make me green with envy.

Ex Girlfriend Texted Hey

Via Ex Girlfriend Texted Hey 2007/08/070808211548.htm”>Science Daily
A study done by ICIPE (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology) Nairobi shows that Tilapia in ponds significantly controls malaria causing anopheles mosquitoes.

After 15 weeks the fish reduced both Anopheles gambiae s.l. and Anopheles funestus, the region’s primary malaria vectors, by over 94 percent. The fish also decimated three quarters of the culicine mosquito population.

The findings present a win-win situation for Kenyans, who can use the fish to limit mosquito populations and gain food and income from them too. “O. niloticus fish were so effective in reducing immature mosquito populations that there is likely to be a noticeable effect on the adult mosquito population in the area,” Howard says. This control method is apparently sustainable, as the fish breed and provide a continuous population.

Basically if you’ve got a pond put some Tilapia in there to eat the mosquitoes. Good news, though stagnant pools of water are still breeding grounds… still an interesting study and a great suggestion for controlling malaria.

Random Post: Cool, Uncool and WTH.

Disclaimer: Temporary departure from my typical topics, just had to get this out. :) will be back to the other semi serious stuff after this.
Comics at a bus stop.From Kenya no less!
From BBC: Humphrey Barasa has been drawing satirical cartoons at a bus stop along Jogoo Road for the past 6 years. I had never heard of him till today, i would love to see his work. Would be cool to give him a camera phone and have him post them to a blog if he doesn’t mind… Sort of like Accra Daily Photo blog.

Via Ethan Z: The Chess Drum A pan African Chess site.

Via Cirdan:
The decision flowchart.
decision flowchart

Depending on your point of view, Camillo Villegas may be cool or uncool. For me, he belongs in the cool category just for this: [30 seconds]

Ninja Warrior on G4 channel. Hilarious, intriguing and just plain incredible tv!

Goodness gracious i finally watched Blades of Glory. If you enjoyed Zoolander, this movie is a must see.
“hey MacElroy, was that your routine or a performance of Cirque du so’lame?” – Chaz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell)

According to a Helio ad insert in Wired mag ‘The mobile User’s Guide to Social Etiquette’.
- The “Cool” emoticon with the sunglasses, its the virtual equivalent of the fanny pack. – totally uncool.

Via boing boing: The flowchart of Gangsta rap

I have a love hate relationship with rap, including the song ‘party like a rockstar‘. If its a cross between crunk and rock, would that make it a crock? – 1:30 mark is a bit funny though.

Via African Path:
An amnesty provision passed by parliament, basically letting the looters of Kenya walk scott free, without even a demand for repatriation of the cash?

Blogs that suck all your content and masquerade it as theirs… very annoying. And bogus trackbacks to sites set up for ads. They typically do not have a contact form. Not nice.

Lighting Africa Grant Competition Launches today

lighting Africa image

Lighting Africa (LA) is a joint World Bank (IBRD) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) initiative aimed at developing the market for off-grid lighting in Africa and providing poor households and small businesses with access to modern, clean and affordable lighting products.

The grant competition is open to a variety of organizations, from entrepreneurs, LED suppliers and NGO’s. Click here for more information about the grant competition and here for the forum where you can ask questions about the grants process; It is also a B2B portal of sorts.

Via Core 77

Odds and Ends

Pardon the light posting…my attention has been diverted a bit to a couple of gigs that are keeping me away from the blog. While i get my schedule rearranged and all that good stuff…Please head on over to

Afrigadget for a very Afro-cool post from Henry Addo

A ’10 questions’ interview of Steve ‘Ntwiga’ and Afrigadget team at the Sietch.

Subscribe to the Global Voices podcasts

Check the site of the Afro-preneurs who are holding an event… (that i hope someone blogs or tweets for us who are away)

TIDE (Technology, Innovation, Design
and Everything)- Innovation Series Event *this Saturday September 1st,
10-12pm at Grand Regency. The guest speaker will be Joseph Mucheru, Google
Kenya CEO. The entrance charge is Kshs.1000. This talk is open to all
persons and is not a technology only event, it will focus on innovation in
Africa from a business and entrepreneur point of view.

Last but not least, check out the 5 dollar solar thermal water heater from Instructables (Requires modification).

I almost forgot…you have got to watch Vusi Mahlasela. From Ted Blog

AOB – Agony is: finding your web host’s site has been hacked into. :( so if the blog is not reachable, i have a backup, i am keeping my fingers crossed that it gets sorted soon.