Back to School – Chip in for Gladys’ school fees

www.mamamikes.com I struggled with whether to blog this or not, but decided that Kenyan bloggers are a wonderful bunch and would welcome an opportunity to do something good for a fellow Kenyan. So much so that its not a good idea for this to be something that just a few blogger pals do, but that we get others to chip in.

For those of us who grew up in Kenya, we understand that the KCSE (Kenya Certificate Secondary Examination) is one of the most important tests for all students in the Kenyan school system.The pressure, the frayed nerves, the ‘trans-nighting’. Imagine the test being 1 month away and you are being kicked out of school because the school fees have not been paid and you do not have means of raising the Kshs 43,000 ($615) so you can take the exam. This is the situation that Gladys finds herself in. We have a short time, and I believe we can get her fee paid so she can sit for her exam. Josiah – The Alpha Quadrant got the ball rolling and has provided all the info we need in order to fulfill this through the remittance service Mamamikes, with the money going directly to her school. For Glady’s privacy kindly email jmugambi at gmail dot com or myself afromusing at gmail dot com and we can give you her full name and details to enter in the mamamikes page for fee remittance. Might change the post to include all the info, but for now lets just err on the side of privacy. Lets get Gladys back to school now shall we?

Kshs 5530 donated already, Kshs 37470 ($535) to go.
Update 9/25/08: Amount remaining is Ksh 27400 and pledges from the community total Ksh 20,000

Yes We Can – In other languages

While watching the Democratic National convention, and twittering with other citizens of the world, we started translating the phrase ‘Yes We Can’ to other languages. Here are the translations we gathered.

Ndiyo tunaweza’ – swahili

DNA of Soulfege
In Ga “Ehh, wo ba nye!”
in Akwapim Twi “Yiu, ye be Tumi!” en Anglais: YES WE CAN!

Kaysha
french:”Oui nous pouvons” lingala:”e, to koki” portuguese:”sim podemos”

Kui/MJY/MamaJunkyard
‘we fit do am’ -Pidgin English for Yes We Can. The ‘t’ is silent.

There are 2 t-shirt designs that my twitter friends and designers came up with…
Kaysha designed this

Picture 1.png

and the venerable David Kobia designed this one.

Picture 2.png

click on the respective images to buy the t-shirts. I recommend wearing both, just because you can :-)

Please chime in comments with more translations of ‘Yes We Can’ in whatever language you speak.

Ory’s Video on TED.com

crossposted on the Ushahidi blog

Ory Okolloh is not only a blogger, founder of Mzalendo.com, co-founder of Ushahidi and colleague, she is also an inspiration to all of us. Below is the video of her talk at TEDGlobal 2007 – Arusha Tanzania.

The making of an African Activist

Ory, we are sambazaing this whether you want to hide or not :-)

Memes, Markets and Africa

I’ve been on the road since late last month, and I am afraid this space has been left quite neglected. So if there are any remaining readers…heres to a comeback.

I had the chance to speak at TTI Vanguard early this month and my topic of discussion was Innovation in Africa[pdf pg 10 and 11]. I gave a brief overview of the tech landscape in Africa, and engaged mostly in conversations around what is happening now. Since then, the article ‘Inside Nairobi, the Next Palo Alto?’ by G. Pascal Zachary in the NY times became the 7th most emailed article in the NYT world business section, spurring some discussion around the theme of Innovation, ‘light tech’ and localization of technology in Kenya.

As we all know there is this persisting perception of Africa as this sort of backward mess. Ethan Zuckerman has been writing for a few years about ‘rebranding Africa’ and more recently he wrote about David Weinberger’s Ninja Gap. Do read the whole piece, the bit that is relevant to this post is in part…

Context matters, Galtung argues. If weâ??ve got a mental image of Africa as a backwards and technically retrograde place, weâ??re likely to miss stories about innovation in mobile commerce (see the lead story in issue 407â?¦) or success in venture capital. Galtungâ??s fifth maxim is closely linked to the idea of cognitive dissonance – itâ??s uncomfortable to attempt to resolve new information that conflicts with existing perceptions, beliefs and behaviors.

Well, its quite an experience to have an encounter with someone who clearly brings this cognitive dissonance to light…I wont go there though. Suffice to say Africa, we have a long way to go. The overarching meme about Africa is still one of poverty, corruption, despots, famine and stunning sunsets…yeah, you know. Oh perhaps the stunning sunsets meme is one I would totally agree to and actively propagate, but I digress.This is with no small thanks to foreign correspondents who cover African news with the aforementioned brushstrokes.

So, while we African bloggers and digerati wrestle with not quite so positive images of Africa, debate Aid Vs Trade, couple that with our current reality of immense potential that is muffled by worrisome politics, rising inflation, environmental degradation and many other factors; I am
trying to think of the bigger picture, a way to wrap my mind around things.

afrimeme_negative.jpg

Years ago, my friends’ mom told me about a ‘bad-good-shot’. When you swing that golf club and you know that you missed the green by considerable measure, yet the ball hits a tree and deflects onto a reasonable section of the course, then you get to make a better than expected shot. There are some projects and tech that arise out of challenges like dearth of broadband, and in reaction to the bad choices our leaders make. In Africa, we get some of those really bad shots, sometimes, something good arises out it and perhaps we can position ourselves for a much better shot at prosperity. I do not know if we can, but we can definitely aspire to it.

I think TEDGlobal Arusha had started that rebranding process, by bringing to Africa a mix of intellectuals, scientists, technologists…you name it; to experience an alternate African reality of sorts. Last monday, I was reminded by Sean to not underestimate the value in bringing prospective investors to Africa, so they can have a different context, and perhaps get over that ‘cognitive dissonance’. As I look back to TEDGlobal, I remember that I was in awe of my fellow Africans, I was inspired by them, and felt that we had just gotten to the ‘jumping off point’. I am still inspired by their talks as they are released on TED.com. Well, December 30th 2007 came, when the meme of ‘Kenya’s potential’ suffered quite a blow. It will take awhile to rebuild that confidence in my mind, let alone the minds of others. I think other countries in Africa have a positive meme attached to them and boy, am I envious. My Ghanaian friends, please guard the positive meme of Ghana with all you’ve got. As a Kenyan, and also as an African I still believe that we can redefine/ we are redefining what it means to be African.

afrimeme_positive.jpg

When it comes to markets and the potential in disruptive technology, I would strongly suggest you subscribe to Sean Park’s blog, and Bankelele’s too. These guys give you the meat and potatoes when it comes to evaluating not only the economics but the potential in mobile banking and other sectors of African/Kenyan economies. Because aspirations are well, good and awesome (really!), but at the end of the day, fundamentals of investing should always be rock solid.

So there is the perception problem, but that can be tackled by hard data. Speaking of market data, AfriMonitor launched earlier this month.

AfriMonitor

It will be a great resource as the bid to rebrand Africa continues. Various conferences will be happening throughout the year, and will be invaluable in bringing together many of you who see this alternate African technological reality. I am still bummed that I did not make it to Barcamp Nairobi in June, but I am making every effort to make sure I do not miss the next one. Last but not least, I just want to salute Wilfred Mworia, all the geeks and volunteers at Ushahidi, Josiah Mugambi, Dorcas Muthoni of Linux chix Africa, Riyaz, all the Skunkworks geeks, Kasahorow crew, JAB, techies in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and other African countries. Here is to not just the next Palo Alto, but the next Nairobi, Accra, Abuja, Capetown, Johannesburg, Lusaka etc.

Thank you Hash for the cool graphics, they are based on one I found on Memehuffer

Just-A-Band Performance Friday August 1st ’08

JABAcapulco.jpg The Band, as I get to call them, will be performing on August 1st at Kwani LitFest. This is one event I did not want to miss but hope that my friends and readers in Kenya get to go and enjoy. If someone decides to stream the event (hint http://www.ustream.tv/) please oh please let us diaspora folks know.
More info on location and times, please check out the JAB blog. Just this once I will give them a pass for not tagging the location of the event in Google Earth, it seems they are hard at practice.

For the diaspora folks in Washington DC, if Jay-Z makes you ‘get that dirt off your shoulder’, if you like John Legend, Youssou Ndour, Alek Wek, Tyson Beckford and other gorgeous African stars, check out the Africa Rising concert at the Kennedy center.

Enjoy…

GV Summit Budapest

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008 in Budapest
I am at the Global Voices summit, regarding citizen media, democracy and technology.

I will be covering the following sessions using the live blogging tool CoveritLive on this blog and also on the GV summit blog. Please bookmark the event homepage http://summit08.globalvoicesonline.org/program/
- Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/gvsummit08
- The timezone for the live sessions is GMT+1
June 27, 2008
11:30 – 13:00 Session 2: â??Citizen Media and Online Free Speechâ?
MODERATOR: Mary Joyce.
SPEAKERS: Ory Okolloh (Kenyan Blogger), Wael Abbas (MisrDigital, Egypt), Mehdi Mohseni (jomhour.org, Iran), Amine (digiactive.org, Morocco), Oiwan Lam (Global Voices, Hong Kong), Au Wai Pang (Singapore)
Citizen media allow for more active and open participation in political processes, but threats of censorship and oppression discourage citizens from expressing their own opinions. This session will present case studies from Kenya, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

15:30 -16:30 Session 4: â??Frontline Activists meet the Academy: Tools and Knowledgeâ?
MODERATOR: Ethan Zuckeman.
SPEAKERS: Roger Dingledine (Tor), Nart Villeneuve (Citizen Lab), Isaac Mao (Digital Nomads project, China), Robert Guerra (Privaterra, Cuba), Danny Oâ??Brien (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
The tools to circumvent web filtering and other methods of online censorship exist, but they donâ??t always reach the people who need them as easily as they could. How can we facilitate better coordination between the developers of these tools and the anti-censorship activists that need them? And how do we facilitate the flow of feedback from the activists back to the developers so the latter can design more appropriate tools?

June 28th 2008
11:30 – 13:00 Session 2: â??The Wired Electorate in Emerging Democraciesâ?
MODERATOR: Solana Larsen.
SPEAKERS: Daudi Were (Kenya), Onnik Krikorian (Armenia), Hamid Tehrani (Iran), Luis Carlos Díaz (Venezuela)
The rise of blogging, social networking and micro-blogging services like Facebook and Twitter, video- and photo-sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr, and the spread of mobile technology have given ordinary citizens the means, at least potentially, to participate more fully in the democratic process. This session looks at the impact these tools have had on recent elections in Kenya, Venezuela, Armenia and Iran and poses the question: is citizen media having an actual impact on democracies in transition?

Just-A-Band Interview Part II – Animation

This is the last part of the JAB interview, the first is here. It was fun reading JAB’s responses, and I hope you enjoy this last bit. Before we get to that, here is one more pic of the trio.

Dan,Blinky,Jim.jpg

Iwinyo Piny & Animation in general.

The chicken or the egg question: Which came first? The animation or the music?

BILL(Blinky): The music. We used to jam in campus. And that’s where everything else spun off from.

JIM: The music came first, definitely. As always, it was a random happenstance (our music usually is). Then Dan went, “We could do a cartoon…”, and here we are.

DAN: The music was there first, but I can remember some occasions when the animation influenced the song, especially the lyrics, coz there was supposed to be more words that would have made it clearly a song about a girl, but when we talked about the video concept allowing for a broader interpretation, the lyrics were trashed (after which one station told us they couldn’t play our song coz it didn’t have any lyrics! Haha!).

Progression.jpg

What is your animation history?

DAN: I did this one month crash course in animation right before starting Uni, and when I met Jim and Blinky I talked trash about how we could do these huge animated videos, even though I had never actually done anything… So we started Iwinyo, and I was thoroughly humbled. I guess it came out OK, though. It was a learning experience.

JIM: If there ever was a time that we had internal fights, it was during the Iwinyo phase. I think we’re over that now.

DAN: Or at least we’ve figured out some “Constructive Anger Management Techniques.”

JIM: I have absolutely no idea what he means…

DAN: *blink*

(Does rendering take forever?)

Rendering? That depends on what programs/methods you’re using… As the 2D guy, I lack the patience that the 3D guys develop whilst waiting for the goodies to iva[ripen].

I personally really like animation because of the freedom it allows you in terms of following your ideas. And I like 2D for its much more human feel, 3D can be kinda plastic. I really hate how long it takes to make, though. I see Jimmy dropping live action videos and photography projects like bunnies…

I taught animation and cartooning a bit and I work as a freelance animator to pay them bills, and so I’m all up on Kenyan animation, where it could go, what stories we could tell… but that’s a long story.

JIM: Photography and video are somewhat more immediate, which makes me look hard-working. It’s just that projects get finished real quick.

What kind of software do you use to create the animation? and is uploading videos onto YouTube (from Kenya) as torturous task as I experienced or do you have a secret high speed bunker where we can mooch off of justabandwidth?

JIM: Adobe Flash and Adobe AfterEffects.

DAN: Drawings for the 2D are done on paper, and scanned or redrawn on comp. For the next animated video we’re doing, for the track called FunkyFineBeautiful, we have a new collaborator who kicks butt at 3DS Max. As for the uploading, we mooch off our friends’ high speed connections…

OldManSketch.jpg

Your YouTube tag is justabandwidth which is very cool. Could one presume that you are total geeks?

BILL: We seem to attract an intelligent crowd…I prefer to be on my computer than at a party…

DAN: Haha! Ms Interviewer, it’s like you know us! :P Yes, at least two of us are total geeks (the other one is in denial).

JIM: As in?

DAN: As in, whilst some of us spend all day turning pale indoors with computers and pencils as our only companions, others manage to maintain some kind of engagement with the outside world. Game recognize game, by the way, so should we assume that [Ms. Interviewer] is also the “bookish type”?

JIM: So all that nonsense about Bill preferring to be at the computer is a lie. He’s the most outgoing chap. I think it’s strange how it’s never been cool to be a geek (only for a brief moment, when Pharrell and company emerged, then he sold out and became cool)? I mean, everyone else has had their moment in the spotlight; the skaters, the punks, the thugs, the gay boys and girls (heady times, the 80s), the Goths…I feel disenfranchised.

I am a total geek. I did every geek thing a human being can possibly do; the braces, the spectacles, being bad at sports (except swimming, for some strange reason), being good at computers, going to cinemas to actually watch movies instead of making out at the back, actually using my library card, studying IT in college etc. If there are types of geeks, I guess I’m the finally-at-ease-with-it kind of geek.

BLINKY: You should see my primary school pictures… then you wouldn’t talk like that… I only go for parties because…

DAN: Geeks are so cool nowadays. The days of warrior kings and sportsmen politicians are gone! Now it’s like, “Bow Before My Fearsome Intellect!”

I found the use of pictures in the video quite interesting, what is the name of the street at [1:08] of Iwinyo Piny? (I have taken pics of that street but can’t remember the name for the life of me??! What of the one at [1:33] placemark?

JIM: That would be Kenyatta Avenue – one of the cuter streets in town. 1:33 is the street that connects City Market to Koinange Street, I have no idea what it’s called; but it’s very textured.

Have you guys ever been jacked? There is a depiction in your video, of a guy being mugged and his shoes being taken. Was this a form of commentary on the crime problem in Nairobi?

DAN: Not recently. :) As a young person living in Nai, I think you just have to get jacked at some point. We added that bit in the video just for laughs (the video has had a lot of very cool interpretations by people and I’m always scared of telling people what we were thinking as we made it coz it’s so underwhelming… When we’re coming up with images most of the time it’s just like, hey, this would look cool! And then sometimes it comes with its own deeper meaning…)!

JIM: Incidentally, I lost my phone on Friday, and two weeks before I lost my ID and elector’s card. And I also lost my wallet the other day (in a bank!) – I’ve been on a roll. The bank called me the other day to say they’d found my stuff lying around in the banking hall. Thankfully, all those incidents weren’t the mugging kind; they were the pickpocket kind (sigh) – which is slightly more embarrassing because it makes people think you have no sense of self-awareness whatsoever.

In 2004, it was more of a problem than it is now, which is not to say that it doesn’t happen anymore. People actually wear gold chains and earrings and watches on the street these days, because cases of mugging have decreased. Pickpockets still rule, damn them all to Eternal Hell. As for making commentary, I remember Daniel just thought it’d be funny. Does that count?

BLINKY: I used to live in Eastleigh, It was hard to keep your new shoes, coz at one point, I was sneaker jacked, and it wasn’t funny.

I found out about your band through the blog Sukuma Kenya. What are your thoughts on blogging? How do you feel about your own blogs so far?

Old Man Hairy Alternatives.jpg
DAN: I had never heard of that blog before today, but I looked and I thought it was kind of surprising to see Iwinyo right in the middle of a lot of politics! Haha!

I think the Net in general has really helped get the word out, Facebook and YouTube and such. Blogging has really helped add a more personal vibe to everything (especially the band blog, I think the other blogs are more like manifestos of some sort but the band’s blog is just goofing around…). I think it really helps to have an online presence as it allows you to present your stuff the way you would want it done, not in a control freak kind of way, just in the sense that, for example, I doubt that we could find a media house that would indulge our fake bio.

JIM: Except for the very cool people at Kwani Trust who just slapped it onto their site as is. Sukuma Kenya? That’s so cool. I didn’t even know that exists. Say hi to them. Blogging feels a bit self-indulgent sometimes – I use my blog to provide alternative material about the process of making pictures, and the mental stuff that happens before and after. Sometimes people ask me tough questions, and I ask everyone what they think – then I plagiarize the answers I receive and generally look smarter.

We used to run an underground arts-and-culture type web magazine thing a few years ago, it was called LabelRevolution, and the thing we enjoyed the most was the community feel of the site. So we try to be very inclusive about everything we’re doing, because that’s how we make our music. The only reason we’ve come this far (admittedly, not THAT far but…) is because we make people feel like this is something anyone could do. Whether that’s true is another matter entirely.

BLINKY: I blog sparingly of late because I tend to expose myself a lot in my writing, I’m trying to find a method of detaching myself when I do. I don’t want to have the whole world know about me.

I would like to thank JAB for sending me the images from their initial storyboard, as it gives us a glimpse into their lovely animation work. The image on the left is one that shows the progression of sketching the old man’s hair.

Keep an eye on the Just-A-Band Blog, Kenyanimation Blog, and Jim’s blog for more updates. Jim will post another AfriGadget soon. (I wont reveal what it is, but it will definitely be ingenious). Thanks guys!

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Interview with Just-a-Band on Kenyan Animation and Music Part I

I was listless, down out depressed, with chicken, egg and crossing of roads questions weighing on my mind; when my fingers as if they had a series of self-cordinating nanobots, tipitty tapped their way onto a blog called Sukuma Kenya. There, I found a pebble shaped like a play button on a retro CD player encased in a rectangle of sorts with a cryptic ‘You Tube’ logo on the bottom right. I touched the pebble. Holyhaberdashery! I touched it!

My fellow Africans, that is how i came to make an interweb acquaintance with Just-A-Band. JAB is defining Kenyan animation and Kenyan techno music with aplomb, piercing wit and style…what follows is the result of smoke signals encoded with morse code and for some strange reason, un-encrypted. Enjoy it, or the chicken gets it. Wait, the egg gets it! oh what the hell…something will get it.

Just A Band is composed of?
BLINKY: Jim, Dan and Blinky.
Jim, Dan, Blinky.jpg
JIM: There’s also our various alter egos – so that’s 2,303 of us in total.
Is the blog Kenya Animation also part of Just-a-Band?
DAN: Kenyanimation isn’t actually a Just A Band project, but I work as an animator, and I put up my JAB animation projects there. That blog was set up to bring together animators and animation fans who are from/work in Kenya, just to show people that there actually is such a thing as Kenyan animation, and hopefully be a launching point for bigger local projects, which haven’t had a chance so far coz people don’t really know that a scene exists! The other guys on the list (filterene, Bint Ali, Achoko, Majiqmud) are my collaborators on that project.

You band bio is so creative. It reads like a great fantasy graphic novel; have you guys thought of making one? When can we get our hands on it? In the CD liner notes – any fun stuff to look for?
BLINKY: Hmm…it just may happen, really haven’t thought about it. The bio was kinda influenced by (at least I thought) by a George Clinton album cover, it had a really long narrative detailing the bands overindulgence on drugs and stuff till it sounded surreal. We get to introduce the gang that contributed to the album’s final sound in the Scratch To Reveal CD liner notes, very fresh cats if you ask me.
DAN: Actually, the bio came about because we thought that the real story makes for a pretty dull read. I still have the notebook page where we start off, “In 2003, three young men met…”
JIM: Now that you mention it, the fantasy graphic novel does sound cool. I think of our bio as a parallel story that’ll run alongside the much more drab reality – we plan to update it each time we do something new.
The liner notes on Scratch To Reveal are slightly nonstandard. The cool thing about being unsigned is that there are no marketing-types breathing over your shoulder, urging you to standardize your output. It was actually Dan’s idea to do the liner notes in a different way – I’m ashamed to say I was one of the people who asked, “Do WHAT?”, but once we tried it out, it actually felt much more relaxed and true to the way the music was made.
DAN: We’d been talking about expanding on this story from time to time, on certain projects. The liner notes on Scratch To Reveal are just us being overwhelmed by actually making an album, and our collaborators and such. But later this year we’ll probably do another project, maybe an EP (Just A Band meets The Sinister Synthesizer!) that will expand on the Bio story and if it gets printed, as opposed to just going online, you’ll get a bunch of cool liner notes and art and stuff… :)
I saw that Daft Punk made a movie! Electroma! (Two if you count the one that went with Discovery – Interstella 5555) and I can sooooo see Just A Band doing some Psychedelic 88-minute Experience (at some point). But first things first, we have an album to push (I think one of the reasons we get so psyched up for JAB stuff is coz it could go so many ways, it’s always exciting to sit and plan out projects…)!

Jim, Dan, Blinky.jpg
The album cover for your CD has an arresting image…is there a story behind it? Did the idea pop into your mind or was it an organic, incremental idea that morphed from something? What is your creative process?
JIM: This is definitely a morph – the original blurry concept was to have angry, cathartic energy of some kind on the cover; and cables. Cables are always cool. The images I have in my head always morph into something else by the time they’re finished. The final image ended up being something rather calm and contained – whilst retaining that arresting vibe you’ve mentioned. Of course, Lenny (the model) helped a lot – I chose him because he’s like visual play-dough and he likes to know what we’re aiming for visually. I explained the general idea to him – and played loud drum and bass and clashy electro during the shoot.
My creative process; I typically see the visual in my head – slightly foggy around the edges, but there nonetheless. Then I work to transform that foggy visual into something real. It feels like I’m cheating, sometimes, because all I’m doing is translating the sketch that’s already in my head. In the process of doing that translation, many things change (somewhat like a multi-branched sequence of little decisions on execution) and the final results usually surprise me just as much as anyone else.

I have only listened to one song from your newest album, is the music on Scratch To Reveal kind of in the vein of Iwinyo Piny or are there more varied sounds?

BLINKY: I’d describe the album as adventurous. We all bring different influences to the Just A Band table plus an unwillingness to stay within proscribed boundaries, I’m influenced by acoustic guitar stuff, funk, jazz, hip-hop and dance stuff, everyone else’s influences are evident all through the album.
DAN: The first single, Fly, is up on YouTube and is pretty different, a bit more aggressive and obviously scifi as opposed to Iwinyo’s flirtation with spacey sounds.
JIM: Somewhere towards the middle, the album reveals a softer core; comes back to earth, if you will. Some people have found this surprising because the overall look of the album says – electronic – so having pianos and strings in the middle could be a bit bewildering for some.

I see Daft Punk is an influence on your music; what are your thoughts on the Gorillaz? Would you work with Damon Albarn if he asked? What other types of music/musicians do you gravitate towards? Graphically speaking… which animators do you like? Cartoons? Which ones??
BLINKY: I know for a fact that [Albarn] did some stuff with Fela Kuti’s band mates on a trip to Nigeria, so we wouldn’t be the first African peeps he’s working with, but I’d be absolutely down for it! I’m currently jazzed by Citizen Cope, Raphael Saadiq, Lupe Fiasco, John Mayer, Jamiroquai, St. Germaine, Van Hunt, Foreign Exchange, Bob Sinclair and Asa. I’m abit out of my waters with the animation vibes, though I like Aaron McGruder of The Boondocks fame.
DAN: DEFINITELY we’d collabo with Albarn (right after we regain consciousness)… Every project he does is SO DIFFERENT, from the Mali Music albums to Blur to Gorillaz…very much the kind of thing that we hope to do, as well.
I have a HUGE crush (creatively, hehe) on Björk. She pushes boundaries both musically and visually, stretches your imagination… We are all influenced by Parliament Funkadelic and their many spinoffs –
JIM: Are we? I just think that George Clinton guy had cool outfits. So, maybe visually.
BLINKY: George Clinton is cool!
DAN: I think they’re our spiritual ancestors in the genre of musical Black scifi! We like old funk bands, Jamiroquai, Basement Jaxx, Jaga Jazzist, acid jazz, French House, Van Hunt and a lot of neo-soul artists, rock dudes like RHCP and Incubus, Madlib, Timbaland and the Neptunes (N*E*R*D was one of those moments of WTF is this??), a lot of stuff. I like comical old ska, garage rock like the White Stripes and The Hives and these new dancey rock bands like Franz Ferdinand. But I think the best music is the stuff you can’t really describe…
Graphically, I’m very much into manga and anime, in terms of the stories, culture, even the shortcuts they take to meet their crazy deadlines! A random list of favourites: Samurai Champloo, Mind Game, Triplets of Belleville, Studio Ghibli films, Satoshi Kon’s work, Genndy Tartakovsky, Jamie Hewlett’s Gorillaz work is really well designed and moves so fluidly, The Boondocks. Ralph Bakshi’s confrontational movies from the 70s are a huge creative inspiration for what I’d like to do in animation in future.
There’s an animation director called Koji Morimoto (he did the Beyond segment in The Animatrix), he makes my eyes water. Also off The Animatrix, the World Record segment was done by another new fave, Takeshi Koike, who is actually a celeb in Japan! How interesting, celebrity animators… I would like to go study at the feet of Moebius, the French comic book artist. And a lot of movies and books (I may be a bit of a junkie). We also keep an eye on the graphic design and motion graphics scene, and that’s always a visual overload.
JIM: Daft Punk’s Discovery was one of those albums that really excited me (and it still does). Frankly, I like the visual detail of the Gorillaz more than their music. In fact, I really don’t think I like their music. But I like the way they work so hard on the supplementary material that helps you form an opinion about a band, the back story, the promos. I like people like Madonna and Björk for putting in extra effort and really being in control of their image and sound, and giving people some fantasy to believe in – however slightly.
When I was a kid, I loved the musicians who went beyond the music and created lush record covers, and placed their music in some kind of fantasy literary context. Or even the people who explored themes other than the usual “love, girls and sex”. I love the way the disco dudes touched the sky and went beyond to other planets. Why confine yourself to dull old Mother Earth?
These days it’s “Hi. I’m X and I have a great body. You want to have sex with me. I also sing.” or the other equally drab approach: “Hi. I’m exceptionally gifted. I will numb you into submission with my technical wizardry. I will now play the Euclidian scale with my teeth.”
I think Europeans are better at it than the Americans (with the exception of people like Madonna, as mentioned above). Americans are very literal about their music – Band X fits into this genre and you shouldn’t ask where they’re from or why they’re doing this. Europeans are very cool about alter egos and costumes and silly things like that.

From your Kenyanimation blog, it appears you are working on another project – Two Countries; will it be a CD & animation type thing? When can we expect to hear of a premiere?
DAN: So, when we started off with Kenyanimation (which is not a Just A Band project, actually) we wanted to actually make something under this new group. The idea for this short animated movie was lying around in someone’s sketchbook, so we decided to make that. It’s kind of like a Gado cartoon come to life, political commentary vibes, but with a bit of Tom and Jerry thrown in, and (hopefully) a Just A Band score (as in, a proper “classical” score, which would be a new thing for the band).
The project has stalled for a bit as people get more involved with their various hustles, but we’ll get it back on track soon, and as it’s just a short, it could be done by year’s end. As for how we’ll put it out, I’m not sure yet but maybe we’ll try some festival screenings and so forth.

Do you perform live shows? If so, where can we catch you guys?
BLINKY: Coming soon to an area near you.
DAN: We’re actually working on the live shows now, figuring out venues and instrumentalists, and all the cool fun stuff like projections, or not. We will be unveiling the whole shebang in August. Details will be on the site/YouTube/Facebook.
JIM: We’re working on making it something interesting – because I am skeptical that Kenyans would be OK with sitting around for several hours watching a bunch of geeks fiddling with guitars. So pom-pom’s, dancing, makeup, lights, psychedelic footage and action – on a shoestring budget, as always.

*To order the CD ‘Scratch To Reveal’ send an email to jab [at] just-a-band[dot]com, they will personally ‘hawk’ it over to you. For us online folks, they will have their music on itunes or calabash soon…
**Part II will be posted as soon as you thaw from the JAB burst of ice cold freshness. It will have more questions about the animated video

‘Iwinyo Piny’.

Ushahidi: Thank You!

crossposted on the Ushahidi Blog.
ushahidi_v1d_200px.jpgDuring the month of March we appealed for your help with Ushahidi’s entry into the N2Y3 Mashup challenge. It is with your support that we are delighted to announce Ushahidi’s participation in the last phase of the mapping challenge. We could not have made it without you and we sincerely Thank each and every one of you for your votes, your encouragement and most of all for your ideas.

David and Erik will be going to San Fransisco next weekend to participate in development sessions with other technical experts, product managers, and engineers. It will be a great opportunity for Ushahidi to get some funding towards further development of the Mashup. Wish them luck would ya?

For now, we just wanted to thank you again for your support. A big part of Ushahidi is your participation, and with that, we are looking forward to making this project an even bigger success.

Asanteni Sana!! [Thank you very much]

**More updates will be posted on the Ushahidi blog and also on the NetSquared blog. Ushahidi also has a twitter channel http://twitter.com/ushahidi for bite-sized updates.

Nokia Debuts Phones for Emerging Markets


The Nokia Event Site announces the debut of new phones designed for the emerging markets like Sub-Saharan Africa. Nokia put alot of thought into the functionality that they added, which makes me want to give one of these gems a whirl. I am a sucker for features such as FM Radio, and there is just something about a phone with a flashlight…that is absolutely genius IMO. You would think so too if you were in upcountry Kenya (around 2005i  sh), torch/flashlight batteries are dead and you uhhm lets just say you need to walk from point A to B in the dark of night…then your cousin says “Here! Use my phone, it has a flashlight!” Indeed not all heroes need wear capes. Before i get all mushy about inanimate objects, here is the blurb…

While features like phone-sharing, cost monitoring and flashlight remain relevant to consumers in entry markets, Nokia continues to add new functionality, such as mega pixel cameras, FM radio with recording functionality, email and Bluetooth connectivity technology to mobile phones targeted at consumers in entry markets.

  while on the site, and if you have a decent connection, do check out Julius’ story; on how he uses his Nokia phone in Kapenguria, Kenya. I am still admiring this silhouette image of Julius and his phone.

If you have an N95 or other Nokia phones that have video recording capability, record your story and submit it to the www.nokiaproductions.com, where noted film director Spike Lee is going to review  the entries (includes music, photos and text) then weave your bit (if chosen that is…) into a film to be released later. (Hat tip Shel Israel via Twitter)