DOTs' Unconference 2018: What I learnt about Creative Internetwork of Humanity

"Instead of the Internet of things, we should be talking about the internet of humanity." Janet Longmore.


Let me introduce you to this wise woman. Janet is the CEO of DOT. which stands for Digital Opportunity Trust. DOT. is a social enterprise that offers entrepreneurship and leadership training for young people in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

DOTs' 2018 Unconference was held in Kenya at the KCB Leadership Centre in Karen. It brought young social entrepreneurs from the 3 continents together to present their social innovations and share ideas with each other on how to make an impact in their respective countries.

These young participants stood out during DOTs' Impactathons which were short, intensive programs that introduce concepts on social innovation and enterprise and support youth to develop ideas to address specific problems in their communities.


The conference was scheduled to take place from the 17th to the 19th of October. It was an honor to be among the people invited to the first day of the conference. Esther Gathigi, the Country Director of DOT Kenya, gave the opening speech. The theme of the conference was on bridging gender and social barriers in order to build inclusive communities.

Then came Janet Longmore. She spoke of the rise of social businesses. She then introduced us to a new word: talentism which as the name suggests is the use of talent to make an impact in society. According to her, it is talentism that will make a difference. She also highlighted the fact that the internet was not made to connect things; it was made to facilitate communication. So instead of the Internet of Things (IoT) we should be talking about the Internet of Humanity.



On that note she introduced us to the Innojo app - an application whose role is to make sure there are zero barriers to social Innovators everywhere. After her address, there was a panel discussion where 3 former DOT. participants - Aisha from Kenya, George from Tanzania and Dalila from Jordan - joined  Janet and Esther on stage to discuss their experiences as social entrepreneurs.


A wealth of knowledge was exchanged. Aisha is the co-founder of Pwani Teknowgalz, a social enterprise that aims to inspire girls to join the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields through mentorship and interactive training. Aisha told us of her school days where she was one of the three or five ladies in a class of sixty students. This is something I completely resonated with considering there were several times I was the only female or one of three females in my Tech classes in Uni. 

Meanwhile, George runs a Digital services agency called Smartcore Enterprise limited whose vision is to spark creativity in African learners through technology and provide the best learning experience.

He spoke of the fact that we are all content creators, therefore, we should play a part in content creation as Africans. George also suggested that we should find ways of transferring the knowledge we have to a format such as fun educational videos that other people far from us can learn from online .

His last point stuck in most of our minds especially after the MC kept reiterating it. "Don't just give business cards, make friends. If you are my friend, I can make money with you." My take away from this statement was once you build a relationship and cultivate trust between yourself and a fellow human, there is no limit to what you can both achieve working together.


Kamau Mugure was called on to give a short speech right after the panel discussion. I first met Kamau at the Digital Marketing Training by Kuza Biashara. He has always been an inspiring person to listen to.

His sharp memory is also something most of us admire. He greeted almost all the representatives of the African countries that were present in their native language. As Trevor Noah explained in his book Born A Crime  " A shared language says we're the same." You could see how intrigued and attentive the audience became after that. He would do the same with people's names at Kuza, never at once forgetting someone's name.

After Kamau's address, we broke out for the tea break as the first set of entrepreneurs prepared their presentation and other merchandise they would use to explain what their businesses are about. I will list a few of the many social entrepreneurs I managed to visit,



1. Lambert from Kigali, Rwanda. His business helps house helps with their job transition after working for a few years as house helps. They empower them with financial literacy training as well as carpet and basket weaving skills.


2. Raisa Akinyi of Kenya Biocyclers from Kisumu who came with her brother. They breed the black soldier fly insect that is later used to feed on organic waste at dumpsites in Kisumu. Her solution tackles the problem of inefficient waste management systems in Kisumu city. These soldier flies are then used as animal feed for pigs, chicken, and fish, thus creating affordable and consistent feed for farmers.


3. Anisha from the UK. She has created a web platform that links people to social enterprises near them.


4. Bright, a Ghanaian, employs graduates where they start a project with 500 direct and 1000 indirect employees and distributors. His model of business is so unique in that it is scalable depending on the skills of the people he has on board.



5. AmyAnne Smith from Canada. Her project was on sex work in Canada. She gave us a curious story of a lady who had been murdered in Canada. People were against the murder until they found out she was a sex worker. After that, they turned against her and even suggested that maybe she deserved it. AmyAnne found that change of heart repulsive and decided to do something about it. Her idea revolves around building a website that contains information for sex workers as well as a platform where they can share their stories.

6. Steven Ng'omba from Malawi had an amazing learning app which teaches children various classroom subjects through their phones. Steven is an animator and has a team of writers, videographers and designers who have helped the app to get to where it is now. The group is using the app to teach their students alongside actual classes over the weekends.

7. Then I met Deus from Dar es Salaam Tanzania.

I mentioned to him that I was in Dar a few months ago and how I loved the experience. 

We sparked a long conversation during the lunch break where he told me about his project which was about helping farmers access information on modern means of farming through physical and online training.



8. Khalil from Jordan was showcasing a Virtual Reality (VR) game he made. It took me back to 


In Khalil's game you were to look at 3 colors on the floor then walk around and spot those colors around the room. He said that the game is location-based because it works with sensors put in a specific room. If the player walks beyond those sensors, they will not be able to continue playing.



In one day, I got to experience the internetwork of humanity through these young inspiring and innovative entrepreneurs. It got me thinking about how to incorporate more humanity in my entrepreneurship ventures. After all, it is no longer about the internet of things. How do you see yourself combining the internet with helping humanity?

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On The First Ongala Music Festival Heaven Shed Tears Of Joy.


Dr. Remmy Ongala was undeniably a Tanzanian music icon. He was a well-known musician in East Africa since the 80s and was deeply mourned when he passed on in 2010. It is said that when he passed on, his bongo beat music was played on Tanzanian radio stations nonstop. He was so popular that an area of his home district in Dar es Salaam was named after him.

It, therefore, came naturally for his daughter Aziza Ongala to want to do something for her Dad. In an interview, she had at an online radio show called Underground pride , Aziza said organizing the festival is something she felt she had to do.

Early this year she decided this would be the year to commemorate her father. So she set everything else aside to focus on curating the festival. And I think I speak for most when I say she did an awesome job.


The Main Stage

Ongala Music Festival was a 3-day music affair. It was held in Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam at Malaika Beach Club from the 23rd to the 25th of August. Twenty of us traveled from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam in Dar Lux, a bus company which also happened to be a sponsor of the festival. They had such impeccable customer service, super comfortable seats and an awesome movie collection to keep us entertained during the 16 hour trip.



It was a surreal experience to travel with some of the Kenyan artists that were scheduled to perform at the first Ongala Music Festival. Other than the good vibes they emitted during the conversations, we also got serenaded by some smooth guitar tunes and improvised songs.

Staying at Malaika beach club meant we had access to the beach anytime we wanted. So while the rest of us enjoyed the warmth of the morning sun while in the tents and lengthened our sleep, some of our friends went out jogging on the beach.


On the first night preceding the main event, we had DJs and a few Afro-Fusion artists play music on a mini 'Nyumbani' stage next to a bonfire. One of the DJs only played old school reggae music on vinyl and we were so thrilled that we started dancing under the stars. People took turns to rekindle the fire everytime it tried to die down. We threw dried palm tree leaves into the fire in turns like we had a schedule or something.


The Mini 'Nyumbani' Stage

Our tents were pitched a stone throw away so circumstances forced us in on the fun. But who is complaining? Unless you were a log, I don't see how you could sleep with all that feel-good music playing in the background. No wonder we stayed up till around 4 a.m most nights. It mostly depended on when the DJ would say enough is enough.


On the second night of the festival, it rained. This was something no one had expected so it threw many off balance. My theory is this: Remmy must have been moved to tears by what Aziza, his family, and friends had organized in his memory. Therefore, the Tanzanian skies joined Remmy in solidarity.

Due to those showers of blessing, the show ended early. The next day, the East African artists performed with an extra oomph. No one was taking anything for granted, neither the artists nor the audience. We were more than grateful for the clear skies and for the opportunity to be part of the first-ever Ongala Music Festival.


Papillon on stage

Goosebumps would run up and down my body when different artists went on stage. From Fadhilee to Mandela and then from Papillon to Swahili Ally just to mention a few. It was electric performance after electric performance. Occasionally, some of the audience members would get touched and jump on stage to cheer the artists on by dancing on stage. One even went up to help Fadhilee wave a flag in solidarity with Bobi Wine, a Ugandan musician, and politician who was arrested in his country.



I got to attend a couple of workshops at the festival too. The first workshop I attended was on music management facilitated by Liberian born Raphael Benza. It was eye opening and shed light on how artist management works and how people like me who are interested in helping artists boost their online platform can join the team of the many people behind artists' success.

As my first time in Dar es Salaam, Ongala Music Festival was a wholesome experience. Other than it being a chance to enjoy rich East African music, you also got a chance to be on vacation, learn about music and new cultures, make new friends, have fun and be happy. Just like Remmy Ongala would have wanted.

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How to Easily Start Your Fun New IGTV Channel


A few months ago, a local village in the awesome Kenyan movie Supa Modo created an action film to raise the spirits of a lovely young girl who was terminally ill and living her last days. Just like these very unlikely film creators, I think very soon we will all be video creators. And now with the simplicity and the intimacy that comes with watching a vertical video on your phone through IG stories and IGTV I am more encouraged to continue thinking so.

I mean if a picture is worth a thousand words then a video should be worth hundreds of thousands if not more.


I am writing this because one of my readers asked me to, after reading my previous article on some

interesting facts you should know about IGTV. 

I am slowly falling in love with the platform and have even made a few videos on my personal IG page to prove it.


Welcome to My Channel 🙂



It is ridiculously easy to create an IGTV Channel. And if you already have an Instagram account then you are just a few steps away.



Step 1: Ensure that you have updated you Instagram app and can see the IGTV icon at the top bar.



Step 2: Open the IGTV icon or app, click on the settings icon on the right hand side of the screen and select Create Channel.



Step 3: When you select Create Channel you will be welcomed with the screen below. Click next and follow the prompts.



Step 4: On the final slide after clicking next a couple of times, click on Create Channel and you are done!




Notice below that the settings icon is now replaced with your pages icon.




Once you click on the icon with your profile picture on it, you can upload a video from your camera roll using the plus button.


Like I said, it is quite easy to start your channel and become a video creator too. In the next blogpost I will be sharing some tips on great phone apps you can use to add music and text graphics to make your IGTV channel a lot more spicier. Please note this is what I have experienced and researched so far. The possibilities are endless on how IGTV is bound to evolve. Until next time let's keep exploring with IGTV.
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7 Quick, Interesting Facts You Should Know About IGTV.



By now I'm guessing you've heard about IGTV, and maybe watched some videos on it. If not, not to worry: you are about to learn some very interesting facts about it. For starters, as the name suggests, IGTV simply stands for Instagram Television - a television for the mobile generation.

Here are 7 more things you need to know about this new Instagram update.



1. IGTV is like Instagram's YouTube for mobile.

The main difference is that its videos are meant to be shot and edited vertically. That means the end result will not force the user, which is you and me, to rotate our phones in order for us to enjoy the experience.

2. Its focus is on awesome phone user experience.

More and more people are going online on their phones today than they were a decade ago. Plus it's also getting cheaper and cheaper to do so. We do not need statistics to prove that; the evidence is everywhere, from your 5-year-old nephew who can find and launch a game app on your phone to your 80-year old grandpa who texts you using WhatsApp.

It was very prudent of the Instagram team to come up with IGTV because the future is mobile and the future is here. User experience is always key to online businesses which are keen on making a good impression on their users. 

It would be great if we all took a leaf from Instagram's bold move to make the right kind of changes to our own brands. I, for instance, will be launching a more user-friendly and mobile responsive website soon, so watch out for it.

3. It is downloadable and updateable.

IGTV comes both as a standalone phone app and as a video section on the main Instagram app(once updated). Now, I bet I am not the only one who often runs out of space on my phone. The fact that they thought of people like us is just super. All we need to do is update our Instagram app and voila, we are well on our way to creating our very first IGTV channel.

4. It has a clickable link.

If you have been using links on your Instagram business page bio, you know how hard it is to get people to leave their feed and open your profile to click on it. I am speaking for those of us who are yet to reach 10,000 followers in order to be able to use the swipe up feature in our IG stories.

On IGTV, the playing ground is leveled for brands and businesses, whether they have less than 1000 followers or more than 10,000 followers. Now anyone can add a clickable link in the description of their IGTV video. How cool is that?

5. IGTV supports longer videos.

Instagram stories is said to have been started in order to prep users for IGTV. If you have used Instagram stories, you know how annoying it gets at times because you can only upload 15 seconds of a video at a time.

At the moment, you can upload a maximum of 60 minutes if you have a following of 10,000 and above, and a maximum of 10 minutes if you have a following less than that on IGTV. Whichever way you look at it, that is a major improvement from what we are used to. This is even said to be subject to change in the near future to allow us to post a limitless amount of video time.

6. IGTV can share videos directly to WhatsApp.

We all know the vast number of people using WhatsApp today, I mean even our grandparents use it. Thanks to this upgrade, you will be able to share your IGTV videos outside of Instagram to any Facebook-owned platform - that includes WhatsApp and Facebook itself. This ability to easily share videos from IGTV will just continue to blow up the impact the platform is bound to have on the future of video consumption.

7. Instant video playback and a feature that remembers where you left off.

This means as soon as you open IGTV, videos will start playing. If you happen to leave the video for a while, you will also be able to be directed back to where you left off in order to finish watching the video.

If you are a content creator then it would be wise to make your video super interesting, informative, short and sweet. That way people will watch it till the end and you will leave a great impression that will make the same people watch out for your next videos.

Before I go, it is important to note that IGTV will give creators a chance to showcase their creativity in an environment that is free from advertisements, since the platform is currently not showing any. If you're interested in the future of video consumption, I believe this is the time to join the platform in order to learn and grow before it gets saturated and advertisements start showing. It is also said that just like YouTube, the platform will also develop a way to compensate its content creators. I hope these quick facts have given you the confidence to start your own IGTV channel.

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Virtual Reality in Kenya


My first virtual reality (VR) experience was surreal. I remember spinning around in the chair I sat on, looking up and down to take it all in. Virtual reality, simply put is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the fictional world of the character in the film. Once you wear the VR headset, that's it. You look up, look down, look behind virtually look everywhere and you see what the character is seeing.

Ng'endo Mukii's award-winning film 'Nairobi Berries' was my first. Not only did it feel like I was in another dimension, but I also got lost in this dreamlike state just like the other characters. I believe with time it will be easier to watch VR films so I won't give you any spoilers. Only that it was the dopest experience I have had in my life.


Photo Credit: She Album

Speaking of ease and VR, did you know that Muthoni the Drummer Queen (MDQ) recently released the very first VR music video in Kenya? Well, she did. And courtesy of her partnership with BlackRhinoVR a Kenyan based VR production company, loads of enthusiastic fans - myself included - matched into Garden City Mall to watch the new music video for free.



A friend fully immersed 

The film was so engaging and fun. MDQ's lyrics guided me on where to look next and it felt like being in outer space the whole time. Like you're an astronaut floating around looking at multiple screens and waiting for MDQ to tell you what to do next. That's it no more spoilers - you will get to watch the video soon enough I bet. 

Virtual reality is penetrating the Kenyan Arts and Entertainment industry in record speed. I can't wait to see the kind of transformations it will carry forward, because I believe it's here to stay. Just like everything new we should take it in with precaution - watching something fictional so close to your eyes for more than 20 minutes might cause eye as well as psychological problems in the future. So as we embrace the new and awesome, let's take it in with moderation. That said, I promise all those who are yet to watch a VR film, your first will be surreal. If you have watched one before feel free to share how your experience was.



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Healthy Living : Yoga On Indian Rooftops


After sampling spicy Indian meals for a couple of weeks. My roommate who had also fallen in love with that tingling sensation and I decided that we needed to make some changes. Only we did not know that that decision, would attract someones attention and later give us a chance to experience Indian Culture soulfully.

Thanks to awesome hosts, a lot was done for us, from house cleaning to the preparation of savoury Indian delicacies. Those dining moments of pure bliss and a little too much indulgence were followed with guilt; an urge for us to take up exercise, and most importantly a decision to reduce our portions.

We got workout shoes and skipping ropes and started our morning workout routine, which included a dance routine by Bipasha  Basu and around 10 minutes of skipping rope.

I discovered Bipasha during my Campus days as an AIESEC member, so the workouts brought awesome memories of home with all the people I would work out with.

Even with those nostalgic memories, it was no easy task to keep up. And after a while, my roomie and I started missing out on some workouts. It was in those moments of near despair that AC came to the rescue.

If you read the piece on my life-threatening experience on Indian Transport you've met AC. See, AC wore many hats. Apart from owning what we called home for months, he would occasionally wear the cook's hat as well as the tour guide's cap on our first days in India.

During my time in India, I had also taken the habit of sparing around 15 minutes a day to meditate. It made me feel lighter, happier and more inspired. Some amazing ideas crept in between those minutes of silenced thought. And now, I have a meditation diary as a result. So the thought of reviving my yoga and practicing it alongside my meditation sounded Godsent.

"There's a world within, a world of thought and feeling and power; of light and beauty, and although invisible, its forces are mighty."

Charles Haanel.

I couldn't agree more.

How often do you stop, look at the sun and appreciate its presence? Well, I can't say I try; most of my mornings are usually very rushed.

Our first session was on the rooftop and AC introduced us to a Sun Salutation also known as Surya Namaskar. It was a great way to help me start my day on a high in the spirit of appreciation.

But before we move on, that sunrise threatened to leave me breathless. The fact that we were looking at it while elevated on the roof seemed to make it more spectacular.

He first took time to take us through the basics of yoga, the breathing techniques (pranayama) and the warm-up techniques that prepared our bodies for yoga.

He also talked about the chakras and tasked us with researching about kundalini yoga. The animation below shows how Surya Namaskar is done as well as its benefits. You can read more here.


Credits: www.mocomi.com

AC was an inspiration to us, we learned so much from him about life. What stood out the most for us was how dedicated he was when he set out to do something. 

Some mornings when the cook was unwell, AC would wake up at 4 a.m to prepare breakfast and lunch for the 20 ladies or so that we lived with in the paying guest (PG). He would then join us for yoga at around 6 a.m and be ready before 8 a.m to tend to the PG and the other businesses he owned. His customer service was  impeccable. We were his first foreign guests and  he really worked hard to keep us comfortable.

AC's influence was so huge that my roommate ended up buying a yoga mat to use when she got back home. I, on the other hand, came up with a 20 mins yoga morning routine scheduled for 66 days  - which is the proven amount of time needed to form a habit. I'm still working on it. AC even contacted me a week ago to find out how I was as well as how my yoga practice is going.



To be continued...


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Experiencing The Synergy Of Sama Eden



21/1/18

The soothing music draws you in. The place looks really different from the last time you were here. It feels like it was just the other day, but it's not. India happened and it's 4 months later.

That's The Alchemist bar for you.  You wonder if you are the only one who asks yourself if its name was inspired by Paulo Coelho's book. Also, you think of how you really need to reread his book - it was an ocean of wisdom.
 It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, around 1 p.m and the place is buzzing with activity. You meet Sarah at the entrance. Her warm hug welcomes you in. You are already soaking in all the awesomeness that the merging of the two brands, Sama Paints and the Eden Yard, have manifested.

The vendors are all set, some are talking to curious art enthusiasts. The rest of the crowd is just chilling, jamming to the awesome music that drew you in just a while ago. The vibe in this place is so good.
I mean, but what do you expect with such music and dope vendors like Zero By Zawadi who have yoga inspired merchandise right there for you to marvel at.


Photo credit: Zero by Zawadi

You fall in love with Zawadi's Sayaris; they are the African version of harem pants, that can also be worn as jumpsuits. And what's even doper, they are unisex! 

You try on 2 purple ones thanks to Faith a former classmate in a Creative Entrepreneurship class you attended last year. She works with Zawadi now.

Zawadi, also has some lovely yoga mat holders. You itch to ask the question, why yoga? And when you finally yield to the urge, she tells you that yoga and meditation have had a huge impact in her life. You don't wanna probe, even though that statement leaves you even more curious.  
You meet Edmond and he mentions that you look familiar. He is a vendor too and he is there with Santana Monda, the owner of House of Sahara. They have lovely furniture but you fall in love with this cutie; she's perfect for your bedroom.  You hope your pesky siblings will finally read and obey.




After a couple of minutes, you remember where you met Edmond. He was the youngest vendor at the Art In The Wild event at Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters 2 years ago.

You catch up and find out some really interesting stuff about him. Stuff like his decision to stop watching telly and how consequently his photographic memory has improved so much that he can draw a friend from memory. You pick his contacts and promise to keep in touch. His story should one day feature here.

Artfordable Kenya

Speaking of stories you meet these really passionate guys. They strive to make beautiful art affordable, thus the name of their brand. Teddy Ngando from Artfordable Kenya is keen on explaining to you how they create their intricate prints out of wood cuttings.

What fascinates you the most out of their story, is that they get their raw material for free from local workshops. They basically upcycle waste MDF(Medium Density Fibreboard) pieces by engraving the designs they want on them, applying ink on them and finally transferring the print on to paper. Clearly, anything is possible under the sun.


Fun Games 

At around 2.30pm, people start playing board games. You join in on the fun and learn a couple of new games - only you forget to ask what the games are called. While playing, you meet this little girl who is so full of life. She joins you and your female friend and you both have a blast watching her say she won every time.

You like how free her guardian seems, she too has a playful spirit. She hula hoops a couple of times next to the person singing at the stage, and she calls your little friend to join her.

Freestyling

You meet Max from the rock band Rash and exchange pleasantries. You were in campus together. He too is asked to go and play the guitar for a bit. Muthoni the Drummer Queen is also in the house. She is just here to chill. Later during the day, you spot her playing with one of the vendors' kid. So sweet.

More people are encouraged to go and sing on the stage. Anyone can go and at some point Edmond answers the call. You like how comfortable  he looks on stage. Talk about being grounded.

Grounded by Bree


Other than helping, you feel grounded and one with mother nature via the plants in her beautifully designed pots. Bree also contributes to the environment by recycling those big old plastic soda bottles and using cement to come up with the creamish-white flower pots you can see above. Here's to staying ever present to our connection to mother nature.

Thank you for staying present with me this long. I hope you've felt the richness of what was The Sama Eden January edition 2018. Lots more things went down and this is only a sample of the whole experience. More opportunities are coming up for you to experience all this awesomeness in person. I sure hope to see you there next time.

Until then,
Ciao!




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Indian Transport And How I Almost Lost My Life.


I think what really struck me as odd on the very first days after touching down in Chennai, was the insane number of bikes. And the fact that everyone rode them, from teenage kids within neighborhoods to grandmas and grandpas. 

I also saw grandparents with their grand kids on the bikes. They were so carefree cause you'd see the kids facing the other way round towards the drivers behind them. It was the cutest thing, a bit dangerous when you start thinking critically about it, but still cute.

I also really tried to photograph a family on a bike - the mother, father and kids all seated comfortably - but a phone camera could not capture that scene clearly.  So I resorted to taking a few videos instead.

I saw all this while in Ashwanth's comfortable AC ventilated car on the first days as we househunted. Ashwanth was my internship supervisor.Then he pointed out the buses and I remember thinking, who will get into those crowded buses like that?



I also remember noticing that most of those buses did not have windows, and that some people were dangling on the front and back doors because the bus was too full to house everyone.



It was so full that it slanted towards the left, the side with the two doors. It looked as though a little nudge on the right side of the bus would cause it to topple over.



In spite of that, in a few weeks time we had become loyal bus commuters. When I say we, I refer to myself and the other 5  East Africans I was interning with. Two from Rwanda, another from Uganda and the rest from Kenya.

The cab services Uber and Ola were considerably affordable; but again not the kind of affordable an intern could resort to as a constant means of transport. Tuk tuks crossed our minds but no one ever acted on those thoughts. They were also crowded because 2 people still found a way to sit with the driver at the front




Two months into the internship and our stay in Chennai is when the almost fatal fall happened. It's magnitude did not hit me until I got to Chola House, which was our home for the 3 months we were in Chennai.My head started spinning so I decided to sit down and take a breather. I remember looking at my left palm and seeing it tremble a couple of times. And then I realized that my body had just experienced a mini trauma.

I speak of my body as though it was a separate entity cause at some point, it felt like some other force had temporarily taken over and given it energy it was not aware it had.

After sitting down for a bit and  regaining my balance, I went to do what I did every evening before my evening meal, which was clean my lunch dish.


So when I turned the tap it hit me that I had just brushed shoulders with death, and boy was I terrified. My tears and the tap water started trickling down almost simultaneously. Then my imagination took over and I saw my family receiving the news about my death - and I just lost it.

The weird part was that in those split seconds I was dead in my head. A dead person crying about their own death. I clenched on to the dish not seeing it anymore; it was as if I was trying to get myself out of that false reality I had created.

That's when AC, the owner of the place we stayed in came to rescue me out of that mini depression or mini nervous breakdown, whatever it was I was experiencing. He took me to his office which was just a door away from the kitchen, and led me to the chair. All that time I was working hard to catch my breath. He tried to calm me down, then when I started breathing normally, the words 'I almost died' were followed with chilling silence.



Here's what happened. It was night time and we were trying to alight from a very crowded bus cause we had already passed the stage - and who knows how far this bus went. So my Rwandese friend Sue tried asking the guys standing close to the driver to tell him to stop. At that time the conductor was busy collecting money at the other end of the bus with his back facing us.

Everyone looked at her blank faced. So we were stuck in a full bus in the night going lord knows where. We had made our way to the front door, so when the bus stopped for a bit, Sue jumped out of the bus and when I was just about to follow her, the bus started moving again.

I have never learnt how to alight properly from a moving vehicle so all I remember after getting out of the bus was losing balance and falling backwards onto the tarmac. As I mentioned above, I don't know where I got all the strength from because I woke up so fast that the guys that ran to help me already found me out of the road.

I went to join Sue who had walked further ahead; she had no idea I had followed her and that I had also fallen. I was as embarrassed by the whole situation as I was in pain so I just casually mentioned that I had fallen. That is when Nelly, a fellow Kenyan who had watched me fall rushed to us and asked if I was alright.

Nelly said that she had temporarily lost all energy on her legs when she saw me fall and she had waited for the bus to stop, then rushed out to look for me. That time, the impact that fall might have  had had not hit me so I simply said I was fine.

There was a car right in front of me when I fell and a motorbike right beside it, so the thought of me being run over by either one of them or even both of them literally brings chills down my spine to date.

Anyway, AC got his first aid kit and helped me clean the open wounds. I experienced intense muscle injury on my left hand and my back, but with the painkillers and muscle injury rub I got from AC, I was feeling better in two weeks time.

But hey, I'm alive right? 🙂 On a light note I am very grateful for my fleshy African bum bum. Cause my bum took a lot of that fall's impact. I still experience some pain when I sit for long periods of time to date but isorait 😏. I am also grateful to AC and all my guardian angels who I believe must have been working extra hard that night.

It's important to note that not all my experiences in India were grim and gloom. This experience was still fresh in my mind so I needed to get it out of my system. Sharing about my vulnerable moments is hard, but I think, it's just as important as sharing about the fun stuff. So please stay with me. The fun stuff is in the offing.


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Meet Wanja: Learn How Her Simple Artistic Idea Won 100 Grand





She and I have lived in the same neighborhood and known each other since we were kids, yet for some reason I never knew she could draw until recently. See I was scrolling through my facebook feed and that's when I saw it...

It, was a picture of Wanja receiving a 100 grand dummy cheque from a mentor at the BLAZE Summit Eldoret edition. I was as surprised as I was happy for her.
  
In the interview below Wanja tells us about her journey as an artist which started more than a decade ago. The reasons why she took a couple of breaks in between, how she met some influential people thanks to her craft and the icing on the cake what idea won her 100 grand.


Meet Wanja Wa Wangeci and let's dive into her artistic world for a bit, shall we? Happy swimming 🏊. 

WAI stands for Wendi Art IT.



WAI: When did you discover you have artistic talent?


Wanja: In 2004 when I was in class 4, you get these maps that you are told to draw ... Yeah, I used to draw them so well that my friends would make me draw for them. That's when I realized, I was the artist in the class. It all started from there, then I started drawing cartoons.



WAI: That was Primary school did you move on to study art?


Wanja: No no, in fact I actually stopped drawing at some point, because I thought of it as just a hobby, something you do for fun. So I started again in 2016, when I joined an art school at Kasarani. I learnt about the school via facebook and since I was still in Eldoret, I joined the art school properly early this year when I was in for my holidays. I'm in my final year studying entrepreneurship at Moi University



WAI: What type of art do you like creating?


Wanja: I like drawing cartoons and creating charcoal and pencil art pieces. I do portraits too it's a way I use to maintain myself in campus. I draw for people and sell.





WAI: How do you market your artwork?

Wanja: I use facebook a lot and when I'm in a gathering where my friends are, I introduce myself as an artist. At school I subsidize the prices and the students are my main customers. They order, then come and buy from me and life moves on.





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