Wednesday, December 16, 2009

YouTube: What The World Watched and Searched for on YouTube in 2009

I just discovered this interesting post: YouTube Blog: What You Watched and Searched for on YouTube in 2009

2009 has been the biggest yet for online video, and thanks to our better Internet connections in Kenya, we are now also able to feel part of this. For the first time YouTube is sharing its official Most Watched lists. For these lists, YouTube looked at view counts of YouTube's most popular videos this year. There is no specific list for Kenya yet (something I hope YouTube will take on in 2010), but here is the global list:

Most Watched YouTube videos (Global):
1. Susan Boyle - Britain's Got Talent (120+ million views)
2. David After Dentist (37+ million views)
3. JK Wedding Entrance Dance (33+ million views)
4. New Moon Movie Trailer (31+ million views)
5. Evian Roller Babies (27+ million views)

Well, I am not a big fan of Susan Boyle (no. 1), but I love water and babies, so the Evian Roller Babies (no. 5) is my favorite one on this list.

And you, did you watch any of these top five videos in 2009? If not, where have you been?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Out-of-Office Autoreply: I May Be Promoted to Management

It's that time of the year again when most Kenyans are planning for their long end-of-year holidays, so we need to think about what contingency plans we can put in place for the time we are out of the office. An out-of-office autoreply for our e-mails is one approach and here are some nice ideas I came across:
  1. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.
  2. Sorry to have missed you but I am at Kenyatta National Hospital having my brain removed so that I may be promoted to management.
  3. I will be unable to delete all the unread, worthless emails you send me until I return from vacation on 4th of January 2010. Please be patient and your email will be deleted in the order it was received.
  4. The e-mail server is unable to verify your server connection and is unable to deliver this message. Please restart your computer and try sending again. (The beauty of this one is that when you return, you can see how many people did this over and over).
  5. I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as "Wairimu" instead of "Njoroge".
So, which one should I put? (please don't vote for number five)
And what are you going to put as your out-of-office autoreply?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shuga: Cool Movie About Sex, Major Hype in Kenya

"Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about all the good things. And the bad things that may be. Let's talk about sex."
(lyrics from a hit song by the American hip-hop trio Salt-n-Pepa released in 1991)

Fast forward to 2009, 18 years later...
Another generation. The babies made during the 'let's talk about sex' era are now sexually active themselves.
"Hi ni story ya ma boys, in gear five,
Madem wa fly getting down with the music, feeling fly,
Furahi day nights, music vibes, sweat and sex in the air.
This is a story of true love, lust, broken trust,
It is the story of bright lives, entwining and colliding,
Hi ni story ya morning after, mabyebye baadayes,
Madoa sugu zimeachwa
So what do you do when the party catches up with you?
Has the ride been worth it?"
Shuga, MTV’s Staying Alive hard-hitting drama is screening on Kenyan television stations. Shuga follows the lives and loves of a group of cool young students whose bright lives and fabulous futures are balanced on a knife-edge due to their love of risk and danger. It's a story about sex with a great story line and good actors. Ayira, a modern girl who knows exactly what she wants and what she’ll do to get it; but will her passion for an older man come at the expense of long term soul mate Ty?

We like Lupita Nyong'o, who plays Ayira, because she is a great main act, has lips to die for, and her sex scenes are oh so hot cool! Ayira is a beautiful, confident and vivacious 22-year-old, grade-A college student. Originally from Langata she now lives in Buru Buru with her mom and little sister. Her father left Ayira's mom for another woman six years ago - an act which deeply affected Ayira. She is now determined to get her mother and sister out of the financial strain her father left them in, and see a return to the comfortable life they once enjoyed. She has a steady, loving boyfriend called Ty, however Ayira is distrustful of men due to her father's behavior. She wants more and she wants it quickly. Her hunger and impatience for life clouds her judgment and sense of values.

Shuga is generating quite a buzz in Kenya, the series actually seems to be quite appealing to the young urban middle and high classes. Shuga seems to challenge young people and is igniting a movement to change their sexual behaviour. It's educating, it's provocative, it's funny: "Don't let your erection determine your direction!" Kenyan youths are asking each other: "Who are you in Shuga?" It's amazing, young people have even gone for tests after seeing this movie. Others, who are not that interested in the sex aspects, are saying Kenya has actually great potential for a vibrant movie industry.

Fine, enough said. Time to watch the three episodes now. Let me know what you think.

Shuga Episode 1: Diva has hopes of the high life, meanwhile the fast boys flex their masculinity and Virginia plays hard to get.

Shuga Episode 2: The Fast boys get caught slipping, while Ayira thinks she is playing Felix, meanwhile everything becomes clear with why Virginia has been acting distant. It all goes pear shaped for the fast boys, as Leo Kenneth and Skola wake up regretting the night before, sweating over some bad news. Meanwhile Ayira thinks she is playing new squeeze Felix, but is she the one in control? Or does he have much more to gain from her than she does him? And what about the implications with long term man Ty? We find out the reason behind Virginia’s erratic behaviour, she’s been hiding something from Leo.

Shuga Episode 3: Everything comes to a head in the final episode, Ayira has it all to lose, and Skola is free falling to his lowest point.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Google Zeitgeist: Kenyans are Searching for KRA

Just like last year when Palin beat Obama, Google released its 2009 'Zeitgeist' today. Each year, Google examines the billions of queries that people around the world have typed into Google Search to discover the 'Zeitgeist' - the spirit of the times.

Globally, requests for information on Michael Jackson tops the “Fastest Rising” category (could this have something to do with his death maybe???), followed by other household names like Facebook, Twitter, and New Moon. Here is the list of the fastest rising search terms at the global level:
  1. michael jackson
  2. facebook
  3. tuenti
  4. twitter
  5. sanalika
  6. new moon
  7. lady gaga
  8. windows 7
  10. torpedo gratis
No, I don’t know what sanalika or mean, or why so many people were looking for a free torpedo, but that's what we have Google for, so if you really want to know, just Google it.

This year, Google also released specific lists for Kenya.
As expected, Kenyans expressed a rising interest in Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
But surprisingly, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is the second fastest rising search in Kenya! Is that because we all want to pay our taxes now - or do we want to learn how to avoid them?
The English Premier League dominates the Sports Top 10, with Arsenal beating Manchester and Chelsea!

Here is the full Google 'Zeitgeist' 2009 for Kenya:

Fastest Rising
  1. facebook
  2. kra
  4. jobs in kenya
  5. youtube
  6. nairobi university
  7. gmail
  8. bing
  9. twitter
  10. yahoo
Most Searched for Kenya
  1. jobs kenya
  2. kenya airways
  3. nation kenya
  4. public service commission
  5. kenya revenue authority
  6. kenya law
  7. kenya news
  8. nation newspaper kenya
  9. orange kenya
  10. central bank of kenya
Most Popular Sport Searches
  1. arsenal news
  2. chelsea
  3. champions league results
  4. manchester united news
  5. real madrid
  6. liverpool fc
  7. usain bolt
  8. cristiano ronaldo
  9. roger federer
  10. football
Most Popular
  1. kenya
  2. facebook
  3. yahoo
  4. mail
  5. jobs
  6. google
  7. management
  8. love
  9. youtube
  10. wikipedia
Most Popular News Searches
  1. kenya
  2. arsenal
  3. obama
  4. facebook
  5. manchester
  6. kcse
  7. somalia
  8. premier league
  9. michael jackson
  10. chelsea
Most searched for celebs
  1. michael jackson
  2. rihanna
  3. michelle obama
  4. usain bolt
  5. tyra banks
  6. chris brown
  7. cristiano ronaldo
  8. lady gaga
  9. roger federer
  10. bob marley
Yes, I have to admit I also did a search for Rihanna in 2009. And you, what have you been searching for in 2009?

Hey You, Don't Be Silly, Put a Condom on Your Willy!

It's World AIDS Day today, and I am honouring it by sharing five of my favorite condom commercials. So please don't be silly, and put that condom on your willy!

(Note from the Editor: Def Dames Dope was a girls band from Belgium during the 1990s. One of their notable lyrics included "Hey you, don't be silly, put a condom on your willy". In South Africa, the band was the opening act for a tour of La Toya Jackson)

1. The Little Bastard

2. The Giant Condom

3. Doggy Style Balloons

4. My Mom Said I Could

5. Bubble Gum

So, which one do you like most? Hey, are you still there? Or have you left for the bedroom?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Bigfoot Carbon Footprint

US President Barack Obama yesterday boosted hopes of a global climate deal in Copenhagen next month saying the world had moved closer to a “strong operational agreement” on climate change. Closer to home, our own Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said Kenya would work to restore tree cover and explore renewable energy options as its contribution to combating climate change ahead of next month's climate summit in Copenhagen.

With all the current buzz about climate change in the lead-up to the Copenhagen summit, I decided to calculate my own 'carbon footprint'. Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame. Usually a carbon footprint is calculated for the time period of a year.

Many carbon footprint calculators are available on the web, but not all of them are relevant to the Kenyan situation. Your carbon footprint is partly determined by the country in which you live. The reason is there are different standards depending on your country of residence and different units of measurement. And different countries have varying carbon footprints for electricity generation.

I used this carbon footprint calculator powered by Carbon Footprint. The results are shocking!
  • My footprint is 11.80 tonnes per year
  • The average footprint for people in Kenya is 0.31 tonnes
  • The average for the industrial nations is about 11 tonnes
  • The average worldwide carbon footprint is about 4 tonnes
  • The worldwide target to combat climate change is 2 tonnes

When I looked at my carbon footprint graphic, it reminded me of the legendary but boring Bigfoot movies like Harry and the Hendersons. Yes, my carbon footprint is bigger than the average footprint for people in Kenya, bigger than the average worldwide carbon footprint, and even bigger than the average for the industrial nations. Since we are not talking about the size of my manhood here - which wouldn't be a cause for alarm - but about the size of my carbon footprint, something needs to be done about it here and now.

So now I will have to start reducing my contribution to the carbon emissions that are destroying our earth. Apart from reducing my carbon footprint, I should also offset my carbon emissions. In Kenya, this is now fucking easy, since you can just Swear For A Tree, thanks to @Kahenya and @afromusing. So go and calculate your carbon footprint now, try to reduce it, then swear away, and tell me what the hell you think about this great tree planting initiative.

Oh, and if you're bored, you can always watch a Bigfoot movie or read a Bigfoot story to your kids:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sexy veggies

Yes, I know we have all been enjoying plenty of nyama choma parties after I revealed this innovation. But, now it turns out that all the roasted meat is not good for you after all. Research has discovered two cancer-causing (carcinogenic) byproducts associated with barbecuing red meat, poultry, lamb, pork, and fish.

So, I am becoming a vegetarian (for one week). No meat, and more fruits, nuts and veggies. Cool, not? It's easy in Kenya, we have so many good fruits and veggies readily available here, even organic ones. Companies like Green Dreams produce fresh vegetables and fruits in an organic way and have a passion for healthy living.

What, you find fruits and veggies boring? Have a look at this picture then:

Yes indeed, tomatoes are good for you! Tomatoes contain awesome amounts of lycopene, thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids.

And what about this PETA ad which features a bevy of beauties who are powerless to resist the temptation of veggie love? It was deemed too hot for the Super Bowl. NBC rejected the video because of concerns over a woman "licking pumpkin, touching her breast with her hand while eating broccoli, pumpkin from behind between legs, rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin, screwing herself with broccoli (fuzzy), asparagus on her lap appearing as if it is ready to be inserted into vagina, licking eggplant, and rubbing asparagus on breast..."

The video got me interested in doing some practical research into this myth or fact that vegetarians make better lovers. So I am trying it out this week, starting tomorrow.

Am not sure though whether I would need to have a vegetarian partner for maximum effect... Anyone out there who has tried this out at home? Please leave your comment.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Welcome to the ICC Detention Centre

Kenyans have been eagerly awaiting the visit by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo. This visit could become an important step towards ending impunity in Kenya of the perpetrators of the post-election violence.

I explained earlier why I would love to go to The Hague. But that is of course because I would not be detained there. But I also don't understand why the key suspects of the post-election violence are fearing the ICC.

Today, I had a look at some images of the ICC Detention Centre, and I must say the place doesn't look too bad in comparison with our local centres here in Kenya. On the left of this post, you can see a standard room, the gym where detainees are offered training with a physical education instructor, and the library and spiritual room at the ICC Detention Centre (images courtesy of ICC).

The ICC endeavors to ensure the mental, physical and spiritual welfare of the detained persons within an efficient system of detention, with consideration to their cultural diversity and their development as individuals.

In achieving this aim, the daily programme of the Detention Centre allows the detained persons access to fresh air, recreational time and sports activities. They have access to library books, news and television. Detained persons have access to computer facilities to work on their own cases. If needed (dear ICC, rest assured that this is indeed needed for the Kenyans who will be detained there), detained persons are given the opportunity of computer training. Following the mandate of the ICC, as an e-Court, each detained person has a computer in his/ her cell, which is linked to one specific computer at the Court; only his defence has access to that computer. The Defence can upload caserelated material which the detained person can access and make comments on.

Acknowledging the right of a detained person to privacy with his/ her Defence; and recognising the importance for him/ her to communicate freely with the consular or diplomatic representative of his/ her country of origin; a detained person is entitled to privileged communication with persons falling under those two categories. This denotes that such communication shall not monitored be by the Detention Centre staff. In addition, the detained persons are entitled to visits by a minister or spiritual advisor of their religion or belief, for which an area within the Detention Centre is allocated.

With a view of maintaining family links, specific attention is given to visits by the family and visits by the wife (note to Kenyans: not 'wifes') or partner of the detained persons; and may take measures to assist the family in the necessary procedures thereof, if required.

Detained persons are provided with suitably prepared food that satisfies in quality and quantity the standards of dietetics and modern hygiene. Additionally, detained persons are allowed to cook for themselves (dear ICC, please note that Kenyan high level officials don't know how to cook!); they can purchase additional items, listed on the shopping list of the Detention Centre (is there ugali on that list?), as available, in order for them to adjust the meals provided to them, according to their taste and cultural requirements. However, Charles Taylor's lawyers have complained that the food which is served is completely eurocentric and not palatable to the African palate.

The Red Cross has unrestricted access to the Detention Centre. Its delegates pay unannounced visits to the Detention Centre, with the purpose of examining the treatment of the detained persons, their living conditions and their physical and psychological conditions, in conformity with widely accepted international standards governing the treatment of persons deprived of liberty.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kenya in darkness - but still Tweeting

Last night, a national power outage plunged Kenya into darkness. Just like with Julie Gichuru's pregnancy, you heard if first on Twitter. Kenyan Tweeple quickly started using the hashtags #kenyaindarkness (launched by @mountainous) and #KPLC, so they could follow the latest events (if they still some had battery life left on their phones or laptops). Here are some of my favorite tweets related to the blackout. Most of them were very funny, making this disturbing event quite enjoyable. Some Kenyans were just making the best out of it (having sex, making babies), but others were suspecting political interference...

kenyanpundit Maybe KPLC have gotten into the American thing aka Obama mania, this is celebrating Halloween, KPLC style #kenyaindarkness

mojizzzle #KPLC should stand for Kenya Please Light Candles

kenyanpundit Wonder how many of my .ke friends will be having babies 9 months from now... #kenyaindarkness

mountainous Mark your calendars cos 9 months from today you can expect to be sending out very many baby cards #KPLC #FAIL

MwaiKibaki I have constituted a commission of inquiry led by Samuel Gichuru to look into the nationwide blackout. No stove will be left untouched #KPLC

ek13photos Now that the lights are back in KE, I wonder how many people were caught in compromising positions... again no pun intended #kenyaindarkness

bobgamz KPLC could be doing couples a favor...what with the cold weather...*did i just say that?*

faithcnn Apparently, there's a blackout in Kenya -- the whole country has gone dark. #kenyaindarkness

iAlen Or maybe Kibaki used to #kenyaindarkness gap to visit Wambui in Muthaiga. If Roocey gets wind of this? heh...srap srap srap

damiancook Q: What did Kenyans use for lighting before they had fire and candles? A: Electricity #kenyaindarkness

damiancook #kenyaindarkness Actually unless Vision 2030 is Night Vision we ain't gonna see much

mountainous There was an article today in the newspaper about Nuclear power in Kenya but I ignored it sounded like fiction #kenyaindarkness

ek13photos why is everyone talking about babies with this #kenyaindarkness business???

mountainous when the power goes off Kenyans reach for their phones and head to twitter and facebook #kenyaindarkness

RafikiKenya #kenyaindarkness we should do this more often, great atmosphere, super sex

ArcherMishale I think @lucykibaki turned off the national grid. Woman, your blowdryer switch is the other one! Washa stima! #blackout

mountainous No loud music from the club across the road #Kenyaindarkness

artsim Guess who is not complaining of the #kplc nationwide blackout :) sitting by the pool under a full moon enjoying the sea breeze *bliss*

nymou So whoever presented th news tonight must've felt like an idiot knowing no one's watching. #kplc #fail

kahenya I hope I am wrong but @PaulaKahumbu might be right. I think there is something political going on. For real.

ArcherMishale There's a coup in progress! #nairumours #kenyaindarkness #KPLC

bobgamz Or maybe they are ferrying out some P.E.V suspects under the cover of darkness?...u may wake up to a new Kenya tomorrow...

paulakahumbu That wasn't 22 minutes you bastard computer....ZZZzzz catch u all when #blackout is over be safe

At least some people were lucky to have some battery life left on their phones and laptops, but in order to be prepared for future events, I would now like to launch the following idea: Could we have a Twitter version for candles as well? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shocking: Kenyan teens are having sex!

Kenyan teens are having sex. And apparently they have no clue on how to go about it.

A report by the Nairobi-based Centre for the Study of Adolescents (CSA) reports that 40 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys reported having had sex before their 19th birthday, a significant minority reported having sex with more than one partner in the previous six months. --->>> Those are the reported figures, so what are the real figures?

The report also confirms that the youth are having sex but they lack vital information on sexual and reproductive health.

Sexual education in schools is watered down. What we have is information that barely cratches the surface, and in the end the young people are left with many gaps to be filled. They are curious and what they do is fill the gaps through talking to friends and this leads to experimentation with wrong information. --->>> Do we need sex education in our schools, or should our teens just experiment, or both? I had both, and I am still doing fine.

A separate study by CSA in 2008 recorded an estimated 5.5 million girls between ages of 15 to 19 years give birth annually in Kenya --->>> Do we even have so many girls in that age group in Kenya? Must be something wrong with the figures here?
The report further indicated this same group has more than one million unsafe abortions each year. --->>> Please, can we all become gay? Problem solved.
Forty-seven percent of the teens surveyed either had a child, were pregnant, or had undergone an abortion by age 20. --->>> 47 percent? Shocking!

Photo courtesy of

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kenya's Next Top Model - 2012 season

Kenya's Next Top Model is a reality television show in which a number of people compete for the title of Kenya's Next Top Model and a chance to start their career in the modeling industry.

Here's the line-up for the 2012 season:

It looks like this may become a disappointing season. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nyama choma - with compliments from Nakumatt

The standard blow-out feast for most Kenyans is a huge pile of nyama choma (roast meat). And sometimes you just get a craving for some nice nyama choma, but you don't have the right equipment readily available, so you have to become innovative:

Innovation courtesy of Nakumatt. Note that the trolley was not destroyed in this case.

Would this work with an Uchumi trolley as well? Please share your experiences!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our ladies are oh so special !

Ladies, you don't need a man that drives an X6, M3, Land Rover, Mercedes or Hummer to feel special...

This is simply Africa where anything is possible!

Thank you very much for your attention.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Start your business in Narok instead of Nairobi

The Doing Business in Kenya 2010 report was launched yesterday, just on the heels of the annual Doing Business 2010 report. Globally, Kenya ranked 95 out of 183 economies. One of the reasons it takes longer to start a business in Kenyan localities is the many steps required: 3 more than the Sub-Saharan Africa regional average and 3 times as many as in Senegal.

Narok, Malaba and Thika lead the overall ranking on the four indicators measured in the report (starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, and enforcing contracts). Isiolo, Nairobi and Kilifi lag behind other localities (see Table). Nairobi has the fastest time and lowest cost for starting a business, at 34 days and 36.5 percent of income per capita. But it lags behind other localities in the time needed to register property or enforce a contract through the courts.

The process to obtain construction-related permits and clearances is easiest in Narok, Nyeri and Malaba, but more cumbersome in Isiolo, Thika and Mombasa. Obtaining all permits to build a warehouse and hook it up to utilities takes less than 70 days in Narok, making it the 15th fastest location worldwide, the same as Denmark.

Registering property is fastest in Mombasa, where it takes 23 days (figure 1). In Isiolo, a special transfer tax levied by the County Council makes registering property almost as expensive as in the Syrian Arab Republic, the world’s most expensive place to register property.

Resolving a commercial dispute is speedy in Malaba, because the courts in Bungoma, where these are heard, are strict on adjournments. As a result, the 11 months needed to enforce a contract in Malaba are less than the OECD average (15.5 months).

Doing Business in Kenya 2010, the first subnational report on Kenya, suggests Kenya could improve its ranking by 17 positions simply by adopting best practices already in place in the 11 Kenyan localities covered in the report:
"If a hypothetical city, 'Kenyana', were to adopt the best practices already in place in Kenya, its ranking would improve in all four areas of regulation that are the focus of this study, putting 'Kenyana' in 78th place among the 183 economies measured in the global Doing Business report. That is 17 positions better than Kenya’s current global rank (represented by Nairobi)."
Here is the full 77-page report - which includes very valuable lists of all procedures to go through when starting a business in Kenya - plus the press release and a Powerpoint presentation. Just download, you won't regret it, it is good information.

If you would like to thank me for sharing this, please leave a comment.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Julie Gichuru pregnant again - and you heard it a long time ago on Twitter via @RafikiKenya

Julie Gichuru is pregnant again, excellent news! That will be her fifth child, a real African woman! And you heard if first on Twitter, thanks to @RafikiKenya. See some of the tweets of the past month below on this topic:

mountainous Thanks for that info dude, I am glad to note you heard it first on Twitter through @RafikiKenya some time back.
about 7 hours ago from web in reply to mountainous

nzembi @mountainous By the way that #juliegichuru polka dot dress is nice.about 10 hours ago from mobile web

mountainous I was about to diss the polka dot dress on Julie Gichuru but now I realise its a Maternity Dress so I have to retract #citizenlive
about 10 hours ago from Seesmic Desktop

bankelele CitizenTV news anchor julie gichuru confirms she is expectant as she reads a story on teen-pregnancy during the sunday nightly news
about 10 hours ago from mobile web

kachwanya Julie Gichuru Declared she is pregnant. for those who have been asking.will give birth in two months time...great
about 10 hours ago from web

mountainous Wow! Julie Gichuru announces she is indeed Pregnant Live on Citizen Live. I guess @RafikiKenya was right all along. congrats to the Gichurus
about 10 hours ago from Seesmic Desktop

nzembi Julie Gichuru announces she's pregnant on Live News.
about 10 hours ago from mobile web

mountainous @ek13photos you can critique Julie Gichuru's polka dot dress on Citizen Sunday Live LOL!
about 11 hours ago from Seesmic Desktop

RafikiKenya @Shiko_Msa Thanks for confirming my view on Julie. The works are now already in their last stages (read afterplay)
11:17 PM Aug 23rd from web

RafikiKenya @ruatek Thanks for supporting my old view that Julie is full.
11:15 PM Aug 23rd from web

Shiko_Msa @rafikikenya before you get down to the works. Julie. Looks it yeah. But she can still do away with the odd dressing. Now go.
10:57 PM Aug 23rd from mobile web

ruatek @Rafikikenya it's a known fact julie is exptn a 5th..kudos
8:57 PM Aug 23rd from mobile web

RafikiKenya @dnyaga Good, I hope you will agree with me. She is pregnant, but it wasn't me #juliegichuru
8:46 PM Aug 23rd from web

RafikiKenya I hope today you will all agree with me that Julie Gichuru is indeed pregnant. #citizentv
8:44 PM Aug 23rd from web

RafikiKenya @emugendi Woman's intuition ??? Yet, I guessed it first #juliefull Was I born in the wrong body maybe?
9:51 PM Aug 2nd from web in reply to emugendi

RafikiKenya @Shiko_Msa Do you really think it is just the dress? #juliefull
9:29 PM Aug 2nd from web in reply to Shiko_Msa

RafikiKenya @bobui Depending on the positions they use, I think it could work #JULIEnaLOUIS But how would the baby look really?
9:28 PM Aug 2nd from web in reply to bobui

RafikiKenya @bobui LOL Yes it could be Louis Otieno ! But what a baby would that give? No, let me not think about it.
9:17 PM Aug 2nd from web in reply to bobui

RafikiKenya @bobui @willpress So at least we are 3 already who can agree that Julie is pregnant. Now, next question: who did it? Her husband? Again?
9:10 PM Aug 2nd from web in reply to bobui

RafikiKenya @bobui According to my sixth sense, she is pregnant #juliegichuru
9:05 PM Aug 2nd from web in reply to bobui

RafikiKenya I couldn't hear Julie, but she looks very pregnant
8:58 PM Aug 2nd from web
The early announcement of Julie's pregnancy on Twitter reminded me of some nice infographics from Samuel Degremont on information flows before the Twitter era and after Twitter. I am copying these graphics below.

Before Twitter

After Twitter

As you can see from the graphs, Twitter has changed the flow of information and news quite drastically. What do you think?

Apart from following @RafikiKenya on Twitter and the usual baby bump, here are some other signs to look out for if you want to know whether a woman is pregnant or not:
  • Sudden emotion swings (although women also tend to have these even when they are not pregnant, so maybe they just occur more frequently).
  • Fatigue.
  • Weight gain.
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Morning sickness; also certain smells make her feel sick.
  • Drinking less alcohol or no alcohol at all.
  • Urinating more frequently.
  • Some women get a faint dark or red line from their belly button down.
  • Sore breasts, bigger areola as well as tender nipples which may be darker in color than usual.
Any others I am forgetting?
Oh, and please don't ask me which of these signs showed me that Julie is pregnant.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kenyans getting ready for Stella Mwangi (aka STL) in support of the Mau Forest

Kenyan rap princess Stella Mwangi aka STL will be performing at Thika Municipal Stadium on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 to raise awareness and funds for the Mau Forest. The concert will involve Stella Mwangi as the Headliner, K-Nel (Kenyan hip-hop artist based in Germany), DJ Wesley, DJ Leo (Capital FM), Jimmie Gait and Abbas among other popular Kenya artists. Stella Mwangi will be joined by her girl Michelle (from the song Take It Back). The Green Belt Movement and Wangari Maathai are also expected to take part in the event.

Stella Mwangi aka STL is a young, Kenya-born MC inspired by Queen Latifah and others. She has shared stages with Public Enemy and Angelique Kidjo. She is making great inroads into the international scene and currently working on a second album which hopefully will be taken up by a major label.

Personally, I am not into rap at all, but I love Stella Mwangi's music anyway. Great lyrics with some kind of message, a groovy sound and funky moves - that's what I need and she got all of them! You can see how she is (w)rapping herself in Rafiki Kenya's soft avatar flag on the picture. Nice of her, isn't it?

Here are three of Stella Mwangi's best songs:

1. 'The Dreamer' (her second single from her debut album ‘Living For Music’ which was released on October 20th, 2008 in Scandinavia and Africa):

2. 'Makelele' (about the post-election situation and disharmony in Kenya):

3. 'Take It Back' (her first single, it was a kind of a hit song in Africa and in Scandinavia; #1 on the East African charts in 2008)

The lyrics of the last one 'Take It Back' are so inspiring and so true:
Heshima kwa huyu dada, Jamani ametoka far Tunawakilisha and We're taking it back just taking it back Rumblin’s beat -we're on fire, STL, Michelle aha Tunawakilisha and, We're taking it back just taking it back
I'm on my way back home Already packed my bags can't wait to get home Clear everything else away Don't wanna do nothing else but walk my way, I’m going Back to Kenya, back to the fine weather Back to grandma, ain't nothing else I'd rather Sit on the porch and drink grandma's porridge Talk to my elder, listen while they speak knowledge Next morning be on my way to Nairobi Do another song bet now they all know me And magazine can write all kinds of bullshit But let me tell you this, STL will always do this Lift your hands swing them around like a million buck Make sure everybody here knows what’s up It's been a while now finally I'm coming home With the perfect beat, go a head and shake it all
I been around, seen a few things learned a couple new things Been through good and bad things Learned about how things - GO! When you got a big dream, can't let - GO! I'm holding with a good grip I rap to get close to everything I'm chasing Do all there is, history in a making Some call it good work, some call it time wasting Some wish me good luck, some would like to see me fade But on my way back home I don't wanna stress I just wanna lay down and watch the sunset Hang around with my cousins, we be chilling man Turn the volume up on this we be cruising man STL baby knew this time would come That I would take this, back to where I'm from Through your fist in the air if you feel this People here show love, cause this the place
Unahisi hii ngoma vinoma From the shagz to the city let me see you if you real with it -Unahisi hii ngoma vinoma Nomatter young and grown get your grove on go and get with it Unahisi hii ngoma vinoma I'm saying je unahisi hi ngoma vinoma una hisi hi ngoma vinoma I give you who I am, applaud to this one Thank you!
Stella Mwangi's album 'Living For Music' can be downloaded from Amazon:

For the concert on Sunday, transport arrangements will be made to ferry people from Nairobi to Thika (free transport from Nairobi to Thika and back will be provided). Tickets (Ksh 300/- only) will be sold at the gate and at the KENCOM bus stage in Nairobi.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sauti Sol: Refreshing Kenyan music now available to the world

The refreshingly creative Kenyan band Sauti Sol consists of Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Chimano, Delvin Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno, who met in high school and originally started as an a capella group.

The group is inspired by the choices, consequences and challenges that the Kenyan youth face and the need to revamp the music industry with a different unique sound that cuts across all age groups. Musically, their inspiration comes from the music of Fadhili Williams, Daudi Kabaka and other established African artists such as Salif Keita and Lokua Kanza. Eclecticsoul describes Sauti Sol's music appropriately as "afro fusion/neo soul sound that soothes, grooves and moves your mind, your body, your soul and takes it to that secret place where music meets heaven".

Their first album "Mwanzo" is an excellent fusion of delightful African sounds with a modern urban feel. Most of the songs are extremely well received when performed live among Sauti Sol's continuously growing fan-base.

The first single from this amazing album is "Lazizi". It was released in February 2009. Here it is:

The second single "Blue Uniform" was released in July 2009:

The complete album "Mwanzo" will be available for download from Amazon from Tuesday, 4th of August 2009.

Sauti Sol will be going on tour to Europe at the end of August. This is a good opportunity for the band to showcase their great talent and show the world a little of Kenya's musical scene. What better way to send the band off than with a live show on Saturday, August 8th, 2009, at the August 7th Memorial Park (Moi Avenue, opposite Railways) from noon to 6 pm, and an exclusive afterparty at Blue Times Lounge (Museum Hill) where you will have the chance to meet the band, grab an autograph, and take a picture. Let's send these guys off in style!

Ticketing info:
Concert: Advance tickets: KSh 300/- (call +254 727 214465); Gate: KSh 400/-
Afterparty: Free with concert ticket; KSh 200/- without.

Sauti Sol will also be performing at tomorrow's (Saturday, August 2nd, 2009) Blankets and Wine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bahati: amazing ethnic fashion by Patricia Wakaimba

Welcome to the world of Patricia Wakaimba, a new and young Kenyan fashion designer!

Patricia will be launching her own collection named 'Bahati' with a beautiful and creative range of 50 dresses on Wednesday 5th August 2009 at 7:30pm at Pitcher and Butch at K1 Klub House in Nairobi.

Bahati is an African inspired fashion collection embracing the continent's cultural diversity through the use of bold, rich and colourful prints, striving to be a truly vibrant modern day symbol of cultural expression.

There will be something in store for every woman, whether you are looking for something fun, funky, deceivingly innocent or flirty (@PinkM: yes, please note), or something smart, laid back or casual. So, have a look at her (painfully slow) website, and, if you like what you see, go to her (hopefully not equally slow) fashion and entertainment show on Wednesday at K1.

Bahati is proudly feminine and strives to empower girls and women regardless of their age to take pride in every aspect of their lives. Bahati is therefore taking a stand against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a point which will be further addressed at the Fashion show by Maendeleo ya Wanawake. Cheers!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kazuri - Beads of Change

Kazuri - which means "small and beautiful" in Kiswahili - began in 1975 as a tiny workshop experimenting in making handmade beads. I discovered them much later, but how I love those beads now! I have bought many of their necklaces, there is so much variety to choose from that I will never get bored buying more of them for more friends and family.

The ceramic beads are made from clay from the Mount Kenya area which is dug by hand. Each bead is shaped by hand by one of the more then 300 women employed by Kazuri without the aid of molds, forms or any modern machinery. The beads are then hand painted in a wide range of designs that shine with a kaleidoscope of African colors. The beautiful beads are painted with high gloss paint, and then glazed to produce a smooth, decorated product.

The beads are known for their Kenyan art that reflects a culture and appeal to a worldwide fashion market. Kazuri's beautifully finished products are made to an international standard and are sold worldwide. Kazuri produces over 5 million beads per year.

As every piece of jewellery is handmade, every one is unique. Indeed, many pieces take on the quirks and trademarks of the women who shape the beads, paint them or string them, giving them soul as well as beauty. Many Kazuri styles are named after areas, tribes and other features of the Kenyan landscape; evocative names that resonate with the organic nature of the clay that comes from its earth. So a Kazuri piece is more than an item of jewellery, it's a piece of Kenya.

The full Kazuri story "A String of Beads", a book written by Susan Wood, may be purchased from Kazuri Kenya. You can also visit their 'factory' in Karen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

More Kiswahili, Kikuyu, Dholuo and other African languages in Google Books

In partnership with East African Educational Publishers, Google Books is now adding more books in African languages to their index. From Kiswahili, to Kikuyu, to Dholuo and Acholi, but also including oral languages such as Mbeere and Maasai, the thousands of titles published by East African Educational Publishers will be digitized and indexed on Google’s search engine and become available to users in Kenya and around the world in the next several months.

East African Educational Publishers is Africa’s leading book publisher. The house has published over 2,500 titles by renowned and upcoming African writers - including Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chinua Achebe, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye. The publisher has also been instrumental in the growth of award winning upcoming young writers such as Kingwa Kamencu, Onduko Bw’atebe and Wanjiru Waithaka.

East African Educational Publishers is one of over 25,000 publishers worldwide to join the Google Books Publisher Program. Google Books has over 10 million books in the index. It includes works in over a 100 languages, and is currently available in 142 countries.

The announcement comes at the same time that the European Union is stepping up its review of Google’s book-scanning project to analyze how it might affect authors’ and publishers’ copyrights in the 27- nation bloc.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I would love to go to The Hague

In recent weeks and days, Kenyans have been discussing a lot about going to The Hague or not. Me, I would love to go to The Hague! The Hague means enjoying castles, cultural events, concerts, art exhibits, a night out at the theatre, shopping in the city centre and a romantic walk at the seaside. The Hague is a wonderful city full of life, all year round!

Under the name ‘The Hague Art City’, The Hague in 2009 - 2011 will highlight its many cultural treasures. A large number of superb exhibitions, festivals and performances will be held during this period. Notably, some recently announced performances by 'cultural' Kenyans have not been included in the programme.

Shopping in The Hague is always fun. Besides all the major department stores and chains, you'll find countless specialist shops, fashion boutiques, porcelain shops, shoe shops, delicatessens, and many more shops specialising in fascinating exotic products. Something for everyone! Kenyans, let's all go to The Hague!

I wouldn't mind dining at Tampat Senang, a very colonial-style restaurant with waiters in traditional costumes. This Indonesian restaurant is beautifully decorated with indigenous art and has an excellent garden for outside dining in summer.

The Hague also means enjoying cultural events, concerts, art exhibits, and other nights out! I would love to go to Club Silly Symphonies aka Club Sillies (Uhuru and Ruto, please note the interesting name of this establishment), a bar cum night club catering for the partyfolk.

How about taking a stroll along the beach? Followed by a nice meal in one of the restaurants on the boulevard or at the beach. Or, if you feel like doing something a bit more active, a bracing walk or cycle tour in the dunes. Scheveningen and Kijkduin are the perfect places to go!

I would stay at the Haagsche Suites, luxurious exclusive suites in a townhouse built in 1890 and recently thoroughly refurbished. And you, would you like to go to The Hague? And if yes, what would you do there?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama's Ghana speech - full text

Text of President Barack Obama's speech Saturday in Accra, Ghana, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House:
Good morning. It is an honor for me to be in Accra, and to speak to the representatives of the people of Ghana. I am deeply grateful for the welcome that I've received, as are Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama. Ghana's history is rich, the ties between our two countries are strong, and I am proud that this is my first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as President of the United States.

I am speaking to you at the end of a long trip. I began in Russia, for a Summit between two great powers. I traveled to Italy, for a meeting of the world's leading economies. And I have come here, to Ghana, for a simple reason: the 21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra as well.

This is the simple truth of a time when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections. Your prosperity can expand America's. Your health and security can contribute to the world's. And the strength of your democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.

So I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world - as partners with America on behalf of the future that we want for all our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility, and that is what I want to speak with you about today.

We must start from the simple premise that Africa's future is up to Africans.

I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family's own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story.

My grandfather was a cook for the British in Kenya, and though he was a respected elder in his village, his employers called him "boy" for much of his life. He was on the periphery of Kenya's liberation struggles, but he was still imprisoned briefly during repressive times. In his life, colonialism wasn't simply the creation of unnatural borders or unfair terms of trade - it was something experienced personally, day after day, year after year.

My father grew up herding goats in a tiny village, an impossible distance away from the American universities where he would come to get an education. He came of age at an extraordinary moment of promise for Africa. The struggles of his own father's generation were giving birth to new nations, beginning right here in Ghana. Africans were educating and asserting themselves in new ways. History was on the move.

But despite the progress that has been made - and there has been considerable progress in parts of Africa - we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Countries like Kenya, which had a per capita economy larger than South Korea's when I was born, have been badly outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent. In many places, the hope of my father's generation gave way to cynicism, even despair.

It is easy to point fingers, and to pin the blame for these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense bred conflict, and the West has often approached Africa as a patron, rather than a partner. But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants. In my father's life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many.

Of course, we also know that is not the whole story. Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or the need for charity. The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana's economy has shown impressive rates of growth.

This progress may lack the drama of the 20th century's liberation struggles, but make no mistake: it will ultimately be more significant. For just as it is important to emerge from the control of another nation, it is even more important to build one's own.

So I believe that this moment is just as promising for Ghana - and for Africa - as the moment when my father came of age and new nations were being born. This is a new moment of promise. Only this time, we have learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa's future. Instead, it will be you - the men and women in Ghana's Parliament, and the people you represent. Above all, it will be the young people - brimming with talent and energy and hope - who can claim the future that so many in my father's generation never found.

To realize that promise, we must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.

As for America and the West, our commitment must be measured by more than just the dollars we spend. I have pledged substantial increases in our foreign assistance, which is in Africa's interest and America's. But the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of aid that helps people scrape by - it is whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.

This mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership. And today, I will focus on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy; opportunity; health; and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments.

As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than governments that do not.

This is about more than holding elections - it's also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.

In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success - strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples' lives.

Time and again, Ghanaians have chosen Constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously, and victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth. We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage and participating in the political process.

Across Africa, we have seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny and making change from the bottom up. We saw it in Kenya, where civil society and business came together to help stop postelection violence. We saw it in South Africa, where over three quarters of the country voted in the recent election - the fourth since the end of apartheid. We saw it in Zimbabwe, where the Election Support Network braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person's vote is their sacred right.

Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.

America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation - the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny. What we will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance - on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting, automating services, strengthening hot lines and protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.

As we provide this support, I have directed my administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights report. People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying a bribe. We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don't, and that is exactly what America will do.

This leads directly to our second area of partnership - supporting development that provides opportunity for more people.

With better governance, I have no doubt that Africa holds the promise of a broader base for prosperity. The continent is rich in natural resources. And from cell phone entrepreneurs to small farmers, Africans have shown the capacity and commitment to create their own opportunities. But old habits must also be broken. Dependence on commodities - or on a single export - concentrates wealth in the hands of the few and leaves people too vulnerable to downturns.

In Ghana, for instance, oil brings great opportunities, and you have been responsible in preparing for new revenue. But as so many Ghanaians know, oil cannot simply become the new cocoa. From South Korea to Singapore, history shows that countries thrive when they invest in their people and infrastructure; when they promote multiple export industries, develop a skilled work force and create space for small and medium-sized businesses that create jobs.

As Africans reach for this promise, America will be more responsible in extending our hand. By cutting costs that go to Western consultants and administration, we will put more resources in the hands of those who need it, while training people to do more for themselves. That is why our $3.5 billion food security initiative is focused on new methods and technologies for farmers - not simply sending American producers or goods to Africa. Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it is no longer needed.

America can also do more to promote trade and investment. Wealthy nations must open our doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way. And where there is good governance, we can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity; capacity-building that trains people to grow a business; and financial services that reach poor and rural areas. This is also in our own interest - for if people are lifted out of poverty and wealth is created in Africa, new markets will open for our own goods.

One area that holds out both undeniable peril and extraordinary promise is energy. Africa gives off less greenhouse gas than any other part of the world, but it is the most threatened by climate change. A warming planet will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops, creating conditions that produce more famine and conflict. All of us - particularly the developed world - have a responsibility to slow these trends - through mitigation, and by changing the way that we use energy. But we can also work with Africans to turn this crisis into opportunity.

Together, we can partner on behalf of our planet and prosperity and help countries increase access to power while skipping the dirtier phase of development. Across Africa, there is bountiful wind and solar power; geothermal energy and bio-fuels. From the Rift Valley to the North African deserts; from the Western coast to South Africa's crops - Africa's boundless natural gifts can generate its own power, while exporting profitable, clean energy abroad.

These steps are about more than growth numbers on a balance sheet. They're about whether a young person with an education can get a job that supports a family; a farmer can transfer their goods to the market; or an entrepreneur with a good idea can start a business. It's about the dignity of work. Its about the opportunity that must exist for Africans in the 21st century.

Just as governance is vital to opportunity, it is also critical to the third area that I will talk about - strengthening public health.

In recent years, enormous progress has been made in parts of Africa. Far more people are living productively with HIV/AIDS, and getting the drugs they need. But too many still die from diseases that shouldn't kill them. When children are being killed because of a mosquito bite, and mothers are dying in childbirth, then we know that more progress must be made.

Yet because of incentives - often provided by donor nations - many African doctors and nurses understandably go overseas, or work for programs that focus on a single disease. This creates gaps in primary care and basic prevention. Meanwhile, individual Africans also have to make responsible choices that prevent the spread of disease, while promoting public health in their communities and countries.

Across Africa, we see examples of people tackling these problems. In Nigeria, an interfaith effort of Christians and Muslims has set an example of cooperation to confront malaria. Here in Ghana and across Africa, we see innovative ideas for filling gaps in care - for instance, through E-Health initiatives that allow doctors in big cities to support those in small towns.

America will support these efforts through a comprehensive, global health strategy. Because in the 21st century, we are called to act by our conscience and our common interest. When a child dies of a preventable illness in Accra, that diminishes us everywhere. And when disease goes unchecked in any corner of the world, we know that it can spread across oceans and continents.

That is why my administration has committed $63 billion to meet these challenges. Building on the strong efforts of President Bush, we will carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS. We will pursue the goal of ending deaths from malaria and tuberculosis, and eradicating polio. We will fight neglected tropical disease. And we won't confront illnesses in isolation - we will invest in public health systems that promote wellness and focus on the health of mothers and children.

As we partner on behalf of a healthier future, we must also stop the destruction that comes not from illness, but from human beings - and so the final area that I will address is conflict.

Now let me be clear: Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at war. But for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes.

These conflicts are a millstone around Africa's neck. We all have many identities - of tribe and ethnicity; of religion and nationality. But defining oneself in opposition to someone who belongs to a different tribe, or who worships a different prophet, has no place in the 21st century. Africa's diversity should be a source of strength, not a cause for division. We are all God's children. We all share common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to access education and opportunity; to love our families, our communities, and our faith. That is our common humanity.

That is why we must stand up to inhumanity in our midst. It is never justifiable to target innocents in the name of ideology. It is the death sentence of a society to force children to kill in wars. It is the ultimate mark of criminality and cowardice to condemn women to relentless and systematic rape. We must bear witness to the value of every child in Darfur and the dignity of every woman in Congo. No faith or culture should condone the outrages against them. All of us must strive for the peace and security necessary for progress.

Africans are standing up for this future. Here, too, Ghana is helping to point the way forward. Ghanaians should take pride in your contributions to peacekeeping from Congo to Liberia to Lebanon, and in your efforts to resist the scourge of the drug trade. We welcome the steps that are being taken by organizations like the African Union and ECOWAS to better resolve conflicts, keep the peace, and support those in need. And we encourage the vision of a strong, regional security architecture that can bring effective, transnational force to bear when needed.

America has a responsibility to advance this vision, not just with words, but with support that strengthens African capacity. When there is genocide in Darfur or terrorists in Somalia, these are not simply African problems - they are global security challenges, and they demand a global response. That is why we stand ready to partner through diplomacy, technical assistance, and logistical support, and will stand behind efforts to hold war criminals accountable. And let me be clear: our Africa Command is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent, but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security of America, Africa and the world.

In Moscow, I spoke of the need for an international system where the universal rights of human beings are respected, and violations of those rights are opposed. That must include a commitment to support those who resolve conflicts peacefully, to sanction and stop those who don't, and to help those who have suffered. But ultimately, it will be vibrant democracies like Botswana and Ghana which roll back the causes of conflict, and advance the frontiers of peace and prosperity.

As I said earlier, Africa's future is up to Africans.

The people of Africa are ready to claim that future. In my country, African-Americans - including so many recent immigrants - have thrived in every sector of society. We have done so despite a difficult past, and we have drawn strength from our African heritage. With strong institutions and a strong will, I know that Africans can live their dreams in Nairobi and Lagos; in Kigali and Kinshasa; in Harare and right here in Accra.

Fifty-two years ago, the eyes of the world were on Ghana. And a young preacher named Martin Luther King traveled here, to Accra, to watch the Union Jack come down and the Ghanaian flag go up. This was before the march on Washington or the success of the civil rights movement in my country. Dr. King was asked how he felt while watching the birth of a nation. And he said: "It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice."

Now, that triumph must be won once more, and it must be won by you. And I am particularly speaking to the young people. In places like Ghana, you make up over half of the population. Here is what you must know: the world will be what you make of it.

You have the power to hold your leaders accountable and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move.

But these things can only be done if you take responsibility for your future. It won't be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend. Opportunity won't come from any other place, though - it must come from the decisions that you make, the things that you do, and the hope that you hold in your hearts.

Freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom's foundation. And if you do, we will look back years from now to places like Accra and say that this was the time when the promise was realized - this was the moment when prosperity was forged; pain was overcome; and a new era of progress began. This can be the time when we witness the triumph of justice once more. Thank you.

Obama gets interesting questions from Africa

As I announced before, World President Barack Obama invited Africans to send an SMS to him with questions and comments in advance of his visit to Africa.

Over the past week, the White House has been collecting questions, comments and words of welcome for World President Obama via SMS, Twitter, Facebook and from newspapers across Africa. The White House shared these responses with 3 journalists in Africa, Ms. Angela Quintal of the Independent Newspapers in South Africa, Mr. Mamadou Thior of Radio Television Senegal (RTS) and Mr. Peter Kimani of The Standard in Kenya. These journalists, in turn, picked a few of the questions for the President to answer. The White House will post a video and audio recording of those answers on Monday.

In the meantime, the White House has shared an interactive map which samples 43 of the more than 5,000 questions received.

There are pertinent questions about the ever-present vice of corruption:
"Goodmorning Mr.president,the former sec.of state Mr.Collin Powel once said that every Nigerian is corrupt.As a Nigerian I know he is 99% correct.what policies do you propose to inorder to deliver the largest African nation from this 'cancer'.may Allah protect and guide you."
Some of the questions address contemporary issues like the environment, such as this one from Swaziland:
Mr. President, thank you 4 ur commitment to improve lives of ordinary ppl. I work 4 an env regulating agency. There a companies who we find difficult to get to comply with env stds because they exploit our vulnerabilities (poverty, unemployment,etc). Politicians then find it hard to support compliance enforcement measures because of fear of making the economic situation worse. What is ur policy 4 US companies operating in developing countries and how it enforced?
And, of course, the most interesting question had to come from Kenya:
"Mr President, there is currently a lot of interesting and healthy debate in traditional and online media about appropriate development models for Africa. Three schools of thought are emerging: Jeffrey Sachs, Bill Easterly, and Dambisa Moyo. Which of these three does your administration feel most comfortable with when developing and designing US aid and development policies and strategies for Africa?"
And you, what would you ask Obama when given the opportunity?