In the last week of February 2020 I was exploring the principles of Digital Africa, the so called Silicon Savannah, together with a group of Austrians. The trip was organised and facilitaded by Next Africa, an initiative by Austrians and Africans.
Apart from the entrepreneurship and startup mentality, I was fascinated by the heart- and mindset of the Africans. On the first day I got to know Ronnie CK from The Kizomba District who talked about how to free your mind with dancing: “in order to be open for the world, for new solutions, for social inclusion.”
And I met Michael Nyerere, a young artist, who is working hard every day from 6:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. in order to create his pieces of art that are shared in museums, at events and in my office in Vienna :-)
On day 2 we went to explore Kibera, the largest informal settlement of Nairobi. This was a very impactful visit for me: starting with visiting Tunapanda, a non-profit institute to digitally include young underprivileged people. There we met Maureen, the head of training at Tunapanda who shared her passion for changing this world to a better place:
“Nothing will work unless you do.”, Maya Angelou
“My mission in life is not to merely survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some compassion, some passion, some humor and some style.”, Maya Angelou
Impressive how within 3 weeks, young people are enabled to build their own digital business, based on a Business Model Canvas.
Then the tour through Kibera started with visiting a music studio where music videos are produced on more or less 4 squaremeters. Being proud of the productions that are successful on YouTube and Spotify.
Walking through the “streets” of Kibera made me very thoughtful about humanity, the economic imbalance of this planet and being one global community. People living with an income of less then 1$ a day, without washrooms in their homes but still being satisfied with what they have. Living from one day to the other. In this moment.
“Once in Kibera you stay here, because life is easier”, said one of our guides, a rapper born and raised there. The ecosystem is complete as there are schools, kindergardens, public toilets, shops and hotels. And even self help centers for women with Aids or HIV.
What was fascinating were the different characters of the children in the streets: Some of them looking very serious when they saw us, others ready for a high-five with the white strangers.
I personally left Kibera with many thoughts on how to make this world a better place. Adressing the corruption in Kenya as well as the economical behaviour of Europe by transferring our antiquated values to this growing continent. Is it really all about the GDP that makes us consider Africa as a growing contintent? I do not agree on that as long as 60% of the people in Kenya live in slums. In order to measure the maturity of a country we should include many more factors, such as the health system, nutrition, education and social inclusion.
Having said this, I think we have to act instead of talk. By empowering projects, that change structures and shift power from the rich to the majority in Kenya.
Peris, you have my word in supporting your women´s project! What I learned from you and your mates is how to be in the now, embracing everybody´s effort and uniqueness. Without any doubt of closing the gap between Kenya and the rest of the world.