Just imagine yourself in a pool of so many foreigners at one of the local hotels in Nairobi, I almost thought that I was out of the country. But in fact I was right in Nairobi earlier this week attending an international summit on Citizen Media organized on by Global Voices. I was one of the lucky five grantees from East Africa who received a free travel and registration to attend this summit.
Nairobi, Kenya was a host to this special summit that is a biennial gathering, which brings together bloggers, activists and technologists from around the world for public discussions and workshops about the rise of online citizen media movements worldwide. All new visitors were warmly welcomed and made to feel at home.
|Thomas Otieno Bwire, Uweza Communications Officer, at the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit|
Let me take you through the Kenyan presentation which was done in split groups. Here the panelists addressed how online tools and channels are not just for airing opinions affecting it's people but also act as a source of latest breaking news.
|Panel of Kenyan bloggers|
Later on Bob Boorstin from Google, Max Schrems (Europe vs. Facebook) and Ramzi Jaber (onlinecensorship.org) joined GV's Ivan Sigal for the panel 'Giants of the Internet: What Role and Responsibility?'. The audience was made aware that Facebook declined an invitation to attend, and a Yahoo! representative could not come at the last minute.
|Presentation on the use of social media as a source of news|
Ory Okolloh, the original Global Voices Africa editor and a co-founder of Ushahidi who is Google's current Africa policy head, answered an audience question about whether African net users are aware of how to protect their online rights. She spoke about her concerns regarding local capacity and mentioned how she is working with local groups to raise issues. “I must say I am extremely excited, all the more so since I am hardly a year old as a Global Voicer yet being part of the online community as a Kenyan author has proved beneficial in so many ways. I am eager to meet the very many faces of fellow authors and editors of whom I have had opportunity to work with online” noted Okolloh.
The two day summit was really gave me a better understanding of the power of usage of social media and felt special among a pool of talented people I was able to meet through Global Voices community. The summit could not just pass by as I was also lucky to personally meet the Global Voices Director Eddie Avila.
|Thomas Bwire, Global Voices Director Eddie Avila and a grantee from Uganda|