joi ito fellows http://directorsfellows.media.mit.edu/people/
iHub, just like the Media Lab, is lots of work AND lots of fun at the same time. I got to meet very interesting people. Here’s David who’s a software consultant by the day, concert photographer by the evening and a time-lapse rig hacker by the night.
Jimmy Gitonga is the manager at iHub. He’s also a well of knowledge on African anthropology. In the couple of hours I spent chatting with Jimmy, I found answers to many ill-formed questions I had about Kenya and Africa, such as why is Swahili written in the latin alphabet? How did British take control over the Masailand? How are India and East Africa connected culturally? Why are Matatus called that? And to answer to the last question, they were initially called Ma3(s), well because you could go anywhere in the city for 30Ksh. After sometime, ‘three’ got replaced by its kiswahili counterpart–tatu, so Matatu.
Sankei, Kelly and Kirui are starting UpStart Africa, a social enterprise incubator with a reality TV show of its own. They’re scouting Kenya to find 40 technopreneurs who would all be the participants in the show. True to reality TV traditions, each week a panel of VC judges will send one team home. With the TV show, the first of its kind in Africa, they are hoping to seed in Kenya a culture that celebrates innovation and invention. Very exciting (India needs this too, ML India Initiative, listening?)!
Another interesting person I met was James Orengo – security manager at iHub. What a lot of people don’t know about James is that he’s also a fantastic musician and a yet to be unleashed entrepreneur (yes, he’s planning to start a small lunch restaurant – he described it to me as a place where you know, people go to eat lunch :) ). Here’s James singing ‘Baki Salama’, a kiswahili gospel song