Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why am I interested?

I am interested in this election because I am a "reverse Obama." My mother (deceased) was Kenyan. She is a Kikuyu from Othaya, near Nyeri, in Central Province. My father is a white American of German descent, via the appalachias as well as New York. I grew up in the US, and consider myself mainly to be African-American, although I visited Kenya frequently as a child. 

My husband is also Kenyan, and how I met him is a long story. He is a Kikuyu, from Muranga, but that is not why I married him. He was a successful Safari guide when I met him, and was also a strong entrepreneur in other areas. We not have a safari company together, which services Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. African Wildcats Adventure Safaris. He is very cosmopolitan, however, and speaks fluent French and Spanish. 

The bottom line is that due to being raised in America, and being half white, I am not a tribalist. Rather, I like to think of myself as a global citizen. Further, I have been carefully studying the use of information technology as a factor in democratization in Kenya and East Africa for a decade. You can check out some of my work here. I also had the good luck to live in Egypt during the Revolution. I have seen the power of information technology, and it will be increasingly important in this election. 

I am specifically interested in the use of telecommunications and ICTs (information and communications technology) by the Government of Kenya (GoK) in the voting and vote counting process. I am also interested in the use of short message service, twitter, and facebook 1) to send around "hate speech" or invalid rumors 2) to encourage friends and family to vote a certain way 3) to organize political speech such as rallies.

I also wish to investigate, through the use of media reports and other mechanisms, how the GoK uses information and communications technology in verifying the vote tally or otherwise promoting transparency. 

So that is my story!
Warigia and Hamadi's traditional wedding in Othaya, Central Province, Kenya 2004


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