#699 Ushahidi Puts Power In People’s Hands

Cathryn Wellner | This Gives Me Hope | June 15, 2013

“Free cultures get what they celebrate.” Clay Shirky

“We have to get better at telling our stories.” Ory Okollah

One of the best technology innovations I have come across lately is the BRCK. The prototype was developed in Nairobi, Kenya. It allows anyone to connect to the Internet via wireless, ethernet, 3G or 4G. The portable generator is the size of a brick and can handle up to 20 devices. Power outage or intermittent electricity? No problem. The built-in battery provides 8 hours of access. Designed to provide connectivity in a part of the world where access can be most spotty, it can work anywhere.

But I am getting ahead of myself because its genesis was with Ushahidi, a name chosen because it means “testimony” in Swahili. The organization got its start during the post-election violence after Kenya’s disputed presidential election of December 2007.

Media censorship made it difficult for people to find out what was happening. Blogger Ory Okolloh, a Harvard-educated lawyer living in Nairobi, blogged about it on her site, Kenyan Pundit. Her readers added comments about what was happening. Each day she would collate and post them.