Moving Up in Upper Hill, Nairobi


A new Nairobi skyline sprouts

Back in the 1960’s, the Upper Hill section of Nairobi was the enclave of the rich. It had nice homes surrounded by gardens above the bustle of Nairobi proper, but still very close to the city. After independence, many of the white landowners turned their property over to Kenyans.

By the time I first visited in 2004, it seemed a run-down neighbourhood. Those old homes were not kept up, and the gardens long gone. In fact, the Upper Hill seemed downtrodden enough to have a hostel there, Upper Hill Campsite, where I stayed. Now flash forward to 2009, and Upper Hill is on the up and up.

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Voices of Africa Online in Accra


looking shiny in the daylight

On a continent known for its storytelling, with a rich tradition of oral history and communication through narrative, I am always surprised at the lack of quality bloggers. Yes, there are bloggers of note, and some of fame, but I’m talking about the grassroots, the common person putting thought to electron and creating personal and professional narrative in the scale and scope that we’ve seen in America.

I think the two main reasons we don’t see a similar or greater exposition in local, digital content are:

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MamaPut’s Cook With Recycled Rim Stoves


Now we’re really cooking!

I love street food. Everywhere I go, from street markets in Russia, to back alleys of Beijing to side streets in Skopje, to the boulevards of Bamako, I make it a point to eat as many meals from roadside stands as possible. Ghana and Nigeria are no exception. In fact, I love me a MamaPut.

Its only where Mama herself is there to put more of her good eats on your plate, that I really feel I’m getting a good meal. Why? Because I can see ever step of its preparation, talk with the chief personally, and share the transcending bond of food with my fellow man and woman.

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Ghana to Obama and America: Thank You!


looking shiny in the daylight

Its hard to appreciate or underestimate the effect Barack Obama’s presidency has on Africans. That a black man, son of a Muslim Kenyan, is now President of the United States. Add in that he comes after the Bush years, which were seen as very arrogant, and his election was a watershed moment in American-African relations.

Now don’t even try to imagine the overwhelming pride of Ghana, a small West African, in being the first African country to host Obama after the election. Even walking among Ghanians after his visit, talking with everyone from taxi drivers to leading businessmen, I still can only glimpse at their happiness.

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Michael Jackson is Alive in Nigeria!

All those reports of Michael Jackson’s recent demise? Faked! The King of Pop is not dead, he’s now a King Cop in Abuja, Nigeria, directing traffic with the moves that made him famous. Doubt me? Then just watch this video:


Do you see those moves? That style and spin? There is only one person who has that Thriller move, those Billy Jeans – its him, Michael Jackson! Believe me or beat it!

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Innovative 4P Income Streams in Abuja, Nigeria

going to Africa
Making money from movies in Nigeria

Today I went to the Wuse Market in Abuja, Nigeria to check on the ability of entrepreneurs to find business opportunities using 4P Computing platforms. I found an innovative mix of using computing power to enable mobile phone content, at a profit.

Young men who invested in laptops are selling music, movies, and ringtones to market visitors at a tidy markup. Now ringtones and music sales is not new. Back in 2004, I heard of techies in the wilds of Mali selling ringtones and I got a few Gig of African tunes for a few bucks at a Senegalese cyber cafe.

What I found innovative was the movie sales.

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This Photo Almost Got Me Arrested in Lagos, Nigeria


Honoring death by fighting for rights

So I am running along a random street in Lagos, when I see this poster put up to honor the Glorious Exit of Chief Ezekiel Ojo Alabi Farukan of Lagos Nigeria

Thinking its a beautiful way to honor death, I take a photo, and then I hear yelling. A Nigerian policeman is running at me screaming that I cannot take a photo and he needs to see my camera.

Yelling back, I tell him I am respecting the dead, and he should have more respect too. I then I show him what I am photographing, the poster. He demands to see my camera. Just before we were really going to get into it (I was not going to give up my camera) a woman got off a moped and jumped into the debate.

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Landing at Lagos Nigeria International Airport LOS


The view from the wing

What does it look like to land at Lagos, Nigeria’s Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS)? For those who wonder, I made the following movie while my flight approached and landed just for your enjoyment.

I’m always amazed at the view – those endless shanties that spread out into the horizon. That all that humanity can live so close together. Its not the vertical living of Hong Kong, but Nigeria doesn’t have Asia’s organization either. All those people you see while approaching Lagos International are scrounging for a living in the midst of African chaos.

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Running the Abuja Obstacle Course


And no running too!

If you’re a runner, African can be a challenging place. There are few African joggers to be seen, as running is not really considered a sport to be practiced. Either you’re a good runner and so do it as part of a team, or you don’t run unless needing to for a specific purpose.

So I am often asked why I run across Africa. And looking at the obstacles in my path, you have to wonder how crazy I am. In Africa, any street that is paved, is usually high traffic, forcing me to run on the road shoulder. There I follow the well-trod path that others also take, being vigilant for the common leg-breaking hazards like these…

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Living the Abuja Bubble Lifestyle


Dirt cheap movies too

Back at independence, Nigeria thought to move its capitol from the overcrowded, costal Lagos to a central location that would give planners a clean start and appease the major ethic groups in the country. From this desire, came the Federal Capital Territory which hosts Abuja, Nigeria’s new capital.

Like Washington, DC, much thought and planning went into making Abuja, FCT a model city. Because of this, and a few other factors, I’ve come to enjoy Abuja – one of my African favorites – while also recognizing that when there, I live the “Abuja Bubble” lifestyle.

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