Blogging and Your Place under the Baobab

On September 17th I will kick off a three-part webinar series for Kabissa: Engaging Blogging for African Civil Society.

In Africa (so I've learned) kings, elders, and leaders would hold meetings under baobabs to discuss important matters. So when I created a graphic for webinar series on blogging, I chose the baobab as a symbol.

In my career I have lived in Africa and have worked in several African countries, and I have worked with many African organizations.

However, the truth is that I have never participated in a meeting under a baobab tree. Whatever it is that those kings, elders, and leaders are discussing under those trees, they have never seen fit to invite me to these discussions.

Not pictured: me.

Meeting_under_a_baobab_tree.jpg

Why not? I'm sort of a smart guy. I know stuff.

The serious answer to the silly question is this: Nobody is going to ask me to share my wisdom under any tree unless I have been visibly engaged in a community over time demonstrating expertise, talent -- something of value to that community.

Blogging can be a valuable part of your communication strategy. Your organization does important work, doesn’t it? With blogging, you can reach and engage with the audiences who should know about the work that you do. Blogging can help to inform and remind people that you belong under the baobab tree, at the policy table, in the planning sessions, or in the implementation phase.

In the webinar series, we will talk about how to write and publish and disseminate effective content that will build audience and authority for your organization.

Regardless of the blogging platform you use, you can increase the impact of the posts you publish.

This series will cover writing, strategy, and some technical how-to. The lessons learned in the first two sessions will be applied when participants post on Blog Action Day, Oct 16 2014.

Blog Action Day is an opportunity to bring new readers to your blog, when bloggers around the world will publish on the topic of inequality.

The third session will cover evaluation the success of your blog following Blog Action Day, and going forward.

Click Here to Register for the Webinar >>

Click Here to Register for Blog Action Day >>

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Baobab graphic © Nevit Dilmen [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Baobab photo © ACEI Cheung [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Blog Action Day invites you to join Global Discussion about INEQUALITY on 16 October, 2014

Let's Talk about Inequality: Blog Action Day 2014Blog Action Day has been a fixture in the Kabissa calendar since 2008, and I am excited to see it is back again in 2014 with a compelling and timely theme - inequality.

As Karina Brisby from the Blog Action Day team writes in her post announcing the inequality theme:

Whether it is economic, racial, gender, disability, faith, sexuality, health, education, political, social status or age, inequality unfortunately seems to be on the rise, affecting more people and limiting the opportunities they have, in many different ways.

For Blog Action Day 2014, we want you to think about inequality and contribute to the global discussion on October 16, by writing blog posts, creating video or graphics, taking photos, sharing interesting stats and facts, or just commenting on other people’s posts.

You might want to cover how you, your friends, family or community have been directly affected by inequality, how an historic situation was overcome, or a current issues that needs addressing.

Kabissa is again a proud Blog Action Day supporting partner. We believe the blogging event provides a valuable opportunity for Kabissa members working in African Civil Society, especially those at the grassroots who might struggle to find channels for reaching out internationally to new supporters and partners.

We do hope you decide to participate. All you have to do is add your blog or social media profile to the Blog Action Day participants list, and on 16 October publish your blog article. and spread it using hashtags #blogaction14 and #inequality.

If you do not already have a blog you are most welcome to blog on Kabissa - all you have to do is ask.

And, even more importantly, if you want to learn to start blogging or brush up on your blogging skills, please join our Engaging African Blogging webinar series starting up in mid September. It's free, is specifically designed for African civil society bloggers, and comes with personalized mentoring from Ted Johnson, an experienced blogger and the latest addition to the Kabissa volunteer team.

Blog Action Day is just 5 days away. Register your blog today.

I received this important reminder and tips by email today from the Blog Action Day team. All Kabissa members are strongly encouraged to participate! Click here for info specific for Kabissa members blogging about human rights in Africa.

Latest news from Blog Action Day
 

Dear Tobias,

It’s hard to believe that Blog Action Day has come around again so quickly. Our team of volunteers are working hard to make sure that this year’s Blog Action Day will be awesome. 

As previous Blog Action Day participants, we don’t want you to miss on being part of Blog Action Day. Mark October 16 in your calendar now and set yourself a reminder to get your post ready.

Make sure you register your blog today, so we can include it in our participants list and help connect you with thousands of other bloggers around the world.  

Not sure what to cover in your Blog Action Day post?

This year the Blog Action Day theme is Human Rights.

We know that some bloggers might find developing a post about Human Rights a bit tricky, especially if you don’t normally cover it in your regular posts. It may even be what has been putting your off from registering your blog to take part in Blog Action Day. 

To make it  a little bit easier, here are some ideas to help you develop your blog post. 

  • If you’re short on time, work together with other bloggers to produce content together
  • Ask your blog and social media followers what they would like to know about Human Rights and focus your post on trying to answer their questions. 

To make sure you make the most out of Blog Action Day we have take a look at our blog post on the Top 5 tips on how to make the most out of being involved in Blog Action Day

We are looking forward to see what you have to say about Human Rights on October 16so don’t forget to register and get your post ready.  

All the best

Karina and the rest of the Blog Action Day Team.

P.S. Tell your friends to take part in Blog Action Day  with you and register their blogs by going to our website in English Spanish or Portuguese


  

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5 tips to make the most out of taking part in Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day 2013

October brings Blog Action Day, which this year will focus the world's attention on the important topic of human rights. This is an ideal opportunity for Kabissa members working in Africa on human rights to tell your stories and showcase your successes and challenges in defending them in your communities. Click here for details on how to participate, and email us with your ideas. 

5 tips to make the most out of taking part in Blog Action Day

(source: Karina Brisby post on Blog Action Day website

Blog Action Day 2013 is almost here. Below are some top tips we have learnt over the years to make the most out of your involvement.  If you have additional tips add them in the comments section of Karina's post.

1. Blog Action Day Don’t forget to take part.

Put a reminder in your calendar for October 16, 2013 to make your blog post live on Blog Action Day.

Every year lots of people forget to add their post, so put a reminder in your calendar now and set your alarm or reminder to alert you to take part in Blog Action Day.

In addition, you may want to join our Facebook or Google+ events for October 16 as an extra reminder.

2. Prepare you Blog Action Day post in advance.

We are all very busy people, but if you leave your Blog Action Day post until the last moment, you may run out of time.

By having your post ready a couple of days before October 16, you give yourself lots of time to follow the live coverage or  look at other participants posts. Most importantly you get your post done.

3. Make your post easy to find. Tag your post.

Most Blog Action Day participants use WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr to host their blogs. These systems like nearly all other blogging systems have a section called Tags or Labels which allows you to attach keywords to your post that help search engines find your content more easily.

We suggest that you add the following tags #BAD13#OCT16#Humanrights#BlogActionDay alongside any other terms that would describe your post content in these sections

If you are unsure how to use tags or labels, here is a great explanation of how to use them and from the parenting blog network MumsNet.

4. Promote your post.

When you have posted your Blog Action Day to your blog on October 16, make sure your tell your friends and the Blog Action Day Team about it.

If you use social media networks like TwitterFacebookOrkut or Google+, tell the people in your network that you have taken part in Blog Action Day and that you would like them to read and comment on your blog.

Here is a suggested status update you could use.

“I’ve just posted my #BlogActionDay post on #HumanRights on [yourwebsitelink] take a look & leave a comment #BAD13″

The Blog Action Day team will be able to search for most blogs and related content, but to make sure we don’t miss yours, tweet us at @blogactionday or via our live coverage widget that will be on the front page of our website.

5.  Read other Blog Action Day posts and take part in the discussion.

One of the best things about Blog Action Day is that you make connections with amazing blogs that you might not usually come across.

Follow the live coverage on October 16, on blogactionday.org and our social media profiles to find out about other participant posts. If you like someone’s Blog Action Day post why not leave a comment and share it via social networks.

Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights

Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights

October 16th is Blog Action Day, the one day of the year where thousands of bloggers can work together to focus on one important global topic, and help raise awareness and money for charities and social causes. 2013 is the fourth year running that Kabissa has participated as a Blog Action Day network partner. This year's theme HUMAN RIGHTS is very relevant to Africa and the communities served by Kabissa members. 

As in years past, we enthusiastically encourage everyone blogging from and about Africa, on Kabissa and on your own blogs and websites, to join in and be a part of Blog Action Day. We will do our best to help spread the word about the issues and causes you write about via the Kabissa blog and social networks. 

Read on to learn how Blog Action Day works, prepare for blogging on Kabissa, and get information about this year's HUMAN RIGHTS theme. 

Remembering Dennis Kimambo

Crossposted from: http://rising.globalvoicesonline.org/blog/2013/05/03/remembering-dennis-kimambo/

Rising Voices note: This tribute post was written by Janet Feldman, upon learning about the death of Dennis Kimambo of the Rising Voices grantee project REPACTED on April 29, 2013. At the time of publication, the circumstances surrounding his death are still being investigated.

When I first heard the news that Dennis Kimambo had been missing for over a week, I was worried, but envisioned him in a rural part of Kenya, conducting an HIV/AIDS educational outreach, or in Dubai, where he had been invited at one point to play in a golf tournament, one of his favorite pastimes.

After the news came that his body had been discovered on April 29, and that he had met a violent death, I could not fathom or accept it. Stan Tuvako, a close friend of ours and the person who actually introduced us, said in the aftermath of the announcement: “it was shocking how much violence this man of peace encountered.” That this courageous soul faced violence and death again and again over the decade I knew him, and continued to do the work for which he seemed born, was just one of the remarkable qualities we so loved and admired in him.

Dennis Kimambo

Dennis Kimambo

Dennis had a motto: “humanity before politics.” During the 2007-2008 post-election conflict in Kenya, which threatened to spiral into civil war, Dennis and many others faced threats to their lives and safety on a daily basis, yet continued to reach across political and cultural lines in attempts to quell the violence and encourage tolerance, understanding, and cooperation.

 

I knew Dennis virtually for many years before we met in 2007, the only time I would ever see him in person. Our relationship was forged via email and phone, and built on several mutual passions, including the use of arts and media to address HIV/AIDS and health issues, the empowerment of young people, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. I was a mentor in the beginning, but felt like a student myself as he forged ahead in the many forms of activism that distinguished his brief but meaningful life.

Dennis began his career in several youth groups based in his hometown of Nakuru, Kenya. After we met, he became one of the mainstays in the ActALIVE arts coalition I founded in 2002, whose mission was to bring together artists and others using creative approaches to health and development issues, specifically focusing on HIV/AIDS.

In 2001, Dennis and young theatre artists from the Nakuru Players Theatre Club founded the theatre-for-development nonprofit, REPACTED (Rapid Effective Participatory Action in Community Theatre Education and Development), which uses a new and unique form of audience participation and interaction–called “magnet theatre”–to educate young and old, women and men, prisoners, and people already HIV-positive on health issues, behavior change, stigma and discrimination, and self-empowerment. The “Mr. and Miss Red Ribbon” contest, held each year on World AIDS Day (December 1), is an innovative beauty pageant emphasizing the importance of self-esteem and healthy lifestyles for those who are HIV-positive.

Several other opportunities emerged that would carry Dennis and his peers in new directions, including a grant from the MTV “Staying Alive” Foundationthat funded HIV/AIDS education and prevention efforts among the male and female inmates at the prison in Nakuru. The grant also allowed community-theatre outreaches to young people to educate them about HIV/AIDS, encourage use of prevention measures, and promote voluntary counselling and testing (VCT).

Dennis (on the right) and colleagues at the REPACTED offices in Nakuru. Photo by David Sasaki and used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Dennis (on the right) and colleagues at the REPACTED offices in Nakuru. Photo by David Sasaki and used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Dennis and other members of ActALIVE in Kenya, India, Thailand, Nigeria, USA, Uganda, South Africa, and elsewhere became involved in 2005 in the first World AIDS Day activities of the Global Peace Tiles Project, an arts endeavor using collaged tiles as a means to convey messages about peace, health education, HIV/AIDS prevention, and sustainable development.

In 2007-2008, Dennis and other peace activists in Kenya faced perhaps their greatest challenge to date: quelling the violence that was threatening to kill thousands and destroy the fabric of Kenyan society. He and a group of Kenyans and others from around the world, myself included, became involved in a project called “Pyramid of Peace,” a name coined from an acrobatic act created by the Nafsi Afrika Acrobats based in Nairobi, whose theme is peaceful co-existence among the various tribal groups in Kenya.

 

Dennis Kimambo. Photo by David Sasaki and used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Dennis Kimambo. Photo by David Sasaki and used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

The Pyramid of Peace, created under the auspices of the Lithuania-based think-tank Minciu Sodas, helped members in Kenya to confront violence and seek peaceful resolution to conflict. One unique feature of this endeavor was the use of cellphone credits to help us communicate with each other and also to distribute within areas of conflict to the various factions. Dennis credited this approach with saving his life at one point, when he was confronted by an angry mob.

 

REPACTED began to incorporate the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) during this time, and the two Rising Voices grants the group received helped immensely to increase and improve their efforts. The first grant enabled the purchase of equipment (video and photo cameras, a computer, and a modem) that allowed REPACTED to introduce a group of 27 young people to the digital world. Blogging was a focal point, and this resulted in invaluable participation in RV's “Blogging Positively” project, which has produced an e-guide, a map of bloggers who write on HIV/AIDS themes, and follow-on discussions about next steps, such as development of a curriculum.

The Rising Voices grant also allowed REPACTED to organize a Youth Media Consultative Forum, to train local residents to gather news and stories and share them with an international audience. Various forms of citizen media were envisioned and used in this project, and magnet theatre formed a central part of these efforts. In addition, REPACTED helped Kenyans displaced by the civil disruptions of 2007-2008 to tell their stories, and in more recent times has organized civic-education activities regarding elections, voting, and constitutional matters, all in hopes of ensuring that history does not repeat itself.

The REPACTED weblog at RV contains four years (2007-2011) of informative and insightful postings about the group and their work.

“Denno,” as his friends often called him, has been described in recent days as a loving father, a wonderful husband, a leader of great vision, a cherished friend, a person of “light,” a force for good, an activist who helped change hearts and minds. He had the dreams of a Martin Luther King, and the courage and determination of a Gandhi. He was a hero to so many of us, and he will be always.

In trying to find a way to recover the inspiration and hopefulness he embodied, and move forward with the work to which Dennis gave his life–and perhaps for which he gave his life (a police investigation is now ongoing as to the motives behind his death)–I am reminded of the lyrics to a song I know he would have loved, called “Times Like These” (Foo Fighters): “it's times like these you learn to live again, it's times like these you give and give again, it's times like these you learn to love again, time and time again.”

Thanks so much for teaching us how to live, to give, and to love, Dennis! You were and always will be a man for times like these, and what you gave to the world will be remembered and cherished time and time again.

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