Friday Top Five – Feb. 14th

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After a much too long hiatus, Friday Top Five is BACK! FT5 will be one of many list posts that aims to catch you up on what our bloggers found important, interesting, or at least worth some of your attention. Without further ado here is this week’s top five!

1) Reading: Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall

Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

I may not know very much about Hall or his opinions regarding a multicultural Britain. However I am aware of what his passing means for the universal community of academia and can only hope that with his passing comes a new wave of appreciation and attention warranted of his scholastic endeavors. Here especially is a piece reflecting on what his rep. meant and his affect on other scholars written by Ben Carrington for Africa is a Country. Want a little bit more biography check out this interview from 2007 by Tim Adams. You can also read this obit penned by Roger Bromley in Ceasefire.

2) Simply Business: Ushahidi

Startup culture is no longer bound to the valleys of the west coast in the United States. Monty Munford put together a list of 20 important startups in Africa for Mashable we should be paying attention. One in particular caught my attention from Kenya: Ushadhi. It is described as

 initially a website developed to map reports of violence around the 2008 Kenyan election. The company has since evolved to become a tech non-profit that specializes in developing free open-source software for data collection, visualization and interactive mapping.

Their “About Us” section states

We build tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories. We’re a disruptive organization that is willing to take risks in the pursuit of changing the traditional way that information flows.

An interesting fact: Ushahidi means “testimony” in Swahili.

3) Listening: Soweto Gospel Choir

Feel free to play the video now and keep it going while you are making your way through the rest of the list. I did while I was writing.

Soweto Gospel Choir originates from South Africa and has been recognized internationally for their talent and variety of musical styles such as spirituals, reggae, pop and gospel. Besides their wonderful sound they made the list because they will be performing tomorrow night (Saturday Feb. 15th) in the Bronx at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. You can purchase tickets there or online. For more information on the choir please visit their website. (Their website does have automatic music playing, just fyi.)

4) Eating: Fonio

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Many are aware of the popularity Quinoa has been experiencing. Apparently chef Pierre Thiam wants Fonio to also come into that kind of fame. For Thiam this isn’t about creating the next cronut for New Yorkers to fight over and crave until it suddenly fades from the public eye just as quickly as it once appeared;  Senegalese food is good for you and he has realized that: “even most New Yorkers can’t conceptualize food from sub-Saharan Africa. It’s completely alien to many.” An interesting take away from the article linked above is that he is competing against Western imports in Senegal and the stigma against local food whereas many New Yorkers love to employ ‘vote with your fork’ and participate in ‘local only’ produced food systems. Here’s a list of fav West African restaurants from the Village Voice in 2011. Got some suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

5) Favorite: Informal Transit

My personal favorite is an article I read on Atlantic Cities about the informal transit system in Nairobi, Kenya. Many people commute via these means but they only know the “stops” and rides that they make and are unaware of what the whole system were to look like if it was mapped and conceptualized as one continuous system. A little snippet:


This sounds like controlled chaos, although it more or less describes how transit works in much of the world outside of North America and Europe. But amid the 130 or so unregulated matatu lines in metro Nairobi, there’s an admirable logic. In the absence of a formal public transit system in Kenya’s capital, people have created a comprehensive – if imperfect – one on their own.

The map and subsequent resources were developed by researchers and students at the University of Nairobi, the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University, and the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT.


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