Sunday, April 18, 2010

DJ Rowbow and Ghetto Radio in Nairobi, Kenya

Bono has an op-ed in this morning's Times ("Africa Reboots," here) in which he describes a recent goodwill/cultural/economic mission that he went on with a group of "activists, entrepreneurs and policy wonks." Bono's take-away is that he is optimistic about the directions that a new generation of Africans is leading people there.

Bono writes about DJ Rowbow, a Kenyan DJ who is using radio and music to invigorate the society and democratize the politics:
DJ Rowbow's Ghetto Radio, was a voice of reason when the volcano of ethnic tension was exploding in Kenya in 2008. While some were encouraging the people of Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, to go on the rampage, this scary-looking man decoded the disinformation and played peacemaker/interlocutor. On the station’s playlist is Bob Marley and a kind of fizzy homespun reggae music that’s part the Clash, part Marvin Gaye.
I've just spent some time on the Ghetto Radio website (, which is definitely full of life -- lots of enthusiastic journalism and commentary. I particularly enjoyed a video by a group called Bisso na Bisso; unfortunately I wasn't able to find their music on iTunes.

The site also has a story about Lagos, Nigeria, which evidently was recently named the world's "worst city." The writer makes the point that -- notwithstanding its problems -- people are flocking to Lagos in huge numbers.

430. How much international music does iTunes have in its catalog?

Tom Friedman has a piece in this morning's Times (here) about a medical device start-up (Endostim is the name of the company) whose inventors, financiers and board are a diverse smorgasbord of people from all over the world. He argues that the company's story illustrates his "flat earth" thesis, and after looking at the Ghetto Radio site - from which I can get a live stream of radio from Kenya (!!) - it's hard not to agree with Friedman.

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