Last week, in between nightmares about where my country was going, I was dreaming of a Google Mashup to document incidents of violence, looting etc. that have occurred during the post-election crisis.
Today, Ushahidi is born.
The website was literally put together in 2 days and is a testament to the best of Kenya (who at the rate things are going will be yet another “skipped generation” …but I digress).
A couple of big thank yous.
Thank you to Apollo for stepping up and getting the domain and hosting going, you really helped kickstart this whole thing. Thank you Erick (Hash) for helping bring the rest of the crew on and for cheerleading. Thank you Daudi (Mental) for the finessing and for all the work you will be doing getting people on the ground to participate. Thank you Ashok for being my fixer since the website first crashed and for all your tips. Thank you to everyone who tolerated my pestering emails (I’m a good pesterer). And last but certainly not least – big big thank you to David Kobia for your technical wizardry and taking time out of your busy schedule to build something fantastic.
So what’s Ushahidi.com about… (for those who don’t know Kiswahili, ushahidi is the Swahili word for witness). The website was mainly set up to document incidents of violence, lotting etc. during the crisis (and soon to follow – information about ways to help on a micro-level). The website is still very much a work in progress and will be updated as we go along.
We believe that the number of deaths being reported by the government, police, and media is grossly underreported. We also don’t think we have a true picture of what is really going on – reports that all have us have heard from family and friends in affected areas suggests that things are much worse than what we have heard in the media.
We also (in my idealist world) hope that we can begin to put names and faces to the people who have lost their lives in this mess.
What’s the point of all this you might ask? Well, Kenyans have demonstrated their capacity for selective amnesia time and time again. When this crisis comes to an end, we don’t want what happened to be swept under the rug in the name of “moving forward” – for us to truly move forward, the truth of what happened needs to be told – Ushahidi ( www.ushahidi.com) is our small way of contributing to that.
We will be relying primarily on input from guys on the ground (NGOs, individuals, journalists), so please circulate this widely to your networks and help us witness.
To get a badge to show your online support for Ushahidi, click here.