It is almost 3 years to the day that I sent out a plea to Kenyan bloggers and techies to help me build what would become Ushahidi.
Since then it has been a crazy ride…from producing an incredible open source platform and working towards scale, to building and working with an incredibly talented team, to seeing multiple uses of Ushahidi around the world, to numerous awards and press mentions.
For me, what has always been the most important aspect of the work we do has remained simple, building a tool that makes it easy for individuals and groups to tell their stories, and making it easy for these stories to be mapped/visualized.
Ushahidi has grown to be that and much more, thanks especially to the wider community – which saw potential uses beyond crisis reporting and who largely shaped our growth and direction to date be it through translation efforts (Ushahidi now available in 10 languages!), or custom themes, or pushing for a hosted version (Crowdmap), or challenging us to address the shortcomings of the platform (through tools like SwiftRiver and our community resources page).
Beyond the growth of Ushahidi as a platform and an organization, I always tell people that I am most proud of the fact that the Ushahidi story has provided an inspiration to other techies in Kenya and Africa – an example of the kind of talent the continent holds, but also a reminder that we have just scratched the surface. And so after 3 years of serving as Ushahidi’s Executive Director, I feel it is time for me to take on the next challenge. Those of you who know me well know I’ve got a 1001 ideas floating in my head that I need to get out☺
Ushahidi co-founder Juliana Rotich will be the acting Executive Director. As Program Director (and pretty much since the very beginning of Ushahidi) Juliana has been our key interface with the wider community of techies, implementers of the platform and volunteers. Her ability to be a bridge between the core of Ushahidi and the wider community (along with her uber-geek status!) gives me and the rest of the team every confidence that the transition process will be smooth and bigger things lie ahead for Ushahidi.
Where I am headed? I will be joining Google in the new year as the Policy Manager for Africa. The role will involve developing policy /strategies on a number of areas of relevance to Google and the Internet in Africa and will involve working with different parties including government leaders, policy makers, regulators, industry groups and so on. It is a huge opportunity to bring Google’s resources to bear as far as the growth and development of the internet in Africa (and hopefully a reminder of why I went to law school in the first place!). I’m very excited about the move and I hope I can continue to lean on your support and insight in my new role.
To my co-founders – the ride continues! To the most amazing team, I am watching this space! To our Board of Directors, thank you for your insight and guidance! To our partners, especially those who took a risk on us in the early days, most grateful! To the wonderful readers of Kenyan Pundit, whose stories and willingness to share in those dark days of 2007-8 – you were my inspiration, thank you! To the wonderful wider community of Ushahidi – volunteers, translators, crowdmappers, critics (yes I love you too!), journalists, people who supported us in the early days when people asked Usha-what?, THANK YOU THANK YOU.
Need to reach me….you all know I live on the internets right…find me @kenyanpundit or kenyanpundit-at-gmail