Nairobi VR Hackathon

Electric South
Dec 1, 2017 · 7 min read

Electric South is currently in Naivasha, Kenya with NBO Story Lab running a five-day VR hackathon with filmmakers and journalists from across East Africa, including Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.

Participants: Top Row (L-R) Tulanana Bohela, Kevin Irungu, Abdulgader Bashir; Middle Row (L-R) Alsanosi Adam, Barbara Muriungi, Wairimu Gitau; Bottom Row (L-R) Veronica Natalis Mataba, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Ben Kerry Mawejje

The hackathon is focused on 360 production with a focus on journalism and non-fiction storytelling. We are also working on how to connect VR production to audiences in Africa. For this reason the participants are involved in daily discussions around access to devices and data/wifi, as well as different VR engagement strategies for audiences across East Africa, and beyond. There are no easy answers here and we are committed to continuing this conversation after this week is over, partly inspired by Kamal Sinclair’s newly published research on inclusion in emerging media. For us this is very much about equity in both the production and consumption of stories and Africa has so many amazing stories in the huge expanse between the tired narratives of Africa Rising and poverty porn.

At the end of the five days the participants will produce three short 360 films covering local stories with the help of three intrepid advisors. The advisors are: Ben Kreimer, an independent journalism technologist who travels the world constantly; Lakshmi Sarah, an educator and journalist based in the Bay Area; and Conan Roberts, head of production at VR City in the UK. There will also be special presentations from local VR company, Black Rhino, as well as The Nest who produced Let This Be A Warning with Electric South.

Many thanks to Bertha Foundation and British Council, Kenya for making the hackathon possible and for supporting our work. It is so vital that we create space for this kind of work to happen and we are very grateful that you are enabling us to do this.

Thank you to the cool people at Hackastory for inspiration and ideas on creative process.

The hackathon is facilitated by Ingrid Kopp from Electric South and Trevor Snapp from NBO Story Lab and produced by Nyasha Kadandara from NBO Story Lab who is also an alum of the New Dimensions VR Lab held in South Africa earlier this year and a brilliant journalist in her own right. Follow NBOStoryLab on Twitter for daily updates on the hackathon, as well as hashtag #nbovrhack

Meet the Nairobi VR Hackathon participants:

Alsanosi Adam

Alsanosi Adam is a documentary filmmaker. He graduated with a master of Journalism in Documentary Filmmaking from the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. As a radio producer in South Sudan, Adam worked on media for behavior change he produced cultural and education programs. Adam Co-created Your Home Is Yours, one of the longest radio drama series on reintegration in South Sudan, he also Co-wrote and produced Sawa Shaba a peace building radio program for South Sudanese addressing the recent war, the program is currently broadcasting in South Sudan. Adam is interested in producing documentary films on social justice, human rights, economics, and development. His latest project is Losing Oakland, a documentary on gentrification in Oakland California.

Wairimu Gitau

Wairimu Gitau, is a journalist and a writer. Presently, she holds the Regional Media Manager position for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders in East Africa. For over 9 years Ms. Gitau worked, in different capacities with local and international media including Nation Television, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, CNN; Al Jazeera, Channel 4 and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As a budding filmmaker, Ms. Gitau, produced and directed the documentary We Are Not Dogs about extra judicial killings in Mathare.

She founded the grassroots media organization Mathare Radio which provides local news giving relevance to global perspectives.

Ms. Gitau holds an MA in journalism from Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. She keeps a blog, which she plans on turning into a book. With a historical, modern, journalistic flair, she writes about social, political and economic issues. ranging from themes such as colonialism, class struggle, race, ethnicity and social oppression, poverty and gender issues.

Ben Kerry Mawejje

Ben Kerry (BK) stands at the forefront of the fastest moving technology industry trend: I have spent the past five (5) years speaking and training on Digital Security & safety for Human Rights defenders and Activists. and, with a background in Arena Multimedia; He has had the privilege to serve in the local television industry in Uganda and on the International Scene such as DW Akademie TV; Arise News in USA.

Embracing the core values of integrity, innovation & growth; BK a calculated risk taker has championed successful social media campaigns in Uganda that has caused change in the country and brought about respect to Human Rights.

Abdalle Ahmed Mumin

Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, 31, is a freelance journalist from Somalia. He started his journalism career in 2003, as reporter for a local newspaper in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. In early 2005, Mr. Mumin joined the broadcast media covering politics and human rights for local radios Banadir and Radio Risaala. Apart from reporting, Mr. Mumin advocated for press freedom. Between 2011–2016, as member of the National Union of Somalia Journalists, he initiated viral media campaign #SaveSomaliJournalists to highlight the plight of journalists operating in the very dangerous environment and those targeted for their work. Mumin won the prestigious German Media Development Award under the DW and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development in November, 2013

In the past six years, he was writing for the Guardian (UK) and Wall Street Journal (USA). He also wrote extensively about Somalia for numerous global publications among them; the Financial Mail and the Africa Infact, South Africa; the Dissident, France and the Die Zeit in Germany.

Tulanana Bohela

Tulanana committed broadcast journalist and digital storyteller. She is the co-founder of Ona Stories which looks to create high production quality locally relevant content for Africa, from Africa, at scale. OnaStories is also innovateAFRICA 2017 winner exploring the intersection of Mobile-first content x digital video with an Africa-first perspective. Ona Stories produces mobile-first content for the East African audience and servicing African media to transition into digital newsrooms and reach audiences impactfully through mobile media.

Their core focus is explanatory journalism and analytic media (what Vox Media call “the vegetables of journalism”).Their made-for-mobile content seeks to capture not what happened, but what it means — something’s that’s scarce in Africa True innovation is platform specific.

Tulanana has shared her ideas on the prestigious TED platform via TEDxIlala, about how mobile technology is changing the way content is created and shared on the African continent.

She has sharpened her skills in storytelling by undertaking a postgraduate Honours degree at the South African school for Motion Picture and Live Performance, AFDA, in Johannesburg. There she was awarded Best Director for her film Uthando, which was also nominated for the Ousmane Sembene award at the Zanzibar International film festival 2015 and won a Special Mention. Currently, Tulanana is BBC Digital Lead in Tanzania, as Senior Broadcast journalist/producer for the BBC World Service.

Kevin Irungu

Kevin Irungu was born and raised in Kibera, one of the largest slums in the world. He named himself “Kevo Stero” because of his local notoriety for dreaming up impossible and hilarious adventures, what he likes to call ‘stupidity’. In 2004 he stumbled into a local art studio, Maasai Mbili artist collective, where two sign-writers, Otieno Gomba and Otieno Kota lived and worked. He started working as a street artist and later was introduced to the gallery. He has been involved in contemporary art activity and has participated in many artists’ forums, workshops and residencies, exhibitions and conceptual projects both in Kenya and internationally. Kevo lives and works in Kibera, Kenya and everywhere else in the world that his art might take him. He works in mediums ranging from painting and drawing, digital photography and video as well as conceptual installations.

Abdulgader Bashir

Abdulgader Bashir graduated from University of Sudan, Faculty of Engineering, specializing in aviation engineering. In 2012 Abdulgader has shifted his focus from engineering to photography and filmmaking. He was mostly self-learned, but has attended filmmaking workshops and trainings in order to learn from the professionals, and strive to make a difference in the Sudanese filmmaking landscape. Abdulgader is also a human rights activist, which he incorporates into his films and videos. Abdulgader has covered many human rights violations, and has made films focusing on marginalized communities that are unheard in the mainstream discourse. Some of the themes that Abdulgader has worked on in his freelance capacity were land confiscation in Sudan, marginalized communities and their conditions, as well as cultural issues that are underreported. Formats that he has produced include short and long form documentaries, video news reports, social media videos, and visual stories.

Veronica Natalis Mataba

Veronica Natalis Mataba is an Investigative radio journalist based in Shinyanga Tanzania.She has been working in the journalism professional since 2010, and is very interested and passionate about serving the community through media, especially the underprivileged and marginalised section of the society. Veronica studies at St. Augustine university of Tanzania holds an advanced certificate in journalism

Veronica’s objective as professional journalist seeks to act as a bridge through which society can be justly and equitably assisted to meet their desired better future of justice and equality. She has experience working with international media such as BBC Media action where she worked as a reporter of the program called “Haba na Haba” and as a correspondent to Deutsche Welle DW Swahili in Bonn, Germany.

Barbara Muriungi

Barbara Muriungi is an illustrator, animator and motion designer, intrigued by the creative potential of various principles and approaches to design. With training in visual effects, motion graphics and film, she works in media and often creates illustrated portraits and pattern work that explores the evolution of modern culture in Africa.

Barbara has a BA in Visual Effects & Motion Graphics and a post graduate in Film & Visual Arts. One of her designs done in collaboration with RLMG was recognised by SEGD MERIT AWARD for excellence in environmental graphic design.

Barbara has worked on 1 feature film as a production designer and has credits in smaller films and documentaries doing design production and graphics.She has been published in several books for logo design and multimedia work.

Barbara currently works as a product and media designer for BRCK, runs her own studio — New Colony Studio which produces elaborate illustrations, and is a director at Hot Sun Films. Often you will find her working behind the scenes on films and TV shows and illustrating or taking photographs.

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