My DOT Unconference debut as DJ Unknown

In May, Digital Opportunity Trust brought together 100 young social innovators from across Africa, the Middle East, and Indigenous Canada for an inspiring and fun-filled three days. Hosted by DOT Rwanda, youth showcased their social enterprises and led interactive peer-learning sessions to develop their networks, share their challenges and successes, and, ultimately, to increase the impact and sustainability of their community initiatives.

The 2017 Unconference was the first time DOT has brought together that number of youth from so many countries — ten in total — and was my first time traveling to “the field” as a DOT employee. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get to meet the amazing youth in our network, not to mention my colleagues from all over the world!

DOT youth Ange Umutoniwase and I dancing to the Unconference playlist in front of the selfie wall!

I was involved in coordinating the Unconference from a logistics perspective, as well as securing and supporting partners to participate. Overall, these things went very well; amazing organizations like Mozilla, FabLab, and DIAL contributed to our program, and we didn’t have any glaring logistical failures in getting ~150 people from around the globe to and from Kigali. In all of this, though, there was one small task I took on that I was particularly excited about: making the DOT Unconference Playlist.

It’s no secret that I love to dance (whether or not I’m any good at it, I don’t claim to know or care). The music I encounter in matatus, churches, cafés, and nightclubs is the best souvenir I bring home with me every time I visit East Africa (the only part of the continent I’ve spent much time in, to my chagrin — but I expect I will say the same of others when I get the chance!). Music is important. It can convey cultural identity, it can speak truth to power…and it can simply make you feel good with a toe-tapping or hip-swaying beat!

With such a packed schedule, a solid Unconference playlist to keep our energy levels up was important. But how to be representative of everyone in attendance? I couldn’t pack a playlist full of my fav Nairobi night-out bangers from 2013 and expect that everyone would relate.

So, in line with the Unconference themes — youth-led, digital, inclusivity, localization, openness, and collaboration — I decided to use Slack to crowdsource the event playlist from participants! The #unconferenceplaylist channel quickly filled up with contributions from across the globe. Some highlights included hits from Nairobi’s Sauti Sol (who also featured prominently during the Unconference karaoke night!), Canada’s favourite Indigenous DJs A Tribe Called Red, South African hip hop and Arab beats. Needless to say, it is awesome, and I haven’t stopped listening since I got home.

Throughout the Unconference, people asked me over and over again to share the playlist with them — so here it is on Spotify and below on Youtube! I’ve begun with what for me might be the song of the Unconference, because this one always seemed to get people out on the dance floor: Muziki, from Tanzania!

2017 DOT Unconference Playlist — beginning with Muziki, which always started a dance party!

What song reminds you most of the DOT Youth Unconference?!