What sort of routine to you follow each day to get ready for blogging?
Joe : I wake up , say my prayers and after getting ready for the day, While eating breakfast ,the first thing I do is check my daily reads; news aggregates on my phone -and when I get to work Kenyan dailies, basically headlines from all kinds of different sources, political insider tip sheets, and other blogs. I do this until something catches my eye. For me it’s important not just to be part of the “echo chamber” After assessing I do a post that is in line with my world view.Take Ivory Coast for instance,I have dedicated this month(January) to Ivory Coast ,You will find I have a different world view from what is being peddled in our press.
Speaking of world view what has shaped your views?
Joe: Well I come from a family that has always been opinionated on local and international politics. So politics for me is not a new thing.I have been an armchair pundit since I was 7 or 8 years old.It was just something we did in the car on the way to school or church.Sometimes we would almost fight for the Sunday paper just to be the first to read Sunday columns and opinions.How many children do you know who do that . One of the earliest political events for instance; I remember was crying when I heard Indira Gandhi had been assassinated .It was very sad because she was a mother figure and at that age any child would be hard hit and sad at the death of a mother even one thousands of miles away.Politics was the one thing in our home that complete freedom of opinion was encouraged.(ironically at a time when political opinion in Kenya (late 80s& early 90s) was the only freedom we did not have )Everything else seemed to have been structured . I have also lived outside Kenya for a prolonged period so that gives me a perspective some might not have.There is a Kikuyu saying that says travelling is seeing.So its everything faith,culture family,schools,professors,teachers,
So would you say most of your views are purely non academic and just personal views?
Joe:To some extent Yes and No..I know that seems like an oxymoron ,but I say…We are all products of our past and present environmental context.I do have an undergraduate degree in International Relations and a graduate degree in Public Administration specializing in public policy but to a large extent I like to think my education only gives me the formal ‘authority’ the world thinks you ought to have in order to be called an ‘expert’.When it comes to political thought if you ask me…it really doesn’t matter but it is good to have the papers to back you up(talking about policy/politics is different from policy formulation and implementation it helps to have the education to realize one needs to be realistic about a field that is idealistic)….Kids stay in school.
So do you do all the posts on the site?
Joe:No,my role is mostly that of an editor. Most of the post are actually done by other people.The blog is an open source blog .Open to anyone and everyone who has something to say.It just has to get my approval first (sic) .We have a select group of people who contribute once in a while especially on ‘hot’ issues.
What you would like the readers to know ?
Joe: Well for starters nobody has all the answers and therefore it is important for us to respect each others opinions.It is the only way we can learn from each other . Most of the time when we post something we want our readers to read and think about what it is we are saying or implying.If the post causes you to think about a given news story even though you don’t agree with our view ,Then we have done our job. We have made you think and challenged your mind.Our aim is not to spoon feed you our views but to encourage political consciousness so that we can move from a culture where we buy everything that politicians and the media serve us on a plate. Kenya would be further along if we were politically awake!Right now we are still in a fog repeating mantras spewed by others
Do you think blogs will have an impact on the 2012 presidential election?
Joe: Blogs are becoming a larger part of the political scene at an exponential rate. Blogging of/onPresidential debates and campaigns becomes an interesting and useful tool for voters who want more insight into what’s going on at the debates.Also, nowadays, when you see a blogger on the web, you have to think this isn’t just one person, but a person with their own readership as well as a network of other bloggers with whom they work regularly, so blogs also become a very useful tool for message dissembling. Also, blogs are becoming a much more significant check on the mainstream media, especially when you think that whenever any headline hits the wires there are hundreds of bloggers picking it up immediately, fact checking it, verifying the veracity of it, and weighing the overall value of it.If bloggers have made a difference in the west, I’ve no doubt in my mind we’ll make a bigger impact in next year’s contest.
So why do you blog?
Joe: Because it’s important. For one, this is, I think, the future of the nation’s debate. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can blog (doesn’t even have to be high-speed). For far too long political discourse has been one way; what we hear on the radio, what we read in the newspaper, what we see on television.Blogs and Facebook discussions are different and interactive. They are an effective tool for dissembling massive quantities of information, and a great resource for both new and unique opinions and ideas as well as news items that you may not necessarily catch on your evening news or through a quick skimming of the local paper.As the internet becomes more and more accessible to Kenyans, more people have the option to read and write blogs, and share this information and interact and self correct each other. Even more important, and this is one of the things I’m trying to do now, is that not only do blogs give us the opportunity to participate in the national debate, but they have a vast potential to change it. We have the opportunity to look at the dynamics of old debates like ethnicity,accountability,good governance and instead of following along in the old patterns that political groups have us do, we can turn the whole paradigm on its head and say, “we refuse, we want to look at it from a different angle” …… We are the small Blog that thinks we can change the Kenyan political conscience.