Hacking Ebola

Not your typical Friday. Back from a sushi dinner, long overdue, with a close friend. And I’m remembering the first thing I saw on my computer this morning when I opened Chrome:Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.22.50 PM


My trusty Momentum Chrome Extension was quite adept  in forecasting the course of my day, first of all, with a photo of the Bay Area, the only photo from US soil I’ve seen in weeks, and then the quote by Margaret Mead which reads:

“Never underestimate the ability of a small group of dedicated people to change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Nothing could have been more appropriate or prophetic for what was to lay in store for me that evening.   At 5pm, in a conference room in downtown Oakland, I sat in a room with a lawyer, a technical leader, a healthcare professional, a design thinker, a freelance engineer, a biotech hardware engineer, a techno-cultural community organizer, a marketer, an investor, all brought together by what I would describe as a renaissance man, musician and technolgist, CEO and Founder of Feykena, Dwalu Khasu.  Who has a razor sharp determination to accomplish one goal with this small group of individuals: Eradicate Ebola from the planet.    I’ve never in my life participated in the discussion around something so grand, however I was not overwhelmed, but completely and utterly inspired.    In a few weeks, the plan is to hold a Hackathon in San Francisco, to create practical, and innovative solutions to the various concerns of people on the ground: healthcare workers, those infected, and those who are not.    While Silicon Valley remains silent,  and CEO’s wives pour money into the CDC, there is a small meeting of the minds, but these are not just any regular people, but I felt I was sharing a room with giants.  The brain power, passion, compassion, resources, and influence in this room, just humbled me.

I hear the voice of Boromir: One does not simply walk into Mordor.

One of the very first things that needs to happen, is to change the narrative, stop the fear mongering, and become a voice of calm and reason, and where we can: help and educate.   Keep your eyes peeled, I’m not sure where this is going, but the call has been answered.

This kind of irreverent boldness is necessary in times of crisis.


On Charity

When you’re living in a place like Nairobi, a city where American and European NGOs thrive, it seems that people come here to “save the world”, in one way or another.

And it’s not a bad thing.

Yes there are many problems here, and many people have devoted their lives to solving them, for no other reason than their deep love and respect for this land.

Sometimes, the attitude of charity takes a form that is less than noble. Not just for some people, but even within the same person, this dichotomy in what is charitable, may occur. Whether intention is bad or good; that is not what I’m arguing, however, I do believe that true charity is not driven by the desire to meet someone’s needs.

True charity has less to do with being the provider of a person’s basic needs , but has much more to do with reminding a person of their God-given right as a human being to have these needs met.

I believe this to my core, and I will stand by it till the day I die. Giving to someone should restore dignity to them, not remind them that they are, and forever will be receivers. Reminding a person of their need, is as good as robbing them of their sovereignty and self-respect.

This is one of the things I’ve learned by being in Kenya. We’re not here to do anyone any favors. This is one world, and we’re all a part of it, period.

Let’s get together and feel alright? I think it’s time for some Marley… good night.