Hannah Sassaman — Banned from the National Association of Broadcasters Since 2002

Taking a breath in Nairobi
January 20, 2007, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

At 4.40 PM, on Friday, January 20th, the members of the Kenyan Independent Media Center were scattered across Nairobi.  Organizers from Uganda, across Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and more are raising an antenna on the roof of the Moi Stadium.  My fellow Prometheus organizer, Elena Botkin-Levy, and I are at an internet cafe, taking a small break from the work we have been doing collecting more radio pieces for the studio going up at Moi, the major center for the world social forum.  Many incredible journalists, especially those from Uganda, have become new addicts to minidisc recorders and to audio editing with Audacity.  In the past three days I’ve watched Safi, a computer science student, mother, and social worker, become an expert interviewer, and teach Anne from Kenya as well as Farida from Uganda some excellent tricks on the minidisc recorder.

These thoughts might seem scattered, and that’s because of a big lack of sleep and the fact that there are so many scattered but vitally important projects to do.  In the past 24 hours I’ve helped a chef from Kisumu (an articulate critic of local Kenyan media consolidation) cook a ratatouille and chicken gizzard meal in the dark (big blackout yesterday), helped arrange an Air America interview with Laura Flanders and some of the African Indymedia delegates, and bartered for minidiscs, CDs, and transparency paper in ‘town’ (also known as downtown Nairobi, two matatu rides north of Karen, the green, fancy neighborhood where we’ve rented our convergence center space).

The delegates from Maseno University have arrived at the center and have teamed up with some of the delegates who have been around longest in the space to learn minidisc and interviewing skills, while a number of the other folks headed to Moi to help finish the transmitter and antenna, and hook them up to the computers, mixer, and more.

Today was the first day I didn’t work with young women building one-watt transmitters, and I want to get back to it, because some of the transmitters aren’t working.  The Ugandan team is working on two transmitters, Patrick from a local station — Koch FM — is working on another (we need to go visit with him later this week), we’ve saved one for the Nigerian delegation that couldn’t make it, and reserved one for Kangemi, a community two hours north of Nairobi that hosts a community center perfect for radio.  That’s it for the one-watters — now I have a bunch of quarter watts left. 

Distributing and working on these transmitters has been exhilirating but difficult — when Suleiman from Uganda asked why the Ugandan delegation couldn’t take home a third transmitter for his part of Kampala, and I explained that other community representatives had started building them, he asked why I couldn’t get more, and it’s hard to answer.  We don’t have the resources, that is for sure, but I wish we did.  I hope I can pull him aside later to talk through where these transmitters can be acquired and to let him know about other radio resources.

This has been a difficult but inspiring trip.  I hope to write more — but this is the first internet access I’ve had in days.  Check out http://www.exclamationradio.org to learn more from Andy, the brilliant technician helping raise an antenna on the roof of the stadium.  I don’t know if we’ll have any access when we head west to Maseno — but we’ll know soon.

Keep checking kenya.indymedia.org for great audio and more — Feizel did some great rough interviews under the ‘Bread for Children’ post on the newswire.


2 Comments so far
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🙂 Heard the interview on Laura Flanders. How funny to hear so much about you from Steph99 and then hear you on Air America. 🙂

Comment by Shiva

You go girl We are proud of you. Take care of yourself. we are watching. xoxoxo

Comment by linda and leslie

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