Assistant Professor, University of Iowa

Tag: kenya

Economic Ingenuity among Nairobi’s Poor

Economic Ingenuity among Nairobi’s Poor

A recent story in the The Standard details the various ways Nairobi’s low-income earners maximize their earning potential and spending power. The article, “How Thriving ‘Reject Economy’ is Allowing the Poor to Live High Life of the Rich,” by Dominic Omondi looks beyond the “Dollar a Day” trope to reveal […]

New Article: Participatory Culture in Kenya

New Article: Participatory Culture in Kenya

Melissa Tully and I have a new article out in Critical Studies in Media Communication about the one and only Makmende. If you’re not familiar with Makmende, you should watch this video immediately. Melissa and I were both in Kenya doing research on other topics […]

New Article: Entertainment-Education and Online Cocreation

New Article: Entertainment-Education and Online Cocreation

This is a belated notice, but Melissa Tully and I have a new article published in Television & New Media that looks at the Kenyan television show The Team and its online campaign to engage viewers in a discussion about national unity. Here’s the abstract from “The Team Online: Entertainment-Education, Social Media, and Cocreated Messages“:

This article examines an entertainment-education program, The Team, which began airing in Kenya after the 2007–2008 postelection violence. The show promotes cooperation and national unity among Kenyans through the metaphor of Kenya as a football (soccer) team. The focus of this article is twofold: viewers’ identification with and reaction to certain morally ambiguous characters and audience members’ interaction with the program through the online social networking site Facebook. We argue that the producers’ attempt to create less didactic storylines and more complex characters resulted in unanticipated audience opposition to the death of a character the producers understood to be negative but audience members viewed as sympathetic. Second, the adoption of social media resulted in less controlled discussions in which Facebook users occasionally questioned, challenged, and sought to reshape the producers’ goals and strategies.

The article is currently available online and will appear in print in 2014.

A History of Kibera

A History of Kibera

Before I first visited Kibera in 2008, I started tracking down books, newspaper articles, and journal articles to learn more about Kibera’s history. During this search, I found a couple of real gems. For instance, Timothy Parson’s article “Kibra is Our Blood” offers an excellent […]

It’s My Turn to Read: Corruption in Kenya

It’s My Turn to Read: Corruption in Kenya

Even though I’ve had Michela Wrong’s It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower sitting on my proverbial shelf for over a year, I hadn’t found the time to pick it up and read it until just recently. It’s the story of […]

Looking for a Research Assistant in Kibera?

Looking for a Research Assistant in Kibera?

“Maybe, you can promote me?”

You’ll hear these words a lot if you spend any time in Kenya. Taxi drivers, hawkers, safari guides, etc. For the most part they just want your business at that moment, not necessarily for you to “promote” them to the world. But now I want to do a real promotion for anyone out there who is looking for a research assistant for doing work in Kibera.

As you may know, I’ve been in Kenya doing research in Kibera and Mathare on individuals and groups that are producing media in Nairobi’s slums. I planned to do some interviews with Kibera residents following the screenings of Togetherness Supreme, but I wanted to hire a research assistant for two reasons: first, my Swahili is poor and my Sheng is even worse and second, in my experience, some people will tell me what they think I want to hear rather than what they really want to say. I thought by having a fellow Kibera resident conduct the interviews, respondents would be more likely to speak freely.

Genesis Njeru Ngari has experience doing interviews from working on his book project, he can speak fluently in English, Swahili, and Sheng (and he’s been adding some German to the mix), and likes to meet new people. So I thought he’d be good at the job, but I was still really impressed at his skill and professionalism. I drafted up a questionnaire, and then the two of us met so Genesis could make suggestions and help me with the question phrasing. Then during two movie screenings, Genesis went around and recruited participants, making sure to get a good mix of men/women, old/young, etc. For the first 5 interviews, the two of us worked together, doing the interviews in tandem. Once Genesis got the swing of things, I let him take over. He did the rest of the interviews (34 in all) in 4 days, calling each respondent and setting up times and locations to meet. During the interviews, he switched back and forth between Swahili, Sheng, and English depending on the interviewee’s language of choice, but he always made sure to immediately translate any non-English responses for my benefit. He also made good clean audio recordings from my digital recorder, so transcription has been easy (well, as easy as transcribing ever is).

So if you’re looking for someone to help you with your research, I could not recommend Genesis more. You can contact him through his website, or you can comment here and I’ll put you in touch with him.