Kelele '09: African Bloggers’ Conference

Kelele is an annual African bloggers’ conference which will be held for the first time in August 13th – 16th 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya. According to event organisers, Kelele is a gathering of African bloggers in the tradition of historical African societies where everyone has a voice.

Kelele is a Swahili word for noise. So, African bloggers make some noise!

The theme for Kelele '09 is “Nairobi Beat Your Drum.” Erik, one of the main organisers, explains the idea behind Kelele '09 theme:

The specific theme of Kelele ‘09 Nairobi is “Beat Your Drum” – which connects the traditional African method of getting your message across vast distances – the talking drums – to the 21st century and the tools we use today, blogs and the Internet.

Kelele website provides details of the event:

What is Kelele?
Kelele is an annual African bloggers’ conference held in a different African city each year and run by an organising committee in that city. Kelele will be held for the first time in August 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Why Kelele?
Kelele is the Kiswahili word for noise. We are organising a gathering of African bloggers in the tradition of historical African societies where everyone has a voice. Where society has room for debate and discussion. With too many voices marginalised or simply ignored in Africa society today for a variety of reasons we believe that technology in general and grassroots media tools such as blogs in particular represent the most powerful way in which to give Africans back their voice. We are gathering in Nairobi in August 2009 to make a powerful, positive, inspirational noise that will be heard across the continent and beyond. KELELE!

When will Kelele ’09 take place?:

We have tentatively booked the 13th – 16th August 2009.
Here is a summary of the proposed programme:
Day 1 August 13: Arrival in Nairobi and official opening
Day 2 August 14: Conference Day
Day 3 August 15: Skills/Training Day and Outreach Day. Official closing
Day 4 August 16: Sight seeing / departure
Sister events
The African Bloggers Awards, which aims to recognise the top blogger from each African country. The winner from each country will be invited and sponsored to attend Kelele ’09 Nairobi.

The organisers are inviting sponsors to cover the cost of the conference:

Sponsor Kelele!
Every successful event needs the backing of some great sponsors! We’d like to invite all organizations with an interest in blogging, Africa and citizen media to become a sponsor of the inaugural African Bloggers Conference: Kelele!
There are a variety of ways that you can become involved as a sponsor for Kelele – your contribution doesn’t only need to be financial in nature. If you’d like to find out more about the sponsorship opportunities, please email daudi.were AT

Sponsors – We have only begun canvassing for sponsors for Kelele this week. Already, the Berkman Institute at Harvard is on board. If you’d like to join us and be a part of making some real noise in Africa, please get in touch with Daudi, or at
A very special thanks goes out to Foxinni and David Kobia for the logo and WordPress design work.

Luckily, Kelele sponsors are starting to come on board:

It has been one week since Kelele was announced, and we’re incredibly surprised and happy with the uptake within the African blogosphere around it. This is true also amongst sponsors as well.

Harvard’s Berkman Institute for Internet and Society
A long-time supporter of blogging in Africa, the Berkman Institute at Harvard was the first one that came on board. In fact, they have been waiting for this type of event to happen in Africa, and their long-time relationship with Daudi makes it a perfect fit. Ethan Zuckerman, one of the Berkman Fellows, is also an established presence in the African blog-space as well.

Afrigator – Africa’s social media aggregator
Luckily for me, I was in Johannesburg when Kelele was announced and had a chance to speak to Mike Stopforth, one of the co-founders of Afrigator. Since Afrigator is the one place that aggregates blogs from all over Africa, this relationship only makes sense. I didn’t have a chance to talk to Justin Hartman, but look for some big announcements from them and us in the future too that will directly play into Kelele.

Zoopy – South Africa’s video hosting site
One of South Africa’s more successful web 2.0 type sites, Zoopy was VERY excited to hear about Kelele and wanted to be one of the main media sponsors. As Daudi, myself and Ndesanjo had been speaking about them well in advance of announcing Kelele, we were thrilled to hear that they wanted to come on board as a sponsor. CAtching up with Nic Haralambous in Jo’burg meant that we got to talk some details and needless to say, this will be a big partnership for Kelele.

Foxinni, of Radiiate, was kind enough to create the WordPress design that we are using for the site. Especially nice, as he did it in a rush as we gave him no time…
David Kobia of Ushahidi, created the logo – again, in very little time.

Erik sums up the spirit behind the conference, “If Africans want to do something then do it”:

Kelele, the African Bloggers Conference, was announced today at Barcamp Africa. That event has an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm behind it, and it makes the perfect segue to the next big African community event: Kelele! This event was born out of connections made at TED Global in Tanzania last year, when 25+ bloggers from around Africa were brought face-to-face for the first time.

Daudi Were is producing the event, along with an organizing committee of bloggers from all over Africa. This includes Ndesanjo Macha, Dave Duarte, Nii Simmonds, Mshairi, Sami Ben Gharbia, and myself.

I think we’re at a place saying, if Africans want to do something, then do it. So, let’s do it! Let’s celebrate the cultures we have in Africa and let the conference be a reflection of that. Let’s make it truly African, where the people involved are coming from all 52 countries on the continent and the diaspora. Let’s seed the next generation of bloggers and advocates of open dialogue in Africa – which is why one day will be focused on having the top 100 bloggers around Africa training new bloggers in whichever host country it’s in.

Josh describes Kelele as a celebration of Africa's contributions to the social web:

Kelele was announced to a room of well over two hundred people at BarCamp Africa a few days ago. It’s big news as it’s the first time anyone has attempted to organize a pan-African conference aimed at web 2.0, mobile, and new media. The date is scheduled for August 13, 2009 which puts it nearly a year away but when it comes to organizing conferences of this scale, that’s no time at all, and it will be here before we realize it!
In Europe, America and all around the world events like this are commonplace and happen very frequently. What Kelele represents, and why it’s so tremendously positive, is an initiative to launch a homegrown conference that has the world’s attention. It’s not a Barcamp, it’s not a TED event, it’s not an O’Reilly event; this is Africa celebrating Africa’s contributions to the social web. While it’s true that all of the aforementioned events have taken place on African soil, it’s important for the African continent to do more than just participate with the world development community; it has to contribute.

Startup Africa writes, “The birth of an African bloggers conference,”

According to Hash at WhiteAfrican, Kelele was born out of connections made at TED Global in Tanzania last year, when 25+ bloggers from around Africa were brought face-to-face for the first time. The announcement for the official launch was made a day after BarCampAfrica.

Loy, who blogs at Startups Nigeria, leaves a comment at White African suggesting that the conference takes its name from the native language of the host country:

Hi Hash, This is great initiative! But, May i suggest that every host country has its own voice, thus the conference could be tagged depending on the native language of the host country?
For instance, an african bloggers’ conference in Lagos, Nigeria couldbe tagged “ariwo”, meaning noise in yoruba.

Other bloggers who have written about Kelele are:

Kenyan Pundit:

It will be a couple of years after the brouhaha surrounding the first African bloggers conference in Grahamstown SA and its supposed lack of diversity, but it’s finally good to see the announcement about an African bloggers conference in Nairobi. Hopefully those of you who felt that Grahamstown could have “looked” better will take this opportunity to help shape Kelele into what you’d like it to be as far as representing the African blogosphere (yes, no bitching after the fact is what I’m saying!).

A Nairobian Perpective:

Its nice to see some of the ingenious Kenyan bloggers and web aps developers organize for an Annual African Bloggers Conference that will basically be owned and run by African bloggers.The first African bloggers conference as can be seen from the banner will be held next year August 13 to 16, 2009.Kelele is an initiative being spearheaded by Kenyans(among other African bloggers and Citizen Journalists) but poised to have a wider African appeal as the conference will be hosted by different African cities on an annual basis.

The idea is noble but when it comes to sponsorship …..there is often a big let down from indeginous African Companies.From practice i have witnessed that mainly foreign companies host or sponsor this events with little input from the locals.I hope this will be different! The corpoartes need to embrance the power of the internet as a powerful medium for communicating vital information.

And David Duarte:

Kelele, an annual African bloggers’ conference, was announced yesterday at BarCamp Africa at the GooglePlex in San Francisco. This exciting event will be held in a different African city each year and run by an organising committee in that city. Kelele will be held for the first time in August 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Daudi Were is producing the event, along with an organizing committee of bloggers from all over Africa. This includes Ndesanjo Macha, Erik Hersman, Nii Simmonds, Mshairi, Sami Ben Gharbia, and me.

You can find more information about Kelele '09 on its website, blog and its twitter channel.


  • Blogging is one of the essentail weapon to the wider members of the society who do not have the communication tools of the journalist but at least with the simple thing called internet access, they can send a message that might transform the whole world.However, the issue of alieanation is one of the heart soring issues that cause conflicts in many societies.

  • African Bloggers convention in Nairobi, this is exciting and timely. In Africa, speaking for Kenya, mainstream media is owned by powerful rich individual who control “alternative thinking” to get out to the populous so as to maintain status. Blogging as alternative media, has given us a platform to get our message out, to mobilize and organize our people with information for freedom. Its great to have African Bloggers meet so we can swap experiences, challenges and lessons learnt. I welcome you to Nairobi and if you have time visit

  • Patrick kamotho

    This is fantastic we really need this mode vof communication as african people are ready to change for good.

  • Kelele ! Kelele ! Kelele tutapiga ! The world can see Africa’s a the new frontier for development of life changing ideas. Let it be a forum to make our voices heard, not paid to say but free and proud to do so. Africa ! Tupige Kelele !

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