I met Mark Kamau through my good friend and fellow trench worker Ken aka Gaza during my days at the production floor at 3mice, then the leading web development house in EastAfrica where I started my fun (I like to say that I don’t work but rather have fun) life as an intern. Ken had joined 3mice from an organization called Nairobits – a Digital Design School that provides education to the Nairobi slum youth by put digital tools of expression in the hands of the youth who have the creativity but not the means to express themselves. This is where Ken and Mark met.
Mark struck me as a very forward thinker and had polished his skill to to an amazing level. We haven’t touched base with Mark in a while since he is almost always traveling but a LinkedIn network sent me a link from the TedX conference in Amsterdam and surprise surprise…
Marks story is an inspiring one that I feel needs to be shared…
Against a backdrop of crime in the slums of Nairobi, Mark Kamau, born in 1980, grew up not only dreaming of a better future but also grabbing every chance that came his way. In 2000 he managed to register himself at web design school NairoBits (founded by the Dutch foundation Butterfly Works).
Calling himself the ‘Slumdog Manager’, he gave an inspiring talk on his journey out of the slums of Kenya and the future of African aid. He suggested that the way in which he had been helped by the Nairobits program could serve as an example: Africa needs this sort of intelligent engagement over aid, he said. His simple and powerful speech earned a standing ovation.
More at http://www.tedxamsterdam.nl/2009/video-mark-kamau-on-intelligent-engagement/
Mark Kamau was born against a backdrop of crime and hardship in the slums of Nairobi in 1980. Mark’s dream of a better future finally became reality in 2000 when he registered at web design school NairoBits.
Although he had never touched a keyboard before, Mark began as one of the first web design students in East Africa studying design, technique and African culture.
Following graduation he moved from creating his first website for an international client, to becoming a trainer at NairoBits, he set up his own web company, then became manager of Kilimanjaro Film School in neighbouring Tanzania.
Now Mark is heading back to Nairobi to become the manager of NairoBits (now a hub of technological innovation) where his next step is inspiring the next generation of Nairobits students.
In 10 years, Mark (and many NairoBits students like him) has shown what talent and drive can achieve when given exposure and fertile ground. Mark is excited about the future.
Nairobits is a unique web-design school in Nairobi, founded in 2000 by the Dutch foundation Butterfly Works.
What WIRED Magazine said:
“Slumdog digital design
Mark Kamau, the general manager of Nairobits, a digital design school that provides education to young people living in Nairobi slums. Calling himself the ‘Slumdog Manager’, he gave an inspiring talk on his journey out of the slums of Kenya and the future of African aid.
He estimated that 80 per cent of his school friends were either in prison or dead – two had been covered in petrol and set alight, suffering the ‘instant justice’ of the slums after they had been caught stealing.
But his message was hopeful and he argued that the way in which he had been helped by the Nairobits program could serve as a template for Africa: he was respected, challenged, supported and given responsibility and Africa needs this sort of intelligent engagement over aid, he said.
His simple and powerful speech earned a standing ovation.”
TEDx Amsterdam was held on November the 20th, hosting a variety of speakers from the arts, design and technology fields, all with a unique and inspiring story to tell.
TED is a nonprofit devoted to ” Ideas Worth Spreading’’, Through annual conferences TED brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). On TED.com, the best talks and performances from TED and partners are available to the world, for free.