The Road To Bahir Dar and Gondor.

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The view of the new bridge

Many reviews online discourage you travelling in Ethiopia on the bus. But my friend Glen says “A good tourist takes the Bus” and thats what we did. Truly we did not even look for a bus office, it just found us.

We were changing some money and I asked the lady where to buy a sim card, she pointed at the building opposite. I asked again, where to find the bus to Bahir Dar and she said the same building.

It was like a “one stop shop”.

The reason why were are going to Bahir Dar is because its not possible to do Lalilela in one day. I found somebody who has done it, but it was by luck. Bahir Day became our fuelling station in between trips to Lalibela…….the highlight trip.

But Bahir Dar has a lot to offer, what is called the Blue Nile is born here…..right in the middle of the Lake Nile. There are two island on the lake where the monks have made a home, build churches and made it holy place.

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3am International time, 9pm Ethiopian time.

Bahir Dar also has the Blue Nile Falls, one of the biggest………it used to be before Ethiopia build a power plant on it diverting 75% of the water leaving the falls with only 25%. But even that is really big.

The trip to the falls is very expensive, you have to hire a private car, pay entrance fee and pay for a guide. You can decide to go there by boat which you pay or by trekking though the mountain. Time is of essence here.

Back to the bus.

We woke up at 3am which was 9pm Ethiopian time. Our taxi took us to Meskal Square where the bus picks and drops people. The bus was ready…..but it did not leave until 6am. Bahir Dar is 495 km from Addis, 10 hours on route 3 and route 30.

The road takes you to Africas most beautiful landscapes. The say Rwanda is the land of a thousand hills, I think Ethiopia is the land of a million hills.

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We travelled to the cloud and back.

The hills and mountains are endless, with rivers meandering in between and the landscape breath taking. Two sights where the bus will stop for you to take pictures are the waterfalls and the recently completed bridge by the Ethiopian government in partnership with Chinese government. The views are to die for.

The bus was comfortable. With two screens we watched everything the driver wanted us to watch. We even watched The Gods Must be crazy 2 which was really funny. Everyone gets a soft cake and two bottles of 600ml water.

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Finger of God

Bathroom brakes are just in the bush, the bus stops somewhere, the conductor announces 5 minutes of bathroom break and we are all in the bush.

The interesting thing about Ethiopia is that its very common to see people taking their bathroom break on the side of the road…..man and women. The only place you will find a real bathroom is when you stop for lunch…that will be in a restaurant.

Its also common to see people showering along the rivers, and when I say rivers….Ethiopia has millions of them.

After 10 hours of sight seeing, three bathroom breaks, one lunch break, dozing and waking up….we were finally in Bahir Dar. My wife said it felt like being at the coast of Mombasa…..for me it just felt Bahir Dar.

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Breakfast

The lake is 10 minutes walk from where we were staying, the street busy with Hotels and restaurants and its here that we planned our trip to Gonder and Lalibela.

We were in Bahir Dar first three nights then one night after Lalibela. The first day we visited the Lake and in the afternoon the waterfalls. The following day, 5am in the middle of the pouring rain we were picked with a van headed to Gondor.

The road to Gondor starts from the shoes of Lake Nile, just like other roads in Ethiopia, its full of beautiful landscapes married with endless rivers. Everybody competes for the road, the vehicles on one hand, the animals on the other……dogs, donkeys and horses. The casualties always the dogs…..but sometimes the vehicles too. There are two beautiful sights on this road, the finger of God and the nose of David.

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Castle in Gondor

Our car stops in the a small shopping centre, the conductor jumps out and after a few minutes he is back with a plate full of bread. Its breakfast…….with his smile I know the bread is on the house, everybody gets it, and we continue with the journey.

We arrived in Azezo and are greated by a small town, here the horse has the right of way. As a common means of transport here, they are everywhere and its difficult for the car to manoeuvre the road.

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The road is for everyone.

We finally after 187 km see the Castle standing right in front of us, and we knew we were in Gondor. The air was fresh, the view from the top of the castle was breathtaking and the people were nice and friendly.

Life was just good in Gondor, and my wife was still with me.

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Addis Ababa First on The List.

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The “Red Terror” Martyrs’ Memorial Museum in Addis Ababa was established in 2010 as a memorial to those who died during the Red Terror under the Derg government. 

It is my first time in Addis Ababa, and my first day on our (my wife and I) trip in Ethiopia. When I arrived, I was eight years back in time, I left Nairobi on 3rd of August 2018 and here I was 27th November 2010. I felt young, I felt God has been gracious to me with time. In November 2010 I was planning fo my first trip to South Africa which I took in January 2011…..and here I was again…..November 2010

“If I was stranded on a desert island & could only bring one thing. I would bring Dora, that b*tch has everything in her backpack”.

If you are a backpacker, you have probably came across this quote. I don’t think I can call myself a backpacker, but am willing to learn, so together with my wife and our backpacks we will be travelling to some of the most remote locations in Ethiopia.

Float on the blue nile in Bahir Dar, rule from the castle of Gondar and worship at the new Jerusalem in Lalibela. We will travel on budget, avoid luxury of star hotels, eat street food and try to meet fellow backpackers and make friends. After all this, we intend to come back home tired but alive and full of memories that will encourage us to plan our next trip.

Addis Ababa is an interesting city, its a combination of the old and the new. Tall skyscrapers live harmoniously with traditional mud houses. Traditional food like Injera as it found out can be served at the same place Pizza is being served. The Metro…just like a Cobra snake runs along the road populated by the blue Mini bus called Taxi.

Sometimes it is raining and sometimes it is sunny…..and thats just how Addis is. I asked a friend who has been here for a few months if she has adjusted, she said NO, you don’t adjust in Addis, you come stay and leave Addis the way it is.

Old cars run a longside the new. Its common to see the VW Beatle, well maintained without modification. The Beatle is a historic car for Ethiopia. In 2nd February 1974 (not Ethiopian Calendar) Addis streets were filled Beatles of Taxis drivers striking the high price of fuel. The last Emperor Heile Selassie was hustled away to a military barracks in a blue VW Beatle.

The Beatle might have died where it was born but here in Addis, its alive and kicking a**.

All instructions in the university are in English, but the language that rules here is Amharic. Its difficult to get your way around, but if you are a backpacker…..you always find a way.

Twice somebody has attempted to pick pocket me around Stadium, the first time shouting at the top of my voice I threw him a jab, the second time my wife lifted the tennis racket she was carrying…..the guy retreated really fast.

People love Ethiopia for the food, boy they can make some really nice food. You would believe from the way they make their pizza that they invented it. When it arrives its half chicken and half beef……just the way you ordered, with chilly at the centre. Interestingly, they love to eat Injera with their hands but when it comes to pizza…its folk and knife business.

Coffee is a big thing here and it comes in all form and choice. Whether you are having it in an uptown restaurant in Bole or a roadside makeshift spot in Yeka. You got to respect the coffee and the coffee tradition.

Enough with the food and culture, the sight seeing……

The first thing on my list was Lion of Judah Monument. Nobody new where it was and nobody was caring. We went to Addis Abeba Museum instead, it turned out to be great to learn the history on Addis once called Addis Abeba.

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We have tried to learn as much history of this country that was never colonised as we possibly can, we have also made friends. Angel from Bulgaria whom together with his backpacking friend Liu from China are touring eight countries. A Chinese cyclist who has cycled from China and he is headed to South Africa.

A young guy from Senegal playing professional football here and a Kenyan working with the department of gender at the African Union….and yes, we have seen that building present the Chinese government gave Africa.

The Metro is a game changer for this city. It moves people in four different directions with two connections. Trust me, there are countries in Africa who will not have this in 2050, whether it is Ethiopian year or European year.

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Technologically, Ethiopia is still in Kenya’s 2010, when we had only one mobile telco, with an option of 2G or 3G network and internet that was slower than the tortoise race. I am trying to make sure I publish this article today, tomorrow we are off to Bahir Dar and I am not sure what is ahead.

I have a lot to share, but this time I am running out of time. I have missed one cup of coffee already. I am not sure how long the internet is here for, we had a disconnection in the morning and when I asked at the reception what was the problem…..the lady answering in borrowed English just said “company problems”

My wife needs to edit this post before I publish and I am being reminded by yours truly…I need to set the alarm for tomorrow. Our bus is for 4:30am International time.

I will see you the other-side of Bahir Dar.

 

Cycling in Kenya Finally Getting Good Attention.

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A few weeks ago, Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris picked up her bike together with a team of cyclist and she took on the roads of Nairobi. This journey took her from her house in the suburbs of Kitisuru to the parliament building, about 11km.

Passaris is a lady of many firsts, her organization “Adopt A Light” was on the forefront in lighting Nairobi city. The city was in the dark and unsafe those many years ago. With a technology imported from South Africa, street by street we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Passaris after her cycling session said she would engage potential sponsors to see that willing Nairobians are loaned or rented bikes and champion legislation that will make the roads safer for cyclists.

She did not stop, on Saturday I saw her rocking her bike in the streets of Nairobi campaigning for regulations that will make Nairobi a better city for cycling. nI am reminded of days I used to commute 50km everyday on my bike. Mombasa road was a real monster for me, every morning and evening.

When you cycle on Mombasa road, (many times) you get initiated by the toughness it brings.  I became very tuff, I prayed a lot, and I learnt more and more how to put my instincts at work, and the power of intuition….when it says stop! I stop.

It was also fun to be on the bike those years, I saved money, I kept time of my appointment and everywhere I went, I had to tell a story of how am cycling on Mombasa road.

Today, I don’t do that as much as I would like to, but that doesn’t mean that I am done. Big things came but small things stay the same. I am glad that with people like Passaris in parliament, we are on a good road to reaching our goal of a green Nairobi, I mean the road has started.

It has been estimated that 90% of urban air pollution in rapidly growing cities in developing countries is attributable to motor vehicle emissions (UNEP, 2011) so while there are many sources of air pollution in Nairobi, including open air burning of refuse and biomass (Gatari, 2006), industrial operations and domestic cooking fires, motor vehicles play a critical role in the problem.

The county government in a plan to handle the traffic menace said they will be burning driving two days in a week. On this days, commuters will be encouraged to either cycle to work or use public transportation.

As citizens of Kenya and as Naironians, and most importantly as cyclist, we will keep pushing the government to make sure they put up infrastructure that supports cycling, regulations that keep cyclists safe and event awareness on how to share the road.

With members of parliament joining this fight, there is light at the end of the tunnel for cyclists.

 

How We Killed the Pioneer Car.

If you are fortunate, like me, maybe privileged and one day you arrive in Italy. It’s the beginning of winter but still that doesn’t break your spirit, you went ahead and toured Italy, walked the streets, eat the food and most importantly admired the cars, I mean the Fiat.

The Birth of FIAT

But the real history of Italian cars begins after Italy unified into a nation when? on July 11, 1899, F.I.A.T. (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) was founded as a company, after acquiring other major Italian brands.

The first model produced by Fiat was the Fiat 3 ½ HP. Built in 1899 by design engineer Aristide Faccioli from an inspiration he received from his previous drawing of the Welleyes, the 3 ½ HP had a maximum power output of just 3.5 hp and 400 rpm. Fiat produced just eight copies of the automobile, a far reach from what modern automotive assembly lines can churn out, but at the end of 19th Century, the car was not a common good, but a luxury that only a wealthy few could afford. The 3 ½ HP was not equipped with a reverse gear and its frame was made of wood.

A few years later Fiat achieved the first of many victories in car racing with the help of Vincenzo Lancia, winning the Torino Sassi-Superga in 1902. In subsequent years, Vincenzo Lancia was to create his own car company.

Today, the streets of Italy are filled with Fiats, something to really admire. Italians have gone ahead to develop worlds best sports cars racing in different grand pix all over the world.

Pioneer Car

Many of you might not know or remember the Nyayo Car. The Pioneer was to be Africa’s first independently developed car, and the project was started with this amazing quote from Kenya’s then president: he asked for the development of a car, “no matter how ugly or slow it may be.” This must be borrowed from many quotes, The need for a people’s car – VW Beatle or a cheap car for everyone as long as it came in one colour – Ford. Elon Mask said “when Henry Ford made cheap and reliable cars people said, nah! whats wrong with the horse? That was a huge bet he made and it worked”

There’s something really refreshing about hearing this sort of brutal honesty when it comes to cars. Everything that any car company says about their cars or the origin of their company is almost invariably a string of overwrought hyperbole that proclaims their cars to be the finest, noblest, wheeled saviours of humanity. So hearing one exasperated leader plead with a university to develop any ugly, slow car they could be remarkable.

One of the remaining of the Pioneer car rests at Numerical Machining Complex at the Railway Godown in Industrial area. It’s been almost 40 years since the Pioneer car and just last week I managed to see it with my eye.

The University managed, after four years and a bunch of money, to develop five prototypes: a five-door sedan, a sedan with a trunk, a pickup, a sports coupe, and even a rally version. The cars look pretty conventional for the time, and seem to be transverse, FWD cars in keeping with many economy cars of the era.

They used a 1200cc engine designed locally and the Pioneer could make about 75 MPH with it, with the state of roads we had then remember. So, not really all that slow, and it wasn’t even particularly ugly, either.

The start of the Nyayo car might have not been good, Only two of the five cars that were displayed at the Kararani Sports Complex could start, and when the President jumped in one of them he could not manage more than 400 mitres.

The Nyayo Pioneer was an engineering disaster, many people said. The headlights, bumpers and boot did not come together neatly, and the car lacked the finesse you would expect from a consumer product.

Eventually, the factory built for the cars was sold to another firm, and in some ways that did become successful, becoming one of Africa’s first and comparatively few plants capable of producing automotive and locomotive parts, lathe equipment, and other machinery.

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In this country, people will kill something and they will surely make sure that its dead. I agree that this was a disaster, but at least it was the start. I have travelled a little and I can tell you that I have come across a lot of automotive disasters, AMC Gremlin – 1970 Ford Pinto on the same year, Fiat Maltipla – 1998, Ford Explorer – 1995, Lamborghini LM002 (1986).

When Kenya was making their First automobile disaster, Lamborghini too were making theirs. The difference between Lambo and Kenya is that they learnt from their mistakes, WE DID NOT.

Today Lamborghini is the fastest car, if not one of the fastest cars, made in Italy and sold all over the world, the FIAT, rules the streets of Italy, while in Kenya we still import cars from Japan.

Linkedin Goes Wakanda.

“Talent is evenly distributed but not opportunity”.

This week Nairobi hosted a Linkedin chat forum at Villa Rosa Kempinksi Hotel. This event centred on a video fireside chat by Linkedin Co-Lead Allen Blue and the Vice President of Nigaria Pro Yemi Osinbajo, at Silicon Valley. This event dabbed “connecting the dots” was attended by mostly Africans if not African Americans.

It was amazing to note how well Africa can be represented at the bay area…….the heart of innovation in the world. Moderating the event was Thogori Karago, Linkedin head of R&D Africa.

The conversation at the bay area today towards Africa is changing. Our population keeps growing day in day out or I should say night in and night out. We have the largest number of young people, and so this brings the increase in talent. Nigeria for example, will be the third most populous nation by 2050. This is getting Silicon Valley really excited and Pro Yemi’s message was that “Africa is Open for Business”

He however reasons that Africa needs to strategize itself for this future, coming up with the best practice to train young people to prepare them for a technological future. Leverage on Ideas aimed at reducing poverty and making home environment more lucrative for investment.

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Broadband connectivity He said remains an obstacle to success in Nigeria and there is need to keep deepening it, funding and regulations were also mentioned as great hindrance to a technological future.

Pro Yemi also mentioned some of the things Nigeria is doing to improve this, among them was training the right people, attracting and retaining talent, as we have all witnessed in the bay area and all over the world; Talent always follows the money. Nigeria is making content downloading faster and cheap, movies are now available online and everywhere.

So while bracing for a technological future, Africa needs to plan for the youth population, in leadership ,commerce and mainly technology. Labour in Africa remains lower than China and African governments need to take advantage of that, and last but not least solving the skills gap. Talent is evenly distributed but not opportunity.

Linkedin For Good

Linkedin for good has been connecting underserved communities to economic opportunity. They have signed a 10 year agreement with World Bank to advice government and institutions on the relevant areas to train to make sure that the young people when they graduate, they don’t enter the job market with skills that were relevant 10 years back.

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The Linkedin African Team is now focusing on putting Africa on the map, on talent and technological advancement. The event at Silicon Valley was a global event focusing on Africa, to help African business, and to push the massege that Africa is Open For Business.

Linkedin African Team will in the future host different events aimed at boosting business growth, helping recruiters in taping on talent. Lookout for the Linkedin Learning.

 

 

Get Certified at JoomlaDay Kenya.

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For the first time we will be hosting a Joomla Certification Exam during our JoomlaDay event which will take place on the 14th of Sept 2018. When I took my exams in Rome Italy, the last thing I was worried a bout was time, having 90 minutes at my disposal was more than enough. Shock on me, in the middle of my exam, I was pressed for time, and I was rushing to finish, That was followed but a not very good outcome.

My Experience.

Yes, the exam is not easy. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “I have been working with Joomla! for over 10 years, so passing a Joomla exam will be a breeze”. Only the top 10-15% taking the exam actually pass it the first time. Out of eleven exam takers, maybe two will pass. The odds are tough, however, if you really want to pass, you can take what you learned, develop a strategy for studying, and take the exam again at the next Joomla Event.

Topics Covered in the Exam.

According to the official Joomla! site, here are the objectives to know for the exam:

  • Joomla! Architecture
  • Preparing and installing Joomla!
  • Website Structure
  • Managing and Editing Articles
  • Managing Users and Access (ACL)
  • Managing Menus
  • Security and Maintenance
  • Upgrading the System
  • Managing Extensions
  • Multilingual Sites

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There are no exam books available yet for exam prep. They are in the works, but not yet developed. Materials are mainly links to articles. I suggest if an article is unclear, check out OSTraining’s videos on the subject. They are the most updated information available. Note also, questions come directly from experience working in the product. Many answers will be clear if you have hands-on experience.

Why Spend money and time?

First, getting certified in any product is generally a good idea. After all, it tests your knowledge in a product, and forces you to remain current – you owe it to your clients and students who benefit from your knowledge to stay current.

Second, certifications are great for your resume, they can be the difference between you and your competitor getting the job.

Third, certifications prove that the product you work in has a solid reputation. Offering a certification in a product reveals it is worthy of certification. Deciding to take the exam shows your support for the product as well.

One last thing.

Study the articles related to the exam articles, read the Joomla documentation, watch OSTraining videos, and practice tasks in a sandbox environment. Take the exam, and if you don’t pass, TAKE IT AGAIN.

Support the volunteers who made it possible for you to prove your skills. Remember, they don’t get paid for their labor of love. Give constructive criticism to the exam prep team so they can make the exam better in the future. And, good luck!

We welcome you to take this exam during our JoomlaDay event, we hope to see you there.

Visit our website www.joomladay.or.ke to register.

 

Deploying Big Data for Security.

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Many organisations today are revolving and relaying on information technology, to many of those and to myself, I like to say that we are in the United Nations of information Technology.

With that, every minute we face new threats, the banks are hacked, there is fake news and even a presidential election is compromised. In the world of Data, we are reminded Data drives decisions, but decisions now write world history.

Stolen or manipulated Data can be used to assassinate character or disrupt democracy. Thats the real problem, cybersecurity threats is making it difficult to make good decisions. Data is more, its becoming the bedrock of our economies.

And Data plays a big role in  our decision making and we have to make sure that its being protected. If Data is manipulated it can be turned to a weapon and that weapon used against us.

Many businesses already use Big Data for marketing and research, yet may not have the fundamentals right – particularly from a security perspective. As with all new technologies, security seems to be an afterthought at best.

Big Data breaches will be big too, with the potential for even more serious reputational damage and legal repercussions than at present.

A growing number of companies are using the technology to store and analyse petabytes of data including web logs, click stream data and social media content to gain better insights about their customers and their business.

As a result, information classification becomes even more critical; and information ownership must be addressed to facilitate any reasonable classification.

Most organisations already struggle with implementing these concepts, making this a significant challenge. We will need to identify owners for the outputs of Big Data processes, as well as the raw data.

Thus data ownership will be distinct from information ownership – perhaps with IT owning the raw data and business units taking responsibility for the outputs.

In the run-up to Africa Cybersecurity Summit on 27th and 28th of September, I will be doing articles on a wide range of topics that we will cover during the summit. This mainly for drumming up support for the summit. For more information about the summit please visit www.acssummit.org 

Big Data is good, but big Data with an insertion of bad Data is big problem for everyone.