photo credit: Marius W. van Graan
I'm not sure he is okay with it but I always refer to Mark Kaigwa as a total wunderkind whenever I talk to folks about him, which is often. Still in his young twenties, Kaigwa has the art of communication down to a fine science. He has already amassed a respectable reputation consulting on social media for some of the biggest communications agencies and brands in Africa. You will have seen some of his writing at Africandigitalart.com, Afrinnovator.com, Memeburn and the Wwwire.com. Oh, there's also this wicked piece he guest blogged for us on African animators.
As if that's not enough, he co-wrote an award-winning videogame for Warner Bros. Interactive, curates film festivals, made a film called Dawa and is a certified former child actor!
Real Name Mark Kaigwa Web Name: MKaigwa (ehm-kah-ee-gwah)
Best known for: I'd need to do a poll, I have no idea. I've done a number of things in film, social media and technology but maybe best encompassed in the phrase “putting Africa on the map in the minds of those with access to technology across the world.”
Where are you from/live? Nairobi, Kenya.
When and how did you enter the social media game? Was between 2005 – 2007 that I started to experiment with web technology. It really got my interest more around '07 when I had a decent phone and was about to start working with Warner Bros. While travelling, social media helped me stay connected and I realised that after experiencing technology in the developed world that when it got to Africa it would be huge and I wanted to be part of that in some way.
What do you mostly tend to use it for? Listening, learning and occasionally sharing my opinion, syndicating content I find of interest. I favourite tweets far more than I tweet. And just for those who may be curious; someone asked me what my workflow for favourited* tweets is which I'm happy to share. I have it all automated. I have diigo.com connected to my Twitter account so it saves and archives my favourited tweets and adds them to social bookmarking service delicious.com for me as well. Then I have ifttt (ifthisthenthat) pull my favourited tweets into Pocket so I can read the ones with links later on my phone. Such an underutilised tool, favourites on Twitter but once you get them to work for you they are briliant.
How has it helped you grow your brand? In an incredible and indescribable way. It's been amazing to travel, speak, network and connect in person with hundreds and hundreds of incredible people. Besides that the business ventures, projects and ideas exchanged and connections made to the cont
inent have made me fortunate to assume the role of a connector of the world to Africa.
What is your brand/message? Africa is articulate, fearless, resolute, inspiring, creative and agile. I'm honoured to be an African ambassador to the world.
If you could have one person follow you on twitter who would it be? Tough one, this. I've been lucky that over time that @StephenFry and @BarackObama did back when it was hot to be followed by the POTUS (sic) – if we're saying that now it's following not for the mere perceived ego boost, but more for the function of actually exchanging direct messages with the person then I would say @KanyeWest to talk about Project DONDA.
If you could have one person join twitter who would it be? I've wondered what a young Steve Biko or a young Nelson Mandela or young Tom Mboya would make of Twitter. A calibre of African leader so charismatic and intelligent and with such a legacy, one wonders whether Twitter would disappoint them by collapsing underneath its own narcissistic nature and slacktivism or accelerate their impact across this tech-savvy African generation. I'd put my hopes on the latter.
What is the role of social media in the “Africa” conversation? In a talk I gave at re:publica in Berlin, I gave an analogy. Take NASA's picture of the night sky. Africa can be considered “the dark continent” for the seeming lack of night lights and electricity.
Take a data visualisation that came from a intern in the data department at Facebook titled the Facebook Friendship Map in 2010 and it shows that there's more to the continent than first meets the eye.
The best part is that a gentleman by the name of Ian Woczjowicz went to the trouble of placing those two images together.
I think social media becomes Africa's way to put itself on the map and I'm a firm believer that there are some historic opportunities brought about by the mobile phone that will allow Africans to be creators not mere consumers of the web as we know it.
Who is benefiting most from the rise of Africans on social media sites?By and large it's Africans themselves; Metcalfe's law and all.
If you could invent a social networking tool for the future, what would it be? To predict the future, we must know the past. I would start by bringing back Afrigator.com I love(d) them