Ory Okolloh on becoming an activist

Ory Okolloh tells the story of her life and her family — and how she came to do her heroic work reporting on the doings of Kenya’s parliament.
Ory Okolloh maintains the blog Mzalendo, providing an unprecedented look at the doings of Kenya’s parliament — information once unavailable to Kenyan citizens.

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Why you should listen to her:

Ory Okolloh is a blogger and open-government activist. She runs Mzalendo, a pioneering
civic website that tracks the performance of Kenya’s Parliament
and its
Parliamentarians. With a vote tracker, articles and opinion pieces, the site
connects Kenyans to their leaders and opens the lid on this powerful and
once-secretive body. (This is a Parliament that finally agreed to have its
procedings televised in August 2008.)

Okolloh’s own blog is called Kenyan Pundit, and it tracks her work with Mzalendo and her
other efforts as part of the rebuilding of Kenya, following the post-election
violence in late 2007 (she collected a powerful series of diaries of
the violence
, dozens of essays from Kenyans and others — well worth a

Okolloh is part of a wave of young Africans who are using the power of
blogging, SMS and web-enabled openness to push their countries forward and help
Africans to truly connect. Tools like Ushahidi help to link a people whose tribal differences, as
Okolloh points out again and again, are often cynically exploited by a small
group of leaders. Only by connecting Africans can this cycle be broken.

“We feel that Kenyans not only have “a right to know” but also need
to take a more active role in determining their country’s role — this is our
effort to do more than just complain about how things are not working in

from “What Is Mzalendo?”

1st collector for Ory Okolloh on becoming an activist
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