Kenyan Short Film “Yellow Fever” Explores White Beauty Ideals on African Women

“My sister is asleep.

She is chocolate.

I am toffee.”

These are the thoughts of one of two Kenyan teenage sisters who are having their hair braided at the hair saloon, that lead into the short film Yellow Fever – a mixed-media animation by Kenyan filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii.

The short film explores the colonizing influences of Western, caucasian beauty ideals on young African women as these are disseminated through mainstream media and advertising.

“Any white complexion”, as the film notes, seems to be “beauty. And that is now what drove the girls to try and use ‘beauty creams to bleach themselves.” So did the women that braids the hair of the other teenage sister in the short film. She is what is commonly known as Mkorogo in Kenya – someone that uses skin bleaching products, but had just enough money to apply it on the hands and face, which are most often visible, but now yellow.

During my own research in Nairobi, I have also partly noticed this more-than-disturbing imposition of beauty ideals on anyway beautiful people. Due to economic reasons often an ‘elite-problem’, women that bleach their skin are also infamously known as rangi ya thao. This is a mash-up from the Kiswahili words rangi ya (=color of) and thao, which is a sheng abbreviation for “thousand”. The notion refers to the 1.000 Kenyan Shilling note, which is sort of brownish in color – and this is seemingly the color one gets when one bleaches, which, in turn, can only be afforded when one has enough thaos in the pocket. In short, rangi ya thao refers to a wealthy woman that bleaches her skin as well as to her skin tone which is a result of the bleaching.

This is what Ng’endo Mukii says motivated her exploration:

I am interested in the concept of skin and race, in the ideas and theories sown into our flesh that change with the arc of time. I believe that skin and the body, are often distorted into a topographical division between reality and illusion. The idea of beauty has become globalised, creating homogenous aspirations, and distorting people’s self-image across the planet.Ng'endo Mukii ( Director, Animator, Editor)


Kenyan Animated Short Film ‘Yellow Fever’ Expores Colorist & Self-Image Among African Girls And Women” (Article on

#‎jesuiskenya‬ ‪#‎147notjustanumber‬


Health Innovation from Africa: Mobile Technology against Counterfeit Medicine

M-Pedigree is a Ghana-grown mobile phone-based technology that lets consumers verify via the phone if a drug is genuine or counterfeit. This is a quite useful innovation, especially in countries where mobile adoption is widespread, handsets often still simple (i.e. a need for sms-based services) and markets where up to 1/3 of the medication on the market might be fake-drugs. And you probably don’t want your morning-after pill to be fake. The technology has now expanded to Nigeria, Kenya and India.
It is as simple as that:

Bildschirmfoto 2015-03-30 um 23.13.22

“Scratch-card to check medicine is real” by Hewete Haileselassie (Post via the BBC)

The Right to Exist on a Map: The Example of Kibera

MapKibera in wired uk magazine_edited

Until some years ago, Kibera in Nairobi (Kenya) was nearly absent from the worlds online maps and atlases. No one exactly knew how vast the place really is, how its spacial structure is set up or how many people it could possibly accommodate. Some of these knowledge gaps do still persist, some got – at least partly – solved: thanks to Map Kibera, a citizen mapping and citizen media project that is based on the Ushahidi platform.

Kibera, the second largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa, was a blank spot — one that had been photographed and filmed thousands of times but that no one had ever attempted to document properly.Sande Wycliffe

It was in the year 2009 when some young Kiberans started the project with an inital mapping phase in order to create an open source digital map of their own community. “Subsequent mapping focused on specific thematic areas that were considered to be of primary importance: health, security, education, and water and sanitation. New rounds of mapping added details such as operating hours and services provided by private clinics”. In the meanwhile the citizen project has matured into a complete interactive community information project.

The benefits of the project might actually be seen as manyfold. First of all, the activities that revolve around this community media activity involve skill training (i.e. using computers, video editing, citizen journalism) for those left behind by the digital divide. Additionally, according to Sande Wyclif, “several Map Kibera volunteers now have new social skills and greater comfort in public speaking and encountering strangers. This is both within Kibera, where they have had to reply to general inquiries about the activity, and in greater Nairobi, where they have been invited to participate in functions such as meetings and conferences about technology”. Secondly, Map Kibera is an outstanding opportunity to get important accurate data of the dwelling that is mainly useful for the community itself, but might as well be of interest to certain other groups such as researchers, policy makers, and so forth. Last but not least, “the project has been widely embraced as the realization of something previously missing, yet clearly fundamental: the right to exist on a map.”

Map Kibera – Making the Invisible Visible (Project Website)
“Mapping Kibera” by Sande Wycliffe (Blogentry on the Voice of Kibera-Blog)

Website listing Kenyan tech-startups launched (beta)

made in nairobi_screenshot

If you are interested in getting to know and keepig track of the thriving tech community of the Eastern African media hub Nairobi, then the site that has just launched is for you!
On that site you can discover innovative startups such as medic mobile, ma3route, brck, ushahidi or m-farm „that are proudly made in Nairobi“, learn about their „story, their innovation, milestones, products and services offered“ as well as engage with them by investing in them or by simply reaching out. Finally, if your are part of the Nairobian tech scene, why not get listed on the site as well?

Via iHub (Facebook)

Kenya & Uganda Arts Diaries 2014

Kenya Arts Diary 2014                    Uganda Arts Diary 2014

On the lookout for a new calendar for 2014? Then this might be just for you: the beautiful Kenyan and Ugandan Arts diaries. While the Kenya arts diary exists since 2011 and is in its 4th edition now, the Ugandan version makes its debut this year. The aim of both projects is, amongst others, to offer an alternative to tourist tailored ‘african cultural products’. Support East African art and contemporary popular culture!

How to get ’em?

Kenyan arts diary (160 pages, all-colour, more than 60 artists featured, 1.850 KES = about 15 €): “To order for your copy, please email or call [+254] 0770 314554/ 0773 809556. Free delivery within Nairobi” (Source and more information on, The calendar is also on sale on local major book shops, galleries and art centers. Overseas Kenyan art lovers may also contact for details (Source). They do also have a Facebook Page for the 2013 edition – the 2014 edition’s page was not yet on Facebook by the time of the post.

Ugandan arts diary (more than 50 artists featured, about 10 €): “Available in town [Kampala] at Aristoc, Kampala Road; 1000 Cups, Buganda Road; Cafe Kawa, Colville Street; Aristoc, Garden City; and Maridadi, Nakumatt Oasis. In Kamwokya at Afriart, Umoja, Good Glass, and Endiro, Kisementi. In Muyenga at Cafe Kawa. In Bugalobi at 49 Cheese & Wine. In Lubowa at the bookshop and craft shop in Quality Mall” (Source and more information on their Facebook page, or