A short remark on (the type of) mobile phones in urban Kenya

When being asked about my PhD-research (which is on the meaning of mobile phones in urban Kenya), I all too often hear the question: “Do ‘they’ have phones there?”

The short answer is: Yes.

A slightly longer answer, with a bit more of an interpretive touch, may well be given by a participant of my field research – the person here talks about what happens if you get robbed (which might happen in Nairobi), and a robber ‘catches’ you with a cheap mobile phone (referred to as a kabambe in Nairobi):

Nowadays, if you walk with a kabambe, they [the thieves] even beat you up. Coz it can´t be that nowadays in Nairobi someone can walk without or doesn´t have a smartphone. field research participant (2014)

The word kabambe in Kiswahili refers to a very basic mobile phone, often not even a feature phone. A kabambe is typically locked to be used with one specific provider only. Its main functions usually are calling and texting – maybe also a calender, calculator and FM radio.

Example of a "kabambe" (© Michael Waltinger, 2013)

Example of a “kabambe” (© Michael Waltinger, 2013)

Apple to release diversified emojis soon

diversified emojis_selection


If you look at Apple’s emoji keyboard, what do you see? Two different camels. A smiling turd. EVERY PHASE OF THE MOON. There are currently over 800 emoji, but only two represent people of color (Source: dosomething.org).

In a reaction to long-standing criticism, diversification is finally going to hit Apples product line. The new beta versions of iOS 8.3 and OSX 10.10.3 (available to software developers) will be adding 300 new emojis. The option for using the diversified emojis can be selected by clicking/tapping and holding on any character. A pop-up will then present the diversified range to choose from. In my opinion, the two most important updates are:

  • the option to choose from emojis of six different skin colors (inlcuding symbolic characters like *thumbs up* or *clapping hands*)
  •  more family icons, including same-sex couples and families.

Race-bending Disney Characters

The artist TT that runs the Tumblr Let There Be Doodles has created some truly amazing race-bent Disney characters as Women of Color. These challenge the imagination and set a reminder that non-white representations of beauty are still marginalized in the West. When asked, why TT started the “Racebent Disney series”, the answer was rather straight-forward:

For fun. I had no political agenda in mind for these edits (except maybe the desire to see a little more diversity), I just love working with character design. :)

Below, I’ve posted my favorites – some more are to be found in TT’s posts part 1 and part 2.



tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o9_r1_1280  tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o8_r2_1280




tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o3_1280  tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o2_1280



Africa is NOT a country

no need to be saved

“Africa is not a country” is an imaginative do away with your stereotypes-campaign that is carried out on social media by the African Students Association of New York’s Ithaca College. The idea basically is to have ethnically different people posing being wrapped into different African national flags, each being accompanied with a slogan that addresses a cliché perceived to be quite typical for ‘westerners’.

// For the CNN-coverage of the campaign, see here.
// Find the Facebook page of the African Students Association here (click on photos to see all the other campaign-images).