Marrakesh: a city where modernity and tradition merge

Snakes charmers at El Djema sqaure

Snakes charmers at El Djema sqaure

Marrakesh, a Moroccan city is one of the top tourists’ destinations in Africa for a number of reasons including its arts, cultural wealth, historical and architectural aspects among others.
Marrakesh attracts visitors from around the world! When in the city there are many things to do and places to visit including museums, monuments and other historical places. The square of Djemaa El-Fna is probably the busiest area in the city center.
Many things happen at place El Djema, visitors are spoilt for choices: at day there are snakes charmers where one can find cobras and other types of snakes. Snakes charmers can even put one on you, if you are not afraid and you just pay few dirhams (Moroccan currency).Taking a picture holding mazing rarely seen creatures also interest visitors.
People with monkeys can also be seen at the place which also interest visitors especially for a photo session. Locals wearing their tradition outfit can also approach you to wear propose to put on their hats and take a photo of yourself with them as a souvenirs.
Another interesting show is an amateur boxing game in which two people fight while the crowds cheer them after betting. If the fighter you cheer wins his fans take away the money and there is a referee who is also an ordinary citizen.
The Koutoubia which is the largest mosque in Marrakesh located beside Djemaa El-Fna sqaure is also another attraction in the city center, with its surrounding large plaza and beautiful gardens.Non-muslims are not allowed to enter inside the mosque.

The Katoubia mosque
As the city is always filled with tourists, local are always welcoming! When one enters a shop they first say welcome or Bienvenue (which translates welcomein french) to Marrakesh then ask your country of origin .It seems most sub-Saharan visitors come from West African people. If shopkeepers see a black person,they ask:” are you from Senegal or Mali?”
A Hotel receptionist told me, most visitors from Sub-Saharan Africa comes from Senegal,Mali and Ivory Cost.
There are also students who benefited from Moroccan government scholarships including Rwandans.
Marrakesh souks
Souks are art streets shops where you can find almost everything: jewels, spices, perfumes, shoes, bags, cloths, hats, art crafts and much more. Sellers accept bargaining but a foreigner may pay the price double. We were told by a local photographer that we should bargain for anything we want to buy.
The official languages in Morocco are French and Arabic but in Marrakesh at hotels, shops and other services English is used, even hawkers speak many languages. A Spanish visitor who speak limited English and French told me she did not face any language barrier while in the city because some locals spoke Spanish
Oussama Hamama is a Moroccan journalist; he said, he thinks Marrakesh is a popular destination for its hot weather. “Tourists want to experience heat- weather totally different from European.” –said Hamama
The climate in Marrakesh is arid but the temperature is extremely rising to a high of 45-50 degrees in August. At hotels and downtown people are almost naked.
Palmeraie is the green vast area of Marrakech. It is a real oasis on the outskirts of the city. La Palmeraie covers 13,000ha and it is said that there are about 150,000 palm trees and hosts high standards hotels. It is the perfect place to escape the town life.
The view from Pullman Marrakesh Palmeraie Resort &spa is palm trees everywhere. On your way from city center you can enjoy seeing the palm trees.
Recently the city has hosted 19th African senior athletics championship 2014.

Business excellence awards to promote youth innovation

A platform for youth innovation and entrepreneurship known as Emerging leaders and Entrepreneurs of Rwanda has inaugurated awards dubbed ‘the Rwandan youth and business excellence awards’ meant to recognize young innovators, promote innovation and creativity among young budding entrepreneurs.
The youth-led platform known for its acronym ELE Rwanda was founded mainly by beneficiaries of Rwanda presidential scholarship program who attended American universities. The platform’s members say, what they hope to accomplish and the impact of business awards is to see an increase in youth- oriented investment and more achievement championed by the youth.
The inaugural awards ceremonies gala was held last week. Nominees were divided in four categories: the most innovative youth project or startup, the Most Desired Workplace, Creativity Award for a creative idea from a group of students, and Innovation Champion for an institution that promotes job creation and entrepreneurship.
Babson -Rwanda entrepreneurship center scooped the Innovation Champion award.Haya Alzaid is the country director .She said, the award is an opportunity to raise more awareness about what they are doing.
“Hopefully to get more support and to get more people, entrepreneurs and youth involved in other programs. Really that’s what it means.” explains Alzaid.
The awards initiators also hope the recognition will inspire others established and budding young entrepreneurs to be innovative.
Yves Iradukunda is the founder .He said: “The essence of this event is to celebrate but when we celebrate we want aspire and encourage for we are recognizing the young innovators because we want them to serve as role models, to help other young people believe that they can accomplish and they can do it.”
Girls in ICT, a youth- led organization that was one of the nominees in the most innovative project category for Miss Geek competition.Akaliza Gara is a co-founder, she explained how their project is innovative:” We find that many young women and girls grew up thinking that they can only be celebrated for their beauty, so we wanted to show them that they can be celebrated for their intelligence and skills and those are also very valuable quality in a woman.”
” I think as innovative as they [youth] want to be, it’s all in the mindset change. It’s making sure that you say to yourself: I can be as innovative as I want to be. “Commented Ms. Alzaid
Jean Niyotwagira is the founder of Torque Ltd. , a tech start- up that creates softwares for SMEs .He emerged the winner of the most innovative youth start-up. He said:” What this means to me is that I am actually getting there, people are starting to recognize and not just recognizing what I do as a person but publicly,”.
Niyotwagira added:” so, I take this chance to apply more hard work to produce something even better.”Niyotwagira said, next time he wants something bigger like beyond what he has already been able to achieve.
Dr. Mike O’Neal, Chancellor of the University of Rwanda graced the awards functions .He told the audience, innovation is not only about ICT and science. “Those of you who happen to be artists, or happen to be linguists, or happen to be medical people or happen to be in any field so there is room for creativity, there is the room for innovation everywhere.”
Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Operating Officer of RDB was the key note speaker at the awards ceremonies. In her speech ,she reminded the participants, the country’s vision is to become a knowledge- based economy and is very much going to be led by how quickly the citizens can innovate and how entrepreneurs they can become and produce more commercial ideas.
Akamanzi said: “The innovation and creativity that we see is really going to come from you young people, and so seeing the initiatives that you take, I think it is very crucial and very timely,”
School of Entrepreneurship is a youth organization that supports entrepreneurship and innovation in high schools through business ideas competition and debates. It won the creativity award. Patrice Habinshuti , its founder said:” The award shows that what we are doing is valuable and we are contributing to the growth of this country,”
ELE Rwanda was given the Creativity Award in 2013 by The Journal record- an American publication.
The business awards’ nominations were open to the public from June 1-10 July 2014, and they will be held annually.


My learning experience in a digital journalism class

After completing this exciting learning journey at Beni American University online, I am glad to share with you, my classmates and as part of final exam, the benefits from a 12 weeks class full of new skills, knowledge, interactions, and networking which without doubt will boost my career and personal development as a journalist and budding digital entrepreneur.

Actually, the whole course content is valuable to my career that’s why it is challenging to summarize what I kept in my mind via this blog post but I will do my best to shed the light on digital journalism lessons learned and new skills acquired.

The class started in style with ‘Journalism entrepreneurship’ an interesting subject for aspiring entrepreneurs .The lecturer explained types of enterprises and other topics but the key message for me was about taking calculated risk. As a budding business person this, reminded me that before starting any project or business I should analyze carefully the benefits, market opportunities in other words I care about profits which is my goal and dare to start.

I must admit that in addition to other lessons on entrepreneurship this topic helped me a lot as an aspiring entrepreneur: I recently applied for a digital media grant in my country where I used skills gained on’ revenue and marketing’ and ‘idea to implementation’, this was useful in writing my business proposal especially on my business model section.

“Transmedia storytelling’ is another s module that discusses mostly visual storytelling and digital multimedia reporting. This is very important for content creators in the sense that we learned new creative ways to use video for storytelling in the digital age.

As traditional media are embracing technology to tell stories and build online audience, the lesson titled’New beats in the digital age’ was very enriching in the sense that I learned how I can use crowdsource , online tools, practices for effective news gathering and reporting .

Nowadays social media and online entrepreneurship goes together. Social media marketing, public relation is a perfect strategy to grow business and career development for professional’s .The module titled ‘social media for public relations’ was very important to me in my journalism career and my entrepreneurship journey.
The 5 practical module discusses enables me to use social media campaign effectively to market my work or business online. It will help me to build a wide audience create my product awareness, interacting with customers and best PR practices using Internet.

I have been using social media for personal branding for quite a long time but the related course material and assignment have been most valuable as it helped me to improve my online identity profile following a social media audit I have done in my assignment.

I did my best to set myself apart online and will keep on reading my learning materials to improve my personal branding campaign.

Favorite lesson

Blogging has been my passion for about 5 years; the lesson titled’ Strategic Blogging’ has been my favorite on’ blogging for business ‘module. It helped me understand how I can source content; define my content of coverage topic. Planning my content plays a key part in my professional or business related blogging. It is very crucial as it will impact my online campaign for any issue or product.
As a blogger the lesson will also help improve my current blog by creating content that matters most to my clients and audience especially promoting products and services using Internet.
This online course is a major career boost as it helps me to shape my future by making it better and taking it to higher professional level.
The time spent at BAU online was not only enriching in terms of course content but also the learning system was also excellent: for instance the forums which were a good time to discuss topic covered and exchange ideas.

However, I expected to see more interactions with our instructor during our discussions for instance replying to some of our comments. It seems the course was focused on reading module materials rather than engaging students.

I don’t mean that the course instructor has not interacted with students. I acknowledge that he replied to our questions. My point is we should have seen more participation or moderation.

Networking opportunity

My learning experience was also a great opportunity for networking with like-minded people from across Africa.I followed many of them on tweeter and will keep in touch with others. That is why I kindly request their email addresses.
I also enjoyed our tweeter conversations especially on course topics.
I must admit that my connection and active interaction with Pamela Bongkyung is result of t networking part of the course. We have been interacting actively and even exchanged some work related opportunities (story ideas or newsworthy events for coverage).It was really a great and fruitful professional exchange. I hope to keep in touch with other classmates or Alumni after completing the digital journalism course.
To sum up, the digital journalism program was exciting and valuable for life learners as we gained critical and marketable skills in online media, a field that is ever growing. Without doubt it will boost career development, builds professional portfolios for some and plays a key part in achieving entrepreneurship dreams for others.


Groove Awards 2014 winners announced

Bahati Music, best male artist of the year

Bahati Music, best male artist of the year

The 2014 winners of Kenya’s premier gospel music awards have been announced below is their list and categories

Collabo of the Year … Ngai Ti Mundu by Betty Bayo ft Mr. Seed

Western Song of the Year … Khwekanile by Geoffrey Kwatemba

East and Central Africa Artiste of the Year … Solomon Mkubwa

Central Song of the Year … Busy Busy by Betty Bayo

Ragga/ Reggae song of the Year … Live up by Hopekid

Western African Artiste of the Year … Uche

Audio Producer of the Year … Jacky B

Nyanza Song of the Year … Christine Otieno

Southern Africa artiste of the Year …  Pompi

Lifetime Achievement Award … the Late Peter Kaberere

Radio Presenter of the Year … And the Radio Presenter of the Year is Anthony Ndiema of Radio Maisha

Album of the year … Kirathimo

Pwani Song of the Year … Ahadi za Bwana by Pastor Anthony Musembi

Dance Group of the Year … Gospel Warriors

Rift Valley Song of the Year … Laleiyo by Shiro Wa GP and L Jay Maasai

Video of the Year … Mateke

Worship Song of the Year … Hakuna Silaha by Sarah K.

Songwriter of the Year … Sarah K.

Eastern Song of the Year … Kitole by Stephen Kasolo

Hip Hop Song of the Year … Wannabe” by Dee and Holy Dave

Video Producer of the Year … Sammy Dee

Gospel Radio Show of the Year … Gospel Sunday

DJ of the Year … DJ Mo

Gospel TV Show of the Year … NTV Crossover

New Artiste of the Year … L Jay Maasai

Skiza RBT of the Year … Loise Kim

Group of the Year… Nicholas Harmonies

Song of the Year … Lingala ya Yesu by Pitson

Outstanding Contributor to Industry … B.A Kanyotu

Female Artiste of the Year … Sarah K.

Male Artiste of the Year … Bahati

Kidumu takes a short break from singing

Kidumu performing live/kidumu facebook page photo.

Kidumu performing live/kidumu facebook page photo.

The sensational musician from Burundi,Jean-Pierre Nimbona a.ka.a Kidumu has stopped singing temporary due to a grave throat infection.

Kidumu anncounced his sad  break from  his music activities-studio and live performance, yesterday via his facebook page saying that he was taking a short break to undergo serious medical treatment.”I will be taking a short break’ ,said Kidum’to all my fans in Kenya and in the whole East Africa, you just need to pray for me.Thank you and God is good.’ he added

The talented artist is based in Nairobi,Kenya where he regularly  performs in many gigs in addition to his hot concerts in East ,Central Africa ,Europe and North America.

Kidumu and his band are known for their excellent live performance in which Jean Pierre sings ,dances and plays drums. He is really a full musician.

He has also made several big collabo with East and Central African artists,one ot those hit collabos  is ‘Nitafanya’ with Lady Jay Dee from Tanzania.The track was a major hit in East Africa and the great lakes region.

Jean-Pierre also won Kora award in 2012-one of the prestigious music prizes in Africa. The song that nominated him is ‘Mulika mwizi’.

His fans from all over the world are wishing him a quick recovery.


Kigali Up again

The famous Rwandan music festival known as Kigali Up took place last weekend.Music lovers from Kigali enjoyed performance by various  artists from around the World.Some of musicians who rocked the crowd includes  Rafiki,Christian,Joe Blake ,Strong Voice.Below are the pictures   2003 edition of one of the great Rwandan music event;

Christian  from Rwanda performing live

Christian from Rwanda performing live


Nubian Gypsis-a band from Rwanda

Nubian Gypsis-a band from Rwanda

 Strong Voice -a young reggae band

Strong Voice -a young reggae band




Kigali fashion week closes in style


Kigali fashion week, a week creative designers from various parts of the world showcase their amazing work closed last Friday night at Bamboo roof top restaurant downtown Kigali.

The event was organized by the house of fashion Rwanda as a fundraising initiative to start the” school of Arts”.

According to the organizers ‘kigali fashion week’ is also an inspiration and encouragement to boost and nature innovation in both creative and commercial endeavors in Rwanda’s new era of creative economy.

Local, regional and international fashion designers from various countries including among others: Uganda, U.S.A, Kenya, Burkina Faso showcased their creative work during Kigali fashion week.

audience having fun and enjoying the show

audience having fun and enjoying the show

The final fashion show was graced by various well-known personalities including Sonia Rolland, former Miss France and Rose Kabuye, former Kigali city mayor who was also chief of state protocol. The guest of honor was Mr.Protais Mitali, the minister of sports and culture.

Kigali fashion week’s final show was hosted by the famous Kenyan corporate emcee DNG and Ms Bonita.

The beautiful, elegant, talented and well –dressed Rwandan models impressed the audience with their marvelous and stylish walk.


Teta wins Banque Populaire Entrepreneurship awards as GEW Rwanda wraps up

Teta Isibo ,winner of Banque Populaire Entrepreneurship Award

Teta Isibo  owner of Inzuki design a brand that specializes in Jewellery,accessories and House decor won Banque Populaire award last weekend during the closing ceremony of Global Entrepreneurship week Rwanda 2012.She also received 2million francs ,mentorship , office space. and an opportunity represent Rwanda in a  pan-African business competition in South Africa.

A Rwandan tech startup goes to Silicon valley

Ms. Hermione addressing the audience

Yesterday ‘Startup World’ competitions – a program to boost startups ,technology entrepreneurship and innovation ,took place in Kigali,Rwanda.

The organizers say that they have identified 36 Tech hub cities around the world and will hold regional pitching competitions, with ten entrepreneurs pitching to a panel of expert judges in each city.

Ms Violette Uwamutara ,the country director of Digital Opportunity Trust Rwanda ,a non-profit organization which partnered with Startup World to organize local competition  opened the event and introduced the host Hermione Way ,the co-founder of Startup World and video director of The Next Web.

Kigali event was the third stop in startup world Africa.“In startups and innovation Rwanda put itself on the world map” Ms. Way  told the audience.”If you have an idea,a laptop and internet connection you can start your company”.

Rwandan semi-finalists had three minutes to pitch their tech business and then answer challenging questions from the seasoned panel judges.

Kigali panel of proficient  judges were:Jacque Kayonga ,CEO of Banque Rwandaise de Development,Prof. Bruce Krough professor at Carnegie Mellon University,Rica Rwigamba Head of RDB Tourisme and Conservation,Patrick Kabagema CEO,founder of Rock Global Consulting and Antoine Sebera CEO ,Broadband System Corporation.

After interesting pitches of local innovators who impressed the audience with their innovative projects which aim to use ICT in solving various local problems in different economy sectors such us agriculture,marketing,education,research etc…the panel broke  to deliberate.

After the judges’ break ,Ms. Way announced the Rwandan finalist startup which was Zilincio Creative-a Startup that presented a crowd funding software.According to Startup World founders the winner from each city will travel to Silicon valley for grand showdown in early 2013.

Each semi-finalist company received a gift and got sponsorship opportunity for one team member to learn a business development course.

“We had over one hundred startups applied but we have ten finalists”said Ms. Way ,she thanked and encouraged all semi-finalists for their good work.”we want to bring silicon valley to Rwanda and take Rwanda to silicon valley,”she added

Speaking at the occasion Mr Didier Nkuriyimfura ,the Director General in charge of ICT in the Ministry of Youth and ICT who was the Keynote speaker said :”today is important for our semi- finalists.These questions you were asked will help you to move to the next level.”This competition is one of the series of events we want in Kigali,” he added

The Future of Education: What is Online Learning’s Influence?

As technology continues to become integrated into every aspect of the human experience, some debate exists over the ever-growing expansion of online schooling opportunities. Today’s guest post by education writer Linda Zabriske touches on this debate and outlines the benefits, particularly for those in developing nations where traditional learning environments are more difficult to come by.

Online universities are making education more democratic and open than ever before as they not only provide resources for graduate level coursework and research for those looking to expand skill sets, but they deliver them to a wider array of students. For those in the US and other developed nations, this means that there are fewer obstacles in the way of achieving one’s goals, but for those in developing nations, online resources can save lives and dramatically improve the quality of life for entire communities. Not only has online education made learning more convenient, it has opened up the academic world to millions.

Still, many are not convinced that the shift is for the better. While information is being broadcast into the furthest reaches of the globe, is it possible that the overall quality or value of education will suffer? Are we losing the intellectualism that has served as the foundation of education for centuries.

A survey of more than 10,700 faculty members at public colleges and universities found that 70% of all faculty members believe the learning outcomes of online courses to be inferior to face-to-face instruction. Even still, online education has continued to grow rapidly, both with wholly online schools and with courses offered at prestigious traditional universities. Many professors judge online education with a different set of criteria. “The access issue trumps everything else,” according to education researcher Jeff Seaman. “The ability to get somebody in a course that they would not ordinarily be able to take, to finish that degree, to pursue that career, to do whatever, is sufficient.”

Online education is viewed as a means for students to garner marketable skills, but there may be a trade-off, particularly for students who might otherwise attend traditional institutions. Students may miss out on the opportunities to dabble in courses and disciplines that they would otherwise never experience. Liberal arts requirements are a staple of most esteemed universities. Courses on, for instance, classical music, Latin, or astronomy are the sort of requirements that are largely stripped away in online learning venues. Granted, none of these are going to offer much in the way of easily marketable job skills, but isn’t there value that employers do not ostensibly measure?

In addition, the experience of learning through social interactions with peers and faculty are greatly diminished when the focus is so specifically tailored to specific job descriptions.

While these are valid concerns, many still suggest the benefits offered by online resources to those in poor undeveloped nations far outweigh any downsides. In Rwanda, for instance, where no more than 5% of the adult population achieved secondary education through 1996, technological innovations have lead to enhanced collaboration and social-learning opportunities for students. Today, there are multiple options for online education scholarships designed strictly for students in developing nations, making education online even less of a burden. Especially in these developing nations, the rewards appear to far outweigh the investment, and Rwanda’s government has even taken notice, funding programs designed to bring laptops to grade-school children and digital learning materials to improve primary school teaching.

While the benefits of online education seem most obvious at the grade-school level in underprivileged areas, research from the US Dept. of Education found that it was college students who showed the greatest improvement when enrolled online, further muddying the debate. Online education is undoubtedly useful, and it’s prevalence worldwide will certainly be an asset to our most troubled regions, but online education clearly misses the mark on some less quantifiable benefits. Traditional campuses offer life experience and cultural diversity. Whether online education will be able to offer similar benefits remains to be seen.

The author is currently a staff writer for, a detailed resource for finding online graduate programs and other important information regarding the online schooling experience.


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