After yesterday’s effusive coverage of Lupita Nyong’o (who graced the cover of People Magazine) and Binyavanga Wainaina, he of the coming out as gay, I noticed I had forgotten another compatriot who is already a heroine in her own right – Ory Okolloh.
Okolloh, alongside Wainaina, are the only Kenyans, and, in deed, part of just under 10 Africans who made it to Time Magazine 100 Most Influential people in 2014.
Hers is a story uncommon in this part of the world: of a woman who often got sent back home for fee while while studying in Kenya but rose up the ladder, shuttering the glass ceiling to earn a Law degree from the prestigious Harvard University ( Barrack Obama and Maina Kiai’s Alma mater) and returned home to build Ushaidi, an online blog chronicling everything important, outrageous or humbling in Africa.
Writing about her as ‘the activist who helps Africans exercise their power’, EstherÂ Dyson, a tech investor and founder of HICCup, a nonprofit organization made the following commentary:
How much does someone who gets lucky owe those who are left behind?Â Ory Okolloh, who was routinely thrown out of school in Kenya because her parents couldnâ€™t pay the fee, got a Harvard Law degree and a job offer from a D.C. law firm.Â But instead of building a comfortable life, she went back to Africa to build a more accountable, transparent world for millions. She helped create Ushahidi, an online service for crowd-mapping data â€” whether itâ€™s incidences of corruption in Kenya, survivors of the hurricane in Haiti or traffic problems in Washington.Â That caught the attention of Google and of philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. As director of investments for Omidyarâ€™s government-transparency initiative in Africa, Ory makes it her mission not to give aid but to support African entrepreneurs and citizens in building their own societies. To the extent that Oryâ€™s integrity and courage reflect Africaâ€™s society, we should all stand up and cheer.
Read Times 100 here