Sunday School, Saxophones and Irritated Kenyans on Twitter


Ucoo nining?


That’s for my Acholi family in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan. First I would like to wish all mothers a Happy Belated Mothers Day.  It was heartwarming witnessing the different brand approaches to the day. We especially loved Lifebuoy’s creative messaging around hand-washing.

It has been an eventful month and I can’t wait to glean all the insights from these unique times. Let’s get into it:

Let’s Kill The “Africa Is Dying” Narrative

The COVID-19 pandemic has naturally led to a surge of news stories from media houses. Some have done a stellar job in reporting individual stories of hope, need and the unfilled gaps in society. Others, however, have fallen victim to adopting a skewed lens in the depiction of Africa. In her thought-provoking article for the Daily Nation, Nanjala Nyabola explains the effect of a one-sided story and emphasises why ethical journalism is crucial now more than ever.

The general public does not seem to be taking such headlines lightly either. As you can tell from the responses to this tweet from BBC Africa, Africans are over the gloom-and-doom type reporting. Caleb Okereke and Kelsey Nielsen from Al Jazeera write a response to these harrowing figures here.

Sunday School Social Distancing

The COVID-19 pandemic has no-doubt affected our businesses and work life. However, one unassuming area has been severely affected - religious rituals.

One interesting trend that has emerged from this is the Balcony to Balcony Sunday School service or B2B for short. Here children are invited to take part in praise sessions from the safety of their balconies, while guided by a lead singer and saxophonist. While news outlets found these makeshift services inspiring, Kenyans on Twitter congregated to express how insensitive they were to neighbours who may want peace and quiet. What is your view? Let us know on our Twitter post.

All in all, Kenyans seem to be loyal to the church. According to data by A Thousand Watts, a sample of Nairobi’s churches have seen a growth in Facebook followers and YouTube subscribers as services are now convened online. However, the communication firm admits that this could be attributed to ‘novelty watching’.

Image courtesy of A Thousand Watts

Another religious activity that has been a thorn in the side for most countries has been the burial process. Governments all around the world have banned public gatherings of more than 15 or so people. This consequently means that relatives cannot come together to lay their loved ones to rest. This has brought about difficult situations as each community struggles to keep its customs. In Islam, for example, a person must be buried within 24 hours of death.  

In response, citizens of South Africa and Tanzania have had to resort to secret burials. On the other side of the continent, Ghanaians have had to live stream theirs.

Nana Tafrija, @nanaotafrija, creator of the Coffin Dance, laments that the pandemic has been hard on business, seeing as people cannot gather for funerals. In the same breath, he warns the public to ‘Stay at home or dance with us.’

Post-COVID Inventions

What will a post-COVID world look like? Aside from having temperature monitors outside every mall entrance, cities are likely to see a change in their design and architecture as social interaction lessens. Governments in Milan have already begun to encourage bike travel in place of public transportation.

Similarly, Austrian design studio Precht has imagined a maze-like public park that encourages social distancing. Designer Antonio Lanzillo has also creatively envisaged public benches equipped with plexiglass "shield" dividers. This CNN article describes more.

Image source: CNN

Links à la Carte

  • This Snap filter, which is also available on Zoom, Google Meet and Skype, alerts you every time you touch your face.
  • The inimitable Julian Cole has a deck on marketing effectiveness he developed that makes for good reading. Communicators shouldn't react by going 'dark' and not spending. Instead, studies from the 2009 recession have shown that spending is the wise thing to do. World Advertising Research Council (WARC) have a good primer on this here.
  • The DataJournalism.com Verification Handbook is out - it is chock-full of great examples and case studies worth your time if you're into misinformation and understanding it at a deeper level.
  • Cable.co.uk did a +200 country study on the price of 1 GB that's worth a glance and some reference. Find it here.
  • Friend of the newsletter Ben Maina, has a great LinkedIn piece looking at the State of Retail and Grocery e-Commerce in Kenya that's worth a read.  
  • Peter Ngunyi's written up a practical call to arms on what an African response to COVID-19 would look like. I know that there are a lot of hot takes on similar subject matter but his will be worth your time.

That’s all for this week. Please feel free to keep in touch through our Twitter page or email.

Until next time,

Mark and Team Nendo

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