Indigitous Nairobi shows God working in Kenya
More than 70 delegates from throughout Africa gathered in Kenya July 6-7 for Indigitous Nairobi. Technologists, creatives, missionaries, students, church leaders, and more from Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and elsewhere gathered for 2+ days of engaging with ideas and each other to advance God’s Kingdom through innovation.
Gathered in the city that is called “The Silicon Savannah,” talks highlighted Africa’s contribution to technology, Africa-centered solutions for Africa-specific problems, and the need to raise up a new generation of technologists, creatives, and leaders to use their talents for God in the digital space.
Gertjan van Stam, a Zimbabwean by way of the Netherlands, put it bluntly. “Technology that isn’t made in Africa by Africans for Africans doesn’t work here,” he said. Such a reality makes indigenous solutions necessary.
Mark Kaigwa – founder of Nendo Limited, a consultancy that offers training and solutions across Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa – talked about the power of technology over political and home life. “It’s impossible to keep a dictatorship in place in a country where mobile penetration has passed a certain threshold. The ability to exchange information would itself be a democratizing factor,” he said. Meanwhile, the biggest challenge facing the culture is people’s attention being drawn to the wrong things, he said, pointing out the most of the popular websites in Kenya are for vices like gambling and pornography. The key to Kenya’s future is its ability to adapt, Mark reasoned. “The illiterates of the 21st century will be those who can’t learn, unlearn, and relearn,” he said, quoting Alvin Toffler.
DJ Sparrxx shared his strategy for Mavuno Church’s social media and the church’s mission to “turn ordinary people into fearless influencers.” Mavuno’s strategy for creating fearless influencers means targeting a younger audience that is harder to reach, which means avoiding Christianese and other things that turn off a younger, un-churched audience. “We need to reach people who don’t like church,” DJ said.
Richard Njau, co-founder of 4UP Digital, talked about the need for the church to embrace and master social media as a way to reach the current generation. “If the church only creates content on Sundays and says nothing the other six days, we’re irrelevant,” he said. If content is king, Richard said, then social media is queen, mobile is prince, and digital advertising is princess. Richard stressed the importance of creating consistent content that speaks to your audience and distributing it on the right channels. “You don’t need a professional studio to make videos; you just need a phone,” he said, giving examples of some of the most popular video channels in Kenya shooting their content on a Samsung phone.
Representatives from ICC Church talked about their goal to bring the church “from online to hearts.” In addition to face-to-face church services, they also broadcast online church services, where their goal is to make those who are attending online feel like they’re not alone. They accomplish that by putting a camera and microphone not only on the pastor but also on the congregation as well as having an online prayer room where people can pray together. ICC Church uses paid Facebook advertising but does not target Christians, instead targeting nonbelievers. “We don’t need more Christians in our pews; we need more of the lost,” they said.
At the end of the Indigitous Nairobi conference, people left with the message “I am Indigitous” and personal action points for how to apply the learning of the weekend in their context. It is clear that God is doing amazing things in Kenya, mobilizing technologists and leaders to use social media and locally created technology to reach a culture that spends nearly 8 hours per day on Facebook.