Ory Okolloh Google Africa Policy Manager South Africa/Kenya

Ory Okolloh is a blogger and open-government activist. She runs Mzalendo, a pioneering civic website that tracks the performance of Kenya's Parliament and its Parliamentarians. With a vote tracker, articles and opinion pieces, the site connects Kenyans to their leaders and opens the lid on this powerful and once-secretive body. (This is a Parliament that finally agreed to have its procedings televised in August 2008.)

Okolloh's own blog is called Kenyan Pundit, and it tracks her work with Mzalendo and her other efforts as part of the rebuilding of Kenya, following the post-election violence in late 2007 (she collected a powerful series of diaries of the violence, dozens of essays from Kenyans and others -- well worth a read).

Okolloh is part of a wave of young Africans who are using the power of blogging, SMS and web-enabled openness to push their countries forward and help Africans to truly connect. Tools like Ushahidi help to link a people whose tribal differences, as Okolloh points out again and again, are often cynically exploited by a small group of leaders. Only by connecting Africans can this cycle be broken.

"We feel that Kenyans not only have "a right to know” but also need to take a more active role in determining their country's role -- this is our effort to do more than just complain about how things are not working in Kenya."

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