Technically, it’s about 3am. Live Editor Celeste and our international Editor Keisha and myself are sitting in the aptly named London cafe in the Addis Ababa transit lounge, waiting for our flight to Kigali, Rwanda.
We’re going because of a partnership we’ve developed with the team at Ni Nyampinga, a magazine and radio show run by girls aged 10-19 in Rwanda. They came to visit us in Brixton a few months ago, and we realised we had a lot in common. There were the obvious things: Live’s run by young people, and so is Ni Nyampinga. Both publications aim to do more than just sell stuff. And both publications have an innovative creation and distribution model. For Ni Nyampinga, innovative doesn’t quite cover it: two years ago, when they started, there was no distribution network in the country. They created one, from scratch.
We met in Brixton, sat round the kitchen table in the office and realised we had a lot to learn from each other. One simple example is that both publications are working out how to integrate their platforms: Live as we focus on our website and YouTube channel, and NN as they try and bring their radio and magazine teams closer together.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, a trip coalesced into reality. We worked out what we needed to do. We got jabs (wow, Typhoid hurts) and our very cool Yellow Fever passes. We learned a few words of Kinyrwandan (watch out for us saying ‘murakoze’ every time you offer us a cup of tea on our return). And we whizzed up a workshop and content creation plan that we hope will allow us to share the best of what Live knows and to find out how things run Kigali-style.
It’s not that Live knows everything and Ni Nyampinga need to learn from us – we know what we know and we can definitely learn a lot from them. In fact we already have. Brand Manager Afrika’s powerpoint issue outlines are definitely a step up from our google doc-based efforts.
So, it’s 3am at Addis Ababa Transit Lounge. It’s a strange mix of people waiting here, many of whom we think are probably working for NGOs, because we keep hearing words like ‘refugee camp’ and ‘south Sudan’. There are a few of the obligatory kids crying, and a lot of people sleeping. It smells of incense and rose petals. There’s a smoking room comprised of an open glass square in the corner of the lounge. There a brilliant film on loop titled Endemic Birds of Ethiopia, which include the squat looking Ankober Serin and the Blue Winged Goose. Keisha’s asleep, thanks mostly to the fact she had to hand in her final uni assignment the night before we left and reckons she slept a full three hours in the previous 90. Celeste is reading a feature on Rwanda’s successful fight against corruption in New Africa and I’m tapping this out.
Phase one, done. Phase two, we’re ready to go.