The Star (Nairobi)

6 January 2014

Kenya: Christine Lagarde, the IMF and Mindspeak

If Mindspeak (and I will tell you a little about it momentarily) was an ice-cream Sundae, then Christine Lagarde's appearance today is like the Maraschino cherry that you find on top of the Sundae. It is an absolute pleasure to be hosting the first female managing director of the IMF with KEPSA's Vimal Shah.

It was Muhammed Suleiman, who more than five years ago, persuaded me to start up Mindspeak. I think our first audience was about 40 people and we started in the cinema at the Junction Mall.

The philosophy behind Mindspeak was in part derived from Rumi. I had visited Konya and as I entered the Mevlana's tomb, the following was inscribed at the entrance;

Come, come, whoever you are wonderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.

It doesn't matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times

Come, yet again, come, come.

That timeless message of inclusion intoxicated me that evening in Konya and I like to think that Rumi has proven a magic ingredient. In the late 1990s just before the turn of the century, when the internet bloomed for the first time and the Nasdaq boomed, I had visited San Francisco and been to a Guy Kawasaki Garage.com function.

That day I learnt from Mr. Kawasaki and his rules for revolutionaries that a singular rule is "Eat like a hummingbird and poop like an Elephant" I will leave you to consider what Guy Kawasaki means as I had to consider it.

The mood in San Francisco was practically evangelical, a CAN-DO spirit and I wanted to replicate that. So I wish to thank Muhammed, the Mevlana and Guy Kawasaki esquire for this Maraschino cherry Christine Lagarde moment. The 3rd strand is serendipity.

Mindspeak tipped big in 2011 when President Museveni graciously agreed to be our guest and happenstance put Dr. Besigye in a hospital in Nairobi that same week-end. That combination created a viral tsunami and Mindspeak trended world-wide that day.

Interestingly, it was marshall of President Museveni's security detail who removed Mindspeak from Westgate. He took one look at the place and "canned" the venue.

That was in 2011 and since then we have been at the InterContinental where you will find us today between the hours of 1500-1700. Now let me return to the managing director of the IMF madame Christine Lagarde.

In July 2011, Christine Lagarde became the eleventh managing director of the IMF, and the first woman to hold that position. She is a seriously accomplished lady and interestingly a former member of the French national team for synchronized swimming.

The managing director's office said the following in a press release no. 14/01 January 2, 2014 "I am very much looking forward to my visit to underline the fund's strong partnership with Kenya, one of the most dynamic economies in a region that has been a bright spot in the global economy," Lagarde said ahead of her trip. "Kenya has emerged as one of Africa's 'frontier economies'

Over the top broadcasting is now the latest in-thing. The cool thing is that Bob Collymore's Safaricom has been very kindly providing us with a live feed for quite a while and long before we learnt it was called over the top broadcasting.

So if you cannot make it person to the InterContinental in person, please note we will be beaming this Mindspeak to the world from the @InterConNairobi in a joint c21st Safaricom RICH TV Production. You can tune in at 1200 GMT/ 1500 Kenya time via this link

http://www.rich.co.ke/rctools/livestream.php

The hashtags for today's Mindspeak are #Mindspeak #IMFAfrica #Africarising. Do tune in, send us a Tweet, watch the stream because I do want to prove my theory that Kenya is a media and social media laboratory.

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