It was hard to get up at 4 o’clock Thursday morning to catch my 7.35 flight, but the excitement of going to Senegal gave me strength and energy. At the airport I met with two other Kenyan bloggers, Nancie Mwai and Mandi Sarro, who were travelling with me to attend the first Festival of African Bloggers and YouTubers (FABY) in Dakar. After a 10 hour KQ flight via Abidjan we finally reached Dakar and checked into Hotel Le Virage. I loved my beautiful room with a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean, and after a refreshing shower we were ready to go out in the city for supper at a local restaurant. I was keen to try a local delicacy, and the locals recommended poulet yassa. I loved it so much that I ate it once every day for the entire stay.
But we were tired after the long flight and opted to go to bed quite early.
I had a chance to put my little French to some practical use the next day. At noon, we were taken on a city tour which also included a get-together with some of the local Senegalese bloggers at the Memorial Place (Place du Souvenir), which is a beautiful cultural site commemorating the history of the African people and their heroes. An awesome location dedicated to African unity, and obviously a perfect place for the Festival. Group photo shoot and lunch by the sea before being dropped at the hotel to glam up for the evening with the opening gala of the Festival and a wonderful get-together cocktail and media interviews. The opening presentations Saturday morning were neither boring nor repetitive, or at least none of us felt this way since we were all being thrown into a fantastic experience of communication and sharing experiences about what we love and do every day. The sessions were conducted in the form of panel discussions in a number of different rooms according to the specific topic, and each was lead by a blogger with real knowledge in that area such as IT, education, humor, cooking, beauty etc. All rooms had translators to facilitate the discussions and the learning process, and like all the others, I went around from session to session looking for where there was something for me to learn. Most of us had a chance to make our views heard, and I for one was given the floor to speak about how to start a blog – or how I went about it three years ago, when I first launched my site as a DIY blog for baby clothes. I had quite a few questions from the participants in my session – surprisingly mainly from Senegalese male bloggers. What I really loved about this afternoon were the encounters at the beautiful grounds of the Memorial Place with some pretty influential bloggers from Africa
On this day, the main event sponsors Cocacola also threw a fun cocktail for us. We drank a lot of soda (!) , ate a lot of fun bitings, danced and listened to the inspiring Coca-cola story in Africa. Sunday was my day to shine. I got up a little bit too late to fully enjoy my yummy breakfast but then was thrown into a whirl wind of more blogging presentations at the Memorial Place, where I was responsible for the animation (as they call it in French) of a session on hair, beauty and fashion blogging. I also got interviewed for a French radio station, the orange Telcom network and by local bloggers.On Monday morning, me , Nancie, a Nigerian and an Algerian blogger set out to see the local market Sandaga, in order to get a feel of the town and shop a little bit. The markets are well organised and not crowded. At times, we felt that they might have overpriced some pieces for us, and it was nice to have a local with us, to translate and bargain for us. It was with a bitter-sweet feeling that already later that Monday I had to leave Dakar where I have had such an amazing time meeting fellow bloggers from all over the African continent – both francophone and Anglophone. Looking back at my few but very intensive days, I realize that apart from learning a lot about blogging and what has worked for others, the event was mainly about mingling with like-minded persons, realizing that in spite of our language barriers and our different cultural backgrounds we have so much in common, having the same challenges, being at the forefront of building a blogosphere here in Africa and sharing the same obstacles as well as successes as we all try to grow to make our voices heard more widely in this digital age.
I congratulate FABY on this successful and very enjoyable event and hope that over the months to come we may continue and deepen our collaboration. Follow more on this event here #LEFABY2016
and Check out my Dakar Travel Vlog to get a better feel of this experience.