One of the fathers of blogging in Kenya, Mr. Daudi Were, the Executive Director of Ushahidi has said the “truth is never as exciting” about sexual harassment allegations. Commenting on the ongoing, growing concern that a senior executive at Ushahidi has been harassing female colleagues, he affirmed his innocence.
Affirming earlier that the Board will issue a statement on the allegations, it certainly did share an unsigned, undated and not on the official letter head, one can easily dismiss it. If it was not sent to you directly by the Board member or absent in chat groups that are discussing the subject, you will dismiss it.
In the statement, the Board says that they have been privy to the allegations made by the colleague who has since left the company and are investigating the matter. They added that “Ushahidi, as a matter of policy and practice, does not in any way condone sexual harassment and treats any such allegation seriously”.
What they would not however reveal was that the Board already met and dismissed the evidence provided by the lady. They cited her audio recording as circumstantial and lack of corroborating information from other ladies.
Ushahidi Board has not made an effort to appeal to the broader tech community about receiving evidence to aid the investigations. They have only come out to make the hasty statement, in which no specific individual in the Board can be held to account. This reeks of arrogance and lack of respect to a weighty matter.
The allegations against Daudi Were have only now come to public but multiple individuals in the blogosphere claim that he has been sexually harassing ladies from 2005. They further advance that some of the Board members including Eric Hersman have been privy to the heavy allegations, but they dismissed them.
In articles already published, giving the matter less importance has been because the firm is currently on a funding round while it would also affect their branding and funding of other tech start-ups. It is alleged that the Board members told the victims not to raise their voices because if they do, their start-ups will not be funded.
Ushahidi Board members are Clay Shirky, David Kobia, Erik Hersman, Jenny Stefanotti and Juliana Rotich.
It remains to be seen what will come out of the investigations considering they already made a determination before. It is open to public’s interpretation as to whether the Board would have come out if the story was not published.
After criticisms about the statement, they later made the statement official by publishing it on their website. They equally added a contact, Evelyn Njoroge from Africa Practice as the PR firm for any inquiries.
This story is unfolding and will be updated as developments occur.