Posts Tagged With: Kenya

Picture Montage From My Study Abroad

It took me a while but I have finally finished putting together a video picture montage of my trip to East Africa this past summer where I was studying (near Arusha, Tanzania). I hope you’ll like it; the pictures are mostly in chronological order with my journey. Please enjoy!

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, School/Students | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Accidental Robin Hoods

Somali pirates are not much liked these days; for a good reason many would argue. But we all know before the original pirates were hijacking commercial ships, they were lowly fishermen. Besides keeping toxic and nuclear waste dumping ships from the Somali coast, it turns out that they have also successfully kept illegal trawlers at bay from the coast. Now comes the insanely unexpected: Somali pirates have saved the livelihoods of not only Somali fishermen, but Kenyan fishermen as well. The further these pirates have gone out to the high seas to hijack ships, the more the ships (both legitimate and illegitimate ones) have stayed further away – resulting in almost no illegal trawlers entering in Kenya’s (as well as Somali’s, obviously) economic zone (200 miles from the coast) and territorial waters (12 miles) as these industrial illegal trawlers used to do before the rise of pirate hijackings in the horn.

Ironically what the government of Kenya could not do, that is protect its fisheries and marine life, has been done for them by Somali pirates – by accident. Now both Kenyan and Somali fishermen are catching more fish and have a decent life. More importantly, the ecosystem is returning to normal cycles, and fish population has dramatically increased, leading to two-fold benefits for the humans who rely on the ocean for livelihood and the marine life that is now healthy. Now, before I get any hate-mail on this subject, remember the smile on these happy fishermen…

PS: 20,000 Kenyan Shillings is about 250 U.S. dollars.

Categories: East Africa, Piracy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Go Time

In two days I will be leaving for my study abroad program in Arusha, Tanzania finally. Not a fan of long trip but I’d take airplanes over any other mode of transportations. My flight is connecting through JFK via Dubai. Hopefully by Thursday I’ll be in Dar es Salaam (what a beautiful name for a city, eh?). A nice guy by the name of Adnan will be helping me out in Dar. Then off to Kenya for few weeks and back to TZ through Zanzibar, where I meet up with the rest of the group/faculty for the 12th Zanzibar International Film Festival and other touristy stuff (am really looking forward to Zanz!) before heading to our base near Arusha.

Stay tuned for more details, folks! And watch out for the daily tweets on the top right corner space of this blog once my cell is up and running (since the Internet is not as reliable as the SMS over there). A bon voyage is in order, no?

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Unlucky Students

Kenya’s Ministry of Education announced yesterday that 16 primary schools in North Eastern province have been found to have “cheated” in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam.  According to the Ministry, students ‘received’ materials related to the exam before taking the exam – in many cases, the ministry claims, from teachers, as well as ‘students shouting the answers to each other out loud’ during the exam. The North Eastern province is home to ethnic Somalis and Somali refugees. Of the 16 schools involved in this so-called ‘cheating’ (I’m not convinced that every student in the entire region managed to have cheated), 5 of them are U.N.-run schools for refugee students in camps like Dabaab, Central, etc. No doubt cheating goes on everywhere in Kenya, but to single out the Somali-kenya province is a bit fishy, if not outright disenfranchisement. More importantly, it’s unfair to punish all the students in the five refugee camps by cancelling all of the results.

Living in a refugee camp is difficult enough, but studying for once-a-year exam that determines these student’s future, if there is any, is quite a punishment in itself. I’m not making excuses for those students who cheated, but I find it very hard to swallow every student in those five refugee camps cheated. My sympathy lies with the innocent students who are collectively being punished by Kenya’s Ministry of Education.

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, Education, School/Students | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We’ve Made It!

Transparency International released its now-famous Corruption Perceptions Index, which concluded this year Somalia as the most corrupt country in the world. Hooray for us! But wait a minute. What? Somalia and corruption? Are these people insane? How do they define corruption? The last time I checked, in order for corruption to exist, a semblance of law and order has to exist in the environment in which the corruption prevails. I don’t know what these people were thinking but surely Somalia does NOT qualify for this award. I mean, I don’t intend to insinuate that Somalia is not corrupt, but when one thinks about corruption in the sense of political and economical manifestation, Somalia would have to be the last place on the planet to qualify for corrupt state. Somalia is a failed State. Only the gun rules. 

There is no government, courts, or police. It’s an extreme anarchy – Mad Max all-you-can-eat situation. Folks living in Mogadisho do not worry about who they will have to bribe to get a telephone line hooked. They worry whether they will get robbed (or shot more likely) on their way to the market or school (which is a very expensive private school at that). Unless of course Transparency International is referring to Somaliland, in which case an argument for corruption can be made (please don’t give me grieve on whether Somaliland is a country or not). Now I think about it, how did TI get their data in the first place? Did they go on the streets and asked, “how often do you pay bribe to get things done?” Furthermore, if Somalia is so corrupt, who’s demanding the corruption? The Warlord Thugs? I don’t know about TI’s philosophy, but I know for a fact that warlords do not demand bribe – they take whatever they want. 

More suspiciously, at least to my cynical eyes, is the conspicuous absence of my dear Kenya from the top ten list. For the past 7 years, Kenya has had the pleasure of being named as the top corrupt country in the world – and for a very good reason. But I’m not sure all that has changed overnight. As someone who has resided in both Somalia and Kenya, I know when it comes to corruption, Kenya is the grandaddy of all corruptness. You can’t leave your house without “bribe money” in Kenya, whereas Somalia you only get jacked if you have something of a value. Maybe I’m being overtly cynical about Kenya’s progress against corruption but I find it interesting that such an awfully corrupt country can jump from 30 spots within the span of two years.

Categories: Corruption | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where Are They Now?

Some of us remember the bloody recent election in Kenya despite the fact that it seems like a long time ago. The last time I wrote about the election, Kofi Annan’s mediation brought an agreement between president Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, the opposition leader and the winner of the election, to form a unity government compromised of 50/50 coalition of Kibaki’s party and Odinga’s ODM party, however, the implementation of that agreement, like everything else in Kenya, has been elusive. It was reported yesterday (Monday Apr 7), that Odinga skipped on a meeting that was to suppose to announce the “new” coalition based unity government.

Apparently Raila Odinga got Kibaki’s SMS message to his party officials (just before the meeting and instead took a detour to news conference ) that read: odinga is gona fall for it again, LOL Kibaki BFF….PS: keep it confidential. Obviously I’m dramatizing it a little but perhaps this is what really happened because last Friday they both agreed to announce the new government’s cabinet posts on Sunday, with the understanding that they both will appoint an equal amount of ministers while presidential powers will be divided equally as well. I mean, doesn’t it seem like a fair expectation?

From my point of view, Kibaki is really greedy, considering that he did lose the election and thousands died and displaced as a result of this, still Raila Odinga is willing to share power with him when he could simply refuse negotiating with him until a new election decides who’s president. Perhaps I’m Monday-morning quarterbacking here, so to speak, but isn’t the definition of a leader is to do the good of the people instead of self-interest motivations? Yet no one can argue with me that what Africa lacks are courageous leaders who are not afraid of losing elections or appeasing Western interests in their countries but only care about their people’s welfare.

While the debacles of the recent Kenya and Zimbabwe elections hijacked the international media, the president of Botswana stepped down last week without any bloodshed or coup or political pressure (there was no scandal at all, if that is what you’re thinking) although he still had a year and half left on his term because he just felt that was the right thing to do. Isn’t that amazing? Juxtapositioning that with Robert Mugabe who has been in office for nearly three decades is nothing short of astonishing.

Ou Va La\’Afrique by Askia Modibo

 

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, Elections | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bushism of the Week

“There must be an immediate halt to violence, there must be justice for the victims of abuse and there must be a full return to democracy” says Mr. Bush about the bloody civil unrest that has been going on in Kenya for a month and half for the first time. Abuse? Democracy? I thought being hacked to death or burned alive is more than an abuse. Isn’t democracy that caused this? Hmm..I somehow don’t think he knew what has been happening in Kenya until 5 minutes before the news conference.

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, Elections | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

So They Say

Violence in Kenya has only gotten worst in the past few weeks, leaving many to describe the situation as “ethnic cleansing” and even some to use the dreaded term “genocide.” The last time I checked, the conservative estimate of the dead was hovering between 800 to 850; nonetheless, the disputing parties are not making any progress toward a concrete solutions.

Many former and current African leaders have been to Kenya to mediate the dispute to no avail. So far only Kofi Anan have made a “slight” progress in the talks between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, but really, who are they kidding? “Four points of agreement towards peace” is what they announced after a week of “intense” negotiation – all nonsense to the people of Kenya.

Let’s keep in mind that five years ago, Odinga and Kibaki had an “agreement of understanding” between them in which Odinga put his support behind Kibaki’s bid for the presidency against Daniel arap Moi and in return, Kibaki was supposed to create a Prime Minister post for Odinga when he’s elected. Well, in a true African style, Mwai Kibaki screwed Odinga and skipped on the agreement (both signed) of understanding.  And that is how the Democratic Orange Movement opposition in Kenya started – a loose coalition dedicated to getting rid of Mwai Kibaki.

If the previous screw off is any indication, Odinga is not going to back off from his demand for a new election, and certainly Kibaki will not want to allow a new election because he is as certain as his death that he will be crushed like a grape. So what is the moral of this sad story? Unless Kibaki allows for a new presidential election (which I seriously doubt he will- sadly) Kenya will just become another failed state in Africa – a club that includes its illustrious neighbor Somalia,  Sudan (Darfur), Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo and so on.

Regardless of what Kofi Anan has achieved in his talks with Kibaki and Odinga, which has been erroneously reported as the end of the violence in Kenya by the International media, Kenya’s only hope for return to stability is a new presidential election and redistribution of land, the cause of so many displacements and civil unrest. Unless the first (a new presidential election) happens, the second cannot happen, and if the second (land distribution) cannot happen, then a true civil war is inevitable.

Categories: Africa Related, Corruption, East Africa, Elections | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will the Real Patriot Please Stand up

What has been happening in Kenya for the past three weeks is nothing short of tragedy and bewilderment. With over 600 people dead, countless injured or homeless; someone has to ask: Will the TRUE patriot of Kenya please stand up!

Until now, neither Raila Odinga or Mwai Kibaki have demonstrated their love for their country. Perhaps Mwai Kibaki being the least patriot of all. How many poor Kenyan souls have to perish before Mr. Kibaki stops the bloodshed? How many innocent children and their mothers have to be hacked to pieces or burned alive before Mr. Kibaki steps down and allows for a new election? How many slum dwellers have to die for the presidency of Mr. Kibaki? A thousand? A million? Is presidency that important? Don’t they realize all the politicians in Africa who have chosen the path of bloodshed to power have not succeeded?

I sometimes spend hours thinking about what is so important about being a president in Africa that politicians are more than happy to sacrifice millions of their fellow countrymen in order to get or stay in power – yet I never conclude one person’s life is worth a lifetime of absolute power. I know I may sound naive, but I don’t see the allure of power when such a power doesn’t last.

What is going on in Kenya right now is exactly the path to years of civil war. I don’t even know why Mr. Kibaki chose to rig the election when he could’ve just suspended the constitution and declare himself the absolute ruler of Kenya – that way, he could brutalize everyone in Kenya. Instead, now he is the corrupt senile power-graping guy who will stop at nothing to stay in power, even though he thinks he was elected “democratically.”

On the other hand, Raila Odinga seems to prefer the bloodshed over other options. News flash! Mr. Kibaki doesn’t give a F%$K about dead Kenyans! So, the question is: Who cares about Kenya – Mwai Kibaki or Raila Odinga? For now, neither – at least something to that effect.

Categories: Africa Related, East Africa, Elections | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shame

It has been over a week since Kenya’s elections were held and Kenya is still burning. In my previous post, I worried that the infant violence at the time (Dec. 30) would last longer or even evolve into tribal or civil war. At this moment, part of my worry has largely become true – tribal war is now threatening Kenya’s statehood. Let me be clear: I was not predicting or expecting the violence to evolve into a full-blown tribal war and I am certainly not saying now ‘I told you so,’ but the fact is, Kenya is now more close to civil war than it had ever been.21307097.jpg21329471.jpg21329735.jpg21308443.jpg21305333.jpg21307069.jpg21307261.jpg21308613.jpg21329419.jpgNY Times/AP

Like so many third world countries, Kenya was never a “prosperous” democracy as The Associated Press erroneously refers to in its infinite dispatches. However, Kenya was one of the most stable countries in Africa, certainly in East Africa. And like so many countries in East Africa, tribal animosities is just below the surface. It is only matter of time before that acid filled bottle of tribal animosities blows up with vengeance. It has happened in Kenya’s neighbors like Somalia and Sudan – and will certainly happen in Ethiopia as the majority Oromo and Amhara are being oppressed by Meles Zenawi.

I fear Kenya has reached its boiling point on Dec. 30, 2007 when the Electorate Commission of Kenya deliberately and knowingly declared the losing candidate, Mr. Mwai Kibaki the winner instead of the guy who people chose. At the time, I really believed Kenyans would swallow another blatant robbery of their votes, and for the sake of their country, look the other way, but apparently not this time. This anger and outrage has come to a full circle and it took over forty years – much, much longer than its neighbors. Needless to say, the anger and hatred toward the ruling Kikuyi tribe is in full display ever since Dec. 30, 2007. And for that matter, the over 300 people killed, maimed, or burned so far have largely been poor Kikuyis, a la Rwanda 1994. It is beyond comprehension to see women and children being burned alive in a house of worship in 2008.21352353.jpg

21314627.jpg21315329.jpg21329197.jpg213291971.jpg21352699.jpg21330109.jpg04kenya01_600.jpg21352361.jpgNY Times/AP

Yesterday I saw a young man with a machete in Nairobi being interviewed on TV and when asked, “Why are you doing what you’re doing?,” he said, “We have had enough! Then he continued, “Now I’m willing to die for what I believe.” I just hope what he is willing to die for is a better, stable, prosperous and united Kenya – not killing his fellow Kenyans.21315467.jpg

Otherwise, it would be a shame to see this magnificent and beautiful country descend into civil war.

Categories: Africa Related, Corruption, East Africa, Elections | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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