While the International Court of Justice in The Hague takes up a dispute between Kenya and Somalia over maritime oil and gas reserves this week, Human Rights Watch alleges that Kenya's plan to close the Dadaab refugee camp complex, amidst protest from Somalia, violates the UN's 1951 Refugee Convention, which requires that repatriation of refugees must be voluntary. Earlier this year Kenya's Interior Ministry announced that the camp, covering 50 km² (20 mi²) and home to nearly 300,000 people, would be closed by November. Ground was broken to construct the earliest portions of Dadaab in October 1991 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a temporary measure to aid Somalis fleeing from their country's civil war, but as the years passed the site became home to refugees from other conflicts and to refugees from drought and famine, at its height holding more than half a million people. [more inside]
In 2005, junior Harvard historian Caroline Elkins's controversial first book, Imperial Reckoning: Britain's First Gulag, resurfaced the history of Britain's brutal internment camps for the ethnic group the Kikuyu, believed to be supporters of the 1950s Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. She then found herself working for survivors of the camps in a landmark case seeking reparations from the British government. The plaintiffs were aided by the stunning discovery at the time of their case of massive archives--1.2 million files worth--held in illegal secrecy by the Foreign Office which included files systematically removed from former colonies as the British withdrew. (Note: many of these links contain descriptions of violence against civilians.) [more inside]
European refugees in India, Africa and the Middle East
During World War II in Europe over 40 million refugees sought shelter away from the catastrophic bloodshed that engulfed the continent for over six years.
An African writer who makes mix tapes of game soundtracks. A Nairobi filmmaker with Nietzsche on his smart phone. A chess champion who loves Philip K Dick. An African SF poet who quotes the Beatniks… meet the new New Wave in Nairobi, Kenya. Part one of our series 100 African Writers of SFF.
Poaching Leaves Elephant Daughters in Charge. "As illegal hunting thins out the ranks of matriarchs, their daughters are taking over as leaders of their social groups."
A Charity's Radical Experiment --Communities and governments have experimented with universal basic income in the past. GiveDirectly has demonstrated the benefit of placing money directly into the hands of those who need it. Now the charity is taking the idea to a whole new level. [more inside]
From Tana River, Morgan trudged 20 kilometres on the first night and then hid in thick forest the following day, before continuing his march under cover of darkness. He maintained this pattern for the next 18 days. Morgan is a 30-year-old bull elephant, the first elephant to return to Somalia in 20 years, using an old migration route. [more inside]
This is Professor Wangari Maathai. The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The first Kenyan woman to earn a doctoral degree. An icon of Kenya’s democratic movement who repeatedly put not just her mind but also her body on the line in order to secure a better future for Kenyans and their natural environment. But Maathai’s standing in Kenya is definitely ambiguous. She is beloved by feminists and environmentalists, and tolerated by everyone else... Women are expected to look backwards on guidance on what it means to be “good” – where “good” is primarily defined by men – but not too good because that makes women less interesting to men. This was not Wangari Maathai.
The Queen of Trees is a documentary (52 minutes) on the sycomore fig tree, focusing on the intricate mutualism between a fig tree and its fig wasp. Filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble spent two years camped out in the Kenyan bush to capture fascinating scenes of life around the sycomore, including inside the figs.
The Village Where Men Are Banned (and accompanying photos). Julie Bindel at the Guardian writes about the Kenyan village of Umoja, where for 25 years, since the village was founded by survivors of sexual assault, only women and their children have lived.
Catholic Bishops In Kenya Call For A Boycott Of Polio Vaccines Fearing a UN plot to sterilize the populace with vaccines containing estrogen derivatives, Bishop Philip Anyolo and others have been encouraging others not to immunize their children. [more inside]
It will be Barack Obama’s first visit to the land of his father as American president and a far cry from a 1988 trip when his luggage got lost. Obama will be visiting only Kenya and Ethiopia. Yet each is the base for two Africa-wide trends. In Ethiopia, he will give a speech at the headquarters of the 54-nation African Union, the main body trying to lift the standards of governance among its members. But the White House appears more focused on Kenya, which is Africa’s center of innovation and host to a global “summit” of entrepreneurs.
New fieldwork in West Turkana, Kenya, has identified evidence of much earlier (than 2.6 ma) hominin technological behaviour. We report (paywalled) the discovery of Lomekwi 3, a 3.3-million-year-old archaeological site where in situ stone artefacts occur in spatiotemporal association(pdf) with Pliocene hominin fossils in a wooded palaeoenvironment. Given the implications of the Lomekwi 3 assemblage for models aiming to converge environmental change, hominin evolution and technological origins (pdf), we propose for it the name ‘Lomekwian’, which predates (pdf) the Oldowan by 700,000 years and marks a new beginning to the known archaeological record. (abstract)
Déjà Lu republishes locally-selected scholarly articles from journals connected to regional anthropological associations around the world. The result is a PDF-heavy but fascinating collection of long reads on obscure topics. Via. [more inside]
Somali Militants Kill 147 at Kenyan University [New York Times]
Somali militants burst into a university in eastern Kenya on Thursday and killed nearly 150 students in the worst terrorist attack since the 1998 bombing of the United States Embassy here, laying bare the nation’s continuing vulnerability after years of battling Islamist extremism. A small group of militants, most likely between four and 10, roved from dorm to dorm, separating Christian from Muslim students and killing the Christians, the authorities said. Students described being awakened before dawn by the sound of gunfire and fleeing for their lives as masked attackers closed in.[more inside]
Aurion looks to be a standard and mechanically unremarkable retro action RPG with heavy Japanese design influences. But its design and feel are unmistakably fresh, offering a bold color palette and interesting unit designs. Its fiction is rooted in stories of exploitation and division, and in a desire for harmony.This review of Cameroon's Kiro’o Games latest release is just one of the increasingly visible ways Africa's game developers are beginning to gain traction in their domestic and international markets. Last fall, Lagos hosted the inaugural West African Gaming Expo, bringing together startups, gamers, developers and investors for the first time. Games range from mobile only, extremely local - smash the mosquito or drive your matatu like a maniac - to educational - to full fledged RPG like Kiro'o's Aurion. Women are as much a part of this nascent industry, breaking barriers and encouraging others to join. Watch this space.
South African artist and activist Gabrielle Le Roux is in San Francisco for the first time to show the "Proudly African & Transgender" portrait and story series she co-created with trans* activists from Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya in 2008, together with a selection of portraits from the "Proudly Trans* in Turkey" collaboration with eighteen trans* activists from across Turkey. The portraits and stories will show at the SF LGBT Center at the invitation of the Queer Cultural Center and SFSU Sociology Dept. Galería de La Raza will be showing the 18 part video installation of the Proudly Trans* in Turkey exhibition, through which trans* activists from across Turkey explore the issues they want to discuss on film. [more inside]
Kichwateli (Kenya, 2011; 07:46), The Day They Came (Nigeria, 2013; 03:59), The Tale of How (South Africa, 2006; 04:28; previously), Alive in Joburg (South Africa, 2006; 06:22; previously), Umkhungo (South Africa, 2010; 30:34; trailer alt. link), Evolve (Egypt, 2014; 24:17), Mwansa the Great (Zambia, 2011; 23:11; two trailers as alt. links), and Pumzi (Kenya, 2009; 21:51): eight short works of SF/fantasy via The Skiffy and Fanty Show.
Nairobi Noir is a beautiful collection of photographs taken at night on the streets of Nairobi. Sometimes chilling, sometimes grim, always evocative
In This Horror Film, Blood Is All Too Real [New York Times] ‘Terror at the Mall’ on HBO documents an Attack in Kenya.
One year ago, gunmen from the Shabab militant group in Somalia laid siege to the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Armed with AK-47s and grenades, they stalked their victims from a gourmet burger restaurant at the entrance to the vegetable aisle of a grocery store at the back. The British filmmaker Dan Reed assembled thousands of hours of footage gleaned from more than 100 security cameras inside the mall, video from television crews and modest cellphones, as well as still photographs. Then he and his team tracked down more than 200 people and interviewed 82 of them on camera, many survivors or their rescuers.[more inside]
Explorer Shivani Bhalla Helps People and Lions Coexist (and in turn helps those people as well) It's articles like this that make me smile. If only there were more arrangements like this for other endangered animals as well.
I am appalled at what that means – that the survival skills that the bull has painstakingly learnt over half a century have been rendered useless by the poachers’ use of mass-produced Chinese goods; GPS smart-phones, cheap motorcycles and night vision goggles. I think the old bull knows that poachers want his tusks, and I hate that he knows. More than anything, I hate the thought that poachers are now closing in on one of the world’s most iconic elephants.The Guardian [more inside]
In early April, hundreds of Somali speaking Kenyans were arrested in a supposed anti-terrorist sweep in Eastleigh, Nairobi after an alleged Al Shabaab attack left six dead. The people arrested were taken to a local football stadium and kept in cages, unless they could afford to bribe the police. For The New Inquiry Aaron Bady uses Kenyan and other news sources to explain the background to these razzias, why Somalis are often the victim of police extortion and how this impacts Kenya as a whole. [more inside]
Legal groups say Kenya’s justice system rarely prosecutes homophobic crimes, but that may soon change: In 2011 the incoming President of Kenya’s Supreme Court Dr. Willy Mutunga called gay rights the “other frontier of marginalization” in Kenyan society in a signal that he may pressure Kenya’s judiciary to decriminalize homosexual acts. In the wake of author Binyavanga Wainaina (previously 1, 2) coming out and the release of Invisible: Stories from Kenya’s Queer Community, hope that Kenya may be going against the tide regarding gay rights in Africa.
The new TV show "The Samaritans" is a mockumentary inspired by The Office about the perils – and pleasures – of the “NGO world”. Created by a Kenya-based production company, it chronicles the work of Aid for Aid – an NGO that, in the words of its creator, “does nothing.” Over at Warscape, some wry advice for a "development officer of a not-for-profit yearning for a celebrity of your very own" after Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern flubbed her "African adventure," mixing up Dakar with Darfur. “We have to break in our new celebrities slowly,” confides Sarah Wilson, a World Vision representative who is chaperoning McGovern on the trip. “There will be lots of breaks so she doesn’t get overloaded.” (previously) (previouslier) (more previouslier)
NYTimes: "The paleontologist Richard Leakey has called their removal a “sacrilege.” Kenyan villagers have said their theft led to crop failure and ailing livestock. It is little wonder, then, that the long, slender wooden East African memorial totems known as vigango are creating a spiritual crisis of sorts for American museums." [more inside]
Sir Elvis is his stage name, but his real name is Elvis Otieno, and he may be the most successful country musician in Kenya. That's partly because Kenya doesn't have many country musicians. [more inside]
"all we could hear was screaming and shooting." At approximately 11am on Saturday, September 21, terrorists - believed to be 10 to 15 in number, entered one of Nairobi's upscale malls and began killing people. Today, as the 4th day of the siege began, it is believed all the remaining hostages have been freed. Currently the death toll stands at 62 and 175 have been wounded. Al Shabab, a terrorist group based in Somalia, took credit for the attacks via their twitter account, before it was again suspended. [more inside]
Scientists have found an underground water reserve in Kenya. So large that it could meet the entire country's water needs for the next 70 years.
My vacation to the set of Disney's "The Lion King." Via reddit, the real pictures were taken at the Mara Bushtop at the Masai Mara Manyatta Camp in Kenya.
At dawn today, the arrivals unit of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport caught fire (pictures!), leading to the total indefinite shutdown of the largest air traffic hub in east Africa. No one knows the cause of the fire, which comes days after a stupidly corrupt businessman's duty-free shops were seized by the government.
Lindsey Stirling in Kenya..
Mau Mau to Midnapore: Confronting the brutality of empire There are certainly some Britons, including academics, journalists and human rights lawyers, who are aware of the realities of colonialism. However, in the society as a whole and in the media in the UK there are still far too many who seem strangely reluctant, even after so many decades after the end of the British empire, to come to terms with the true nature of colonialism or learn from the perspective of former subjects who had rebelled against it.
A contributor to the Gameological Society visits his local video game store in Nairobi to demonstrate the sort of games he found there, finding gems like "Guitar Hero: Beatles and Friends" (actually, mostly Bahasa pop music), "Robocop" (with extra rainbow), and what might just be the ne plus ultra of video game mods: Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: Kirk Douglas.
Kenya has another election coming next year, the first under their new constitution, and since the last one in 2007 was followed by violence that left hundreds dead, and hundreds of thousands displaced (many of whom remain so today). [more inside]
Team Ireland is celebrating its first gold medal at London 2012, thanks to boxer Katie Taylor, but the Irish also had an unlikely part to play in another, very special Olympic victory on Thursday. Kenyan middle-distance runner David Rudisha joins notable alumni from Saint Patrick's High School, a 500-student boy's school started by Irish missionaries in 1963, in Iten, a town in Kenya. Brother Colm O'Connell, though no longer teaching at the school, is still a highly regarded coach in one of the world’s great running capitals. The school plants a tree in honor of record-making alumni, though some of the more recent alumni are getting shrubs, to save space. [more inside]
The need for speed This article contrasts two very different timeframes in the 'social life' of the plant stimulant miraa--known elsewhere as khat--in Kenya and beyond. One, the heritage and cultural associations around the age of the trees themselves and the other, the impact of the perishability of the product even as demand for it grows on continents halfway around the world, thus the "need for speed". (Previously) (Previously)
Kindly enjoy these and look at your world differently. We live in a beautiful country people. Enjoy that.Mutua Matheka is a Kenyan photographer out to change perceptions of Nairobi and Kenya, for Kenyans and foreigners alike. (via)
The Foreign Office’s “guilty secret” revealed Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments. Those papers that survived were flown back to Britain and hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain. The Guardian details some of those papers released earlier this week. [more inside]
Twitter is being used as a crime-fighting tool by a tech-savvy village chief in Kenya. Francis Kariuki, the administrative chief of Lanet Umoja, has used the micro-blogging site for everything from tracking down missing sheep to stopping home invasions.
The Turkana Basin Institute and the Kenya National Museums are digitizing their fossil collections. Look around their virtual laboratory and collections and get up close and personal with some of paleoanthropology's most important fossils. There are over 20,000 specimens that are housed in the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi as well as in the laboratories of the Turkana Basin Institute to the east and west of Lake Turkana. These range in age from 28 million years to several thousand years in age and have been recovered over the past six decades of exploration of the fossil rich deposits around Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.
"There are two ways to fish, with nets or without. But if I fish with violence, will my nets be full of blood?" Fishing Without Nets is a short film about Somali pirates from their point of view, which won the recent Sundance Jury Prize in short filmmaking. The film will tour film festivals, and may be worked into a feature-length film. Writer/ producer/ editor Cutter Hodierne told his story of filming in Kenya to Vice. [more inside]
When it comes to railways, the British are famous for their colonial legacy of one of the world's most extensive railway networks built across then British India but their lesser known and far grander vision was the Cape to Cairo railway network intended to stretch across the sea of colonial pink on the African continent. Left incomplete due to politics and geography, most of it is still almost as it was built in its day. [more inside]
Did you know that Al-Shabaab, the Islamic militant group currently fighting for control of southern Somalia, has a Twitter account? [more inside]
The ruins of Gede are the remains of a mysterious lost city on the Swahili Coast of Kenya, located deep within the Arabuko Sokoke forest. The mystery of Gede (Gedi) is that it does not appear in any Swahili, Portuguese, or Arab written records and present day research has not yet been able to fully account for what actually happened to the city. The inhabitants were of the Swahili, an ancient trading civilization that emerged along the eastern coasts of Africa ranging from Somalia to Mozambique. Archaeological excavations carried out between 1948 and 1958 have uncovered porcelain from China, an Indian lamp, Venetian beads, Spanish scissors, and other artefacts from all over the world, demonstrating the occupants were engaged in extensive and sophisticated international trade. Questions still remain as to what caused the downfall of Gede, but by the 17th century, the city was completely abandoned to the forest and forgotten until the 1920s. Today, a National Museum, Gede's sister cities from the period are part of the ethnography based archeological work of Dr Chapurukha M. Kusimba of Chicago's Field Museum, whose lifework has thrown light on the precolonial heritage of the Swahili peoples.
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