Minority report
November 6, 2011 1:29 AM   Subscribe

Pain of being a Kenyan Somali Young medical student living in Nairobi talks about being from a minority under suspicion during a time of war.

The Somali of Kenya

The Somali tribe of Kenya

The Somali have existed long before the creation of the Somali nation, and refers to a tribe not necessarily a nationality.
posted by infini (14 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If I wish to follow this further, as well as other issues in Kenya during the war, I wonder how broad and accurate a picture will I have by reading what's available in English? I understand that despite its official status it's still a minority language.
posted by Anything at 5:43 AM on November 6, 2011

I would say that as many Kenyans understand and speak English across the length and breadth of this former British colony (until 1960) than if it were their native tongue - for many it is so. Sort of like everyone under 50 in Helsinki, tbh.
posted by infini at 6:42 AM on November 6, 2011

Try The Standard (their website seems to be down right now, odd) for the more mass majority opinion and also seek out twitter feeds (very active and very opinionated) and blogs. I can also double check with you regarding any biases once my local colleague arrives.
posted by infini at 6:48 AM on November 6, 2011

The Daily Nation, where the main article came from, is a Kenyan English language paper that I tend to find better written than the Standard. It's available all over the country - even when I was a 3 day drive from Nairobi, we could get the paper a day or two later. They also publish a limited Swahili version, Taifa Leo, which is unfortunately not available online. NTV, the Kenyan television station, maintains an active youtube channel with their coverage in English and Swahili. They travel all over the place and seem to do a good job of reporting on issues covering most of the country. You may also want to check AllAfrica.com, an African news aggregator, is also a great resource for news published in English about Africa. And, of course, Al-Jazeera is doing a pretty good job covering the issues surrounding the Al-Shabaab war.

Though English is a second or third language for many rural Kenyans, anyone who has attended school (which has been free since the early 2000s), and most people who live in cities speak English. Official government business is carried out in English. News is disseminated almost entirely in English, with the exception of a few Swahili language papers.

Good find, Infini!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:21 AM on November 6, 2011

AllAfrica.com, an African news aggregator,

Yesterday I found an article which throws some doubt on this aspect, imho viz.,

By Haskell Sears Ward, Following is the text of a lecture to the UCLA Anderson Center for Global Management.

In what may well be my last address at this great university, I want to thank the citizens of this state for having played such an important role in my intellectual development. UCLA occupies a special place in my life for opening up as it did the realization of optimism and hope which could only be dreams in my life in my hometown, Griffin, Georgia.

I want to dedicate my address to four individuals, all friends of mine who have dedicated their lives to furthering American knowledge of Africa and the continent’s strategic significance to our interests: The first one is actually two: Tami Hultman and Reed Kramer; founders of allafrica.com, along with their African colleague Amadou Mahtar Ba. More than any two other Americans in my lifetime, Reed and Tami have dedicated their lives to lifting our veil of ignorance of this vast continent. The second one is our Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Johnnie Carson, who like me was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa in the mid- sixties. Among African leaders, Johnnie Carson is this country’s most highly respected policy maker on African Affairs; he also happens to be the most Africa experienced person to ever hold that position; the third is Steve Hayes, who more than any other American, has sought to alert our country to Africa’s strategic significance to our own business and economic interests. And, finally, my late good friend Jim Coleman, whose vision and leadership created here at UCLA this country’s most important center of learning about Africa.

posted by infini at 7:36 AM on November 6, 2011

Apparently a few weeks ago al Qaida and al Shabaab began running their own aid camp (NYTimes link) in an area in Somalia where they had been keeping out Western famine aid groups.

A few days ago they closed the camp and sent the refugees back telling them they'd send food aid directly to the villages (Guardian video report). Leaves me wondering to which extent was it an attempt to establish support from the locals and to which extent was it just an outward propaganda operation.
posted by Anything at 7:43 AM on November 6, 2011

I meant in the sense that it aggregates news from across Africa, not that it is necessarily run by Africans.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:46 AM on November 6, 2011

As a reminder, here's a depressing, excellent, comment from the famine thread about a struggling Somali refugee who's had to endure harassment from al Shabaab even while trying to live in Kenya. I wonder how badly their harassment of non-fanatics persists, and has it even gotten worse. If the attitudes towards Somalis in general among many native Kenyans are also getting bad, that must be a horrible tight spot.
posted by Anything at 8:17 AM on November 6, 2011

On the other hand I remember reading that attitudes among the Somali diaspora towards al Shabaab have unsurprisingly gotten harsher after news about them driving out famine aid. Which again may have something to do with why the abovementioned aid/propaganda operation was launched.
posted by Anything at 8:24 AM on November 6, 2011

I meant in the sense that it aggregates news from across Africa, not that it is necessarily run by Africans.

I don't want to derail or overcomment but this aspect I would like to mention on primarily because I noticed something recently for the first time that made me stop to muse whether aggregation was actually carefully crafted curation. There was an excellent Op Ed originally written for African Executive out of Kenya on the ICANN and the neutrality of the Internet (the recent Internet Governance Forum was held here late September) which was slightly concerned about the impact certain governments and their control over the whole naming of the sites thing. In AllAfrica.com it was presented as though from a Zimbabwean publication.
posted by infini at 10:24 AM on November 6, 2011

This is a really interesting read, thanks for posting. I was especially interested in this:

thnic stereotypes are not necessarily a bad thing — it is one thing to be stereotyped as liking the good life, dressing well, wearing the latest Armani suit and scent, driving the latest BMW, having a penchant for speaking the Queen’s English, or indulging in kuku porno.

What the hell is "kuku porno"? Fried chicken, apparently.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 AM on November 6, 2011

Another good source for African news is Pambazuka; not followed Kenya much myself, but I see they do cover the issue of the Somali too.
posted by Abiezer at 2:05 PM on November 6, 2011

Just heard the background to the name "kuku porno" - technically its not fried chicken but rotisserie chicken, the slang term evolved from watching slowly rotating whole naked chicken in a window
posted by infini at 1:04 AM on November 8, 2011

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