November 4, 2008

Cows for McCain

Rob writes that the lovely beast above “gets it” if Obama wins tonight – Rob’s standing outside Granny Sarah Obama’s house in Kenya and blogging LIVE(ish).

November 4, 2008

The Only McCain Supporter in Kenya

Basically, this guy gets it if Obama wins. He’s going to be the celebration feast.

November 3, 2008

Hack Attack

The press pack in Kogelo The press pack at Barack Obama’s ancestral home is growing steadily. Today there must have been a good 30 or so hacks assembled for the 11am press conference to hear Abongo Malik Obama (half brother to Barack Obama) say there would be no more press conferences. Fair enough, I suppose. […]

November 2, 2008

Change We Can Believe In

There have been a few changes recently in Kogelo, the rural homestead that the Kenyan branch of the Obama family calls home. Four years ago I made my way down a bumpy, rutted dirt track to find Granny Sarah’s little house. I was met by Said, one of her youngest sons (and a half-uncle to […]

October 24, 2008

Lunch in Kisumu

Fish and chips at Kisumu’s Imperial Hotel. With condiments So Friday saw me in Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and I’m a great believer in the Catholic/Luo tradition of taking fish for my lunch on such occasions. OK so it wasn’t exactly Superfish, or as tastable as Omdurman’s fish breakfast, but the tilapia […]

October 23, 2008

The places we live

Jonas Bendiksen publishes the latest Magnum in Motion project today. Called The places we live, the project focusses on people who live in four slums across the world; from Caracas to the large Kibera slum in Nairobi, the Dharavi slum in the suburbs of Mumbai and the Indonesian capital Jakarta. He talks about the project […]

October 20, 2008

Judge Mental

Kenyan judge accused of road rage stabbing My favourite line being “It is a self-inflicted injury. He was very drunk,” Kariuki said. “I am a judge and cannot engage in something like that.”

October 15, 2008

Urban Hunger in Nairobi’s Slums

John Kilonzo and his wife Lucia Kamene with their young daughter Esther in the miserable slum of Mathare In his tiny one-room shack in a Kenyan slum, John Kilonzo and his family are the new faces of urban poverty – squeezed by rising food prices and trapped by disease. Hunger is stalking Nairobi’s shanty towns […]

October 8, 2008

Guilt by Emigration

Ugali and cabbage. Mmmm For much of the 1980s I simply refused to smile. My country was being wrecked by Thatcherism, the pits were shut down and four million people were thrown on the scrapheap. The least I could do as I caught the bus from Royal Tunbridge Wells to my school (best A-level results […]

October 8, 2008

An Abomination

Jerome Corsi at the airport yesterday. AP Two things you don’t do in Kenya right now: Criticise Barack Obama when the country is in the midst of Obama mania; suggest Raila Odinga is an extreme socialist who rose to the position of prime minister on the back of violence conducted by radical muslims. Jerome Corsi, […]

September 8, 2008

Feeding Africa

Julius Njoroge Kinuthia and his biotech bananas The biotech debate has been rumbling along nicely in Africa recently. A couple of days ago William Ruto, Kenya’s agriculture minister, said he planned to allow the planting of genetically modified crops as the best way to improve yields. Then this morning the UK’s former chief scientist, Professor […]

September 7, 2008

The Birmingham of Kenya

The road into Thika stretched before us. The hot, noon sun made the air shimmer above the Tarmac and to one side the first Jacarandas of the season were bursting into colour. An occasional flame tree added a dash of scarlet to the dusty green acacias that lined the verge. Pineapple orchards filled the hills […]

September 5, 2008

The Vultures Start Circling

So at first glance this story in today’s Standard seemed a bit weird. Six months after post-election violence hit Kenya and when a new coalition government is still finding its feet, Kenya’s political heavy weights start jockeying for position… The post-Kibaki alliances started taking shape, on a day coalition partner ODM readied for its own […]

September 3, 2008

Kenyan Political Family Refuses Cash Shock

It was difficult to feel optimistic about Kenya’s post-crisis power-sharing deal. It seemed a classic case of jobs for the boys in a giant cabinet while the tribal and land tensions that exploded into violence had been left to fester. Although many Kenyans hailed the arrival of Raila Odinga as prime minister, many others thought […]

August 29, 2008

Obama’s Kenyan Roots

Granny Sarah and a calendar featuring her grandson as she celebrates Obama’s victory over Clinton When Barack Obama burst on to the scene four years ago at the Democratic Convention in Boston he was defined as the American Dream made real. His speech focused on his African background and the goatherd father. It is a […]

August 22, 2008

Finding George

Nairobi’s slums are filled with hundreds of thousands of people living cheek-by-jowl in tiny shacks. Each of the muddy streets looks the same and within minutes the visiting mzungu is completely disoriented. So finding Barack Obama’s half-brother George was never going to be easy. Especially as he had made a point of telling no-one but […]

August 12, 2008

Chasing Shadows

Today’s Standard splashes on mounting suspicion that someone in Kenya’s anti-terror police unit tipped off Fazul Abdulla Mohammed, a key terror suspect, just as officers were about to swoop. They arrested a family thought to be hosting Fazul in Malindi even as his dinner was cooling on the table. But there was no sign of […]

August 1, 2008

You Know You Have Been a Mzungu in Kenya Too Long When…

“Very OK” has become a standard response to a variety of questions Matatus are no longer a welcome bit of colour on the roads. They are a pain in the arse You have stopped picking out politicians who might be Kenya’s best hope You can’t remember the last time you filled your car’s petrol tank. […]

July 8, 2008

The Trouble with Kenya

After two years bedding down with rats and cockroaches in Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, Tom Cholmondeley was finally able to start his defence today. We may even have a verdict next month, although Keriako Tobiko is probably not done with his stalling tactics. Today the session was adjourned at lunch because Kenya’s director of public […]

June 23, 2008

Too Many 4x4s By Far

UN carpark in Khartoum Couldn’t resist using this picture again to highlight Sukuma Kenya’s admirable attempt to expose hypocrisy at the United Nations as it campaigns to reduce carbon emissions. Pics of UN registered gas guzzlers can be posted on a flikr page. This is an issue close to my heart. But I have to […]

June 11, 2008

A Well-Earned Break for Kenyan MPs

Missed this gem yesterday in The Nation. Parliament resumes this afternoon to prepare for the Budget to be read on Thursday. The House took a break three weeks ago after it became apparent that it did not have business to transact. These, you remember, are some of the world’s most highly paid MPs. And I […]

June 5, 2008

You Couldn’t Make it Up

The Queen’s Birthday Party went off well last night, according to my sources with diplomatic plates. The usual embassy folks, hacks and politicians crammed into the garden of the British High Commissioner’s residence for mini fish and chips washed down with Boddingtons. It’s the social event of the year for Nairobi’s British contingent. (I had […]

June 4, 2008

Dreams from Kogelo

Granny Sarah and a calendar featuring her grandson as she celebrates Obama’s victory over Clinton Must confess to one of those moments when I lose my cynicism and suddenly find myself going a bit misty eyed. Have done my best in the past to try to debunk the Obama myth by pointing out his family […]

June 3, 2008

Let Them Drink Coke – Cash or Food for the Hungry?

The Coke truck arrived just in time. After a long day in the sun watching an aid distribution I was in need of a cold lukewarm drink. But wait, these people in Kenya’s Kerio Valley were hungry. Many had not had a proper meal in weeks yet vendors seemed to come and go with chapatis, […]

May 30, 2008

The case of Trent Keegan

Freelance photographer Trent Keegan was murdered on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. His body was found in a ditch on Wednesday, 28 May. I’m not going to say much more about this at the moment, but I’d like to point you Nairobi-based, Frontline blogger, Rob Crilly who knew Trent and is following the case. As […]

May 30, 2008

Trent Keegan

The Committee to Protect Journalists has taken up the case of Trent Keegan who was found dead in Nairobi on Wednesday morning. “This is a devastating loss for those who knew Trent Keegan, a photographer who worked to document people in need of a voice around the world,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. […]

May 28, 2008

Photographer Killed

Police here in Nairobi think they have found the body of freelance photographer Trent Keegan. They have still to do a formal identification. He called me yesterday, saying he’d just arrived in town and did I want to team up on some features? It looks like he may have been killed by a hit and […]

May 26, 2008

Operation Return Home Unless You Want to be Beaten

A few weeks back the Irish Foreign Minister visited the displaced people in Kenya. He was introduced to the crowds at Kitale’s stadium by the District Commissioner. It was a flying visit, but it wasn’t difficult to pick up the fear among people in the camps: No-one wanted to go home until security was improved, […]

April 30, 2008

One Mean Diplomatic Mofo

Move aside you gangsta rappers The matatus of Nairobi are decorated in many and various ways. By far the most spectacular are those with murals of popular figures on the back. Footballers – particularly Stephen Gerrard – and gangsta rappers seem to dominate. Now there’s a new face in town following Kofi Annan’s success in […]

April 28, 2008

Leaving Nairobi

MGQ. A complex grouping of consonants represents Mogadishu in its airport 3-letter code. Mogadoxo to the Portuguese, Hamar to the Somalis, the city represents so much of the dashed dreams of the 1990s. Ticket in hand, I’m a little apprehensive about a place that exists more in rumour and myth than in reality. Journalist colleagues […]