In S. Sudan, churches struggle to keep role as trusted peacemakers

Wearing an immaculate white cassock, Catholic Bishop Paride Taban strides through the mud and tents of the Jebel displaced persons camp in South Sudan’s capital Juba on a recent Sunday.

The camp is hardly sacred ground: thousands of ethnic Nuer live here under United Nations peacekeeper protection in fear of Dinka soldiers outside. But Bishop Taban is here to conduct mass anyway.

“The church is to be with the suffering people, wherever in the world,” the 78-year-old bishop says. Read more…

Photo: Catholic Archbishop Bishop Paride Taban leads mass on November 9 in an airplane hangar at the UN’s Jebel displaced person’s camp outside Juba where thousands of ethnic Nuer have taken shelter from the war. By Jason Patinkin

As S. Sudan’s rainy season ends, more aid for the displaced – but more fighting

For the past six months, South Sudan’s rainy season brought misery to the nearly 2 million civilians displaced by the 10-month civil war. In crowded United Nations camps, tens of thousands lived ankle-deep in latrine overflow; and for those in the countryside, survival meant eating water lilies and drinking from rivers as the land transformed into marshy islands.

The rains are petering out, and should cease this month. But the change in weather hardly means respite: The end of the wet season means the start of the fighting season. Read more…

Photo: A rebel soldier patrols through a flooded area near the town of Bentiu, South Sudan on Sept. 20, 2014. Matthew Abbot/AP

In Kenya, islanders on heritage site count cost of $25 billion mega-project

Lamu Island on Kenya’s northeast coast was established some 700 years ago as part of a thriving Indian Ocean trade network that eventually stretched to Oman, India, Portugal, and China.

The mixing of those cultures produced the Swahili people and language, as well as an Islamic renaissance of architecture, poetry, and cuisine.

Lamu is regarded as the best preserved Swahili settlement in existence. The history, the remote white beaches, the carved wooden doorways, and the winding alleys, all make it a top Kenya tourist destination.

But change is coming – more drastic than any in Lamu’s history – that could irreversibly transform this ancient place. Read more…

Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

Could Burkina Faso protests signal end of president’s 27-year rule?

A week of escalating protests in Burkina Faso exploded into violence Thursday as tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets against an attempt by longstanding President Blaise Campaore to extend his 27-year rule.

Demonstrators in the capital Ouagadougou broke through lines of police, who used tear gas, to storm and torch the parliament building. The protesters took to the streets to protest a vote – now cancelled – that would have changed the constitution to allow President Compaore to run for an unprecedented fifth term.

“We have tired of this president. We want a new system,” says Ives Ouedraogo, who is 27-years-old and unemployed, speaking to The Christian Science Monitor by telephone from Ouagadougou. “I know just one president in my life. He needs to let another person.” Read more…

Soldiers attempt to stop anti-government protesters from entering the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014. Joe Penny/Reuters

Kenya’s President Kenyatta is summoned to world criminal court: Will he go?

Photo: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York September 24, 2014. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A summons by the International Criminal Court to Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta is forcing a standoff between the symbol of international justice – and the prerogatives of a sitting president whose decision on compliance could damage his country’s foreign relations. Read more…

Lamu after dark

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It was near nine o’clock in Shela, the sleepy village on the northeast beach of Lamu Island, when we ran out of soda for our brandies. Continue reading Lamu after dark

Why to visit Lamu ASAP. It’s as cheap as it will ever be.

View image on Twitter

My buddy Ian Cox made this storify using some tweets of mine about why you should  visit Lamu. His words:

My friend Jason visited Lamu Island on the nothern Kenyan coast for work and tweeted these photos. I won’t bother to explain the charms of Lamu as it’s all over Google. Right now the tourism industry is suffering and a huge number of the residents have been laid off from work. Why is it so? Read more…

Journalist, East Africa

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