Tag Archives: Kenya

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…

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Kenya conundrum: Kick out Maasai herders to develop geothermal energy?

Maasai sheep graze in front of geothermal wells at Olkaria, Africa’s largest geothermal complex, near Naivasha, Kenya. Photo by Jason Patinkin.

Sitting by his dung hut at sunrise, Daudi Maisiodo, a Maasai herdsman, praises Mt. Suswa, a smoldering volcano on Kenya’s Great Rift Valley where he lives.

“It’s the best land,” Mr. Maisiodo says of the mountain slopes. “There’s firewood. There’s plains with enough space for pasture. You can grow maize….There’s red and white ochre … for rituals.”

The mountain is rich in another way as well. Hot springs and fumaroles, the cracks in the earth’s crust that belch steam, indicate that magma-heated rocks are only a mile below, close enough to be tapped for lucrative geothermal energy.

Suswa holds part of Kenya’s vast undeveloped reserves of geothermal energy, which the government wants to exploit in order to help propel the East African nation to industrialized, middle income status.

Already, Kenya is Africa’s largest producer of geothermal and the ninth-largest worldwide. But the 424 megawatts currently generated represent less than 1/20th of the energy locked beneath a string of volcanic fields in the Rift Valley. Suswa alone has an estimated 600 untapped megawatts.

Realizing Kenya’s geothermal potential would cut energy costs and power economic expansion. But it could come at a high price: displacing thousands of indigenous Maasai people who, after a century of losing land rights, are upset at being moved again.

“We don’t like it,” says Maisiodo of the budding geothermal exploration at Suswa. “We fear many people will come and take our land.” Read more…

East Africa’s elegant antelope on the verge of bowing out

 

Antelope conservationist Abdullahi Ali, left, and an assistant, track radio collared hirola using a radio receiver at sunset near Masalani, Ijara District in northeastern Kenya. Jason Patinkin

Africa’s most endangered large mammal species isn’t the majestic mountain gorilla or the stately black rhino.

It’s the hirola, pronounced “hee-ROH-la,” a tawny brown antelope with spiraled, curved horns and a long, skinny snout whose facial markings make it look like it wears eyeglasses.

With just over 400 individual creatures living in a small section of northeastern Kenya, the hirola is not only more threatened than Africa’s most famous species, it is also the world’s most endangered antelope species.

But outside the narrow strip of sandy, thorny wilderness along Kenya’s volatile border with Somalia, few know the hirola exist at all – or of the need to conserve them.  Read more…

Welcome to Little Mogadishu

A Somalia refugee named Mohamed drinks tea outside an Eastleigh cafe at dusk. Jason Patinkin

Nicknamed ‘Little Mogadishu,’ Eastleigh is a refugee haven for Somalis, Ethiopians, and some dozen other African nationalities. In recent years it has also become a unique import-export commercial hub, one now in jeopardy as Kenya conducts crackdowns and deportations on foreigners to root-out tackle suspected Al Shabab radicals.

Picture slideshow.

How Kenya’s ‘war on terror’ is disrupting a thriving Nairobi district.

Somalis in Kenya face mistrust.

Kenya’s president: massacres aren’t Al Shabab but political opponents

President Uhuru Kenyatta today told surprised Kenyans that the grisly murders of 60 people in recent days – some while watching the World Cup – were not carried out by the terror group Al Shabab, but by local “networks” organized by his political opponents.

Al Shabab claimed credit for a massacre on Sunday of 49 people in the coastal town of Mpeketoni, and for killing at least 10 people on Monday in a small town nearby. Those incidents, in an area hit recently by Al Shabab, bore the hallmarks of the Somalia-based, self-described Islamist group, with masked attackers shouting “Alahu Akbar” and executing civilians who failed to recite Koranic verses.

Yet Mr. Kenyatta, in a televised address, blamed “reckless leaders” for inciting violence against a specific ethnic group, the Kikuyu, who are reportedly the victims of the coastal attacks.  Read more…

The Mob Justice of Kenya’s Somali Stop-and-Frisk

Police check IDs of ethnic Somalis in Eastleigh.  Photo by Jason Patinkin

Eastleigh, a bustling business district in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, is home to thousands of ethnic Somalis—both Kenyan citizens as well as refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia. Every time I visit Eastleigh, I want to come back for the colorful street scene, the outdoor cafes, the late night shisha bars, and heaping plates of rice and camel meat. But ever since Kenya invaded Somalia in 2011 to fight Al Shabaab militants, Eastleigh has become synonymous with terror.  Read more…

Boston Marathon: five runners and why they’ll be at the starting line

‘I know there is a strong team this time around. But even last time it was strong. I trust myself. I trust my training.’ – Sharon Cherop (Brian Snyder/Reuters/File)

Sharon Cherop is part of the so-called elite field for the Boston Marathon. These runners, who will vie for the championship medals, hail from a dozen countries and numbered 46 as of March 3. Ms. Cherop, a Kenyan, won the women’s race in 2012.

Last year in Boston, she placed third. In fact, she crossed the finish line so far ahead of the bombings that she was already back at her hotel and in the shower when she found out what happened. “I heard something on the TV outside of the bathroom,” she says. “People were crying outside, and then we realized it was a bomb blast.”  Read more…