Tag Archives: Somalia

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

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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

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.

Somalis in Kenya face mistrust

 

A Nairobi police officer speaks with a Somali woman in Eastleigh during a crackdown on immigrants in the spring of 2014, following attacks in Kenya by the Somalia-based Al Shabab terror group. Jason Patinkin

One side effect of Kenya’s new war against the Somalia-based terror of Al Shabab is the new level of aggressive behavior against ethnic Somalis who are Kenyan citizens.

Somali-Kenyans make up a minority of 2.3 million people, or 6 percent of the Kenyan population, and they can boast that the current foreign minister and chief speaker of Kenya’s parliament are Somali.

Yet the group is also the target of rising fear and bias. Somalis have been pulled off buses, subjected to police checks, and crudely depicted in Kenyan news media in ways that hark back to ugly practices in the 1980s. Since April in its war on Al Shabab, Kenyan police have rounded up thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees from Somalia. But they’ve detained hundreds of Somali-Kenyans, too, despite claims that they don’t engage in ethnic profiling.  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…

Assassination of cleric ‘Makaburi’ puts Kenya on edge

'Living on borrowed time,' Muslim leader in Kenya told AP months before he was shot dead

In this Tuesday Oct. 29, 2013 file photo, Abubakar Shariff Ahmedsits in his office in Mombasa, Kenya. AP Photo/Jason Straziuso, File

Nairobi, KenyaKenya’s most prominent radical Muslim was gunned down Tuesday night near the coastal city of Mombasa amid escalating violence between government security forces and Muslim youths – raising fears of retaliation and further tension.

Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, an avowed jihadist known popularly as Makaburi, which means graveyard in Swahili, was shot dead at 6:30 p.m. outside a prison where he reported for a scheduled court appearance. Mr. Ahmed is the sixth and highest-profile Muslim cleric to be killed in suspicious circumstances on Kenya’s coast in the past few years. He was under sanctions from the UN Security Council that included a travel ban and an asset freeze for allegedly supporting terrorism.

The killing of Ahmed comes as the government has moved to curb or even preempt terrorism through round-ups and crackdowns. It adds to what seems a circular or “tit-for-tat” reaction in recent weeks between security forces and Muslims and ethnic Somalis.   Read more…