30 July 2009

Baseball

Although I cannot watch any games from here, I try to keep up with my Yankees.  Fortunately, today’s news has given me reason to be happy to not be watching.  As the decade comes to a close, we keep finding out about more players who took performance enhancing drugs.  Newest addition: David Ortiz.  I will take the chance to say I told you so, but that is not important.  With another player who was thought to have been too honest to cheat caught, this era of baseball could not come to an end faster.  Thankfully a new decade begins soon and these past ten to fifteen years can become baseballs lost generation.

Report: Manny, Ortiz tested positive

ESPN.com news services
Jul 30, 2009

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were among the 104 major league players listed as having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, lawyers with knowledge of the results told The New York Times.
The two were key members of the Boston Red Sox World Series championship teams in 2004 and 2007.
Ortiz declined comment to The Times.

I Was Wrong

And I wish I was right.  The cabinet made a decision today…wait for it…to have a truth and justice reconciliation commission.  “That sounds familiar,” you say.  Well that is because one was formed last week.  No, there will not be two separate ones, that would be wasteful.  No, there will be no local tribunal or handing over to the ICC.  A commission will sort out all of the problems to help heal the nation of Kenya.  I will let Kibaki speak for himself:

“[The] cabinet was concerned that while it will not stand for impunity in the pursuit of justice, the country should equally pursue national healing and reconciliation. This does not in any way reduce its desire to punish impunity,”

There you go.  The leaders likely guilty of encouraging the post-election violence will go without having to stand trial.  I will go as far as to say that the commission will not even include them as part of those involved.  I am disappointed by the decision.  With an opportunity to earn the trust of its people, the Kenyan government has failed every step of the way.

Prediction

The meeting today to establish a bill for a local tribunal will fail.  The same bill that failed in the past two cabinet meetings will be presented for a third time.  With most of the ODM strongly against a local tribunal with mostly Kenyan justices and an immune presidency will not be happy, again.  On many parts, I have to side with the ODM side.  All Kenyans must be tried equally and nobody can be above the violence that took place last year.

With so much at stake, I cannot see a way that the cabinet can agree on an unchanged bill.  With no revisions, the ODM will remain united against the bill and prevent its presentation to parliament.

29 July 2009

Take 5 Minutes

And sign up for Twitter (or log on if you already have an account). 

Hi Friends,
I'm trying to demonstrate the potential of social media fundraising to the non profit I work for in the Boston area, Earthwatch. We've been lucky enough to snag a challenge grant from a renewable energy company, First Wind: if we can get 350 followers to our climate change Twitter account by August 13th, they'll grant a total of $8,000 to the climate change research we do and to fund a tree-planting project in Boston.
So, if you're a Twitter user--or even if you'd be willing to set up a free Twitter account just for this purpose--please take two minutes and go to www.twitter.com/tweettheheat and become a follower--then pass the word through your networks. If we blow that 350 out of the water--the sooner the better--we can go back to the funder, and others, for MUCH more next time.

Earthwatch does some great work and it is so easy to help fund a non-profit.  Give five minutes and help raise some money for the environment!

GO HERE AND FOLLOW:

http://twitter.com/tweettheheat

28 July 2009

-ings

Sr. Phyllis was kind enough to stop by at the SJC this morning.  She was on her way back from visiting the orphanage in Kakamega where Katie works and one of the postulants volunteers.  What was intended as a drive-by visit turned into a day long discussion.  Sue and I chatted about nearly everything with Sr. Phyllis as we all shared our thoughts concerning what it is like to live in Malava.  The majority of the time was focused on ways that we have worked to become a part of the greater-Malava community.  By the end, I was left thinking of the things that I have found to be successful in incorporating myself into Malava.

I have said before that my ability to assimilate will always be impossible to achieve in a full sense, but I can do many things to get as close as I can.  So, I will let a list do the work, with explanations and evaluations.  This reflects the efforts I have made thus far and I hope to act as a tool for future volunteers.

Before I begin, I have to do a bit of explaining.  The most important thing I have learned when it comes to this is that an outsider must work relentlessly to gain acceptance.  It comes easier for men than it does for women, but people are not going to go out of their way to accommodate anyone.  To make friends, you have to seek them out.  For people to recognize you and know your name, you have to make sure that they know who you are.  Because there is so much involved, it is hard to ever entirely explain.  I will do my best with the list that follows:

  1. Learn Swahili – Michael and I have been taking lessons since February.  It makes a huge difference when you simply greet adults in Swahili.  Children love hearing English, but adults are happy when Swahili is used.  This is the case because it shows that an effort is put forth to learn about the people and the town within.  This has included learning some of the Kabras slang and greetings.  Greetings are fine, but starting to know sentences and say them in Swahili has been transformative.  I still have a long way to go with my understanding, but it has made my life easier.  My name is less Mzungu in town and more known to be Tom ever since I began my lessons.  A good example would be that the other day a man was pushing his bike with canisters up a hill.  He asked a person passing for help to push it up and she ignored his request.  Understanding what he was saying, I helped push the bike up the hill.  He was thankful, but more importantly, the next day he saw me and knew that he could approach me having some knowledge of his language.  Using a language that is not your own can be intimidating.  To force people to use English can make them uncomfortable, using Swahili has acted as a way to relax such tension.
  2. Attend Soccer Matches – There are a good number of men who know me as the Chelsea fan.  Before, they never said a word to me.  Now, they ask me about my team, my thoughts on a match, and why I do not support their beloved Man U.  When I watch the matches, they give me a hard time for being a fan of the opposition.  The first time, I was just stared at.  Now, I am a part of the many soccer conversations that take place during the match.
  3. Take the time to talk to someone who stops you – often we will be stopped as we walk by anyone from a beggar to a drunk.  Some want something from us and others will want to talk about America.  We are sometimes thanked for being here.  The point is, that it is hard to tell what conversation will take place.  Like anyone, it is appreciated when someone takes the time to speak with you.  By taking the time to listen to a drunk ramble about Kibaki, you display the truest form of compassion.  It is easy to blow someone off and sometimes it has to be done.  However, since I have taken the time to listen, more people have approached me and have wanted nothing outside of a chance to talk.  It becomes easy to slip into a mentality that everyone wants money or food, but that is the minority.  The majority, by a large share, are just interested in learning from us.  It has been such occasions where I have learned the most in return.
  4. Frequent the same shops – I now have a set of places where I know I can get whatever I want.  There are other places in town that sell soda, but I go to the Baraka Store.  Because of that, I have begun to know the store owner, Moses, and his wife Elizabeth.  We chat about various things whenever I go.  Doing this has not only helped us save money, but it has given us resources within town that can help us when we are in need.  Most of all, it is another chance to have time to speak with another person and learn about him or her.
  5. Greet the Children – Most of all, they love it.  They light up when we say hello and shake their hands.  It also, gives us a way to build relationships with their parents.  I have run into numerous parents who have stopped to talk with me because his or her son or daughter was over the weekend before to watch a movie.  As we have made friends with kids, we have learned about the places where their parents work.  We learned of where to get good mandazi through the children of the owner.  The added benefit is that because we are nice to their children, they are far more welcoming to us.
  6. Buddy up with the Matatu Men – There are men, mostly drunks, who help people onto matatus.  They are important when you want to get onto a matatu and get a fair fare and good seat.  Also, they are the ones who are able to answer any question.  They have strange wisdom and also can just be plain fun to be around.  Most of all, they can act in your behalf when being harassed by matatu conductors or anyone else.  In fact, Michael and I are all set to go to eat dinner with one of them on Saturday.
  7. Take Chai – It is a national obsession.  There is tea time every day before lunch.  For me, it is my lunch.  However, it is vital to take tea.  As a guest, be prepared to eat and drink something.  Kenyans love their tea and the sweeter the better.  It is also the time when you can have an opportunity to talk with whomever you are sitting with.  When it is tea time, work stops.  There is not a better time to converse than tea time.
  8. Eat with your Hands – It is how most do it and what, as Joy says, “makes the food taste better.”  There can be a disconnect when bucking such practices.  It does not mean that people will stare if you eat with a fork, but it is better to leave it on the table.  It is a minor thing to worry about, but one part that can help.

That’s all I have for now.  Maybe I will add some later as they make their way into my head.  Goodnight.

27 July 2009

Cause I’m Digging It

The internet can be a wonderful thing when it comes to finding reading material that is no longer copyrighted.  Case and point, Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry.  I have read very little of his work, but I continue to enjoy everything that I find.  Here is something I read today and has stuck with me since first read.  There is no real significance.  I plain like it and feel in a sharing mood.  Oh, and he wrote this when he was 16.

Sensation

On the blue summer evenings, I shall go down the paths,
Getting pricked by the corn, crushing the short grass:
In a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet.
I shall let the wind bathe my bare head.

I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing:
But endless love will mount in my soul;
And I shall travel far, very far, like a gipsy,
Through the countryside - as happy as if I were with a woman.

Arthur Rimbaud
March 1870.

There is not much to say in terms of the past few weeks.  Work has gone by at its usual pace.  I am past my cold and feeling full strength.  The American volunteers have arrived at Tumaini.  They will be here for the week and have been kind enough to invite Michael and I over for dinner tomorrow night.  I met a couple of them briefly in town.  It is strange to see fellow Americans wandering Malava.  I was in shock that I was holding conversation with a group of people and I did not have to make sure that I was not speaking too quickly.

As July comes to an end, there is much to come over the next month or so.  I will be going to a wedding, birthday party, Harambe, to Nairobi, on retreat and on vacation with my family.  So do not worry.  I will have much more interesting posts coming up.

Three

Third meeting of the cabinet will be held this week in Nairobi.  It is the goal to agree on how to deal with the tribunal/Hague debate.  There is hope that resolution will be found.  I am pessimistic today and betting against.  We will see how it works out by Thursday evening.

Updated Travel Warning for Kenya

Just came by in the old email inbox.  Thought I would share.

July 24, 2009
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya.  American citizens in Kenya and those considering travel to Kenya should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime.  This replaces the Travel Warning of November 14th, 2008, to note increased security concerns in northeast Kenya near the Somali and Ethiopian borders.
The U.S. Government continues to receive indications of potential terrorist threats aimed at American, Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya.  Terrorist acts could include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation as evidenced by the 2002 attacks on an Israeli airliner, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports.  Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.  Many of those responsible for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in 1998 and on a hotel in Mombasa in 2002 remain at large and continue to operate in the region. 
In July 2009, three NGO workers were kidnapped and taken into Somalia by suspected members of a terrorist group that operates out of Somalia.  In November 2008, armed groups based in Somalia crossed into Kenya near the town of El Wak and kidnapped two Westerners.  The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has designated a small portion of Kenya bordering Somalia and Ethiopia as “restricted without prior authorization” for purposes of travel by U.S. Government employees, contractors, grantees and their dependents.  This designation is based on reports of Somali-based armed groups that have on occasion crossed into Kenya to stage attacks or to commit crimes.  This restriction does not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. Government, but should be taken into account when planning travel.  The restriction is in effect for the following areas:
·       All of Mandera District.
·       The entire area north and east of the town of Wajir, including travel on Highway C80 and areas east of C80 and an 80-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border.  Travel to and within the towns of Wajir and Moyale remains unrestricted.
·       Within Garissa District, an 80-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border.  Travel to and within the town of Dadaab remains unrestricted.
·       Within Ijara District, an 80-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border; Boni National Reserve.
·       Within Lamu District, a 60-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border. Travel to and within the limits of towns within/contiguous to the Kiunga Marine Reserve remains unrestricted.
Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings and home invasions/burglaries, can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi.  As recently as June 2008, U.S. Embassy personnel were victims of carjackings.  In the short-term, the continued displacement of thousands of people by the recent civil unrest combined with endemic poverty and the availability of weapons could result in an increase in crime, both petty and violent.  Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such acts or prosecute perpetrators.
American citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as clubs, hotels, resorts, upscale shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship.  Americans should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events, and should avoid demonstrations and large crowds.

26 July 2009

Kibera The Terrible!

(tongue firmly planted into cheek)

For some reason, the Kansas City Star tends to have a higher frequency of Kenya related articles than any other American news source.  I do not really count Reuter and the AP because they provide small reports that do little more than make it easier to read more in a short amount of time.  However, for more in depth news, the Kansas City Star seems to have a thing for Kenya.  To a certain extent it is a good thing.

An Op-Ed from yesterday’s KC Star is an example of how it can be a bad thing.  The author of the article traveled from Kansas City to Nairobi to write an article about Kibera that could have been written from home.  There is a part of me that hopes that the money was saved on taking such a useless trip and she is lying about going to all the way to Nairobi. 

The article, at its best points, is a neat tourist’s trip to the largest slum in Africa.  I opened the article, wasting valuable money on the megabyte to download it, hoping to learn something new about Kibera.  I did learn something, the reporters were given boots to wade through the streets of mud/human waste mixture.  So, to start the article, the ‘journalist’ admits to needing a form of protection against the unsterile slum.

She then talks about how poor the slum is, mentioning the ‘flying toilets’ and aid workers within the slum.  She touches on the fact that the slum is getting worse, but does not seem to mention that it has grown worse as aid has increased.  Her blame resides within the Kenyan government.  Not even close to perfect, the government has done a terrible job with the slum.  NGO’s responded and have flooded Kibera.  It has gotten worse.

So yes, there is a lot of fault with the government, but what about the useless NGO’s?  More people continue to move to Kibera despite it being such a terrible place.  It is irresponsible to travel to Kenya and produce such a waste of an article.  Again, this is an example of catering to the expectations of the readers.  She does no real investigative work.

There is a nice example of the work of one aid worker who checks on the health of slum dwellers.  She has access because respondents will get free healthcare access.  It is mentioned that the people have answers prepared, an opportunity to talk about a real issue!  However it is passed over and the article continues.

I hope that Ms. Pepper is still in Nairobi and will return to Kibera to determine the impact of such actions.  Is it helpful for people to give canned answers?  How does it impact the effectiveness of health work within the slum?  Are the NGO’s native staffed?  Do they improve the slum by teaching people how to treat and recognize disease? how to stay clean?  There are too many more questions to post here, but can she try to work towards answering one?

25 July 2009

Obama on my Mind

So, I went down to Kisumu for the day to do a bit of shopping.  Katie and Sue were already there for a weekend by the lake and Mike stayed home.  I took the two hour trip, in each direction, to pick up a few things from Nakumatt for myself, David and Angela.  Most of all, it was a nice chance to get out for a day.  I have come to love matatu rides.  Having traveled between here and Kakamega too many times to count, I still find myself fixated on the surrounding hills.  The trip past Kakamega down into Kisumu is equally rewarding.  Descending to the lake is enjoyed best from the front of the matatu.

To finish for the day (I think), I wanted to make not of the insane ‘birther’ debate that is going on.  The NYT has an article about it today, and it has taken over my ‘Kenya’ section in Google News.  Because it is annoying for taking up article space and for wasting print in a newspaper, I will throw in my two cents.

In short, for those unfamiliar, some people are accusing Obama of being a Kenyan citizen.  Their argument is based on his inability to produce a hard copy of his birth certificate and an interview with his Grandmother where she says he was born in Mombasa.  The birth certificate issue came up in the fall, before he was elected, and Obama posted a copy on his campaign website.  It was found to be acceptable by numerous non-partisan groups (including the great factcheck.org).

With that the issue effectively died.  Sadly, the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world did not allow it to pass and have been harping on it for some time.  This was amplified with a bill that was introduced requiring a birth certificate when running for office.  (I will not waste time worrying about a bill that will not pass.  I am sure it can be found through a simple Google search.) 

The grandmother, was interviewed through a translator and corrected herself immediately upon making her statement.  Yes, it is a bit shady, but speaking to an elderly lady through a translator does not provide any sort of smoking gun.  She was provided a leading question that was entirely unfair and produced the response that the ‘birthers’ hoped.

The story continues and mainstream press begins to waste time on the issue.  What is startling is the fact that some are so bothered by an Obama presidency that they are working to prove that he is illegitimate due to birth.  In addition to more than ample evidence, the nation looking for a leader has made no attempt to claim Obama. 

Obama-mania remains in Kisumu and throughout Kenya.  I still get Obama calls wherever I go.  Being so enamored by Obama, wouldn’t Kenyans be pushing to prove him a Kenyan if they thought there was a chance.  American press makes its way here and there has not been a word.  As far as people here are concerned, Obama is an American with a Kenyan heritage.  His father links him back to the Luo people of Lake Victoria and Kisumu.  That is is connection to Kenya.

Obama is not all of a sudden cleared on this alone, but I strongly believe that this would be a major issue here.  Kenya is now fighting with Uganda over a 1 acre island in Lake Victoria.  It houses shacks for fishermen and prostitutes.  The benefit is for fishing, but it is not an essential holding.  Delegations from both countries have argued.  Uganda has placed and removed police with a flag to boot.  If they are willing to fight over one acre, they would go much further for a trustworthy leader.

Because I Can

I enjoy Mill Mahar and his show on HBO.  It is a chance to hear someone with a little sense duke it out with celebrities and notable thinkers.  I do not agree with everything he has to say, but his article on Huffington Post him at his best.  He has fun while telling the truth.

*Warning*  I know for a fact that some will not be happy with his article, so use the comment section to voice your opinion.  That is why it is there.  And while we are at it.  Universal Healthcare – discuss…

A Little About Kiplagat (From Saturday Nation)

http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/-/1192/629462/-/view/interactive/-/xti6d1z/-/index.html

Obama Gets it Wrong

Reading about Obama calling out California for not including student test scores in teacher evaluation is disappointing.  For some reason, he has picked up on the Bush mistakes of using test scores to evaluate students, teachers and schools.  What remains neglected is the fact that the testing remains unfair.  Children in lower income homes do worse across the board on standardized tests.  There is a reason why some colleges are dropping SAT’s from required application materials.

As long as performance is based upon a single test, education will remain in a rut.  Here, a single test means everything.  Students get two tests.  If they do not perform well on the first, the second does not become possible.  With strict testing, Kenya flounders in its educational growth because a minority of students end up in Secondary schools.  The United States has moved past this issue by making it easier to attain a High School diploma.  However, testing still matters and it still harms the students. 

Speaking with very little experience, I have seen how a test can cause a student to shut down.  I have seen how a number two pencil can fill away ovals twice as fast as a girl can read.  I have seen how little students can care about grades.  I have seen how the cycle of poor education can have a stronger impact than poverty.  We are in need of radical changes in American schools.  That does not seem to be on the horizon as long as the federal government continues to hold out money for those who are willing to compromise.  A failed carrot and stick system in international relations does not all of a sudden work domestically.  Individuals cannot be treated like countries.

23 July 2009

New Jersey Pride

Because it is too hard not to comment.  Giving Illinois a run for its money for most corrupt state.  It seems as if we had some politicians and religious leaders arrested.  The New York Times and Reuters were kind enough to write a little about it.  Living amongst constant scandal and graft, it was funny to come across these two articles.  Maybe ironic would be more appropriate.  On the bright side, those are accused were arrested.  Here, someone with any sort of political pull that has done something wrong can keep his or her job.

Although not entirely the same, I would say that the main difference between the US and Kenya is the fact that people do eventually get caught.  We have forced out a president.  Here, people know that a wrong has taken place yet nothing is done.  The discussions concerning the tribunal and Hague highlight this issue.  Misdeeds that go unpunished will continue to occur.

Anyways, back to the less serious part.  Enjoy the articles and a few laughs at the expense of the finest state (just forget our politicians) in the union.

Difference of Opinion

Reuters has a story quoting PM Ralia Odinga saying, "There is no stalemate in the cabinet on the issue of post-election violence. There were no disagreements. It is a matter of extensive and intensive consultations, and I am sure the cabinet will reach an agreement."  While they briefly mention that some have accused the cabinet of disharmony due to its slow pace, it does not recognize the fact that Ralia is a talker.  After being here for a few months, and reading the paper daily, I have concluded that Ralia likes to have his words in the news.  Regardless of what he is saying, he likes to be quoted.  After every meeting or event, he has something to say.  The Kenyan press seems to feed into it by printing the quotes.

Either way, he always says one of two things.  First being that Kenya is in terrible shape and the coalition is falling apart.  Second, Kenya is fine and the coalition is together on whatever the issue may be.  Since he flip-flops more often than John McCain and John Kerry combined, it is impossible to take anything he says seriously.  The cabinet has had two full sessions to come up with a plan to present to parliament and have yielded nothing.  A poorly crafted bill was presented and rejected in March.  This time the body is being more deliberate, but seemingly finding little to agree on.  With issues such as presidential immunity and a foreign majority making up the tribunal’s justices on the table, it is safe to say that the ODM and PNU have strongly differing opinions on the most significant issues.

22 July 2009

Breaking News

A minority in Kenya will be pleased by Kibaki’s announcement today that a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation commission will be formed.  Former ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat will head the group which will investigate much of what has taken place internally over the period of Kenya’s independence.  Some MP’s had called for this as an alternative to the local tribunal/Hague debate.  I have tried a bit to learn more about Kiplagat and found little.  I am sure that more will come out after the announcement.

Personally, I am in support of the commission to run along with the local tribunal and the Hague.  For high level officials, it is nearly impossible for there to be a fair trial in country.  If Kibaki or Ralia appear on the Waki list, they must be tried by an impartial body.  As for individuals lower down, a local tribunal with complete transparency can act to try those accused.  The commission will give an outside and independent opinion of the tribunal.  It will seek to find the ways that the violence began and was stoked.  I support a thorough look into the events leading up to the election of 2007 and after to determine what happened.  Amongst the investigation, there has to be time given to the accusation of vote rigging.  If it is found that the votes were rigged for Kibaki, then the violence must be seen through this as a legitimate cause for unrest.  That does not excuse violent action.  All who took part in attacking any group should be tried and convicted.  However, if the election was stolen, those at the top of the PNU must also bear the responsibility of inciting the violent acts which led to the death of over 1,300 Kenyans.

Funny and Sad (but more funny)

Woman demands Sh70,000 for two weeks sex

Updated 18 hr(s) 32 min(s) ago

By Maureen Mudi

A woman who claims she rendered sexual services to a tourist for two weeks is demanding Sh70,000 from him.  Ms Belinda Obonyo filed an application under a certificate of urgency in a Mombasa court, yesterday.  She also wants the German tourist to pay Sh200,000 as security for her claims and costs of the suit.

She told Senior Resident Magistrate Michael Ondieki the defendant, Paulus Heinz, 69, arrived in Kenya on June 17 with his daughter.  "I met them after prior arrangements and took them to Clarina apartments in Shanzu where they were booked," she told the court.  She also claimed the tourist is about to leave the country on a tourist visa, hence the urgency.

Obonyo said she agreed to offer the "defendant and his daughter" sexual services, wash their clothes, clean the house and cook for them.  "I was also to keep them company during their visits to various places within Mombasa and the National Park at an agreed sum of Sh5,000 daily," she told the court.  She claimed between June 17 and 30, she rendered the services as agreed.  Sh300 for fare.  Through her lawyer Samuel Oguk, she claims the defendant paid her Sh300 only for transport.

She also wants the court to award her general damages for unlawful arrest and imprisonment after the defendant allegedly claimed she had stolen his bracelet.  She was detained at the Bamburi Police Station.  "During investigation, the bracelet was found in the apartment. I was then released, but the defendant did not apologise," she claimed.

She now wants the defendant’s passport deposited in court if he fails to give the Sh200,000 as security.  But Heinz, in his defence statement denied the claims, saying there was no legal contract entered into.  He also denied defaming the plaintiff, adding her claims were misconceived and incurably defective. The case will be heard on August 7.

From The Standard

21 July 2009

Ill = No Fun

There was once a time when a sick day was a chance to watch bad daytime television and lay in bed.  Here, without either being a real option, remaining home sick is not at all fun.  Since I am the last of the four to have this bug, I get to experience the other side of the coin for the week.  For the most part, I am feeling alright.  However, since it is obviously something that has been passed on, I cannot go to the SJC and risk getting anybody else sick.  Therefore, I am on a self-imposed quarantine.  The other three were sick all of last week.  With an improvement since yesterday, it is my hope to be back at work tomorrow.  In a practical sense, I will plan for the possibility of missing the work week.

The two days from work have confirmed two things for me.  First of which is that I despise taking time off for being sick.  Missing any work means that I will have to play catch up.  Here, that is not so much of a problem.  Within an hour I can be completely up to speed after missing a week of work.  Still, I do not like falling behind.  The second is that I hate to be away from the SJC.  Yes, the hours are nice, but I look forward to every day that I get to be there.  With time, I have built a rapport with the children, parents and staff.  My work is not exciting and the contribution I make is minimal at best; however, I am happiest when at the centre.  I had a quarter point crisis of sorts in March.  July has proven to be a sharp upswing for my morale.  All in all, even sickness cannot dampen an overall joyous mood.

20 July 2009

Time

Has joined in the trend of articles that offer nothing new.  Most of it involves the recently released report accusing of, amongst others, Ruto and Kenyatta of actively inciting violence after the 2007 election.  Again, it is disappointing to read non-news from a source such as Time.  With a little time spent in country, an investigative piece can be produced. 

Nobody has brought up the fact that Waki has ties to Kibaki.  Can that have affected his report.? How about that much of his investigation was conducted in the IDP camps and not in the towns?  It is hard to see an entire story when only one side is considered.  Or, there is the fact that he did not come to Western Province.  The province in-between Kisumu and Eldoret, where much of the violence occurred.  I believe that I have mentioned before that the woman who sells us vegetables left Malava for over a year because of violence against her tribe, Kikuyu, right here.

Not all fault should rest with Time.  The Kenyan newspapers have been equally as negligent.  If it involves scandal, they are there when it breaks.  For some reason, they are never the ones breaking the story.  With only two English print sources, The Nation and The Standard, competition is low.  As the push for justice moves in an indeterminate direction, the external pressure remains too low and obligatory at best.

Computer Fun

Having some issues with the computer since last night. I have had to re-install windows. The recovery process has been tedious. It appears that Office will not be possible to use. I am open to any advice. In addition, the bug that hit Mike, Sue and Katie last week has made its way to me. So, I am remaining home to rest up and take care of this technology issue.

18 July 2009

Further Reading

I mentioned George Grattan on my previous post.  Now he has joined the blogosphere.  I have added a link to his blog on my list of blogs I follow.  You can also take a peek here.

Worthwhile Read

George Grattan, a former professor of mine at Holy Cross wrote an article at Treehugger.  I had the pleasure of taking an Environmental Justice class with him and he is a great advocate for EJ. He discusses the recent uproar concerning Massachusetts Gov. Patrick’s choice to cut into the budget for Zoo New England.  What is most compelling is the parallels between the response to the budget by people and that of people concerning the third world.   For many, it takes a large event to spark interest in a persistent problem.  While much of the attention can produce positive results, it becomes irritating to those who have been paying attention long before it is on a bracelet.

Ruto Too!

Kenya: Report on Post-Election ViolenceBy

JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

The state-run human rights agency released a report on Friday naming more than 200 suspects, including several high-ranking ministers, as the perpetrators of the post-election violence that killed more than 1,000 people last year. The report was one of the first public documents by a reputable group to pin the blame on some of Kenya’s most powerful men. Among the suspects accused of organizing or financing the bloodshed were Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, above, a son of Kenya’s founding president, and Agriculture Minister William Ruto. Kenyan politicians have so far refused to set up a local tribunal to prosecute the suspects.

A version of this article appeared in print on July 18, 2009, on page A5 of the New York edition.

17 July 2009

Good and Bad

It looks as if Occampo is not going to read the names from the Waki list.  He stated that the law prohibits his reading of the list and he has assured Kenya that it will not be leaked.  Fortunately, the ICC will continue to investigate.

On the good side, the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights released their report concerning the post election violence.  Of the 219 people listed, Finance Minister and son of the first president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta was amongst the group.  He supposedly helped to plan retaliation for violence perpetrated against his Kikuyu tribe.

16 July 2009

I Tried…

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I did my best with the top two to get the skyline from the other night.  Below, is the zucchini given to us by Sr. Joy last night.  I had to put the tape measure down to prove that it was in fact enormous.  The circumference is 15 inches.  Frankly, I have no idea what to do with the vegetable.  We could feed twenty people with that monster.

Now They Care

The ‘West’ now wants Kenya to make some decisions about the future of the tribunal/ICC.  The deadline from Annan passed in March and the extension will pass this month.  However, Kenya continues to prolong the process.  If you want to waste the time reading lip service, you can see the Reuters article here.

In a double feature, Reuters strikes back with another article about the state of Kenya a year later.  I feel like a broken record when I continue to put up articles that come too late.  Here is another time where issues that have existed for far too long have come to light.  I cannot accept that it is better late than never.  As long as the press remains behind the pressure upon the coalition government will never increase.  It is hard to report about every thing that takes place in every inch of the world, but it would be harmful not to expect it.  Recently, Obama said something very smart and very silly.  I am paraphrasing, but he said that we cannot accept a world in which nuclear weapons exist.  We must work for complete eradication.  Accepting anything less is unacceptable.  While he may be idealistic in his stance, it is one that must be emulated on all fronts.    So if I seem that is a bit unreasonable when commenting on reporting done concerning Kenya, this is why.

With Thanks to Mike

If you have seen our exchange from my previous post, Mike mentioned an article in the New York Times about Somali students from the University of Minnesota who left school to join Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al Qaeda.  This group has been responsible for the majority of fighting in Somalia over the past few months.  They have been active for longer, but more recently have made a push for taking over the country.  The article is well researched and delves into how these men have been convinced to leave higher education for bomb jackets.  I encourage everyone to at least read the article.  The fighting continues just north of me with no real end in sight.

Happy Birthday Dad!

15 July 2009

Word is..

The Waki list is to be opened tomorrow at the ICC.  I will do my best to update as the news arrives.

Explanation (I Hope)

I have learned that some were not keen on one of my previous posts.  I discussed being told that America was “heaven” according to one of the teachers from the school where Michael and I spoke last week.  First, please use the comments or email.  I am open to all sorts of ideas and opinions.  I am wrong as often as I am right and am willing to admit when wrong.  Also, I want to reiterate the fact that I am writing my personal reflections.  Often I just type away and do not bother to re-read.  Although it is not necessarily the best method when it comes to grammar and clarity, I do it to preserve the way my thoughts present themselves at the moment of writing.  It may not make sense, but I am doing my best to give a honest reflection of my thoughts.  This in no way excuses what I say, but I hope clarifies the context.  Because of this, I am willing to explain anything I have written.  Thank you to those who have managed to keep up over the past six months.

Now to the main reason for writing this, an expansion of my previous post.  To begin, I would like to assert that I am in no way attacking the US.  Great things have emanated from the country and I would be a fool to say that I would be hear regardless of where I was raised.  While responsible for many positive things, there are many ways that the US has caused harm.  Sadly, criticism can often be painted as anti-(insert whatever is being criticized).  I think that there are occasions to celebrate accomplishments made on any scale.  However, a rigorous standard must be held individually and nationally.  When it is not met there must be voice to correct the wrong. 

This has been the traditional ideal of the press.  They strive to give a non-partisan report of what is taking place in the world.  They are to give a voice to the voiceless and hold the great states to the highest standards.  In my opinion, the American press has slowly moved away from this.  With advertising concerns and distributorship in mind, news must be tailored to accomplishing these two goals.  When the most important goal becomes to report news people will read, watch or hear, we get what we have now.  Television news programs display violent stories that tell of personal tragedies played out for the public.  This is particularly for the case when news comes from the continent of Africa.  However, nearly all that comes to Kenya is filtered through the Western based media.  What this does is creates a false image of the first world, America most of all. 

The idea of golden roads fell by the wayside a century ago, but the myth of American persists.  Nairobi is a city filled with people attempting to copy American styles.  It is obvious who is and is not American because there is always something off, but the influence is clear.  It was hard to miss when I saw this, but the reach of influence shocked me when I was told that America is ‘heaven.’  My immediate reaction was to think that it would be terrible if America was really heaven.  I cannot allow myself to believe that America is a place of perfection.  It certainly is a great place, but not heaven.

I sat with it a few days because I was bothered by the statement.  In fact, it still bothers me a week later.  I am mad because this belief has been allowed to happen.  It is only one persons opinion, but is unacceptable as far as I am concerned.  I do not think that it is the place of one nation to place itself above all others.  The United States has been doing this for years through its international policy.  Covert wars, economic sanctions, and backed tyrants have shaped the Middle East, Africa and South/Central America.  Promoting democracy has always been the reason for such actions, despite the fact that economics has played a stronger role.  America is far from any hell, but the leaders of the US have done some terrible things.  With this knowledge I am unable to accept that a place that allows these atrocities to happen can be considered heaven.

My sentiments concerning this issue a few days ago has been based around this.  I was mad that the ‘American Dream’ myth still resided in the minds of the third world.  Truth must trump myth every time.  It is time to shed these myths and become a responsible state.  Fortunately, we have begun to see these changes with a new presidency and foreign policy.  Unfortunately, poorly thought ideas concerning the international community continue to be put forth.  As long as the Cheney’s of the world keep speaking about the need for the suspension of human rights (because that is just about everything he says), we will continue to set a bad example.  The place American has ascended to cannot be ignored.  There is no use in lamenting the path it has taken, but we can expect better. 

I hope that I have been more clear.  Thanks for reading and do not be afraid to comment, especially if you do not agree with me.

14 July 2009

Obama Op-Ed

Found this through my Google news.  I think the title, Obama’s speech ‘arrogant’ does the job in telling what follows.  The guy is a bit harsh and takes some parts of the speech in Ghana too seriously.  However, he does hit a few good points, making it a worthwhile read. 

Came Across

A great blog by a woman who spent time in Thiland post-tsunami.  Her basic thing is aid accountability.  Often times, money will flow into countries after disasters.  These states have no ability to control the influx of money and it it almost always squandered through misuse and corruption.  She discusses how to look for the right organizations when considering a charitable donation.

13 July 2009

Here We Go!

I’ll name all, says Ocampo

By Samson Ntale in Kampala

Lucianne Limo in Nairobi

I will open Kenya’s sealed envelope and spill the beans this week, Chief Prosecutor of International Criminal Court Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo promised the world. "(The Waki envelope) is already in my office in Geneva," he said in Kampa from Dr Kofi Annan. "When I return I will open it and let the public know the details."

Asked if he knew the names in the secret envelope he replied: "As of now, I do not know because I have not opened it... It is only when I return that I will know the details and release them for publication."

Read On

A Few Things

  • When will we know the names?  Word from the Hague is that the Waki list will remain under wraps.  I have said before, the names need to come to light.  We are getting closer to two years since the election violence.  Still, those who were most responsible for inciting violence have not had to answer for their actions.  Hopefully the names will be released soon, but with a year to get a tribunal in order it seems that it will be some time.
  • The whole Michael Jackson death spectacle was strange to see from here.  First of all, it was equally as notable in Kenya as it was in the US.  I watched a dance special on NTV to the music of MJ.  They had specials in the newspapers, radio and television.  Conversations moved towards his passing as he was held up on an Obama like pedestal.  On the American side, it looked as if all stopped.  It was certainly the case here.  I cannot understand the connection that people feel to a man who lived so far away, but it exists.  Maybe it is important to have an escape.  For so many here that is through music. 
  • The MJ hoopla makes sense through the lens of the comment last week.  One of the teachers from the school where Michael and I spoke told us that America is “heaven.”  American exceptionalism has always seemed to be a silly concept in my opinion.  I have always felt it conceited to make such a claim.  When one puts himself at the top, then the rest are inherently inferior in his view.  Since President Wilson, this view has been held by many.  In the past election, McCain tried to demean Obama by criticizing his support for the concept.  Regardless of the theory, American does have an exceptional place in minds of the people throughout the world.  Somehow, people think that America can solve all of the world’s problems.  Here, people strive to go to America to find heaven on earth.  Hearing someone say this made me feel like pulling an Adam Sandler and shake the mans cheeks saying “Do not go!”

Today’s Daily Nation Cartoon

 

Also, Bill Easterly grades Obama’s speech in Ghana.  Of course, it is based on his own opinions.  The nice thing is that it shortens the speech to the most important points and notes things he says well in addition to the misses he makes.

11 July 2009

Tom and Mike Learn to (motor)Bike

The internet is being a bit unfriendly right now. This is only half....and there is no need for explanation other than Tom was our instructor.

G8 Fun

10 July 2009

A Lot of Words and A Lot of Nothing

The G8 did what they did best, talk.  They released a very wordy resolution concerning the worlds great problems.  Being the big economies, they continue to politic about and produce nothing.  I will give you the link, but I would suggest not reading it.  There is nothing new.  Once again, the leaders meet and accomplish little.

http://allafrica.com/sustainable/resources/view/00011827.pdf

09 July 2009

Breaking and Egging

“Real funny,” Michael said to me as we prepared for our afternoon lesson.  When I did not react he continued, “The chicken on my bed.  Real funny.”  Thinking he was referring to some sort of metaphor that Mamma William was not to know, I shrugged my shoulders and said that I had no idea what he was talking about.

I followed him into his room, expecting him to explain whatever he was hinting at.  What I found was a hen sitting in his blanket.  Michael, with spatula in hand, scared it off the bed.  When it leapt, a white object remained.  Not only had the hen roosted on Michael’s bed, it left him a gift.  What ensued can only be characterized as a chase.  I was of no help because of a laughing fit which I shared with Mamma William.  Michael and Katie, who had just arrived, chased it out of the house.

For dinner tonight, hour old egg.  We have the freshest free range egg known to man and will enjoy it tonight!

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A Chance!

A year and a half since reconciliation in Kenya and the names of those who perpetrated the violence in January of 2008 have yet to be made public.  Former UN head Kofi Annan has held a list for some months with the accused names and nothing has been done.  That changed today with the handing over of the sealed list to the ICC.  Now just open it!

Annan acts on Kenya poll suspects

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan brokered a power-sharing deal following two months of violence

The names of key suspects involved in violence after the 2007 Kenyan election have been handed to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Mediator Kofi Annan said he handed the names in a sealed envelope to the prosecutor in The Hague.

At least 1,500 people were killed and 300,000 displaced in two months of violence after the December 2007 polls.

Mr Annan said he delivered the names following Kenya's efforts to establish a special tribunal into the violence.

A week ago Kenyan ministers promised to establish the tribunal by July 2010 and in the meantime provide the ICC with the details of their investigations.

Their move came a month after Mr Annan gave Kenya an August deadline to establish the special tribunal, warning that he would hand over the list to the ICC if the deadline was not met.

The violence broke out after supporters of then-opposition leader Raila Odinga said he had been cheated of victory.

The election crisis ignited long-standing ethnic rivalries over access to land and other economic resources, and some 300,000 people were forced to flee their homes.

After two months of violence, Mr Annan brokered a deal for Mr Odinga to join a power-sharing government as prime minister with President Mwai Kibaki.

In a statement from Geneva, Mr Annan said he welcomed Kenya's efforts to establish a special tribunal, but added that "any judicial mechanism adopted to bring the perpetrators of the post-election violence to justice must meet international legal standards and be broadly debated with all sectors of the Kenyan society in order to bring credibility to the process".

Mr Annan added: "Justice delayed is justice denied.

"The people of Kenya want to see concrete progress on impunity. Without such progress, the reconciliation between ethnic groups and the long-term stability of Kenya is in jeopardy."

BBC Africa

08 July 2009

Speaking Engagement

Michael and I were invited to speak at the former school of Alex.  We were told to prepare to speak in front of all the students.  Michael prepared to speak about the down side of pride and I went without a real plan.  We met at the upper stage and took a motorcycle taxi to the school.  In one afternoon, I accomplished using every form of public transportation in Kenya and ride on a motorcycle for the first time.

At the school, we were welcomed by the students.  Alex said a few opening remarks and then gave Michael the chance to discuss pride.  Upon finishing, it was my turn to speak.  Seeing that they were not all too interested in us offering random advice.  I decided, since I had no real plan, to stay short and to the point.  After speaking, we opened up the floor for questions.  We were asked about the American school system and our impressions of Kenya.  All and all, it was a nice time speaking to the students.  I hope to be able to go back soon.

DSC01207It was strange to hear about people’s impressions of the United States.  One of the teachers described his impression of the US as ‘heaven.’  Another discussed how the US is the ‘world super power’ and there is much to be learned from Michael and I.  It was a bit strange to hear.  I have not entirely figured out my thoughts on it all.   

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07 July 2009

Killer Cat

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Do not know what happened, but found our cat looking satisfied and with evidence of a slaying.

06 July 2009

News Wars: Robbery

The lower stage was full of busses waiting to take people in either direction.  The men who are generally drunk and assist people as they get on were still sober.  I arrived onto the scene at 8:15 and saw the younger man who sells the newspaper.  He looked over at me and raised his hand.  I replied with a nod and he checked to the right to see if a car was coming.  He saw something much worse than an oncoming vehicle.  For next to him was my Kenyan father.  With newspapers under his arms, he also gave me a signal.  Shocked the younger man hesitated and sized up his competition.  With his head still turned, he made a break for it.  Full speed with no care to look for cars he ran across to sell me a newspaper.  On the other side, the older and wiser of the two waited with a big grin.  He did not sell me a newspaper, but he knew that he did not have to look like a fool.

At the SJC, Neto and Tom discovered that an attempted break-in had occurred over the weekend.  Two of the barbed wires had been cut.  Someone slipped in and then used something to try to pry off the lock.  It was loose, but still on.  I grabbed the hammer and hit the nails back in and we all joked about what could have been stolen.  Naturally, Neto was most concerned about the battery for the radio that he controls during centre hours.

It appears as if the dog is pregnant.  This is based on Michael’s sister and Wikipedia research.  We may be having puppies.

04 July 2009

4OJ in Kenya

Waking at 7AM and working all day long was well worth the effort. We had the SJC crew over, the nuns, Laundry Girl, and Fr. Alfred. All in all, it was as good as a celebration can be outside of the US. We ate hot dogs and burgers, drank a few beers and enjoyed each others company. To finish off the day, Katie swooped in to show how to make a Coke Float. Sr. Joy was hesitant, but ended up making herself at least four and eating most of the ice cream. I took a few pictures at the request of Sr. Phyllis. They can be seen below. Enjoy the weekend!

This is why…

Kenya cannot have a trial involving its leaders in Kenya.

Report Says Public Corruption a Continuing Problem for East Africa

By Alan Boswell
Nairobi
03 July 2009

Corruption within public institutions continues to plague the nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, according to a report by a group of regional transparency organizations. Out of the three nations, Kenya ranks highest in its level of corruption, followed by Uganda. If public corruption continues unchecked, experts say that development in the region could be significantly hindered as a result.

The report says police are the most corrupt institutions in each country. The Kenya police force ranks highest on the corruption index of any institution surveyed, while Tanzania police are listed as the second most corrupt institution in the region.

More than half of those polled in the region claimed to have paid bribes for the purpose of receiving public services in the past year.

Public perceptions confirm the region's problem with corruption. The public in each country overwhelmingly thought that corruption had gotten worse in the past year.

Seventy-four percent of Kenyans ranked the nation as "very corrupt" or "extremely corrupt," compared with 65 percent among Tanzanians and 60 percent of Ugandans.

The high rates of public bribery are paired with a deep lack of faith in public reporting methods. Only six percent of Kenyans from whom bribes were solicited reported the incidence to authorities. More than 50 percent of those Kenyans who did not report bribes stated that their reason for not reporting the incident was due to a belief that no action would be taken.

The executive director of Transparency International-Kenya, Job Ogonda, says that ultimately Kenyan public leadership is responsible for the failure to address the nation's corruption issues. "Even if we are called upon to support the Kenyan police in institutional integrity reforms, then the political will to sustain those reforms depend on the leadership of the Kenyan police and the political leadership of the country," he said.

Kenyan government spokesperson Alfred Mutua admitted that corruption is a major problem and said that the government must re-evaluate its strategy for addressing the issue. "Our country, as we have said in the past, really really faces an upward challenge when it comes to the fight against corruption. We need to look at the strategy we've been undertaking in the fight against corruption, and study: Is its really working?," he said.

The nations' judiciaries also ranked poorly across the region - listing as the second worst public institution in Tanzania, third worst in Kenya, and sixth worst in Uganda. Kenyans reported that a bribe was solicited in 85 percent of their attempts to access either police or judicial services.

Poor economic conditions connected with the global economic downtown are thought to be contributing to the prevalence of corruption in the region as both lower government officials and those seeking jobs face increasing hardship.

Albert Gituku, an analyst at the Kenyan Leadership Institute, says that corruption is much deeper an issue than it may appear. "You totally destroy the fabric of governance within an institution, so the underlying cost you incur when you practice corruption at that high level is more injurious than meets the eye," he said.

The East Africa Bribery Index 2009 was a joint project of Transparency International-Kenya, Transparency International-Uganda, and Tanzania Transparency Forum.

The Kenyan police force has held the top position as the nation's most corrupt institution since 2002.

Postponed…again

The post election violence will remain an issue for yet another year as the deadline to form a local tribunal has been extended yet again.  What this means is that the wounds will remain raw and those who committed the most heinous crimes will continue to walk free through Kenya.  I do not like the option of the ICC, but unless Kenya begins to look for other ways to move the trial out of country problems will remain.

Kenya sets new tribunal deadline

Police confront protesters in Kenya 3.1.08

Rioting started after claims of fraud in the December 2007 election

Kenya and the International Criminal Court have agreed on a new deadline to set up a special tribunal to try the ringleaders of post-election violence.

Kenyan ministers promised to establish the tribunal by July 2010 and in the meantime provide the ICC with the details of their investigations.

An ICC spokesman said ministers also promised to refer the case to the ICC if they failed to establish a tribunal.

About 1,500 people were killed in violence following the 2007 elections.

Chief mediator Kofi Annan had warned the Kenyan government he would hand over a list of suspects to the ICC if Nairobi failed to form the tribunal before the end of August 2009.

Mr Annan, the former UN secretary-general, brokered a power-sharing deal last year to end the violence.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the BBC he was satisfied with the new agreement.

"They will do the case themselves or, if they don't do that, they will refer the case to me," he said.

Rioting erupted after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the December 2007 presidential poll, triggering claims of electoral fraud from the then opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The rivals signed a power-sharing deal in February 2008 to end to the violence and formed a coalition government - but not before 1,500 people died in clashes and another 300,000 fled their homes.

Also last month, Amnesty International accused the Kenyan government of having done nothing to end the impunity for "widespread and serious human rights violations committed by the police and security forces" after the election.

03 July 2009

Prep

The rain remains a part of the afternoon, but an early morning into Kakamega to prepare for our Independence Day Bash kept me busy.  We invited all pretty much everyone we know over tomorrow.  No town characters, sadly, but the SND’s, SJC Co. and Priests should be by.  All in all, it will be a blessed day (I tried).

The shopping part was not interesting.  Although it was a sight to see the fog as it settled at the foot of the ridge line traveling to Kakamega.  In town, I took care of the shopping list and noticed a bunch of fellow whites.  What struck me at first was the fact that there were so many.  Usually, I may see one or two.  Today I saw what must have been ten.  I guess that summer means that it is time for people to make their short term trips to Kenya.  Secondly, I was struck by how much they stuck out.  They looked horribly out of place as they walked around the market.  The hypocrisy did not hit until I was back in Malava and remembered that I too look just as much out of place.  It was a time where I had forgotten that I am very different.  After six months, I still receive plenty of stares within Malava and from people I see daily.

At the supermarket in Kakamega, I ran into one of the rare whites and we had a conversation.  We spoke about nothing.  I know he is from California, but I thought about how nice it was to have a short conversation with someone who I can clearly understand.  Communication can be hard at times, especially when the person does not know much English and my Swahili cannot make up for the fact.  Since I have the three other volunteers I remain aware of the times when I can turn off my Kenyan English and speak normally.  Today, I was caught off guard by talking to a complete stranger and it was comforting.  I think that I too often look down at the other European’s that are in Kakamega.  I am bothered that they have come into MY area of Kenya for no reason.  This feeling is unfounded and is based on nothing.  Today, I spoke to a European stranger and he was nice.  For some reason I was partially surprised, but why?

In Malava, I ran into Neto and he invited me over to his home.  So we walked over and hung out in the single room he rents.  With a bed, a stool, and a radio, Neto is living the life of a bachelor in Malava.  He was very proud to show me his home and the newly installed electricity.  I think it is hard at times to be living in my place and I have had electricity for all six months with my computer, courtyard, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, storage rooms and so on.  Here I have all this space and did not appreciate it.  When I am bored and tired, I can watch a movie or read a magazine.  At night, I can do either because we have power.  That is not a choice for most people.  Just as I begin to think that I have begun to shed myself of what is unnecessary, I am confronted with the reality that it may be impossible.  That is not to complain.  Movies and reading have been my major source of diversion and time killing.  There is not much else to do in my free time.  Housework can be done here and there, but there is always time that needs to be filled in some manner.  It is nice to fill it with less time on my computer and watching movies, but that always remains an option. 

He mentioned that meals were always determined on how full his pockets are.  That is never a concern of mine.  I work hard to be mindful of my spending, but I can go to the market and have whatever I want.  If I want to splurge, I can consider it.  In relative terms, I am living like a king in Malava.  I offer so little and get the same salary as the therapists.  In other words, I have no skills and get as much as our most highly skilled workers.  Hopefully, I am a contributor to the St. Julie Centre.  It makes me glad that we have invited everyone over.  I feel a need to give something back.  I can come here and not worry about money with only a few hundred US$ a month.  It may be part of the reason for inviting Neto to each Sunday brunch.  Here we have a nice meal once a week, why shouldn’t we be sharing it with friends?  That is why everyone will be here tomorrow for the 4oJ.

02 July 2009

Our Newest Friend

I arrived home this afternoon to this:

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Yes, he went to the dog market and for a whole $6 bought a dog from a one eyed man (I could not make that up).  We now have a Bantu Dog to join our cat.  La Chiffre was not at all happy and made it known by hissing and arching upwards in warning.  Calm as Maverick, the dog just relaxed as the cat made a fool of itself.  Now we will have another dog to join the nightly chorus of howls that wake me as I sleep.  It also officially means that each of us has our own pet.  Neither of us have ever lived with a dog, so that will be a first for both.

Also, Michael has taken to growing some various plants in our courtyard (hence the fence operation last week).  He planted some herbs and peppers.  Below, you can see the start of life.  His first Venus Fly Trap.

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While researching animals, we decided to look up our cat.  As it turns out, I am the proud owner of the rarest domestic cat in the world.  The Sokote cat is native to the coast of Kenya.  They are known for ‘talking’ a lot and climbing; two favorites of our little pal.  Our family has grown with the addition of the dog (name soon to be decided by Michael) and we also are in possession of a super rare cat.  All is well.

Hague vs. Local Tribunal

Report: Kenyans prefer The Hague route

BY ANTHONY KAGIRI

Capital FM
Update 13 hours and 10 minutes ago

 

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 - More than a half of Kenyans still want suspected perpetrators of post election violence tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, according to a new survey.
The report by consultants hired by the African Union Panel of Eminent Personalities shows that 53 percent of respondents support the ICC route as opposed to 33 percent who vouch for a local tribunal. According to South Consulting, most of those interviewed believe the local Tribunal would be corrupted and trust they will only find fair judgment at The Hague.
These fears, they say, are due to the recognition of weaknesses in the national legal and judicial system and the fact that successive Kenyan governments have lacked political will to prosecute influential persons for serious offences, including political violence.
“This politicisation of the process to establish a Special Tribunal may lead to people losing confidence in the Tribunal. For the Tribunal to work, therefore, it will require that it is independent and that this independence is guaranteed through a legal framework. Credibility, objectivity and impartiality should be the main principles and values guiding its operations,” the report states in one of its conclusions.
South Consulting said politicians who fear that they were named in a secret list by the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence were politicising the debate and poisoning Kenyans for their personal benefits.
The commitment by the government to deal with impunity has also been put to question given that prosecution of suspects who may have committed crimes during the period has been slow and highly politicised. The monitors said that the country had failed to bring the offenders to account although the police made some arrests in early 2008.
“Further delays will have the effect of reducing people’s confidence in the process, particularly if the victims continue to see inaction on the part of the government. Significant, of course, is that the suspects will develop a sense of impunity and feeling of victory against the State for their violent behaviour,” the report concludes.
Parliament in February rejected the tribunal signaling their resolve to have the suspects tried at the ICC. The government is in a rush to start a second bid amidst threats by Chief Mediator Kofi Annan to hand over the list of suspects to The Hague-based court should the country fail to establish the tribunal by August.
A government delegation was due to leave for consultations with Mr Annan on the issue on Wednesday evening.
The Consultants regret that although the country has established structures for the much needed reforms the momentum of the reforms has been lost.
The team has warned that without undertaking fundamental reforms, another violent civil conflict could recur.
“Reforms that tend to appease the political leaders will not address the root causes of the country’s problems. The survey findings show that ordinary citizens prefer not only institutional reforms but also those that will improve their well-being. For this reason, it is important that reforms focus on a constitution that is desirable to the majority of the people,” the team advised.
South Consulting further warns that disagreement over distribution of power and patronage is likely to spill over into the constitutional review process and frustrate delivery of a new constitution. The team has also raised concerns over the disbandment of illegal armed groups who they say are growing in number owing to internal factionalism and general mutation.

01 July 2009

Because It Amuses Me and Remains Appropriate

Sharing is Caring

My email from the Warden and I feel in the mood to share…

This Warden Message alerts U.S. citizens to the latest information regarding human cases of 2009-H1N1 Influenza, sometimes referred to as swine flu or novel H1N1. As anticipated, the H1N1 influenza virus has arrived in Kenya.  The first confirmed case of H1N1 infection in Kenya was tested at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control laboratory in Nairobi and the National Influenza Center laboratory (staffed in part by the U.S. Walter Reed Project).  The case was announced Monday by the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health.    There is no cause for panic.  The disease, thus far, has proven far less virulent than originally expected, and the vast majority of patients who get infected with novel H1N1 flu have a mild illness that does not require hospitalization and resolves on its own.

The Government of Kenya is currently screening arriving passengers at Kenyatta Airport.  The nature and breadth of screening have may be modified following the identification of the novel H1N1 flu in Kenya. Arriving passengers may be asked about flu symptoms, contact with a patient with flu symptoms, and point of embarkation.  We urge arriving passengers to cooperate with local health authorities.  Travelers to other countries should check with that country’s local or home Consular office for information before planning travel.

There is currently no restriction on travel into the United States.

Any questions or concerns about influenza or other illnesses should be directed to a medical professional.  Although the Embassy cannot provide medical advice or provide medical services to the public, a list of hospitals and doctors can be found on our website at http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/.

Please note that the Embassy is NOT advising Americans in Kenya to depart.  At this time, the Embassy advises that Americans review the guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

For more information on U.S. Government policy during a pandemic, and for travel safety information, please see the State Department’s “Pandemic/Avian Influenza” and “Remain in Country” fact sheets on www.travel.state.gov.  Further information about 2009-H1N1 Influenza, including steps you can take to stay healthy, can be found at  the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website athttp://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/, the U.S. Government pandemic influenza website athttp://www.pandemicflu.gov, and the World Health Organization website athttp://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html.

U.S. citizens may also call the Office of Overseas Citizens Services in the United States for the latest travel information.  The Office of Overseas Citizens Services can be reached from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday, by calling 1-888-407-4747 from within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling (202) 501-4444 from other countries.

A Short History of 20th C Econ

I had no idea that Vanity Fair cared much about politics let alone economics.  The article featured in the newest issue written by Joseph Stiglitz gives a short summary of American economics since the mid-20th century.  His argument essentially conveys that the actions by the US government since last fall have been hypocritical.  When Japan was faced with a similar crisis in the 90’s, we advocated letting the bad banks fall and allow for interest rates to shoot upwards.  I will not steal the fire from Mr. Stiglitz, he knows a bit more than me and has a Nobel prize to prove it.  Read his article here.

Again, with thanks to Bill Easterly.

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