Geopolitics

Can Kenya Cash In On The Global Avocado Craze?

More and more Kenyan farmers are growing avocados, the native Mexican fruit that are both profitable and relatively easy to produce. But global competition is fierce.

MURANG'A — Mwaura Morisson jokes that when he walks out in the morning and looks at the trees — some of which already carry tiny embryos of fruit — what he really sees is money. "It's not in my pocket yet," the elderly man says, smiling. "But I'm already counting how much I will make."

The farmer, his hands in the pockets of a worn out raincoat, is showing off his shamba, his plot of land, and talking about his avocado trees, which grow in a row of terraces in Murang'a county, a two-hour drive from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. The October rains have barely begun but boots are already sinking in the viscous, red soil of this fertile region, wedged between the Aberdare mountain range and Mount Kenya, an extinct volcano with snow-capped peaks.

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Another Consequence Of Kenya's Drought: Obesity

With drought comes malnutrition and a run to the slums, where fatty foods, sugar, and obesity await.

TURKANA COUNTY — Sand and scree wherever you look. Bushes that cling with difficulty to red, dusty earth that has long seen no water.

Turkana County, in northwest Kenya, is home to 800,000 people. About 80% of them are livestock farmers, experienced like no other in breeding animals. People here say that the Turkana can recognize their goats by the hoof prints. The milk their animals produce is inimitably sweet, a delicacy praised far beyond the region.

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Soft Power: A Mentor Program To Fight Terrorism In Kenya

In the Majengo district of the southern port city, a mentoring program is trying to stop al-Shabaab​ from recruiting young people.

MOMBASA — The kamikaze who blew himself up on January 15 in the Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi lived in Majengo. Several members of al-Shabaab, the Islamic terror group who carried out the attack that killed 21, also had close links to this low-income neighborhood in the coastal Kenyan city of Mombasa. Located on the island that is the heart of Mombasa, the neighborhood is made up of a few lively streets, lined with tall white buildings that feature arcades that are typical of the architecture of the great port city.

The district is known as a center of Islamic radicalization. Two imams, About Rogo and Abubaker Shariff — otherwise known as "Makaburi" ("tomb" in Swahili) — urged young people to join the al-Shabaab fight in the early part of this decade. At that time, the elegant white and green minaret of the Masjid Musa mosque, where they operated, displayed black flags celebrating the glory of the Somali Islamist militia. Since then, the two preachers have been killed, and the black flags removed. But with each new terrorist attack in Kenya, the name Majengo reappears.

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Watch: OneShot — Rare Black Leopard Photo Caught In Darkness

"I (had) never seen a high-quality image of a wild black leopard come out of Africa," British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas wrote recently. So he sprung to attention when word arrived about a sighting at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya.

Using a series of Camtraptions motion-triggered camera traps, Burrard-Lucas managed to snap this powerful shot of the ever-elusive big cat.

With OneShot, this rare photograph emerges from the darkness of the night.

Black Leopard (©Will Burrard-Lucas) | OneShot

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Economy
Dominic Kirui

Informal Banking Helps Kenyan Women Find Financial Autonomy

These informal banks in Kenya help women acquire financial stability, to help them take control of their income.

BUBISA —​ Orge Konchora always wanted her children to get an education, but her husband's modest salary as a driver wouldn't cover school fees —and she knew she had to help out. Although the family also had some livestock, the animals were owned entirely by her husband and most died during a drought. This meant the couple had to make an extra effort to pay for the schools and meet their household expenses.

This was not easy for the 53-year-old mother of two because in the Gabra community from which she hails — as in many of the communities that inhabit Kenya"s dry north — a woman is not allowed to own any property, be it land or livestock.

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Sources
Robert Kibet

Pineapple Drying, Solar Economic Development In Kenya

In rural Kenya, the Waata people were displaced by the creation of a national park. But a sustainable development program is also a way to making a living.

CHAMARI Under the scorching sun in Marafa, a small village nestled in a canyon-like depression in Kilifi County in southeast Kenya, women are carefully harvesting pineapples from their open gardens. Using kangas rectangular pieces of cloth wrapped around their waists they pick the ripe fruits and pack them into sacks, ready for transportation to the solar dryer.

Until six decades ago, the Waata hunter-gatherer community lived in the forest, moving their children and their settlements to wherever the men made a hunting kill. But, in the 1940s, the introduction of British colonial wildlife conservation laws and the creation of national parks in Kenya saw the Waata people evicted from the forest to make way for the Tsavo East National Park. The community found refuge on the periphery of the new park, where they were forced to abandon their lives as hunter-gatherers and start farming.

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Migrant Lives
Marion Douet

In Kenya, A Refugee Camp With 2,100 Small Businesses

From individual artisans to prosperous wholesalers, this isolated place has developed a vibrant economy despite numerous obstacles.

KAKUMA — When she was a millinery student at the University of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Esperance Tabisha didn't think for a second that she would be practicing her trade in a refugee camp. Eight years later, the young Congolese woman works at Kakuma, a refugee camp near where the border of Kenya meets Uganda and South Sudan.

Fleeing the conflict that ravaged her region of North Kivu, she arrived alone at the refugee camp in 2010. A "Congolese mom" quickly took her under her wing.

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Sources
Alaric Moras

From Rwanda To Kenya, Beyond The Game Of Thrones In Africa

-Analysis-

"If I have been unable to mentor a successor or successors that should be the reason I should not continue as president. It means that I have not created capacity for a post-me Rwanda. I see this as a personal failure."

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Sources
Julie Kasinski

Race For Her Rights, Rwandan Cyclist Takes On Sexism

Jeanne d'Arc Girubuntu, a 22-year-old cycling champion, strives to be a role model and to inspire women of Rwanda to fight for their independence.

RWAMAGANA — At the corner of a dusty road, Jeanne d'Arc Girubuntu, 22, waits in the yard of her home near Rwamagana, in eastern Rwanda. Her handshake is hesitant and she looks away. Aside from a group of children staring at her in awe, it is almost hard to believe that we are standing in front of Rwanda's cycling champion.

But once she slips on her cycling jersey, the shy young woman is transformed. She puffs out her chest and her gaze turns confident.

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Sources
Gebeya

IT Ecosystems In Africa

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The IT ecosystem in Africa is thriving. Microsoft alone now has offices in more than 14 African countries, and has announced that it will open its first data centers on the continent in 2018. Another sign of spreading tech is Kenya's M-PESA online monetary transaction system, which has become a part of everyday life. Ericsson, a technology firm, estimates that the number of mobile telephones will rise to 930 million by 2019, almost one per African. In Tanzania, Olam, a Singapore-listed farm-commodity firm, has used a mobile-phone system to sign up 30,000 farmers as suppliers of coffee, cotton and cocoa, , boosting profitability for all. Meanwhile, the London-based firm, Emerging Crowd, matches investors with companies in emerging African markets, as companies like Zipline are turning to cutting-edge solutions on the continent, such as using drones for deliveries. It is becoming clearer every day, that the solutions for African challenges will come from within Africa itself.

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blog

Women In Jihad

The days without reports of a terrorist attack, somewhere in the world, have become rare. And no, today is not one of them. Details are emerging this morning of three veiled women attacking a police station in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, reportedly wounding two officers before they were shot dead.


What stands out in particular in this report is the gender of the alleged terrorists. Other recent attacks in Kenya and Nigeria suggest that al-Shabaab (which is believed to be behind the events in Mombasa) and Boko Haram are increasingly using female jihadists, and sometimes even little girls, to carry out their terror agenda. Meanwhile, with information bringing the world ever closer, such scenarios appear to be inspiring others to do the same in faraway places. In Paris, for example, police are still investigating a group of ISIS-linked Islamist women who were planning a large-scale attack on the Notre-Dame cathedral.


This new tragic path toward a kind of jihad gender equality is a rather recent phenomenon. In a paper penned 10 years ago, Katharina Von Knop, a German professor of international politics, wrote that female suicide bombers "undermine the idea of who and what a terrorist is." She argued that the role of women in jihad is, originally, that of "an ideological supporter and operational facilitator," someone who can "continue to take care about the financial issues of the organization and continue to educate the children in the ‘right' belief," should the husband die in an attack. But at a time when al-Qaeda dominated the Islamic terror terrain, Von Knop also foresaw the evolution of the female jihadist into a full warrior. This, she concluded, provides terror groups with "a tactical advantage" given the "element of surprise, hesitancy to search women, and the stereotype of females as being nonviolent," not to mention the "much greater psychological impact."


The growing direct participation of women in terror operations not only raises the risk of more attacks, but also raises levels of suspicion towards Muslim women who have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, including those dressed in traditional Islamic clothes. It is a reminder that recent debates in Europe over burqas and burkinis are no passing fashion.

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Geopolitics
Bruno Meyerfeld

The Terrorist Attack Kenya Doesn't Want You To Know About

An estimated 150 Kenyan soldiers were killed five months ago in an al-Shabab ambush in Somalia, a tragedy made all the more troubling by the fact that authorities in Nairobi are mysteriously mum about it.

NAIROBI — Despite the cloudy sky, Wilson, 50, is wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap. His small cellphone never stops ringing. He cracks a few jokes, plays a little electronic music, laughs — anything to avoid thinking about what happened that day.

"It was around 10 in the morning," he recalls. "That's when I was told something had happened. I was in my garage. One of his friends, in Somalia, called me to tell me there'd been an attack."

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blog

Hollande And Putin, Pope Visits Kenya, Thanksgiving Trivia

HOLLANDE MEETS PUTIN IN MOSCOW

French President François Hollande is set to meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin later today in Moscow in the hopes of forming an international military coalition against ISIS. Hollande has been engaged in a diplomatic blitz this week, having met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to discuss military measures after the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks that left 130 dead.

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