Survey: Africa in Higher Education

Dear KP readers, please help out Natasha, a University of Cape Town Ph.D. student conducting survey on African Studies/ Africana / Diaspora / Carribbean Studies in institutions of higher education. She is seeking undergraduate, postgraduate, and recent graduate responses to simple 10-question survey:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2Z6QC7C

For further information, you can contact Natasha at nhimmelman-at-gmail.com.

On Kibera, flying toilets and poop.

I have been wanting to write this for a while now. Especially after I read about Peepoo: a biodegradable plastic bag that acts as a single-use toilet for urban slums in the developing world. Inspired by the ever ubiquitous Kibera flying toilets.

Now my post is not about the benefits (or idiocy) of Peepoo, I’ll leave that to the World Toilet Organization . It is about the framing of Kibera and the telling of its stories, which seem by and large to be synonymous with flying toilets and violence.

A few months ago I had the privilege of engaging with young Kibera residents involved in the Map Kibera project and other community media projects. We ended up discussing a wide range of issues…I was particularly interested in why they had joined the project and why they want to continue the work they were doing. Over and over again they expressed the need to share their view of what Kibera was and tell their stories, and most importantly correct the negative perceptions out there about Kibera.

Do all this through a map I asked?

Yes, they replied – people didn’t know for instance about the different “villages” within Kibera, or the number of business, or health resources, and one young man told me – the fact that we have toilets..lots of them. Mapping to them was about giving voice… in this case what they are calling the Voice of Kibera.

I instantly connected with those young people and the sense of pride about being able to tell their own stories…I hope from them we will eventually get to learn more about the real, diverse, full of life, and complex Kibera and less about poop flying all over Kibera.

Kenyans for Kenya

A group of Kenyans have been quietly working to address the issue of negative ethnicity/tribalism through honest and productive dialogue.

Their Kenyans for Kenya Newsletter summarizing a recent round of dialogue has some interesting insight.

My first political memory

Inspired by (no longer fellow delinquent blogger) Mama Junkyard.

I grew up with a father who was a politics junkie – no surprise that I become one myself. He did not live long enough to see the end of the Moi era, so most of my memories of political discussion in my household involve epithets being hurled at Moi or at the news (which especially in the 80s was really Moi). Also have memories of me helping him find the BBC or VOA on the shortwave radio, because this was the closest Kenyans could get to independent media. And you had to listen with the volume low, with copies of Gitobu’s weekly paper hidden (and my mother in a panic), because you didn’t know who was spying and when you could get labeled as a Mwakenya member.

My very very first vivid political memory though is of the coup in ’82. I was five years old, schools were closed for August holidays.

I had been sent to the duka (store) to buy bread and milk in the morning as per the norm. The store closest to the house was out of milk and I really wasn’t going to be the bearer of that news to my mother (a did you check all the other dukas “conversation” would have ensued) so I walked a bit further to the next duka. As I’m paying for the milk, I hear gunshots. At first we – me, the duka guy, people milling around as they do in estates – we surprised, it was so out of the blue and bizarre. Next thing, we’re all in a panic and running for cover. I ran back home, I think leaving the change behind at the duka.

TV only came on at 5:00 pm, so everyone turned on their radio to try and figure out what was going on. In the meantime, soldiers from Lang’ata barracks were flooding the estate (we lived in Madaraka not too far from the barracks) looking for good knows what. I think the coup plotters had taken over KBC radio by then and were announcing the coup/playing martial music. The soldiers (army) I believe started shooting people indiscriminately. We were all instructed over loudspeaker to lie down in our houses. Anyone caught peeping outside their windows would be shot. It was terrifying.

Meanwhile, we had no clue where my dad was. He worked the nightshift at the airport – target number 1 in any coup. We found out later than he had run smack into the soldiers when driving back home and had been arrested in held by them for a couple of hours, because he didn’t have his idea. He was later released under circumstances which I now forget.

I remember being cooped up in the house for a day or two, and then leaving to go and see the bodies of people who had been shot within the estate – most for having not having an ID, wrong place/wrong time, looking out through their windows. My uncle worked at the Air Force and was charged with treason like all Air Force officers it the time…it took his siblings months to find out if he was dead or alive and where he was being held. He eventually did five years even though he had zero to do with the coup. It was a scary scary time.

What was your first political memory? Please indulge me.

Recent blog finds

Keep coming across some fab gems, perhaps my long lost blogging mo-jo will also be found :-)

- Thus Spaketh Idd Salim: Talented Kenyan developer who tells it like it is.

- Diasporadical: Young(ish) Kenyans who have something to say.

- Only Once: CEO writing about tech and entrepreneurship

Public Forum on Transitional Justice

Film Festival and Public Forum on Transitional Justice in Kenya

Theme: Reflecting on the Campaign for Reforms and Political Accountability in Kenya. A four-part documentary titled The Unturned Stones will be launched and two publications on transitional justice: A Case Digest on Torture and A Toolkit for Transitional Justice.

Venue: French Cultural Centre (Alliance Fran├žaise), Nairobi.

Date and Time: February, 24-25 2010 from 5:30-9:00pm

Public lecture on sexual minority rights in Kenya

UHAI and Akiba Uhaki in conjunction with KHRC, GALCK, YWLI, UAF-A, KLSS and CREAW invite you to:
A public lecture on sexual minority rights (Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Rights) in Kenya
Keynote Speaker: Professor Makau W. Mutua
Venue: Alliance Francaise
Date: 16 February 2010
Time: 4-6pm
RSVP: info@uhai-eashri.org, info@akibauhaki.org, 0722 659 346

Recent blog finds

EDIT: broken links fixed

Have come up across some gems recently that I need to share (and yes I should get back to blogging myself, I know, I know).

- Mo’dernity Mo’problems

- Solo Kinshasa

- This is Africa