Countries congratulate Kenya’s president-elect William Ruto as competitor challenges election results

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Countries congratulate Kenya’s president-elect William Ruto as competitor challenges election results

The president-elect, who has served as deputy president for the past 10 years, has been elected at a time when Kenya's flailing, debt-laden economy has left a lot of people struggling to make ends meet. 

The WorldAugust 22, 2022 · 2:15 PM EDT

Kenya's President-elect William Ruto prepares to address the media at his official residence of the deputy president in the Karen area of Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 17, 2022.

Mosa'ab Elshamy/AP

On Monday, five-time presidential candidate Raila Odinga filed a legal challenge to Kenya's 2022 presidential elections.

But countries around the world have already congratulated his competitor, William Samoei Ruto, who was announced the winner of the election last week by a slim margin of 1.64%.

The president-elect, who has served as deputy president for the past 10 years, has been elected at a time when Kenya's flailing, debt-laden economy has left a lot of people struggling to make ends meet.

“Ruto is a leader who will bring development,” said 22-year-old David Kariuki, a motorcycle taxi driver, speaking from a political rally earlier this month. “The quality of life is very low.”

Kariuki exemplifies the type of ordinary voter that Ruto has been targeting throughout his campaign, under the banner: "Hustler Nation."

“A hustler is a hard-working Kenyan who is ready to work hard,” Ruto explained last year.

“Wake up early, sleep late, do the right things, and climb the economic ladder,” he added.

Ruto, who self-identifies as a hustler, has often cited how — unlike most of his political opponents — he does not come from a wealthy or influential family.

Instead, as his humble origin story goes, he started out selling chicken on the streets and worked his way up to be a man of immense wealth and land.

That message has resonated with many Kenyans.

“He was their underdog, who was seen to be fighting for their interests against this classist, elitist group,” said Njoki Wamai, assistant professor of international politics at the United States International University Africa.

Ruto entered the political scene 30 years ago, beginning as a member of Youth for Kanu ’92, the youth wing of former President Daniel arap Moi's political party.

“The Youth for Kanu ’92 was also accused of political violence and instigating instability,” Wamai said.

As he has amassed personal wealth, Ruto has also faced several allegations of corruption and land grabbing across his political career.

Still, he was seen as an effective political leader, especially as Minister of Agriculture, according to Wamai: “Lots of changes and quick changes came about during his tenure.”

Ruto’s national profile grew following the deadly postelection violence of 2007, when he and the current president, Uhuru Kenyatta, both faced charges at the International Criminal Court.

“Both Ruto and Kenyatta used the ICC against the ICC, and also to bolster their own popularity,” Wamai said, noting how they teamed up to fight those allegations and later won two consecutive elections.

In the years leading up to this election, Ruto steadily grew his support base across ethnic lines, especially in Mount Kenya, a politically powerful area that has produced three presidents.

Ruto, who identifies as a devout Christian, spent a lot of time appealing to religious and conservative voters there.

“They started taking him very seriously, ordinary people,” Wamai said. “He invested a lot in those churches.” 

Raila Odinga disputes Kenya’s presidential results in close election

class=”MuiTypography-root-126 MuiTypography-h1-131″>Raila Odinga disputes Kenya’s presidential results in close election

While countries around the world have begun congratulating the president-elect, within Kenya, the results remain controversial and disputed.

The WorldAugust 16, 2022 · 4:30 PM EDT

Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga, center, departs after delivering an address to the nation at his campaign headquarters in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 16, 2022. Kenya is calm a day after Deputy President William Ruto was declared the winner of the narrow presidential election over longtime opposition figure Raila Odinga.

Ben Curtis/AP

While countries around the world have begun congratulating Kenya’s president-elect, William Ruto — the current deputy president — election results remain controversial and disputed within the country.

On Tuesday, Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga rejected the election results, which Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced on Monday after a day of tensions and fighting at the national tallying center.

Ruto won the election with a margin of 1.64% of the vote, according to the IEBC.

Odinga, who is in his fifth run for president, called the results “null and void.”

“We totally and without reservations reject the presidential results announced yesterday,” Odinga said to a crowd of supporters who cheered him on.

Odinga cited how four of seven of Kenya's electoral commissioners have also denounced the results announced by the IEBC chairman, Wafula Chebukati.

The dissenting commissioners alleged they had not been given the chance to discuss election discrepancies or agree on the final results.

“[The results] belong to himself [Chebukati], and do not represent the declaration and announcement by [the] independent electoral and boundaries commission,” said the IEBC’s vice chairman, Juliana Cherera.

Odinga has said he will pursue all constitutional and legal avenues to protest the results of the election. He has a week to file a petition with the supreme court.

The disagreement follows an election period that many observers have lauded for greater transparency and efficiency.

Joyce Majiwa of the Elections Observation Group (ELOG) noted how the electoral commission uploaded copies of the result forms from all of the polling stations onto the IEBC website, allowing anyone to tally the results independently.

ELOG's projected outcomes were consistent with the electoral commission’s results.

For 29-year-old Daniel Kalya, the process this time around has given him more trust in the IEBC.

He was part of a team of volunteers who also combed through polling data to tally the results.

“The overall feeling was one of pride and being impressed by how much progress had been made given the country's history,” Kalya said.

But many of Odinga's supporters are less trusting.

University student Francis Omondi said the disagreement among the electoral commissioners, and allegations of electoral fraud and rigging raised by Odinga’s supporters, makes him suspicious about the veracity of the results.

“There might be something behind it,” he said. “The IEBC should be independent. We want to know what went wrong.”

He said Odinga should take the dispute to court while  also encouraging his supporters to be peaceful.

“Nothing like riots, nothing like chaos. We follow the constitution,” he said.

But in downtown Nairobi, taxi driver Titus Mutia is ready for the election period to be over.

“Business has really been affected by this election,” he said. “Customers are afraid to come.”

While this election has been relatively peaceful, there were reports of some protesting and burning tires in response to the election announcement. And, many shop owners shuttered local businesses over fears of violent reactions to the election.

“The election is over,” Mutia said, adding that Odinga should accept the results.

New US ambassador to Kenya arrives ahead of Tuesday’s election

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>New US ambassador to Kenya arrives ahead of Tuesday's election

US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman has just arrived in the capital Nairobi ahead of the country's heated presidential elections. She gave her first press conference over the weekend. While Whitman is more known for leading Fortune 500 companies than diplomacy, she says she will leverage her experience in this new role. 

The WorldAugust 8, 2022 · 3:30 PM EDT

Meg Whitman is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Nov. 2, 2015.

Richard Drew/AP

The new US ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, has arrived at her new posting just in time for the country's presidential elections on Tuesday.

She spoke at her first press conference in the capital, Nairobi, on Sunday.

Whitman is mostly known for her experience leading top corporations like Ebay and Hewlett Packard and said she will bring that professional experience to her first diplomatic posting.

“I think my business background can be very helpful to an important agenda item for both our countries, which is improved economic, trade and development,” she said.

Whitman's arrival comes amid a flurry of US diplomatic activity on the continent.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently traveling the continent to launch a new US Strategy for sub-Saharan Africa. This closely follows recent official visits by US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield and USAID Administrator Samantha Power to discuss pressing issues such as food security on the continent.

“Kenya is one of the most important countries in Africa,” Whitman said. “The flurry of diplomatic activity is a recognition of the importance of Africa.”

The US and Kenya have a long diplomatic relationship and have recently been seeking to grow their trade and economic ties. Last month, the two countries launched a new strategic trade and development partnership.

Kenya also hosts the regional offices of many big American companies including Facebook, which has recently been criticized for not doing enough to stop hate speech during Kenya's election.

In response to those concerns, Whitman said she could leverage her background in Silicon Valley.

“I have a long background in Silicon Valley. Many of these companies are in Silicon Valley,” she said, adding, “I want to make sure that the companies who are responsible for these platforms also understand the positive and the negative effects around elections like this one coming.”

Whitman also said that she would prioritize the issue of extraordinary long wait times for those seeking US visas at the Embassy. 

“The situation is unacceptable,” she said. “We welcome Kenyan visitors and we celebrate our strong people-to-people ties. And this is not helping that at the moment.” 

Related: TikTok can be a ‘dangerous tool for hatemongers,’ Kenyan govt warns ahead of elections

Kenya’s popular band Sauti Sol calls on Kenyans to vote

class=”MuiTypography-root-229 MuiTypography-h1-234″>Kenya’s popular band Sauti Sol calls on Kenyans to voteThe WorldAugust 8, 2022 · 2:30 PM EDT

Sauti Sol/YouTube

Sauti Sol, one of Kenya's most-famous bands, is known for their vibrant Afropop hits and swoon-worthy love songs.

But ahead of Kenya's presidential election on Tuesday, the four-person group is lending their voices for a more political purpose — encouraging Kenyans to vote.

 They recently released a series of politically conscious songs under a project dubbed #Tujiangalie, which in Swahili means, “We should look into ourselves.” 

The title comes from their popular song by the same name a few years ago.

“It's like a man in the mirror situation. Because, you know, we have always pointed the finger at whoever is doing something wrong without being reflective on how much we contribute to the wrong," band member Bien-Aimè Alusa said. 

The songs call out the socioeconomic and political ills in Kenya while also encouraging listeners to think about what they can do as citizens to improve society.

In one song, "In My Head," featuring Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones, they sing about issues such as high youth unemployment and corruption.

“In my head, I want to believe what my favorite politician is telling me. I would love to believe the fairy tales and fantasies that they are building the castle,” said Alusa about the message behind the song’s lyrics.

"But I would be lying to myself because they have promised things before that they haven't delivered.” 

The superstar isn't alone in feeling that way.

Political candidates are making huge promises during this election, but voter apathy — especially among youth ages 18 to 35 — has been a noted concern for election officials.

The song "Tano Tena," or “Five Again,” featuring Nviiri the Storyteller and Bensoul, reflects the voter frustration that may underlie the apathy. 

The song title refers to Kenya's five-year presidential terms.

“I'm not going to give you another five years to ruin my life. I'm not going to give you another five years to be on the driver's seat and drive me in the wrong direction," Alusa said. 

"It's just a song that really speaks to the moment in terms of, ‘Who are we electing?’ Are we doing a background check on these guys?" he explained.

Later in the song, they sing: "I won't die for five again" — bringing to mind how in past elections, Kenyan youth have been used for political gain and incited toward violence.

Sauti Sol and other musicians have been calling for peaceful elections and for youth to push for change in positive ways.      

"Give the power to the youth, we’ll kill them with the truth,” they sing in “Tano Tena.”

“The end goal of this particular project is to make as many youth as possible go to the ballot and express themselves, because a lot of the youth in Kenya feel like their voice doesn't really count,” Alusa said.  

In the song, “Girls on Top,” featuring musicians Brandy Maina and Maandy, they encourage Kenyans to vote for women — one of the most underrepresented groups in the country. 

“We need a lot more representation from our sisters because it's important for a gender balance to be there in society, in our leadership.”

Polls open in Kenya on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s famously banned play returns to Kenya

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o’s famously banned play returns to Kenya

“I Will Marry When I Want,” the once-banned play, is finally getting its national debut after more than 30 years.

The WorldMay 17, 2022 · 3:00 PM EDT

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o reads a play at the University of Hawaii. 

Kanaka Rastamon/Flickr

This month, a play called “Ngaahika Ndeenda,” or “I Will Marry When I Want,” was performed for the first time at the Nairobi National Theater in both its original Gĩkũyũ and in English. 

“When I heard they were being played again, or it was being played, no matter what format, I was of course happy."

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, playwright

“When I heard they were being played again, or it was being played, no matter what format, I was of course happy,” said legendary Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, who co-authored the play with Ngũgĩ wa Mirii in 1977.

It’s come a long way since then.

The play was first conceived through the Kamĩrĩĩthũ Community Education and Cultural Center, which provided adult education and literacy programs for the rural poor.

Thiong’o explained it was a collaboration with the center’s participants, who were able to draw from their real struggles and experiences and use theater as a means of education.

“The theater was going to be very good because they would act in a play and others could come and join,” he said.

But soon after the popular play’s premiere, which had drawn a national audience, it was banned under the government of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

“Kenyatta [put] me into a maximum security prison for writing a play!” Thiong’o chuckled. He was detained for a year without specific charges and later forced into exile. He now lives and teaches in California.

Despite the consequences, Thiong’o said the incident made him realize the power of writing in local African languages, and would go on to write many novels in his native Gĩkũyũ.

Related: Radio Haiti finds a new home with a trilingual archive at Duke University

Even with the ban on this play and other of Thiong’o’s works, it nonetheless attracted generations of activists and artists lured by its progressive social critiques.

Related: ‘They don’t help us’: Apathy, disillusionment with the Kenyan govt blamed for low voter registration

“We've all known about it for so long. I knew about it when I was in high school,” said Nice Githinji, an actor with the Nairobi Performing Arts Studio, which produced the play.

“I think it's a play that most of us growing up, either we read it or knew that it was there,” she said, recalling how they would share a single banned book among progressive students.

Githinji plays a poor, rural woman named Wangechi who, along with her husband, are told by a wealthy Kenyan family that they are living in sin.

They are persuaded into having a proper Christian marriage. In the end, however, they wind up losing their land in their efforts.

For Githinji, it’s a necessary but rare criticism of Christianity and its history in Kenya.

“The thing that keeps on jumping out on the page for me is just how we forgot that we had our traditional ways of praying, we had our traditional ways of speaking to whichever creator is out there. … They just came and shoved the Bible down our throats, and with that came colonialism."

Nice Githinji, actor, Nairobi Performing Arts Studio

“The thing that keeps on jumping out on the page for me is just how we forgot that we had our traditional ways of praying, we had our traditional ways of speaking to whichever creator is out there,” Githinji said. 

“They just came and shoved the Bible down our throats, and with that came colonialism.”

The play highlights pivotal moments in Kenya’s history, including the brutal violence of British colonialism, exploitation by foreign companies and land grabbing.

Perhaps most controversial, however, is the damning critique of the failures of Kenya’s newly independent government and the collusion of elites in meeting the basic needs of the struggling masses.

“After watching [the play], I understand why he was arrested. It makes so much sense."

Mueni Mwando who recently attended the premiere

“After watching it, I understand why he was arrested. It makes so much sense,” said 26-year old Mueni Mwando, who was unfamiliar with the history of the play before she attended the premiere.

“It’s such a relevant play,” she added, noting how the dominant theme of inequality in Kenya remains an issue today.

“This is the best time for this play to come back up right now. Because now we have to think about who we are putting in that seat,” said Mwando, referencing Kenya’s upcoming presidential election in August.

Related: Kenyan environmentalists protest proposed forest bill amendments

For Thiong’o, who has lived far from home for decades, the fact that the play can be performed without issue is a sign that Kenya has become more open.

“No society can develop without a vigorous exchange of ideas,” said. 

Heavy smog shuts down schools in India’s capital

class=”MuiTypography-root-228 MuiTypography-h1-233″>Heavy smog shuts down schools in India’s capitalThe WorldNovember 17, 2021 · 9:30 AM EST

Commuters drive amidst morning haze and toxic smog as schools and some coal-based power plants close down in New Delhi, India, Nov. 17, 2021.

Manish Swarup/AP

Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

India
Schools and colleges have shut down indefinitely in the Indian capital, New Delhi, and several neighboring provinces due to high levels of air pollution that have continued to worsen. Some coal power plants and construction sites have also been closed as the levels of the fine particulate matter PM2.5 are far higher than those considered safe by the WHO. People venturing outside have reported difficulty breathing, nausea and stinging in the eyes, and doctors have seen a sharp increase in hospital admissions due to respiratory problems. Officials are mulling over whether to impose a lockdown, similar to those used to control the spread of the coronavirus. If it goes into effect, the lockdown could be the first of its kind to curb pollution. High levels of air pollution are common there, especially during the winter months, making New Delhi one of the most polluted capital cities in the world.

Canada
Thousands of homes in the Canadian province of British Columbia have been evacuated after what officials are calling the “worst weather storm in a century.” It’s also affected areas of the US Pacific Northwest. The flood waters have severely damaged roads and train routes around the city of  Vancouver and have cut access to Canada’s largest port. Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said he had no doubt that the storm was linked to climate change. Moisture that originates in tropical regions and is moved across the atmosphere by an "atmospheric river" has dumped an amount of water equivalent to the region’s monthly precipitation average in just 24 hours.

Kenya
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is in Kenya, a key US partner in East Africa. In a private meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and top country officials, Blinken focused on regional security issues, such as Kenya’s role in easing the conflict in Ethiopia, democracy in Sudan and combating the threat of terrorism in the region.

From The WorldMigrants restricted from entering the US due to Title 42 see double standard

Psychologist Sebastián Farías speaks with asylum-seekers inside a migrant encampment on Nov. 6, 2021. 

 

Credit:

Max Rivlin-Nadler/The World

The US has reopened its land borders to vaccinated travelers, but not to many asylum-seekers, even if they are vaccinated. This reality is leaving migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, increasingly desperate for their chance to seek asylum in the US.

Cuban govt supporters resorted to tactics they haven't used in decades to suppress political dissidents, professor says

Soldiers patrol along the Malecón seawall in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 15, 2021.

Credit:

Ramon Espinosa/AP

Nationwide protests planned for Monday in Cuba were curtailed by security forces. Lillian Guerra, a professor of Cuban history and the director of the Cuba Program at the University of Florida, described the culture of repudiation in the country to The World's host Marco Werman.

Go behind the scenes with one of our correspondents.

Shirin Jaafari, a correspondent with The World since 2015, traveled to Afghanistan in July 2021 to report on the quickly evolving situation as the US withdrawal process was underway.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting from Herat days before the Taliban overtook the city.

Putting together stories in hostile environments is time- and resource-intensive. Make a gift today to support the work of Shirin and others here at The World. Thank you!

Double Take

After selling for $34.9 million at auction in New York, a Frida Kahlo painting has now become the highest-selling work of Latin American art. The record was previously held by her husband Diego Rivera, and the painting itself expresses the decadeslong tumultuous relationship the couple shared.

In case you missed itListen: Poland-Belarus border tensions escalate

A Polish army vehicle drives past a checkpoint close to the border with Belarus in Kuznica, Poland, Nov. 16, 2021.

Credit:

Matthias Schrader/AP

Migrants remain stranded at the Poland-Belarus border, attempting to cross into the EU and seek asylum. What does the escalating tension mean for Europe? And the virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and China’s Premier Xi Jinping was big news in China, with state media calling it a success. We hear reactions from China. Plus, archaeologists in Israel say an amethyst ring they uncovered recently was likely used as a hangover cure in the third century. We hear about a few other hangover remedies that have gathered faith over time.

Don't forget to subscribe to The World's Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Ongoing drought devastates parts of Kenya

class=”MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>Ongoing drought devastates parts of Kenya

A monthslong drought in parts of Kenya is endangering the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on livestock. Humanitarian organizations are warning that countless people could be at risk of hunger if the rains don't come soon.

The WorldNovember 9, 2021 · 2:30 PM EST

Ruchi Wario, 60, shepherds livestock at one of the few functioning boreholes in Marsabit County, Kenya, Nov. 3, 2021.

 

Halima Gikandi/The World

Driving through Marsabit County in northern Kenya — there’s little water in sight. Only expansive areas of dry and dusty land devastated by the country’s monthslong drought emergency.

Off the side of the road, emaciated cows, and even camels, trudge through the heat — they are searching for pasture and water, which have both become increasingly difficult to find.

Related: Got camel milk? Entrepreneurs in Kenya hope more people will embrace the taste of this dairy alternative.

“The drought has become bad because this whole time, there hasn’t been any rain,” said Samwel Lekorima, a herder at a livestock market in Mirelle town. “Animals have begun to die.”

A thin, sickly camel trudges along in the heat in the drought-affected Marsabit County, Kenya, Nov. 3, 2021.

Credit:

Halima Gikandi/The World

Local pastoralists have come to the market to sell off livestock to get money to buy goods and other basic commodities, which have become expensive during this drought.

The drought in the country is endangering the livelihoods of millions of people. And, humanitarian organizations are warning that countless people could be at risk of hunger if the rains don’t come soon.

“People are lacking things to eat,” Lekorima said.

In Marsabit, Kenya’s second-biggest county, 80% of households directly rely on livestock for their livelihoods, according to officials.

Culturally, pastoralists here build and measure their wealth by maintaining large herds of livestock, rather than selling them off. But officials are encouraging them to quickly offload their livestock before they dwindle, sicken or die.

Related: Amid plans of mass protests, Sudan's military suggests ousted prime minister can return to power

“We have actually put a lot of effort into establishing markets in the strategic points to try to see if they can dispose of the animals,” said Wario Sori Sake, chief livestock officer for Marsabit County.

Sake knows firsthand the devastation that drought can bring.

“When I was very young, around 1992, [1993], my family had a huge stock of cattle, which we all lost. That actually reduced us to pastoralist refugees.”

Wario Sori Sake, chief livestock officer for Marsabit County

“When I was very young, around 1992, [1993], my family had a huge stock of cattle, which we all lost,” he said. “That actually reduced us to pastoralist refugees.”

But even those who are selling off their stocks aren’t going to take home much in return.

Herder Samwel Lekorima surveys livestock at a market in Mirelle, where pastoralists are off herding their animals due to the drought, Nov. 2, 2021.

Credit:

Halima Gikandi/The World

“Now, the price has gone down a lot. Because of the drought, people have brought many goats to the market,” Lekorima said.

The animals, many wasted, are also fetching lower prices. Kenya’s government is dedicating millions of dollars to help purchase livestock off of herders before it is too late.

Still Lekorima — like many others — is holding onto some animals in the hopes that if the rains come soon, they will be able to recover. But the outlook isn’t looking good.

“Currently, we are projecting the October, November, December rains to fail by 50%,” said Henry Parkolwa, county drought coordinator at Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority.

Kenya has two rainy seasons: the long and the short. The latter was meant to begin last month, but Marsabit has seen little rain so far.

Related: UN court favors Somalia in maritime border dispute judgment

While drought is not new to Kenya, scientists have noted with concern the increasing frequency of drought and other extreme weather events in the country.

“Because of climate change, the rainfall [on] which we depend is now unpredictable, the quantities have reduced, and the seasons have shortened,” Parkolwa said. “So, they cannot support pasture production [nor] can they support crop production.”

The Kenyan government, supported by nongovernmental organizations, is trying to mitigate the drought’s impact in a number of ways, including donating food; distributing animal feed; supplying drought-resistant crops; trucking in water; and managing boreholes across large, often remote swathes of land.

One borehole, about an hour and a half from Marsabit town, some herders must travel for days to reach it.

Sixty-year-old Ruchi Wario is the community leader there — in charge of ensuring that everyone in the surrounding communities gets a chance to drink from the water, and their animals, too.

Already, goats and sheep have collapsed out of thirst on their way to this borehole, too weak to make the growing journey between pasture and water.

“The machines that pump water have all broken down, apart from this one here,” Wario said.

Nearby, water wells had also dried up.

“We are fearing our stock will die of thirst if this last pump fails,” he said.

He warns the loss of food sources and income will have a trickle-down effect on communities.

“You know, kids are taken away from school and also the girls, the adolescent girls, some of them are married off,” added Adan Jarso, of Mercy Corps, which has been helping communities cope with the drought. “That increases the cycle of poverty.”

Already, more than 2 million people are facing food insecurity due to the drought.

Animals drink from water sourced from a borehole in Marsabit County. Local herders say some have collapsed on the way as the distance between pasture and water grows, Nov. 3, 2021.

Credit:

Halima Gikandi/The World

But Jarso notes there are ways communities can mitigate the impact of drought, including by planning and mapping out their rangeland and water resources.

“Build the capacity of the local communities. That’s the most important part, so that they can be able to have better management of their own resources,” he said.

But as drought and other natural disasters become more frequent in Kenya, the scale of resources that communities need to prepare for, and adapt to, their changing environments is likely to increase.

“All of this requires financing,” said Patricia Nying'uro, a climate scientist with the Kenya Meteorological Department, who is currently in Glasgow, Scotland, for the UN climate conference.

“Which is why we are also asking for commitment from the developed countries to support adaptation within the continent,” she said.

Protests raise concerns of COVID-19 spread; Researchers retract hydroxycholorquine study

Protests raise concerns of COVID-19 spread; Researchers retract hydroxycholorquine study

By
The World staff

People protest in solidarity with those in the United States protesting police brutality and the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Sydney, Australia, June 2, 2020.

Credit:

Loren Elliott/Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

As protests reverberate around the world over the police killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, some governments have urged would-be protesters to move their activism out of the streets over fears of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, while underscoring her solidarity with protesters, asked them to find an alternative to gathering physically: “Right now, it is the case, unfortunately and regrettably, that large gatherings of people could pose a risk to health and indeed to life.” Scotland is currently under strict coronavirus lockdown rules which prohibit gatherings of more than eight people and require social distancing of at least six feet.

An Australian court banned a Black Lives Matter protest planned in Sydney, citing COVID-19 concerns. While the curve has flattened in New South Wales, authorities warned, “It’s not a time to throw out our caution.” But organizers say they plan to go ahead with the protest, which has also brought attention to deaths in police custody of black and Indigenous people in Australia.

What The World is following

Researchers retracted a study in the Lancet medical journal that found risks in using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, saying they can “no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.” The retraction raises concerns about the rush to publish during the pandemic. 

US President Donald Trump tweeted a letter calling demonstrators in Washington, DC’s Lafayette Square “terrorists” and citing other falsehoods after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis heavily criticized the president. The peaceful protesters were violently cleared from the square Monday for the president’s photo opportunity, prompting a lawsuit from the ACLU.

From The WorldYemen faces spread of COVID-19 ‘with no health care system at all’

Yemen, made vulnerable by more than five years of war, is ill-equipped to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health problem is exacerbated by warring factions, who downplay the threat of the pandemic even as Yemeni hospitals — and graveyards — are crowded with victims.

Police killing of George Floyd strikes a chord in Kenya

A man sits under a graffiti depicting African American man George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, June 4, 2020. The writing reads ”Justice” in Swahili. 

Credit:

Baz Ratner/Reuters

George Floyd’s killing by a police offer in the US has struck a chord with Kenyans who have also spoken out against police brutality. When Kenya enacted restrictive policies to curb the spread of the coronavirus, activists sounded the alarm about deadly policing. According to Kenya’s Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), more than 15 people were killed by police during the coronavirus curfew — including children. Community organizers say that number could be much higher.

From Things That Go Boom: Was the US sleeping through China’s rise? 

China’s millennials reexamine spending habits as economy recovers

Visitors hold face masks at the Shanghai Disneyland theme park as it reopens following a shutdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Shanghai Disney Resort in Shanghai, China May 11, 2020. 

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Aly Song/Reuters

Millennials in China have been known to be big spenders. But as the Chinese economy recovers from a coronavirus-induced slowdown, many young people are reexamining their lives and their spending habits.

Morning focus

Blowing bubbles looks fun across the universe. Watch this black hole send blobs of 400 million billion pounds of matter into space. 

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In case you missed itListen: The parallels of police violence in the US and around the world

A man holds a candle in commemoration of George Floyd, a black man killed while in Minneapolis police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 3, 2020.

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We continue to focus on the two biggest stories across the globe: Police violence against black people in the US and around the world, and the coronavirus pandemic. The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the killing of a 14-year-old boy during a botched police raid in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is forcing a reckoning in both countries. Also, how testing and tracing for COVID-19 is working in the UK. And, pandemic lockdowns have changed the way people around the world are using their streets and sidewalks. We take you to a busy street in Milan to hear how people are using new bike lanes and socially-distanced sidewalks.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Police killing of George Floyd strikes a chord in Kenya

Police killing of George Floyd strikes a chord in Kenya

By
Halima Gikandi

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A man sits under a graffiti depicting African American man George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, June 4, 2020. The writing reads ”Justice” in Swahili. 

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Early this week, Nafula Wafula, a Kenyan activist, got a call from an American friend living in Nairobi. They talked about the recent killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“When she called me, at the same time I was thinking about the police brutality that is happening here in Kenya,” said Wafula, who is the vice-chairperson of policy at the Commonwealth Youth Council. She also has a brother who lives in the United States.

Related: World responds to protests sparked by George Floyd’s death

“The persons in the poorest communities, informal urban settlements face more police brutality, while in the US it’s more racial.”

Nafula Wafula, activist and vice-chairperson of policy, Commonwealth Youth Council, Kenya

“The persons in the poorest communities, informal urban settlements face more police brutality, while in the US it’s more racial,” said Wafula. Last year, more than 100 people were killed by police violence in Kenya, according to human rights groups. 

Related: Somali Americans share grief and pain over George Floyd’s killing

When Kenya enacted restrictive policies to curb the spread of coronavirus, activists sounded the alarm about deadly policing. According to Kenya’s Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), more than 15 people were killed by police during the coronavirus curfew — including children. Community organizers say that number could be much higher.

On Thursday, the IPOA announced that six police officers would be arrested and charged over the deaths and assault of Kenyans during the coronavirus curfew, including Yasin Hussein Moyo, a 13-year-old boy killed in March. 

Yet, last Friday, Kenyan police officers killed two children and a woman lost her unborn baby during a police raid in the coastal region of Kwale. Days later, Kenyan police reportedly killed a homeless man in the poor neighborhood of Mathare, in Nairobi. Videos on social media show residents demonstrating in the middle of the night on Monday.

Related: ‘No justice, no peace’: Thousands in London protest the death of Floyd

Despite a nationwide curfew and limit on public gatherings, Wafula and her friend organized a small demonstration of their own on Tuesday, outside the US Embassy in Nairobi. Shortly after, the US ambassador released a video statement condemning the killing of George Floyd, a black man. 

For some, it’s a sign of how much the police killing of George Floyd, and the nationwide protests, has resonated within other countries where police violence is also a problem.

“The events happening in the US have sparked police accountability questions in Kenya. … The cops are very clever in terms of hiding evidence and blaming these victims for being criminals.”

Robi Chacha, human rights attorney, Nairobi, Kenya

“The events happening in the US have sparked police accountability questions in Kenya,” said Robi Chacha, a human rights attorney who recently moved back to Nairobi from San Francisco. He’s worked on extrajudicial killing cases but says they rarely get the level of media attention seen in the US now.

Related: Floyd’s death reverberates in Nigeria 

“The cops are very clever in terms of hiding evidence and blaming these victims for being criminals,” he continued.

On Tuesday, Kenya’s national police spokesperson Charles Owino was asked about police brutality on national TV. 

“Let’s take action against individual police officers who are erratic,” he said. “But let’s support the police, let’s not set the public against our police officers.” Owino denied that the man killed in Mathare was shot by police officers.

Years of pressure from community social justice groups, who have been documenting police killings and violence, has led to some police reforms and increased civilian oversight.

“The only concern for me and for many other Kenyans is why those do not reflect in just for these victims and their families as well,” said Chacha.

Under lockdown, mosques in Kenya offer virtual prayers for Ramadan

Under lockdown, mosques in Kenya offer virtual prayers for Ramadan

By
Halima Gikandi

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Women walk down the streets of Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 19, 2019. The neighborhood is currently under quarantine due to a spike in coronavirus cases. 

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On a normal Friday during Ramadan, Ahmed Ali Mohamed would head to the mosque with his family and friends to break the fast.

“Then [we’d] head home and have a feast with friends, and family, and relatives, sometimes at my grandmother’s or mother’s house,” he said from his home in Nairobi, Kenya. “But this Ramadan has been very different.”

Related: How coronavirus is changing the way Muslims celebrate Ramadan

Eastleigh, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood where Mohamed’s mother and grandmother live, is currently under lockdown, and most mosques have closed. Instead, some mosques are offering virtual prayers via YouTube. 

“I can’t visit at all. No one is allowed,” said Mohamed, who lives in another area of Nairobi. He notes how police and soldiers have put up roadblocks in Eastleigh to prevent people from moving in and out of the neighborhood. 

On May 7, the Kenyan government announced the 15-day lockdown in Eastleigh after the neighborhood saw a spike in COVID-19 cases. Some accused officials of discriminating against Muslims, because they had also locked down Old Town, a predominantly Muslim area in the coastal city of Mombasa.

“There is no effort to target anyone,” Kenya’s Interior Minister Fred Matiangi told Muslim leaders earlier this week. “We are suffering equally. This disease does not choose where you come from.”

Mohamed didn’t feel the lockdown was singling out Muslims. In fact, he recalled how Islamic scripture has specific guidelines on what people should do during a pandemic or a plague.

“Any place that is under quarantine, you shouldn’t go in. And if you are inside you shouldn’t come out,” he said. “That’s hadith [saying] from the prophet, peace be upon him.”

Still, like many in Nairobi, he worries about how his family will deal with the effects of the lockdown. “Most of the people who used to go into Eastleigh come from outside. The small traders. The ones who bring fresh groceries, they don’t come into Eastleigh anymore.”

Residents and workers of Eastleigh initially protested the lockdown, leading officials to allow essential workers to come in and out of the neighborhood.

But Mohamed, who trades wholesale goods like sugar and flour, says the increasingly narrow lockdowns are cutting off food supply not only in Eastleigh but in the whole country.

Related: Coronavirus — and locusts — threaten Kenya’s food security 

Weeks before the Eastleigh quarantine, the government had announced a citywide lockdown, meaning Mohamed cannot leave Nairobi for work.

Even dates — a favorite Ramadan treats — are scarce or overpriced.

“We used to have dates, lots of dates from mostly the Middle Eastern countries, or North Africa,” said Mohamed. “We don’t get them because there are no goods coming into the country,” he continued.

Without iftar feasts to look forward to, Mohamed is spending Ramadan at home with his wife Fatimah, and their two small children.

Instead of going to the mosque, they pray at home. “The majority of the mosques do have YouTube pages, so you can follow the sermons on YouTube,” said Mohamed. 

“Spiritually, you have to go online if you want to interact or see or ask any questions with the imams.”

Mohamed points to Jamia mosque, which closed its doors for the first time in 95 years due to the pandemic. The mosque’s TV channel, Horizon TV, regularly releases virtual prayers, programming for children, and interviews with scientists and experts.

As religious leaders in other parts of the region seek to undermine the threat of the coronavirus, Jamia is trying to drive a different message to its congregants who are spending Ramadan at home. 

“You fall sick today. Look for a doctor, look for medicine,” said Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome in a recent message on Jamia mosque’s YouTube channel.