In 2013 after a lifelong success of writing novels about his native East Africa, H.R. Ole Kulet was awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for literature. His short novels are now an essential part of the history of East Africa.
Ole Kulet described life that was changing so fast that today young Kenyans can’t fanthom his characters or his plots, including such things as rich old chiefs sexually assaulting young teen girls.
Get where I’m going?
Another two tourists were killed by elephant Saturday.
There are conflicting accounts of the deaths. The official Zambian police report claims that the 57-year old Belgian woman walked “too close” to take photos. But family members of the two killed told the Lusaka Times “the duo were looking at the giant mammals from a distance” and were charged unexpectedly.
In the big scheme of things, here’s why the details matter less than you might think.
One of the most important elephant organizations in the world, Cynthia Moss’ Elephant Trust, has minimized any imminent threat of elephant extinction and quite to the contrary reaffirmed the need “to promote coexistence between increasing numbers of humans and elephants.”
Over the last few years there have been literally dozens, if not hundreds, of not-for-profit organizations using inflammatory claims that elephants are on the brink of extinction in order to raise funds. This was malfeasance little different from Fox News.
Moss’ organization has reset the “elephant problem” in the right way.
The lofty positions held by a number of Africans in both government and business is jeopardized by the Paradise Papers expose, and for exactly the same reason that Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, is on the way out.
Nothing illegal is alleged in the Paradise Papers’ leaked business deals, mostly with Cayman Island banks. Nothing illegal is alleged in the Times’ expose of Apple’s tax havens in Britain and Ireland.
But legality isn’t the issue. Morality is. Wealth of this magnitude should not be held by so few.
Racism has been affirmed and strengthened by democracy. This morning Kenya is controlled by Kikuyus and their allied tribes, as it has been for 300 years. Fires still burn, several people have been shot, and Kenya’s non-Kikuyu cities are ghost towns. It could have been much worse.
I am supposed to guide in Kenya in a few months. Should I go? Yes. Why? Because it will be safe for my clients, because we will only travel into Kikuyu and allied lands. What about other places? Probably in a year. I’ve seen it before. The Kikuyus will be benevolent if not wholly fair, and the country will settle into an uncomfortable peace.
Watch Kenya. What is happening right now in Kenya could very well be what happens in America in 2020. At the time of this posting two hours remain before the polls close in Kenya’s rerun national election. So far the turnout seems to be around 25%. (The turnout in the August 8 election which was annulled by the Supreme Court was 80%.)
There’s widespread violence in the west of the country and in parts of Nairobi’s slums. The official announcement of winners could take a week. Incumbents and opposition alike know what the outcome will be: the rerun election will affirm the results of the original election. So 2 out of 3 citizens are not voting.
Democracy isn’t working, anywhere. South African Richard Pithouse predicted all of this in his summary of Trump’s election: “The Donalds are Everywhere.” Since that analysis nearly a year ago, Kenya, Spain, Italy, South Africa, the U.S., France, Britain and probably to some degree every democratic nation on earth has grown increasingly tumultuous.
Be prepared, folks. If you think the hurricane season is just about wind and rain, you’ve got another thing coming.
Democracy is alive and well in Kenya! Violence has already begun. Tear gas wafts through the city centers of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, the three largest cities. The main opposition party has told supporters to clear off the streets because continued police brutality has so far killed 33 protestors.
All this portends serious death and destruction starting about a week from tomorrow and continuing as it did almost exactly a decade ago for several months before slowly and painfully settling into another chapter of nervous peace, the country then more scarred than ever. Why can’t this remarkably educated, progressively developed country get it right? Tribalism.
Ultimately it’s a matter of whether the people in power are good or bad. Doesn’t really matter whether they won an election or ascended a throne, whether they’re an elected judge or an appointed one. They’re either good or bad.
But as multiple African countries show, today, there’s a lot of bad running democracies. Listen quick: I’m not saying authoritarian regimes are better than democracies. I’m just saying there can be just as much badness in democracy as in authoritarianism.
Clarity on how badly elephants may be declining is at hand. Wednesday scientists began the “2017 Selous-Mikumi Large Mammal Census” which will be conducted over a huge area of nearly 43,000 sq. miles in central Tanzania.
It will be the first such careful animal census of the area since 2014 but more importantly will help determine the much debated viability of the “Great Elephant Census (GEC)”, which tore through the continent a year ago. One of the great criticisms of that inflammatory report was precisely that it ignored areas that the current census will now sample.
Why believe this one?
You’re still overly cautious, I won’t say afraid, of going to Africa, right? Because you’re worried about insecurity, violence. Of course. You’ve heard or seen on TV those face-capped terrorists that go into schools and offices and shoot things up, right? OK.
Are you afraid to go to Spokane? How about Rockford? Memphis? Philadelphia, New Orleans, Clovis, Plano, Inglewood, Sacramento, Evansville, Gainesville?
System 1. Candidates 0. That’s how I see the current Kenyan situation, characterized by the most juvenile behavior of the presidential candidates imaginable atop a system that is working overtime for fairness.
Perhaps this is true worldwide. Perhaps when touched by the power bestowed on a poor man by its great society, untold richest tempt his psyche. This is precisely the case in Kenya, where both presidential candidates are acting like bulldogs not potential leaders.
Last month British Columbia joined a slowly growing list of governments when it banned big game hunting (of brown bears). The trend is clear and provocative. In Africa it has nearly led to civil war.
Nothing is as contentious in the challenged world of conservation as hunting. Although the majority of any population seem to have no strong opinions about it, the minorities’ strong opinions are fierce.
Diplomats and experts alike are hailing Kenya’s Supreme Court for its decision Friday annulling the national elections as proof that this dynamic emerging nation has firmly sided on the rule of law.
I see it differently: another example that democracy is growing self-destructive. With opposition candidates already declining to take part in the announced election rerun, the chances for widespread violence and major political disruption are now greater than ever.
Yesterday Kenya joined 40 other countries doing something the whole world — except Michigan — will likely soon be doing: ban plastic bags.
Significantly, Kenya’s law is the most wide-ranging and punitive of them all. Violators can be fined up to $38,000 and jailed for four years. Visitors to emerging nations are not surprised at the move, but they are often surprised when they understand the reasons.