Protestzug in Berlin

Lea von der Darfurgruppe Berlin bat mich heute, folgenden Aufruf zum Protestzug am 29. April 2007 in Berlin bekannt zu machen:

Stoppt das Morden in Darfur!

Vier Jahre nach Beginn des Völkermordes im Westen des Sudan ist die Lage der Zivilbevölkerung in Darfur schlimmer denn je zuvor: 400.000 Menschen sind dem Genozid schon zum Opfer gefallen, 2,6 Millionen Menschen mussten flüchten und die Gewalt hält weiter an. Dörfer werden bombardiert, Menschen werden vergewaltigt und vertrieben.

Die Zeit läuft ab für die Menschen in Darfur. Vor drei Jahren hat die Afrikanische Union einen Waffenstillstand vereinbart und Friedenstruppen entsandt. Doch bis heute wird die Zivilbevölkerung nicht wirksam vor Gewalt und Menschenrechtsverletzungen geschützt.

Deswegen wird das weltweite Bündnis “Globe for Darfur” am 29. April 2007 den dritten Global Day for Darfur veranstalten. Zum ersten Mal wird auch die deutsche Beteiligung über eine Pressekonferenz (wie beim letzten Mal) hinausgehen. Bitte setzen Sie sich mit uns dafür ein, dass die Europäische Union aktive Schritte unternimmt, um den Völkermord in Darfur zu beenden.

Bitte schließen Sie sich unserem Protestzug durch Berlin an, der am 29. April 2007 um 10 Uhr vom Pariser Platz vor dem Brandenburger Tor zum Potsdamer Platz läuft, auf dem um 11 Uhr 30 eine Abschlusskundgebung stattfindet.


Excuse me, but…

…what’s the use of having an exhibition on waste management INSIDE the UN compound in Gigiri (Nairobi, Kenya)? Inside where you need to obtain a visitors pass first to eventually get some interesting informations? And btw, why should we inform the experts if instead the wananchi should be addressed?

Similar frustration comes when you’re thinking about all these organizations and institutions in Kenya that are not networked. Although it just takes a few phone calls and a round table to meet and discuss some things.
Think of water projects, think of shared GIS maps & other digital data, think of sharing contacts and other interesting informations you won’t find online. At least, aren’t all these projects aimed at improving the country? Yet, many only start from scratch and still waste a lot of time on getting organized & networked.

Tell you what: I tend to start believing in a structurized environment where change should actually be dictated by the government in terms of gazetted acts.

I was thinking about a battery project where we put a deposit of let’s say Ksh 1 or 2/= on every battery sold in Kenya and then return them to manufacturers for recycling / reuse. The good part: the mbeca-incentive. The bad part: battery recycling @ Eveready? Hmm…

==> There are a lot of interesting, really modern and high-tech things/technological projects going on in Kenya these days – but many of these fancy & expensive brochures that have been printed with the help of the UNDP or other donors have no real meaning to me as they WILL (!) only be used for lighting up the jiko in rural areas. And the brochures, as it seems, are the first output which is generated.

My advice to all over-funded organizations out there: GET A LIFE…and start producing some practical output that people really need.

The Collector of Worlds

Anyone remembers Binyavanga’s comment on “Nairobi people living in two different worlds?”. It is so true. Again and again.

There was this public reading (organized by the German Cultural Centre (Goethe-Institut) & the German Department @ University of Nairobi) by Ilija Trojanow and Binyavanga Wainaina at the Goethe Auditorium (@ Maendeleo ya Wanawake House – used to be one of Nairobi’s tallest buildings in the 1970s!) on Thursday evening. They jointly read passages in German and English from a new book by Ilija Trojanow about Sir Richard Francis Burton, a “Mecca pilgrim and world traveller” (btw, Burton also introduced the first edition/translation of the Indian Kamasutra books to the UK among other stories). Ilija wrote a biographical novel aptly titled “Der Weltensammler” (The Collector of Worlds) on R.F.Burton – a man who was just as mysterious and sort of multicultural cosmopolitan as the author himself. Someone who kept track of his Wanderlust and never really stuck to a place. But whereas Burton’s wife eventually burned all his diaries, Trojanow has been an active publisher and promoter of books. I like Ilija’s picturesque style of describing situations, and how he manages to combine all these different worlds under one roof by using different characters / perspectives in his book.

I had read about this event in the Daily Nation on Tuesday and instantly knew it would be a perfect chance to meet some old friends at the GI. Ilija used to be a student @ the German School in Nairobi way back in the 1970s/80s and has since then often returned to the country. He’s a third culture kid like most of us out here in the blogosphere (all Nairobians are to some extent, ama?) and seems to have an understanding of the culture in the colonial East Africa and how to describe it in his book through the eyes of Burton. An interesting story.

I think it is against this background that made him write a novel on such a controversial character Burton was. And of course the Arab + East African connection: Trojanow recently  accepted (not: converted to!) the Islam as his religion because parts of his family already share that believe (and for other, much more intimate reasons which he disclosed in other interviews online. Reasons that make me understand this rather unusual, but very motivated move) . Burton disguised as a Muslim pilger in order to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca (he even received a circumcision to fully prepare for the pilgrimage!) – something Trojanow also achieved (~ getting a visa for Saudi Arabia) by living with the Deobandi in India for some time.


Binyavanga and Ilija are two very different characters who – in my opinion – have come around and have an understanding for the cosmopolitan context (both lived in SA, btw). An ability which is needed to describe situations – I guess you have to be some sort of collector to aggregate impressions/worlds and imagine them in your head before you can put them down in words. After all, it’s just not the beauty of the language that attracts people to read, but the way these worlds are combined / arranged and described using appropriate words. Both authors know how to do this – and have found their readers here and elsewhere.


Talking of B.Wainaina – Kwani? #4 will be out soon and hopefully available for the christmas market. All KenyanTourists (KTs) abroad should seriously think about getting their copy this time. Kwani #1,#2 & #3 have already been a success story and received with great interest by the public. Obviously, I couldn’t resist from asking both authors about a possible future cooperation, and the idea isn’t so far fetched…Kwani isn’t Wainaina’s only project – he told us about his 2nd (own) book which needs to be finished soon. Good luck!

Going to such events also includes meeting new people…new worlds…new stories. There’s this jamaa by the name of Bernhard we met tonight who came all the way from Germany to Kenya to do an internship at Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi. Free of charge! Ok, there’s a scholarship that pays for his expenses, but nevertheless – most of you can easily imagine what it takes to work at Kenyatta Hospital. Bernhard told me that he also blogs his experiences. In any case: respect, bro!

Finally: Welcome home, Kui! (<= I would like to put a smiley here..)


For those who have been looking for news: I’ve arrived safely and am staying at a very good place. Just a short note to let you know I am still alive + maybe stories like this one will proove that it was a good deciscion to come back. It is a good feeling to see how certain things change, while others remain the same till…..?

Will be back in blogging when I have more pics to share (and there’s a lot!).