Assault and Batteries

High-tech horror:
Widespread cell-phone violence against women in Iraq and the Congo.

by Harkavy

Published in: on May 7, 2008 at 6:53 pm  Comments (1)  



Published in: on January 29, 2008 at 1:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Remembering Mahad

We lost a courageous colleague yesterday in Mogadishu, Somalia. Mahad Elmi was a 30-year-old radio journalist who had become an invaluable freelancer for McClatchy’s Africa bureau over the past year.

Published in: on August 12, 2007 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Scores Still Jailed in Secret after Fleeing Somali War

Shashank Bengali, McClatchy Newspapers, Sat, Jul. 07, 2007
At least 76 people who were captured while fleeing the war in Somalia in January are still being held in Ethiopia under a program of secret prisoner renditions backed by the United States, Kenya and Somalia, human rights activists said Friday.

Published in: on July 9, 2007 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

What’s Wrong With These Pictures?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Image Hosted by

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Image Hosted by[Thx Bobby and Trinity]

Published in: on July 6, 2007 at 8:12 am  Leave a Comment  

A Place Where Women Rule

All-Female Village in Kenya Is a Sign Of Burgeoning Feminism Across Africa

Ten years ago, a group of women established the village of Umoja, which means unity in Swahili, on an unwanted field of dry grasslands. The women said they had been raped and, as a result, abandoned by their husbands, who claimed they had shamed their community.

Stung by the treatment, Lolosoli, a charismatic and self-assured woman with a crown of puffy dark hair, decided no men would be allowed to live in their circular village of mud-and-dung huts.

In an act of spite, the men of her tribe started their own village across the way, often monitoring activities in Umoja and spying on their female counterparts.

Published in: on June 28, 2007 at 1:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Where Are the Doctors?

Two for the Road
In Africa with Nick Kristof
June 25, 2007, 11:39
by Leana Wen

“Can you take me back to the U.S. with you?”

My friend Dr. Dan Rudasingwa is a general practitioner (GP) at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda. His family returned to Rwanda after 30 years of exile in Uganda to help rebuild the country. Now he wants to leave Rwanda.

Published in: on June 25, 2007 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

A ‘Painful Way to Die’

Published: June 25, 2007JOMBA, Congo

If you think you face tough choices, imagine you were living here in eastern Congo.

“If women go to the fields, they’re raped,” said Shabain Katuija, a local man. “If they don’t go to the fields, they starve.”

Published in: on June 24, 2007 at 11:22 pm  Comments (1)  

Two for the Road

In Africa with Nick Kristof

Updated frequently, very much worth reading.

Published in: on June 22, 2007 at 10:42 am  Leave a Comment  

A Student, a Teacher and a Glimpse of War

And yet — how can you walk away from a human being who will surely die if you do so?

Nicholas Kristof

Published in: on June 21, 2007 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  


Two for the Road
In Africa with Nick Kristof

June 19, 2007, 10:16 am
From the high vantage point of our trucks, we could see the long lines of people stretching through the town’s center and masses more throbbing behind a barricade, pressing for the opportunity to just wait in line. I had seen a similar commotion once before in Chicago, at a record signing by singer R. Kelly. But this is Rutshuru in the eastern Congo: these people were fighting for food.

by Will Okun

Published in: on June 19, 2007 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  

The Human Cost of War

Two for the Road
In Africa with Nick Kristof
June 18, 2007, 8:20 am

I saw my first patient in the Congo today.
Her name is Yohanita Nyiahabimana. She is a 41-year old woman who lives in the village of Malehe, about an hour from Goma. She was carried out of her house by her neighbors when they heard that we were coming. There she lay on some tattered blankets, all 50 pounds of her under the unforgiving African sun.

by Leana Wen

Published in: on June 19, 2007 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Dinner With a Warlord

Gen. Laurent Nkunda

June 18, 2007


One hint that this would be an unusual interview came when the warlord walked in wearing a button reading “Rebels For Christ.”

Published in: on June 18, 2007 at 9:11 pm  Comments (1)  

Can a Vision Save All of Africa?

Talking Business:

Some economists say that while Jeffrey Sachs means well, he is peddling a dream that will always be just that: a dream.

(To read the rest, you’ll need access.)

Published in: on June 16, 2007 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Africa’s World War

I’m taking the two winners of the “Win-a-Trip contest” to the Great Lakes region, where at least five million people have died in what is sometimes called the continent’s first world war.

Nicholas Kristof


How to access the article
Wondering why you can’t just read it here?

Published in: on June 14, 2007 at 11:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Africa’s World War

June 14, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


Speciose Kabagwira lost another baby last week. It was the end of her 12th pregnancy, and the infant was stillborn on delivery.

It was her fifth stillbirth or miscarriage. And of her seven children born alive, four have died.

Published in: on June 14, 2007 at 12:18 am  Comments (1)  

Outta Africa


Published in: on April 22, 2007 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

‘Patient’ Capital for an Africa That Can’t Wait

April 20, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Last week, I was touring northern Tanzania when our car passed the small town of Karatu and we suddenly came upon an open field splashed with colors so bright and varied it looked from afar as if someone had painted a 30-color rainbow on the landscape.

As we got closer, I discovered that it was Karatu’s huge clothing market. Merchants had laid out blankets piled with multicolored shirts, pants and dresses, much of it used clothing from Europe, and were hawking their goods. (more…)

Published in: on April 19, 2007 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Help Wanted

April 18, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

While in Kenya last week, my wife, Ann, a teacher, visited Mukuru-Kayaba Primary School in a Nairobi slum, where the U.S. helps finance a lunch program that keeps kids coming to class. When she returned from the school visit, she remarked to me that there was a poster on the wall of the school showing Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, during their visit to Kenya last August. The poster said: The Obamas know their H.I.V. status. Do you know yours? The senator and his wife had volunteered to be tested while in Nairobi. (more…)

Published in: on April 18, 2007 at 12:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Driving Up the Price of Blood

April 17, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Perhaps the most surprising thing about President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan isn’t that he has presided over the systematic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are members of black African tribes.

It is that President Bashir’s own family appears to come from an African tribe. Yes, Mr. Bashir has led a genocide against people like himself. (more…)

Published in: on April 17, 2007 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Upsetting the Balance

April 11, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Masai Mara, Kenya

Surely of all God’s creations, none is more beautiful than the sunrise on the Masai Mara grassland, Kenya’s spectacular nature reserve and a backdrop for the movie “Out of Africa.” The sun’s ascent here is like a curtain going up on one of Mother Nature’s richest ecosystems. Through the day you can be greeted by a bull elephant in hot pursuit of a cow, serenaded by tropical boubou birds, intimidated by two lionesses devouring a warthog, amused by the cattle egrets riding on the backs of African buffalos and impressed by how each small cluster of topi antelope “assigns” one topi to stand on a small hill and keep watch for predators while the others graze. Everything seems in perfect balance.

Published in: on April 10, 2007 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Even as Africa Hungers, Policy Slows Delivery of U.S. Food Aid

Within weeks, those rations, provided by the United Nations World Food Program, are at risk of running out for them and 500,000 other paupers, including thousands of people wasted by AIDS who are being treated with American-financed drugs that make them hungrier as they grow healthy.

Published in: on April 7, 2007 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cellphones, Maxi-Pads and Other Life-Changing Tools

April 6, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


For decades, the world has asked: How do we free Africa from its yoke of poverty, disease and misgovernance? In asking Kenyans that question, I’ve been struck at the simple, common-sense solutions they offer. Four in particular stand out: transparency, telephones, Tergat and Kotex. (more…)

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The African Connection

April 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


Was anybody out there checking out jobs with the U.S. post office in 2005? Do you remember when you called that 800 number to get details? Sure you do. Do you remember how the voice on the other end of the line helping you had this soft British accent with a slight African lilt? Do you know why? Because you were routed to a call center in Kenya. (more…)

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 12:42 am  Leave a Comment  

World needs 4M health care workers

…according to the director-general of the World Health Organization Tuesday, who urged member nations to train more workers.

Margaret Chan said the manpower crisis was most severe in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 24% of the global burden of diseases but has only 3% of the health workforce.

Published in: on April 3, 2007 at 1:00 pm  Comments (1)  

Truce aims to stem Somalia’s bloodshed

Recent fighting between Ethopian troops and insurgentswas intense even by Mogadishu’s skewed standards.

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

How Do You Solve a Crisis Like Darfur?

March 13, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

For anyone who thinks that “genocide” is absolutely the rock-bottom possibility, keep an eye on Darfur. (more…)

Published in: on March 12, 2007 at 10:41 pm  Comments (1)  

Aid Workers With Guns

March 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


The U.S. has built a little-known military base here that represents one of our best strategies to fight terrorism in the coming years: The aim is to build things rather than blow them up.

Published in: on March 4, 2007 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Land of Camel Milk and Honey

February 27, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

HARGEISA, Somaliland(?)

Here’s the ethos of Somalia, as a former Mogadishu resident explained it to me: “If I use a dollar to buy food, then tomorrow I have nothing. If I use a dollar to buy a bullet, then I can eat every day.” (more…)

Published in: on February 27, 2007 at 12:05 am  Comments (3)  

‘They Think They’ve Been Cursed by God’

February 25, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


President Bush’s budget request this month proposes that the U.S. cut spending on global maternal and child health programs to $346 million, or just $1.15 per person in the U.S.

To understand what the cuts mean, meet Simeesh Segaye.

Published in: on February 25, 2007 at 12:52 am  Comments (1)  

Circumcision’s Anti-AIDS Effect Found Greater Than First Thought

The trials, in Kenya and Uganda, were stopped early by the National Institutes of Health, which was paying for them, because it was apparent that circumcision reduced a man’s risk of contracting AIDS from heterosexual sex by about half. It would have been unethical to continue without offering circumcision to all 8,000 men in the trials, federal health officials said.

Published in: on February 24, 2007 at 12:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Let’s Start a War, One We Can Win

February 20, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

AFETA, Ethiopia

They were two old men, one arriving by motorcade with bodyguards and the other groping blindly as he shuffled on a footpath with a stick, but for a moment the orbits of Jimmy Carter and Mekonnen Leka intersected on this remote battlefield in southern Ethiopia.

Published in: on February 19, 2007 at 11:17 pm  Comments (1)  

Torture by Worms


February 18, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

JIMMA, Ethiopia

Presidents are supposed to be strong, and on his latest visit to Africa Jimmy Carter proved himself strong enough to weep.

Published in: on February 18, 2007 at 12:26 am  Comments (3)  

‘Vulture funds’ threat to developing world

On Thursday 15 February a high court judge in London will rule whether so-called vulture fund can extract more than $40m from Zambia for a debt which it bought for less than $4m.

Published in: on February 17, 2007 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

American Is Charged in U.S. for Activities in Somalia

A former Houston man has been charged in Texas with teaming with al-Qaeda in the East African country of Somalia to fight the internationally recognized government there and establish an Islamic state.

Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Next War Has Already Begun

It is the stuff of daily concern and discussion in much of Africa, but here’s an update for US readers: American gunships stationed at the US base in Dijbouti carried out two deadly air strikes on Somalia this January.

by Laura Flanders

Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Next War Has Already Begun

It is the stuff of daily concern and discussion in much of Africa, but here’s an update for US readers: American gunships stationed at the US base in Dijbouti carried out two deadly air strikes on Somalia this January.

by Laura Flanders

Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dick Cheney Was Briefed by CIA on Niger

Larry Johnson says: The Republican-led Senate Select Intelligence Committee claimed in July 2004 that:

The CIA sent a separate version of the assessment to the Vice President which differed only in that it named the foreign government service.


Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 3:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Choice for Darfur

January 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

DAVOS, Switzerland

Over the next two days, African leaders will convene in Ethiopia and choose a new head of the African Union. Incredibly, that job may go to Sudan’s blood-drenched president, Omar al-Bashir, architect of the genocide in Darfur.

Published in: on January 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Constant Gardener

[So I’m rather late in viewing this movie . Here’s the review from when it premiered. I don’t necessarily agree nor disagree with this review…]

August 31, 2005

Digging Up the Truth in a Heart of Darkness

Ralph Fiennes has a peculiar kind of negative charisma. In his best performances, he commands the screen by deflecting attention, as though he wished the camera could hide him from our scrutiny rather than exposing him to us. It is hard to think of another movie actor who can be so convincingly shy, so protective of the psychological privacy of his characters.

In “The Constant Gardener,” Fernando Meirelles’s excellent adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, Mr. Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a British diplomat whose surname hardly suggests strength or decisiveness. Justin’s main qualities seem, at least at first, to be diffidence, his interest in gardening and a fumbling, self-effacing kindness. His words half swallowed, his features perpetually tinged with guilt, Justin is temperamentally unsuited to being the hero of a globe-trotting political thriller, which is part of why “The Constant Gardener” is an unusually satisfying example of the genre.

Another reason is that, unlike most other recent examples – “The Interpreter,” Sydney Pollack’s hectic and empty star vehicle for Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn comes to mind – Mr. Meirelles’s film actually bothers to say something about global politics. If what it says provokes some indignant rebuttal (be on the lookout for op-ed columns and public relations bulletins challenging its dire view of big pharmaceutical companies), so much the better. In pointedly applying President Bush’s phrase “axis of evil” to multinational corporations rather than to rogue states, the movie shows a willingness to risk didacticism in the service of encouraging discussion. This strikes me as noble, but it would also strike me as annoying if Mr. Meirelles were not such a skilled and subtle filmmaker, and if his cast were not so sensitive and sly.

There is more to the film than a twisting plot and a topical hook, and also more than visual bravura, colorful locations and fine, mostly British, acting. (Danny Huston is superbly creepy as Justin’s two-faced friend and colleague, and the incomparable Bill Nighy shows a knack for soft-spoken villainy that makes you wish for a dozen sequels.) This is a supremely well-executed piece of popular entertainment that is likely to linger in your mind and may even trouble your conscience. Which is only proper, since the theme of the film, as of Mr. le Carré’s novel, is the uneasy, divided conscience of the liberal West.

Fittingly enough for a man in his profession, Justin is a creature of moderation and compromise, apparently without strong views of his own. His young wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), is another story. They meet at a lecture Justin is giving on British foreign policy, after which Tessa angrily, tearfully challenges Britain’s participation in the war in Iraq, as if embodying the caricature of people who hold such views as shrill hysterics. Her outburst, which clears the room, provokes an oddly sympathetic reaction in Justin – a desire to comfort and protect this furious (and also very pretty) antagonist. For her part, Tessa finds something attractive about his solicitude, and his refusal to take offense. “I feel safe with you,” she says after they make love for the first time, and he, without saying as much, clearly feels more alive with her.

But for most of the movie, which is an elegant origami of flashbacks and foreshadowings, Tessa is dead, murdered in the Kenyan wilderness, where she had gone with a Belgian doctor of African ancestry named Arnold Bluhm (Hubert Koundé), who many in the Nairobi expatriate community assumed was her lover. In that cozy, gossipy world, where the habits of colonial rule seem to have adapted themselves easily to the requirements of do-gooder paternalism, Tessa was always something of a scandalous woman, puncturing the hypocritical politesse of cocktail parties with rude questions about money, power, poverty and disease. She preferred to spend her time – usually in the company of Dr. Bluhm – wandering through slums and villages, where, especially while pregnant, she cut a somewhat self-consciously saintly figure.

One easy criticism of “The Constant Gardener” is that like so many other movies of its kind, it uses the misery of the developing world as an exotic backdrop for a story about the travails of white people. Fair enough, except that it is precisely the moral failures and obligations of the wealthy world that are at issue here. It is also worth noting that Mr. Meirelles is from Brazil, a country whose social and political landscape may resemble Kenya’s more than Britain’s. One cannot help but feel that his camera – operated by the exceptionally gifted Uruguayan cinematographer César Charlone – feels more at home in the rusty heat of Africa than in the chilly, gray austerity of Europe. There is, in his beautiful, crowded frames, a palpable tension between foreground and background, a sense that the real human scale of the story is not to be found in the fates of Justin and Tessa, however affecting these may be.

This is, in other words, a movie acutely aware of its own limitations. Mr. Meirelles’s previous film, “City of God,” a Scorsesean epic of the Rio slums, also tried to embed social concern within the conventions of pop filmmaking. It was a bit of an awkward fit, especially at those moments where the horror of real-world brutality shattered the gangster bravado. This time, constrained by the screenwriter Jeffrey Caine’s nimble streamlining of Mr. le Carré’s book, the director manages a more consistent tone, and implies more violence than he shows. There are nonetheless scenes – in particular a rebel raid on a refugee camp in Sudan – whose sheer cinematic intensity makes them more dazzling than appalling.

But that is always the risk of making entertainment out of the world’s trouble, an undertaking that is nonetheless worthwhile and that few have pursued as long or as well as Mr. le Carré. The world has changed since the end of the cold war, which was his great subject, and “The Constant Gardener” can stand as an example of how thriller-making has become more difficult. Mr. le Carré’s novels of East-West espionage were exercises in speculative realism; it was always possible to imagine that something like the chess games between Smiley and Karla were really going on behind the scenes. It is harder to take literally what happens in this film. The premise is that the profiteering impulses of global capitalism (thuggishly embodied by Gerard McSorley’s drug-company executive) are enabled by the diplomacy and trade policy of Western governments. This seems quite plausible. Less so is the idea that this collusion is propelled by conspiracy, skulduggery and murder. Given the power of the villains and the weakness of the victims, it would hardly need to be.

So it may be best to take the cloak-and-dagger elements of “The Constant Gardener,” and the vision of justice with which it concludes, as metaphors, symbolic crystallizations of a reality too complex and diffuse to be dramatized by more empirical means. Justin Quayle, then, is an allegorical figure, an emblem of timid virtue roused to heroic action by the discovery of his own complicity with evil.

The Constant Gardener

Opens today nationwide.

Directed by Fernando Meirelles; screenplay by Jeffrey Caine, based on the novel by John le Carré; director of photography, César Charlone; edited by Claire Simpson; music by Alberto Iglesias; production designer, Mark Tildesley; produced by Simon Channing Williams; released by Focus Features. Running time: 129 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: Ralph Fiennes (Justin Quayle), Rachel Weisz (Tessa Quayle), Danny Huston (Sandy Woodrow), Bill Nighy (Sir Bernard Pellegrin), Pete Postlethwaite (Lorbeer), Hubert Koundé (Dr. Arnold Bluhm) and Gerard McSorley (Sir Kenneth Curtiss).

“The Constant Gardener” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has scenes of sexuality, brief nudity and violence.

Published in: on December 3, 2006 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sex Abuse of Girls Is Stubborn Scourge in Africa

madagascar.jpgMenja Rahamtanirima, 5, who said an uncle abused her, with her mother, Domoima, and brother in Antananarivo. Her mother pressed charges.

Published in: on December 1, 2006 at 12:56 am  Comments (2)