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Posts tagged ‘Kenya’

Writing a short artist statement

‘Art is not something one does, it is what one is. An artist is made up of all that she or he has ever done, felt, experienced or been. And the art that the artist creates—if she or he is true to self—is an expression of all that has been done, experienced, felt or been.’  Paul Donohoe (social documentary street photographer).

 

It has become increasingly clear recently that I had to sit down and come up with a short statement that defines the vision and focus of my socio-documentary art photog.  It is often a requirement when submitting work and it is an essential part of putting forward what drives and motivates me as a photographer in my work.  While I have a clear idea in my head, putting it all down on paper is a trickier business than it looks!  I spent a good hour going over my pics and reading all the synopses to try and define it all in a few sentences.

But it was also a great personal exercise.  Getting away from the ‘who, what, why, where and when’s’ of documentary or more precisely news photog and being given the freedom to express some sort of humble vision is emancipating and brings me closer to my own work in ways that I didn’t feel before.

Having to be more introspective has helped me to understand myself in ways I didn’t really appreciate too – the fact I am always seeking out the absurd and abstract in life at the frontiers of modern life is a reflection of my own desire to always stay on the outside – be the observer – maybe even voyeur but never truly engaging.  Photography was almost a match made in heaven in this respect.  It has allowed me to seek out the weird and wonderful but by being able to put a large camera body up to my face – it has preserved the distance and disengagement which I guess really mirrors my own way of life in many ways.

While I am excited to be finally presenting my projects soon (it has been a long time coming!)  Whatever the outcome I know I have become a better photographer because of them.

Artist Statement:

My work seeks out the spaces where clash creates the wonderful and surreal at the frontiers of homogenised Western society – Be it in wide open deserts or in densely packed urban spaces. Where contradiction creates upheaval and change. Where the chaotic and abstract evolve. Where the end of one cycle gives birth to something transformative that is always innately beautiful. I am driven to capture the process of renewal that on a larger scale are reflected in the rhythms of nature and life.

 

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South Sudan, being a Reuters Stringer & Zanzibar Chest

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Spent the last month up in Kenya and a brief 2 week stint covering the terrible events passing in South Sudan.  I’ve been back a week now in Cape Town and still haven’t blogged – I’ve been busy to the max but to be honest for many reasons, I have been putting off writing this blog.

Part of it is the obvious – that I don’t like sitting on my own in front of countless gruesome images and wanton destruction and editing for hours.  But I’m used to that in a lot of ways and it’s not really that – it’s more that since going to Mogadishu in 2011, I have not ventured into a conflict zone and have blogged countless times about how news photog doesn’t work as a business model and touched upon the personal cost it has taken upon me in the past.  To explain away why I have gone back to it couldn’t simply be explained away by the fact I felt I could do a decent job of it in South Sudan.  A lot of what I would say would be personal and uncomfortable for me to say on a blog too.

But I decided to just sit down and free-write and see what came out.  I have been re-reading parts of Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley  recently – a book which had a huge influence on the type of photography I wanted to do and the area of the world I wanted to do it in when I first started out over a decade ago (even though I ended up doing more commercial work when I finally got to Nairobi).  The book covers a lot what transpired with the EA Reuters news-desk in Nairobi in the 90’s.  I read it too cos while in South Sudan with Reuters I met the son of one of the great Reuters photogs mentioned extensively in the book who died on 12th July 1993 during a botched UN attempt to capture or kill General Aidid and which was a forerunner to the infamous ‘Black Hawk Down’ incident later that year in Mogadishu.  I had one of the best convos with him that I’ve had with a fellow journo one alcohol-fuelled night of typical journo mayhem at the Logali House (where most journos stay in Juba).  I’ll come back to that all later.

Firstly, I went up to Kenya to try and begin to re-connnect with some of my old commercial contacts I have there.  I had worked extensively with ad agencies and large companies directly on ad campaigns in Nairobi in the past (at 1 point around 2006/7 1 in 3 billboards in Nairobi were mine) and have been considering going back there and spending large parts of the year in Nai to also pursue such work. I think the potential is def there to start up again – I even managed to meet up with a large company I loved working with back in the day and am busy with a creative brief for them for a large new ad campaign covering all of East Africa that may take me back to Nai within weeks.  One can but try & hope.

But my main reason for going back was to go into South Sudan and cover the terrible civil war that has broken out there.  I went with Polaris Images but also hooked up again with the Reuters photo desk once in Nairobi with whom I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years since trying to cover Mogadishu.

I went cos I believed I had good potential contacts there to be able to do a good story – albeit many I hadn’t spoken to in years.  Not only the NGO’s and UN contacts – but a few high level SPLA and rebel contacts, including Riek Machar himself (one day I might write about the crazy and surreal dinner at the Bhandini at the InterCon in Nai I had with him circa 2006, a contact and a man who simply and ominously introduced himself as a ‘Consultant from Virginia’).

But the reality once in South Sudan was that on the ground – access was hard and limited. Getting an exclusive with the rebels for example could only be done from Nairobi (smthg which Goran Tomasevic – Chief Photographer in Nairobi impressively managed to get the exclusive for Reuters).

I was expecting this before going though.  All the media coverage coming out of South Sudan up to mid-Jan had been scant and well away from any frontline fighting (expect for the BBC’s Alastair Leithead’s excellent reporting of the SPLA being ambushed on approach to try and re-capture rebel-held Bor).  It meant that either there were tight restrictions on the media or getting to the right place was hard… it turned out both were true.  I have blogged many times how such conflict photog in Africa is being killed by tight access restrictions more akin to a major event such as the World Cup or a Justin Bieber concert than a war zone.  It is also our fault as journos in that we act too much in unison as a press pack – to easily herded around by those who mean to control the access we get.

With my failure to get to an active frontline in Mogadishu suddenly fresh in my mind, unable to negotiate the Kafkaesque web of clearances required there, I was determined not to be undone again.  I decided it would be best to stay in a hotel close to the pilots who made the dangerous trips to all the places us journos were desperate to get to rather than with the press pack at Logali House and try and get access – as well as any info from them on conditions on the ground – that way (alcohol-fuelled nights with them were fun too must say).  I managed to get clearance with the SPLA to stay with the army at their barracks and was able to embed for 3 days and nights in Bor under General Malwal’s Command – also second in charge in the SPLA – and was granted access to the frontline at Mathiang and witness some of the fighting – albeit remote – via BM and Cartouche rockets – first hand.  I never got to see the offensives the rebels were undertaking against SPLA positions as they were all at night or ealy dawn (and are therefore harder to confirm – although the countless bodies of rebel soldiers strewn in no mans land the following days was strong evidence of it).  This all after the ceasefire between the 2 sides had been signed of course.

Being embedded for 3 days, took a lot out of me personally – the SPLA soldiers – many of whom were from Bor itself and fighting to liberate their home town and villages rather than for any higher purpose – gave me a tour of their now destroyed town – where the slaughtered and decomposing bodies of civilians – and especially of women and children – many of whom had been killed when the rebels re-took the town for around 2 weeks in early Jan – still lay uncollected.  The soldiers showed no emotion but many of the younger ones especially, drank heavily at night I’m sure to rid themselves of the horrors of what they had seen by day. General Malwal himself, while always having a calm, approachable yet slightly menacing air about him also seemed tormented – he himself is from Bor.  One night one of his female relatives asked to go through my pics on my laptop.  It was only when she got to a picture of a covered decomposing body that I realised that she was looking to see if she could determine whether her own mother had been killed in the clashes.  She was only able to recognise that it was her by the blue sandals lying next to the body.

Upon returning to Juba, I made a half-hearted attempt to get up to Bentiu – a town that apparently had been all but wiped off the map during the civil war and where there were rumours that further fighting was taking or about to take place.  But by the last few days, my heart wasn’t in it – it sounds lazy – but to be honest – when I do this kind of photography I have to be fully committed or else it actually starts to become dangerous.  A fellow journo and I tried to hitch a plane ride up to Bentiu – and we found one for the following day – but on the runway at the airport the Commander there threatened to arrest us for security breach (we were running around a damn runway trying to hitch rides as if the planes were cars so kind of understandable!)– that was it for me.  I hadn’t been sure about going but this was a final straw of sorts – luck was def waning!  I had had a relatively successful trip –  I had done a large feature on IDP’s (Internally Displaced Person) at the UNMISS airport base for Polaris Images.  Doing a portrait series using a simple studio light and softbox (similar to what I had undertaken in Mogadishu) but this time asking each IDP to bring their most cherished possession with which they fled their homes with.  And I had gotten an exclusive of sorts from the frontline pics (and footage) for Reuters at Mathiang.

I jumped on the first plane and headed back to Nai and that was my 2 weeks in South Sudan.

Was it worth it?  Financially of course not – SS is damn expensive (given everything is in short supply) and stringer fees barely covered what I spent – so why do it?

I could give the classic professional answer that I did it cos it is a great way to get your name out there.  But I’d be lying though.  I hardly – and have not since – looked at where my pics might have been published.  And seeing as I’m trying to slowly (but hopefully surely!) move into book, gallery and other such more long-term photography projects, it doesn’t do too much career-wise in that respect esp anymore (try showing this type of work at Fotofest portfolio reviews at Lens Culture in Paris or Palm Springs at the PDN Annual and see where you get!).

I do this type of photography because it is what I got into photography in the first place to do.  To work in East Africa for news wires – and – because of one book – Reuters in particular.

In re-reading the book, I laughed when Aidan Hartley recounted how the agency needed to find another stringer for Mogadishu quickly at the time:

What was needed ideally ‘…was a hungry Caucasian freelancer who aspired to nothing in the world so much as to cover bang-bang stories like Mogadishu without expecting to get paid anything more than pocket money for it.’

Yep – that sounds like what I was doing..  It all seems a bit naive, to risk quite a bit at times for so little.

In talking to the son of one of the Reuters photogs who died in Moggie, he went into the agency to see for himself what it is all about and what his dad had worked and died for.  He recounted the day – when at 9 years of age – he learnt of his father’s death and after all this time – you could see it was still raw for him in a lot of ways.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like.  And to think now, when you can see the general state of news and media as a whole – ever in a declining cycle – and when so many people seem to have switched off long ago from this type of reporting and work – the same question comes round again –

Is it worth it?

I don’t know – I can only answer the question for myself and I have come to realise in recent times – after so many years of doubt – that the answer is still yes.

I gave up long ago caring whether other people were interested or not.  The region is one that I call home more than any other on earth and have always personally followed the terrible conflicts and wars that plague it with extra depth and interest.  It is what fundamentally drove me to go back to South Sudan to be honest.  That and the notion that I could make a decent job of it.

Just as a quick footnote – on a personal level, it is not just that my son (and for that matter my ex-wife with whom I remain v.close) that is Kenyan.  My dad was born in Gedaref and grew up in Khartoum.  And my grandmother is from Gondar in Northern Ethiopia.  I’ll never forget when I did my long drive from UK to Kenya when I first came to the Continent I passed through Khartoum.  A man grabbed me on the street and said ‘you must be Philipas’s son’.  He had never met me – and had last seen my father decades before – but he knew exactly who I was.  It turned out to be an old school friend of my dad’s and the owner of the famous Acropole Hotel there (where most journos like to stay and frequent).  I was shown some great hospitality for some long dead friendship… I know there is always a friend not far away even in the most hostile places in the region and because of that have less fear than I should were I to be in a place I considered completely foreign doing this type of work.

I remember around 2004, a photographer with close links to Panos Pictures told me there was an opening to go to Iraq and cover the war there and that he had mentioned me and I should go for it.  It took me 5 seconds to say no.  It was considered a strange decision by my peers back then.  But for me, it was always East Africa I wanted to be based in.

While I hope that my other types of photography and soon filming will dominate my work.  I will always see it as a badge of honour – some would say misplaced and naive – to do this type of work.  But the pics I bring back – however hard some are – and while most people these days look or simply walk away (esp here in news-averse Cape Town!) – they always fill me with a sense of smthg achieved.  You don’t need re-numeration or people’s appraisal for that.  Though of course would be nice to be paid more in general for it…never know – might take it up full time if it was!


Freelancing in Mogadishu and final thoughts on Somalia….

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Have been laid low with stomach bug and have been suffering with  severe back pains recently – I am beginning to feel the years marching on & the lifestyle is def taking its toll… I’ve had typhoid now twice in the last few years and thought I was on my way to a third – so a bit of self-prescribed R & R in Nai was in order in between preparing myself for my next trip to Uganda and South Sudan..

It gave me a bit of time to reflect on my fortnight in Mogadishu.  Wading through the pics I have been weighing up the pros and cons of going in as a freelancer.  It was certainly a very different experience from what I imagined. The first thing to note is the extremely controlled nature of working there and the tough conditions especially as a photographer to operate in.  Dis-embedding doesn’t make much of a difference either, although movements are a lot more flexible, being constantly surrounded by an entourage of armed guards severely restricts what is and is not possible and it doesn’t help in terms of putting your subjects at ease.

The time spent at any one place is also heavily restricted as – from a security perspective – it can attract unwanted attention.  While embedded and shooting on the front line for example I would literally get a few seconds to snatch a few pics before being quickly ushered on to the next point of interest or rather what was perceived to be the next point of interest. Even when dis-embedded, the problems were just as acute:  A story on mental health issues shot at a few clinics in the city was all done in the space of a few hours while constantly being ushered by a group of 7 or 8 armed guards.  Not that I am not appreciative.  The dangers in Moggie – while not as immediate as they were even a few months ago – are still ever-present.  Being unfamiliar with the territory – it is always better to be safe than sorry of course – but the burden, along with the constant time pressure, of always having to be aware of your guards and their movements and to co-ordinate with them all adds up to make taking pics and shooting a decent story extremely tough.  You do learn to adapt quickly though – while shooting portraits at the WFP-sponsored feeding centre for example – a gun went off not 10 metres away from where I was set up – an instant look at 1 of the armed guards – who didn’t even flinch – and I was instantly re-assured it was just a local guard firing in the air probably to try and control the overwhelming crowds… still – when you’re trying to use a studio light to take portraits and having to balance available light with flash – having a gun go off literally next to you isn’t the easiest of environments to work in…!

The second point to make is the problem of gathering relevant info and getting access to newsworthy images.  After the first week of my trip it became obvious that any pics that I could feed news wire services were going to be very difficult to come by.  Access to military engagements or casualties is extremely restricted as I have mentioned before.  It had always struck me as strange that such a relatively important issue as the changing fortunes in Somalia and the ongoing international, African-led mission which has seen massive gains in the past few months, have not been so widely reported and covered as other conflicts and international interventions have been.  Part of it of course is that in the West we only really care when ‘our boys’ are involved.  But that does not fully explain why Somalia – where the battle against Islamic extremism is second only to Afghanistan (and possibly Yemen) – has not been more widely reported.

A lot of it comes down to the fact that the African military contingents involved in the conflict are loathe to be seen in any way to be suffering from even the most minor of setbacks and try and keep journalists away from the action mostly as a precaution to what they might see or report.  The Kenyan mission in the South of the country is a great case in point.  Here the Kenyans have advanced all the way to the edges of Kismayo in the last few weeks – the last real Al-Shabaab stronghold in Somalia – but because of a blanket ban on access to the front line there has hardly been too much international coverage.  It is a shame in many ways – because – as I have said before – the bigger picture  – that of Africans solving their own problems in their own backyard where others have failed and with limited resources – is lost in the haze of conflicting information in the Somali conflict.  There is a general ‘Black Hawk Down Syndrome’ where everyone is keen to hide as much of their own suffering and casualties as possible in case it leads to a backlash back home or worse – among those funding the mission and pressure mounts for a withdrawal.  Such fears though seem misplaced – there is a strong general will in the region and among the Somali population to rid the country of Al-Shabaab and this completely overrides fears of the short-term pain and the backlash that may be unleashed by doing so.

In the fog of this war – the one truth is that there has already been a lot of suffering on all sides.  From the AMISOM soldiers on the ground, who with minimal military air and naval support have pushed forward to secure Mogadishu in extremely tough and hostile conditions and who undertake a tour of duty that lasts a minimum of a year – to the Somali population itself, the strain of the conflict is overwhelming and at times unbearable.

My personal contact with the local Somali population was restricted for reasons I have mentioned above – so it was an eye opener to visit the mental health clinics in Mogadishu.  It is estimated that over a third of the Somali population suffers from some form of mental health issue – by far the highest percentage in the world.  The never-ending conflict and recent famine has slowly taken its toll on the people and with no serious available resources, medical facilities are often overwhelmed by the flood of people requiring medical assistance.  The simple fact that there are only three psychiatric nurses in the entire country speaks volumes as to the scale of the problem.

Overall though I came away with the distinct impression that the situation is improving slowly but surely in Somalia (albeit from a very low starting point).  There is a general will on all sides to rid the country once and for all of Al-Shabaab.

More than anything else what will help in the future is the increasing amount of business – esp in Mogadishu.  One of the most positive influences on Somalia’s future is the wealthy and successful Somali diaspora.  They seem keen to come back en masse if the country were to stabilise.  They have kept Somalia going through the most difficult years with remittances said to be in the region of US$1 billion per year.  And with the return of security to the capital, they have already started to pour money into the country as witnessed in the flourishing small businesses in Mogadishu itself.  With the return of business – whatever happens in the highly unstable political arena of the country – an extremely war-weary general population will do everything and anything to make sure security and peace prevails.

So – is it worth freelancing in Mogadishu as things stand?  It was an extremely long and hard 2 weeks but I’ve come away with three solid photo stories that I will begin to market in the next few weeks.  I have already sold a handful of images to Canadian and European media outlets and might have a couple of my portraits from the WFP-sponsored feeding centre up at a UN exhibition in Vienna and Geneva.  The trip will pay itself over the next few months and some of the work will add a lot in terms of depth and strength to my general portfolio.  For all the restrictions and problems, it was def worth the time (illness!) and expense.

An African proverb to brighten a dull day…

Nairobi can be a nightmare.  Polluted (feel like I’m smoking a packet a day again), congested (2 hours to do a 10 mile journey) and unfriendly… but in the midst of all the chaos there is always something to bring a smile to the face and redeem the day!

Elections in Zambia and Africa’s unsung heroes…

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In Zambia covering elections last week.

It was truly encouraging to see Zambia pull together and come through a difficult election period.  For a couple of days though it was touch and go whether the country would spill into serious nationwide violence.  The poll results were delayed for a couple of days after Presidential and Parliamentary elections on Tuesday 20th September amid rumours that the incumbent Government was desperately trying to influence the ECZ (Electoral Commission of Zambia) to rig results in their favour.

Zambians though on the street were determined not to let this happen and the normally peaceful nation – something that all Zambians hold dear – were threatening to take their grievances to the streets in what would have been a serious escalation.

I was sure for a day that the situation would get worse having seen a similar situation before in Kenya in 2007.  It had been widely claimed that the Electoral Commission of Kenya back then waited for all polling results to come in from the Opposition strongholds around the country and then released rigged results from the Government strongholds making sure to add the necessary votes required to push the Government into the lead.  In some constituencies there were more votes than people.  The consequences of doing this are of course well documented: In the post-election violence that followed almost 2000 Kenyans died and close to 250,000 were displaced.

It seemed to be heading the same way in Zambia too but great credit must go to the ECZ’s head – Justice Irene Mambilima.  There were calls for her to resign in the lead up to the elections – mainly from the Government supporters – and it is clear why.  She stood strong and resisted all the untold pressure on her to get involved in the highly partisan political atmosphere in the country and after 2 days of delay – she finally announced the results in favour of the Opposition that in the end won the poll by a very clear margin.

In preserving Zambian’s democratic rights  – she definitely almost single-handedly prevented a bloodbath in Zambia.  It is people like her who are quietly and surely changing Africa and allowing democracy to breathe new life into the political landscape of the Continent.   For that – she must surely be one of Africa’s (many) unsung heroes….

Lunga-Lunga Petrol Pipeline Explosion…

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Was slowly getting ready to go to Holland for the first session of a week long Masterclass late tonight when I caught the breaking news on the BBC of a large explosion in the industrial area of Nairobi.  I went down there and the scene that greeted me in and amongst the chaos was truly horrific.  Apparently there was a burst petrol pipeline and as people were trying to siphon off the fuel, a fire caused an explosion killing – at current estimates – around 70 people.  It’s such a tragic and familiar story here – and as petrol prices go up and up it can only get more frequent…

Losing my sense of location…

I kind of understood why the bemused Ethiopian airport security guard had asked to see my passport again.  The answer to his simple enough question had not been forthcoming and my glazed and empty look could only have inspired suspicion.  Getting off the bus from the plane to the terminal building he had asked me:

“Where has this plane come from?”

To be honest – I didn’t have a clue.  I knew I had gotten on the plane and even though it was late I had a vivid recollection of the flight – but as to where I had gotten on I couldn’t have told you to the best of my intentions.

I had decided to do a quick day trip back to SA from Kenya after I realised on my overland journey that I’d forgotten to bring along my studio lights. In typical fashion I had meticulously packed a softbox, barndoors, cables – even extra filters and pocket wizards for the lights – but had forgotten the actual lights themselves.  I was rushing to get to Pretoria from Cape Town for a meeting which I had already postponed twice at SAPS HQ (South Africa Police Service) the next day for a story (and yes – that is me trying to sound important and restore a bit of public dignity!!) but forgetting something as big and blatant as the lights is a bit inexcusable.

I found a very cheap flight back with Ethiopian and decided to take it… I know it was a gruelling 2 day trip with 3 stop over’s each way (which is why it was so cheap… I have never understood why the more stop-over’s you do the cheaper it gets…!) but it got so confusing to the point where I was speaking Swahili to the bemused coloured customer service folk at the airline counter in CT and I didn’t know I had woken up in my own bed again (in Cape Town) for what seemed like an age until my doggie licked my face – as if he could sense the panic and terror creeping through his master and wanted to reassure me.

While it might sound like a positive negative to be moving around so much from interesting place to place – as I get older it is increasingly unnerving.  Certainly when I was younger I used to love that feeling of waking up and not knowing where the hell I was – but as the years roll on it is increasingly a source of dread.  With trips the next few months that will take me to Berbera, Hergeisa, Mogadishu, Groningen (the Netherlands), Juba, Wajir and beyond this feeling can only get worse.

Still – life is good at the mo – got a week to relax and rejuvenate in Nairobi before travelling to Groningen for the Northern Lights Masterclass so hopefully will have time to adjust.  I managed to find a fully-furnished and secure apartment at a very decent rate here and the Landie seems fine on first inspection after a gruelling drive from Cape Town and made worse by the fact I had backed it into a ditch last Friday in Nairobi National Park. At least my impressed stepson who was with me appreciates the car now… no Namby-pamby Pajeros or airy-fairy Hilux’s for him any time soon…!

Tanzania, Kenya and tribalism…

Traveling the length and breadth of Tanzania (which was no mean feat – the country is so much bigger than I thought… 4 days and counting…!) I realised that a lot of those early memories I had from my first trip to Africa when I was 17 that compelled me to come back again and again came from this country.  It really is stunning with views to take your breathe away again and again.. It almost feels like the gen pop as well have all taken a masterclass in how to excel at being warm and friendly…!

When you think of Tanzania – apart from the safari and amazing tourist things to do here – the general view though is that it is a lot poorer than its northerly neighbour Kenya.  Tanzania was home to 1 of Africa’s independence movements’ giants and 1 of the founding fathers of the Pan-African movement – Julius Nyerere.  He introduced a form of African socialism to Tanzania esp in agriculture which was widely said to have ultimately failed and nearly bankrupted the country…

While it has often been cited economically to be a disaster, Nyerere’s African socialism did something far more important for its people – it installed a sense of nationhood on the different groups of disparate tribes thrown together in the post colonial era that now make up Tanzania.

I remember from my time in Kenya meeting a few Tanzanians who were all perplexed when they were asked what tribe they came from (they would nearly invariably reply – I am Tanzanian as if the question made no sense) – a Kenyan though would always – and I mean always – tell you his tribe first followed by the country.  Yes Kenya may have been economically more well-to-do but living in the country in the run up to the violence in 2007/08 the tribal antagonism was there for all to see.  It was only after Kenyans stared over the precipice in 2008 that they realised the alternative and the troubles almost helped – in a horribly perverse way – start to install that sense of nationhood that was missing before.. I haven’t been back for a while so it will be interesting to see how Kenya is doing now – esp in the run-up to elections set for next year….

That sense of nationhood – imposed on disparate tribes not 50 years ago as borders were drawn up after independence throughout the African Continent I think is so important if a country is to succeed in general.  At every level esp in the civil service and govt – if you believe in that sense of nationhood – it will mean less corruption and a better functioning state.

It is also 1 of the reasons I am actually positive on South Africa (although I know I seem to be in the minority).  The most interesting thing in that weird and wonderful country with an unprecedented history – is that – it doesn’t matter how unbelievably different it’s gen pop is – from the vibrant townships to the lively Afrikaner bars playing their own version of sentimental rock (and I have spent time ample time in both!) – it doesn’t matter how much each of them bitch about their country, Government or fellow South African – they are all invariably so proud to be South African.  With that sense of nationhood – even if things don’t feel like they are going in the right direction – a country with such a strong sense of nationhood has a solid base to move forward at the very least…

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