Words from Kenya

The Circumcision

It was just after sunrise, I stood outside a mud and grass thatched hut and listened to a little girl crying inside. Ten minutes earlier the 12 year old girl had been sitting on a cured cow skin outside the door of the hut, naked and surrounded by a crowd of local women. The girl, a bright pupil at school, keen on learning and with a gentle and happy character, was being circumcised. Supported by two of the women she sat on the hide, legs spread. The circumciser lent forward and, using a razor blade, sliced off the girl's clitoris in a couple of deft movements. The girl honoured her family by not even blinking as this happened. With rigid facial features she allowed the women to drop a ... Continue Reading

A Night by the shores of the Jade Sea

The land on the eastern side of Lake Turkana is stark and dramatically beautiful. It was formed by the earth shattering forces of plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions; think Iceland but with 40C degree temperatures. It’s the kind of landscape where every new rise, or bend, in the rough black rock road produces an awe inspired ‘wow’ from travellers. Much of the volcanic material looks as if it were erupted just yesterday, in such an arid environment there isn’t much plant life to cover or erode it. In fact some of it is pretty recent, the last eruption was on Central Island in 1975, and as you drive through the landscape it is easy to imagine some of the fresh looking scoria cones (small ... Continue Reading

A brief roundup of the news stories from Northern Kenya over the holiday period.

It seems that leaders in Northern Kenya have been busy making friends with each other over the festive period; we can only hope that these warm fuzzy feelings of ‘good will to all’ will continue well into the new year. The governors of Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera and Garrisa have signed an agreement to collectively address common challenges and aspirations of their residents according to the Star http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-148521/northern-kenya-counties-solve-issues-together. The Star also reports that MPs, Senators and communities in West Pokot, Turkana, Samburu and Baringo have now agreed to foster peace and end hostilities that have led to the death many people in the region ... Continue Reading

Trouble in Northern Kenya

Northern Kenya was always regarded as being more trouble than it was worth but now that oil, water and logistics are making the north more valuable, will administrative attitudes change? During the colonial period northern Kenya was closed off and mostly left to fend for itself. It seems that for the limited value the harsh arid land had to offer, it wasn’t worth the effort to subdue the natives. This attitude doesn’t appear to have changed all that much since independence, and consequently development in the north has lagged significantly behind the rest of the country. However, despite the unpromising environment, the rate of population increase has been dramatic, both in northern ... Continue Reading

Solar Eclipse 2013 at Allia Bay on Lake Turkana

It’s no use pretending otherwise, the eclipse was a terrible disappointment. Everybody gathered at Allia Bay had invested a lot of time, effort, and in many cases a large amount of money, to be in the right place at the right time to see the full solar eclipse or (as I now know to call it) totality. None of us did. A sandstorm, on the leading edge of a lot of cloud and wind but very little rain, swept across the flat volcanic land. It swept across all of us peering skyward in Allia Bay and then it swept out over Lake Turkana and it swept across the sun only minutes after it first met the moon. Just before totality there was a small break in the clouds, but not over the eager (desperate ... Continue Reading