Words from Kenya

Focusing on the violent attacks against white ranchers in Kenya is a dangerous mistake

The shooting of Kuki Gallman was a terrible thing and it made international news. It was not terrible because she is white, or Italian (though now a Kenyan citizen) or because she is famous (Kim Basinger played her in the movie) or because she is rich (I don't actually know if she is but it certainly appears that way). It's not even terrible because she has made an important contribution to wildlife conservation in Kenya. It's terrible because it was a violent crime and all violent crime is terrible. Since the ranch invasions in Laikipia made the headlines many people have voiced the opinion that the violence is in some way understandable, or even justified, because “colonial white ... Continue Reading

At least 43 people killed in 5 counties in the last 2 weeks

According to my timeline I have tweeted reports of 43 violent deaths and 22 violence related injuries in the last two weeks. These reports have all originated from mainstream media or sources such as KPR, rangers or doctors. The deaths occurred in just 5 counties. Turkana County - 5 dead, 2 injured Baringo County - 12 dead, 5 injured Laikipia County - 5 dead, 3 injured Samburu County - 2 dead, 1 injured Isiolo County - 19 dead, 9 injured This number is likely to be lower than the true figure. There will be reports that I have missed and a great many violent deaths don't get reported at all, especially if it is just one or two people in a remote location without mobile signal. ... Continue Reading

Living on Rubbish in a Bright Red Dress

I met the girl in a bright red dress at the municipal rubbish dump one day, her eyes were smarting from the smoke and dust but she was excited to see me, or rather, to see what I had brought. There are no rubbish collections here in northern Kenya. You have to manage all your own rubbish yourself. It is a very good exercise in understanding just how much waste we produce on a daily basis. Here, as yet, there is not very much in the way of packaged foods. A few tinned items, some things in plastic pots, but the bulk of our food is unpackaged. Apart from the ubiquitous thin black plastic bags that they like to put everything in that is. Even eggs, which is normally a worrying part of the ... Continue Reading

It’s not drought that is causing the violence in Laikipia

Drought years are happening more and more frequently in Kenya, especially in the northern half of the country. Weather conditions are more variable than they once were, but perhaps more significantly there are a lot more livestock than there used to be. Either way, drought like conditions are now occurring every few years. Every time there are drought conditions pastoralist struggle to find enough grazing for their animals. I am married into a northern pastoralist family and over the years I have become familiar with the drill. First scouting other areas for pasture, then moving the livestock over long distances (often many days travel) to reach it, and then setting up temporary cattle ... Continue Reading

Traveling through Northern Kenya on the Wind Farm Road

In order to get the large lorries needed to carry wind turbines up to the remote shores of Lake Turkana, the Lake Turkana Wind Power company have had to make a serious investment in road care. The old road that led from Laisamis to Loiyangalani was bone jarring at best, at other times impassable due to flood waters from distant mountains or rainy season mud. Long and dusty, it wasn't anybody's idea of a good time. The road they have made, though still a dirt road, is pretty spectacular. You can do tarmac speeds on it and, when you do, all the dust is behind you. To keep this road in good enough condition for the daily convoys of lorries they have had to work on it continuously. Patching ... Continue Reading