Friday, September 27, 2013

China Intentions Laid out in Canvas and Captured on Lens by Lintao Zhang of the AP on Sept. 22 2013 at the Great Hall of the People

Maduro in China Photo by Lintao Zhang/ AP
I came across this photo that might illustrate China's intentions. In official policy documents and in my interaction with Chinese activities and actors in Africa China I have heard of the harmonious coexistence narrative

So is the peaceful rise Beijing seeks to illustrate true?
Well, there is a whole debate on that with American watchers and Chinese analysts embraced in controversy as to what this exactly means.
  1. Peaceful Rise of China: Myth or Reality? by Jianyong Yue
  2. China’s “Peaceful” Rise? By Joseph S. Nye
  3. Review of When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques by Michael Rank

Given that events in China are clearly choreographed one can come up with the conclusion that the above mural was not mounted in the Great Hall of the People by accident.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Experience China in Kenya Events: Chinese National Day Reception & Opening Ceremony, Sept. 21 2013 @ KICC

The China National Acrobatics Troupe | Courtesy: China Concerts
The Chinese National Day Reception, the Opening Ceremony of Experience China in Kenya and the Art Performance

Date and time: September 21, from 6: 30 pm to 9: 30 pm
Venue: Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC)

Introduction of the art performance: The performance will be presented by China National Acrobatic Troupe (CNAT) with outstanding performances together with fantasy art, Chinese folk songs and dances accompanied by traditional Chinese musical instruments among others.

CNAT was founded in 1950 and is the first national performing arts troupe of China. It has now become one of the best acrobatic circuses boasting the largest scale and the most comprehensive programs in the world. CNAT’s unique talents, mastery and artistic creations have produced a number of acrobatic masterpieces.
So far, it has won 55 Golden Awards at various famous festivals both in China and internationally, including Golden Clown Awards at the International Circus Festivals of Monte-Carlo, the France International Circus Festival of Tomorrow, and the China Acrobatic Festival.

What to expect: Prior Performance Video

Opening Ceremony ǀ All Performers
  1. Fluent - Ball Catching
  2. Element – Meteors
  3. Jiaozhou Yangko Dance
  4. Love China
  5. Exhilaration
  6. Swan
  7. Gorgeous Girls
  8. Climbing – Moving Poles
  9. Happy Carpenter
  10. Gleaming
  11. Equilibrium
  12. Mongolian Dance
  13. Holy Warriors

End ǀ All Performers

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

D-Day: Deputy President William Ruto and Journalist Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court

Khan, Sang and DP William Ruto. Photo Courtesy of DPPS
Ruto and Sang Case
Press Conference September 9, 2013 at The Hague

Pre Trial Reads
  1. Reporting Kenya. - ICC Prosecutor, Defence Gear Up for Kenya Trial by Simon Jennings. 
  2. Daily Maverick. - Analysis: Ruto and Kenyatta are still one step ahead of the ICC by Simon Alison
  3. Daily Nation. FULL COVERAGE: Ruto, Sang stand trial at The Hague
  4. Financial Times. - ICC under scrutiny as Kenya’s deputy president faces trial by Katrina Manson
  5. Washington Post. - International Criminal Court tries Kenya deputy president Ruto for post-election violence by AP
  6. RFI. - Phil Clark: "The ICC has a certain political naivete" by Olivier Rogez
  7. New York Times. - Justice for Kenyan by Kofi Annan

'One concrete outcome was the Waki commission, a national inquiry into the postelection violence. It concluded that the violence was not just spontaneous, but, in at least some areas, a result of planning and organization, often with the involvement of politicians and businessmen. This was not surprising — politicians hungry for power have long exploited Kenya’s ethnic divisions with impunity.' – Kofi Annan 
Trial Watchers Kenya
The Open Society Foundation funded ICC Kenya Monitor is a good resource to track the Ruto and Sang Case.

The other site to check one's in a while is the africog site

Download OSF briefing paper of the trial here

Slum Film Festival: Closing and Awarding Ceremony, Sept. 9 2013 @ Alliance

SFF Logo
The third Slum Film Festival came to a spectacular end yesterday at Alliance Francaise. This finale served both as an awarding ceremony and screening of the winning films. For a festival that has been in existence for just three years this was an outstanding feat given the challenges it has had to endure. I was first involved in this festival last year when I was invited to their presser and one year down the lane one can see tremendous growth of this festival.

During the closing night the representative for the Spanish Ambassador to Kenya pointed out the two reasons as to why they we’re involved in this project which they have been involved since inception with Hot Sun Foundation. The two main reasons for getting on board this festival were to;
  1. Get the voices emanating from the informal settlements in Kenya, and
  2. To expose, mould and mentor the talent that resides in the slums

During the screening of the winning shorts films reason number one was evident. The screening of the winning documentary, The story of the Urban Poor gives one a firsthand account of the life of one family with ten children living in one of the informal settlements of Nairobi. Every day is a hustle and the head of the family has to contend with providing one meal a day at most. The children go often go to school without breakfast. The documentary also, shows the government’s efforts of providing meals to schools around the informal settlements.

The other interesting observation from this documentary is one man’s waste is another man’s daily bread quite literally. One is exposed to the economy of waste. People in the informal settlements have to do with industrial and supermarket waste to live their lives.

The two other winners of the night were The Young Smoker – Nigeria and The Dream Catcher – Kenya. The young smoker is a short film on child smokers and the latter is about life of a young person in living in the informal settlement. The Nigeria film was excellently executed since in a span of less than five minutes it was over and one gets the point and the memory sticks to your head hover the same cannot be said about the dream catcher.

Slum Film Festival is a nice initiative which needs to be supported since it presents us with voices and narratives we normally do not come across and the festival provides the much needed distraction in the informal settlements of daily hustle. It is also serving as a launching pad for young film makers who otherwise might not have a chance to pitch their films to a wider audience. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tyranny of Unemployment in the Region: Country Studies on Employment Challenges in the EAC

This post originally appeared in FES Tanzania website and formed part of the resource materials for the YLTP 2013 Dar es Salaam conference. 
Scholars in each of the EAC country and Ethiopia we’re commissioned to come up with resource materials that would serve to inform the delegates invited.
The issue of (youth) unemployment is much debated in Eastern African countries. 
Find below different country studies on employment challenges. 
·   Burundi - Employment Challenges in Burundi, Compilation from Several Sources, FES Tanzania, August 2013.
·    Ethiopia - Employment Challenges in Ethiopia, Martha Kibru, September 2013.
·    Kenya - The Role of the State in Economic Development: Employment Challenges in Kenya, Jacob Omolo, September 2012.
· Rwanda - The Role of the State in Economic Development, Employment Challenges and Policies, A Case of Rwanda, Felicien Usengumukiza and Pacifique Barihuta, September 2012.
· Tanzania - The Role of the State in Economic Development: Employment Challenges in Eastern Africa, The Case of Tanzania, George Nangale, September 2012.
·  Uganda - The Role of the State in Economic Development: Employment Challenges in Uganda, Lawrence N. Bategeka, 2012.

[RE] Screening: God Loves Uganda, Sept. 6 2013 @ the NEST

Friday September 6, 2013 I got the chance to see God Loves Uganda that was first screened at the nest on August 31, 2013. I missed the first screening because I was out of the country and I am glad the Nest yielded to public pressure to screen this flick again.

God Loves Uganda takes an investigative ‘look’ into the affairs of the American conservative movement which has had a significant influence in Uganda. The American conservative’s activities in Uganda have resulted in the mushrooming of evangelicals, the introduction of legislation which are anti homophobic and the rise in the number of street preachers.

This documentary brings to light some aspects that I did not know and after watching it I was able to connect the dots on the recent anti-homophobia public sentiments coming out of Uganda and the killing of David Kato, one of the gay activists whose death was given prominence by CNN.

What emerges from this documentary is that the American conservatives are exporting the American Cultural wars into Africa. They are doing this through youths and students in their gap years. The young folks are flown into Uganda to come and spread the gospel in the pearl of Africa. 

This North-South gospel interaction has also resulted in benefiting a small number of African pastors who are living lavish lifestyles and have amazing worship venues which are financed by American dollars. These pastors are gaining influence and traction and are being used to influence politics of Uganda. A case in point was the anti-homosexual bill in which the bill sponsor seemed to enjoy the patronage of the conservative pastors in Uganda. Also, in the documentary you have American pastors coming to Uganda to conduct workshops and in a surprising move even addressing the Ugandan parliament!

Obviously, this documentary is funded by the Ford Foundation and as such it seems to take a certain line. However, as is always the case with Ford Foundation activities they showcase some activities in society that are not being reported due to their nature.   

Bottom line God Loves Uganda is this is an insightful documentary which portrays the fallacies of American Conservative practices in Uganda, the politics of contraceptives in an African Country and the plight of minorities.

Event posting on NairobiNow

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Reads on Nairobi as an Emerging Cultural Hub: Slums on the Reel by Maria Grazia Pozzi

SFF Poster
Sentiments on Nairobi as a cultural Hub
'It is notable that Nairobi has become a global metropolis, where a truly diverse Kenyan cultural identity is growing solidly, thanks in part to initiatives such as SFF, whose real contribution is to make these stories visible promoting talent and restoring dignity for people living in urban slums, while purporting only the facts, without rhetoric.' by Maria Grazia Pozzi in the huffingtonpost

[Event] Nairobi Forum & Oxfam Meeting: Remittance Transfers to Somalia, Sept. 11 2013 @ KICC

Date: Wednesday 11 September 2013
Venue: KICC – Aberdares Room
Time: 10am – 12pm
Entry: STRICTLY Prior Registration

Every year, Somali migrants around the world send approximately $1.3 billion to friends and families at home, dwarfing humanitarian aid to Somalia. Individual transfers are usually less than $300, and often as little as $35. Families depend on the money for basic costs such as food, water, education and healthcare, and to cope with new crises.
A recent report by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation shows that up to 40 percent of families receive some form of remittance, and that the money is integral to their survival. However, banks and regulators are in danger of inadvertently undermining this financial lifeline and driving it underground, as interpretation of UK and USA money laundering and counter terrorism legislation becomes tighter. Banks in the West are closing down the accounts of money transfer operators, thereby threatening to cut the lifeline to hundreds of thousands of Somali families.

This meeting will examine the impact of the decision by UK and US Banks to discontinue their services to the Somali remittance companies and explore challenges raised by the international remittance sector.

This post was originally posted in NairobiNow

Great Read on America's Growing Military Footprint in Africa by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt

China might be doing some brisk business with Africa but Uncle Sam seems to be increasing the size and the scope of its Military. The Pivot to Africa: The Startling Size, Scope, and Growth of U.S. Military Operations on the African Continent  By Nick Turse offers some great insights.

Read AFRICOM’s Gigantic ‘Small Footprint’ here

Thanking Aly Khan Satchu for bringing it to our attention through his Newsletter.    

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In anticipation of a FES Youth Regional Summit: from Addis Ababa to Dar es Salaam

Ethiopian YLTP Gig last year was pretty awesome and for a moment I wanted this year’s YLTP to be in Addis however this was not to be. When news percolated in late July that the next YLTP was going to be in Tanzania my expectations of what to expect in Tanzania began to crystallize

Naturally, we have had good news about our Tanzanian friends especially their warmth, friendliness and affection. However, in trade matters it was pretty clear from the offset that Tanzanian’s fear their Kenyan neighbours’. This might have been as a result of misrepresentation by the Kenyan Citizens who sent to Tanzania and gave Kenya a bad reputation. So when the two countries are involved stereotypes are bound to fly. However, given Tanzanian’s we’re the host of this annual Gig and having met and made some excellent contacts in Tanzania I decided to let this pass.

In the run up to my visit this blog post [of trials and tribulationsof when visiting Tanzania]came to the limelight. So I made sure all my travel papers and the necessary documents we’re in check least I fall under the same fate.

I happen to have a friend who has been working in Tanzania from last year and he has been singing about Dar es Salaam life like a bird. So he suggested a few things I should do while in Dar. 

My Bucket list for Tanzania
  1. Drinking Kilimanjaro
  2. Chips Mayai
  3. Visiting Zanzibar
  4. Listen to Bongo by the Ocean.
Serious matters up for consideration
  1. Youth Unemployment in the region
  2. Challenges of African Leadership
  3. How to manage the Regional National Resources
For more info on the Gig and EAC Case Studies

ICC Debate: Can the ICC work for Kenya if Kenya does not want to work with the ICC? Sept. 4 2013 @ Strathmore Law School

The Panel
The conversation and public debate which has occupied the public space in the recent past has revolved around devolution. However, the ground is shifting with the International Criminal Court taking center stage. The ball has been set rolling with Hon. Aden Duale the Majority leader in Parliament introducing a motion which has seen the legislatures resume today from recess to debate and vote on Kenya pulling out of the Rome statute.

It is in this context that four actors namely Institute of War and Peace Reporting, Wanyamo Communication, Reporting Kenya and Strathmore Law School came together to organize a debate to better inform the public on the road ahead. 
The fourth debate which was held at the Strathmore University auditorium yesterday (September 4, 2013) brought together both proponents and opponents of the court, government and non-governmental actors, law scholars and the ICC representative who jetted in from The Hague. The event was set off with the dean of the law school Dr. Luis Franceschi giving some background context as to why Strathmore law School decided to host the debates. In his mind he had to contend with a few questions;
  1. Would the hosting of such debates be considered a political act which could be construed wrongly by the establishment?
  2. What business was it for a law school and for that matter a young one to toss itself into the limelight of international jurisprudence. 

In the deans mind it was of utmost important for the law school to enhance the public debate by giving an avenue for the proponents and opponents to debate in public.

The Panel
  1. Kioko Kamula, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions representing the DPP
  2. Gertrude Angote, executive director, Kituo cha Sheria
  3. Prof. Peter Kagwanja, Chief Executive Africa Policy Initiative and former Government Advisor
  4. Winfred Nderitu, Legal Representative of victims at the International Criminal Court
  5. Phakiso Mochochoko, Head of Jurisdiction, Complementarily and Cooperation Division, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court

Moderator: Bettina Ambach, Director, Wayamo Communication Foundation

Highlights of the Debate
The ball was set rolling by the moderator asking the convening debate question; can the ICC work for Kenya if Kenya does not want to work with the ICC?

The entire panel pointed out that Kenya is a signatory of the Rome Statute and has as such been cooperating with the Hague based court. However, fireworks in the initial stages of the debate were generated by Prof. Kagwanja who in all means seems to be an opponent of the ICC process now that the status of two of the persons facing trial at the ICC have changed. Prof. Kagwanja argued that the 2013 elections was a referendum on the ICC and 50% +1 of the population in voting for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto both as President and Vice President respectively was a vote of no confidence in the ICC. This is because the president’s party Jubilee coalition had pitched the election as a referendum on the ICC.

Redefinition of Victims
The other interesting outcomes of this debate were the apparent redefinition of victims. We are all aware that there are victims who suffered as a result of the Post Election Violence. Slightly over 1000 people lost their lives, women we’re raped and people lost their life savings and others were displaced and currently live in IDP camps. However, it seems the narrative of the victim may be changing as Prof. Kagwanja pointed out that in his opinion the case ICC has resulted in formation of two victims.

Peculiarity of the Kenyan Case
Mr. Phakiso Mochochoko the head of jurisdiction, complementarity and cooperation division in the office of the prosecutor from the onset made it clear he was only going to speak on the legal aspects of the case. However, he pointed out that in all cases witnesses do pull out however the Kenyan case had a high number of witnesses pulling out. 

Who is on Trial?
Analysts have pointed out that the Kenyan cases have put a spotlight on the ICC court and this came to the fore when Prof. Kagwanja pointed out that three entities we’re on trial namely;
  • The three individuals
  • The Government
  • The ICC

Legacy of the ICC
When the moderator asked the panelists their views on the legacy of the ICC Mr. Kioko Kamula pointed out that the ICC has enriched the Kenyan law.

Bottom Line

This debate offered clarity on issues that are in the public space and the decision by the Head of Jurisdiction, Mr. Phakiso Mochochoko to attend the session in person was an excellent move.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mindspeak Postmortem: My impressions on the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Follow Up on his Charm Offensive on Kenyans!

Mindspeak in Session. Picture Courtesy of Belgium Embassy in Nairobi
Aly Khan hosted the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders at Intercontinental on August 17, 2013. Apart from the expected aloofness of diplomatic security that decided to conduct a security check just before the session started the session insightful as they come. The deputy prime minister demonstrated his grasp of current affairs and geopolitics of African continent. He and for that matter both Belgium and EU seemed to know that Africa is the land of rising opportunities and that the Chinese we’re way ahead of them in terms of footprint and influence in the region. Although Europe might have been colonized Africa the tables seems to be stuck against them.

Therefore, a visit by Didier Reynders an old hand in the EU seems to be a game changer in the dynamics of Africa Geopolitics. Didier was on a visit to Africa which saw him visit DR Congo before he came to Kenya. His visit to the DR Congo was the first significant visit by a high ranking Belgium government official. Also his visit was preceded by the abdication of the King to the throne in favor of his eldest son. Hence one could say a new beginning was emerging in Belgium and hopefully the rest of the EU countries will follow suit.

The Deputy Prime Minister talked about the following key topics in his two one hour presentation and later question and answer session;
Peace and Stability in the Regional
He did mention his trip to DR Congo and talked in length about his impression of Katanga and the significant role Kenya plays in the great lakes region. Also, on this issue he talked about Somalia and the enormous opportunities that exists there now that the country was experiencing stability after a long conflict. He talked of the input of the EU in bringing about and safeguarding the peace in Somalia.

The EU Market the EPA with EAC
In a response to a question from the audience he tried his hand in answering a question on the long negation between European Union and East African Community in sealing an Economic Partnership Agreement. He was aware that the head of negotiation from EU has been coming to the region and that could be a sign that the negotiations are in their penultimate stages.

China in the Region
The Deputy Premier told us his firsthand accounts of observing one of the biggest mosques in North Africa being constructed by the Chinese. However he pointed out the new emerging trend where European and Chinese are merging and doing business in Africa.

European Union and the reason why Africa ought to Integrate
Didier Reynders having participated in the formation of the Euro in the EU in the late 90’s observed that regional integration was the way to go for Africa if it seeks to be a significant player in the 21st Century.

Bottom Line
The Belgian DP and foreign Minister showed his intent of diversifying and engaging Africa. It is up to our government to do its homework and seek meaningful engagement with Belgians which could be an opening gambit to the European Market.

Follow Up On the Deputy Prime Minister Charm Offensive in Kenya
Immediately after Mindspeak the Belgium Ambassador to Kenya hosted a lunched at his residence and invited members of the business community who we’re addressed by the DPM.

Thereafter, the DPM enjoyed a Safari in our National Park and the proceeding week signed a 27 million Euros agreement with the Finance cabinet Secretary and later met our deputy president William Ruto

Screening: My Kenyan Story by Ingrid Berlanga, Aug. 17 2013 @ Phoenix Players Theatre

My Kenyan Story by Ingrid Berlanga
Ingrid Berlanga the outgoing political, commercial and cultural attaché to Kenya screened a documentary titled My Kenyan Story by Ingrid Berlanga at phoenix players. This is a documentary that was made by Immortal Media.

The documentary starts with recollections of Ingrid in her first posting at the UN headquarters in New York and how she did not achieve personal fulfilment though she was in what would be considered every diplomats dream location.

She was subsequently posted to Kenya in 2009 or thereabout and met folks from immortal media who convinced her into making a documentary. Subsequently they followed her around as she settled around in the country and worked. As a commercial, political and cultural attaché Ingrid engaged with many people but key among this are the Mexican population living in Kenya. Most of the Mexicans in Kenya are working in the religious field so the documentary at some point takes a religious angle. Hence for an atheist this documentary might not be recommended.

Despite the almost religious angle the documentary does show the work of a diplomat living in Kenya. It might not be all rosy and the work involves a sensible amount of creativity. 

 My Kenyan Story by Ingrid Berlanga is available on DVD which can be sourced from immortal media.