May 31, 2005

Businessman shot at roadblock

The sun is back in Nairobi today. Papers, strong black morning coffee and the newspapers. Clashes yesterday in Uhuru Kenyatta’s home town Gatundu. A businessman was shot at a roadblock. The man was innocent, they say. This murder was not an incident. Kenyans are used to this kind of news headlines. ‘If your competitor or business rival becomes too strong, you hire thugs or pay the police to shoot the guy’, says a Kenyan friend. Recently I had an experience of police that came into a bar around 1.30 at night. They grabbed a crate of beer, put it in their car and started arresting the staff, without any reason. ‘Business rivalry’, somebody said. My respect for the average Kenyan is growing. They keep smiling in a society where sometimes there seems no difference between citizens and law offenders.
May 30, 2005

Mama matunda disappeared

After Swahili lessons this morning would meet a friend at Mama Matunda (‘Mama Fruit’). I go there for a bowl of fresh mango, pineapple, melon and avocado almost each day. Healthy and cheap lunch. But today, mama’s stall was not there. I asked a man who was standing there. Where did she go? They chased her away, because of security reasons, the man said. They destroyed her stall because thieves are hiding inside? , I asked the man. He was laughing, in a sad way. ‘The thieves are winning from this government.’ It is the same story as some weeks ago. Nairobi’s City Council keeps on chasing away honest Kenians like mama who try to make an income to survive with their families. A few weeks ago, i took this picture. Mama was happy by then. She told she had
May 27, 2005

Rain in Nairobi

This morning the rain was pouring down on Nairobi’s streets. Rain completely disturbs society here. Bad roads, bad drainage are the main reasons of the streets changing into rivers. Matatus get stuck in the mud in areas where most people live, people reach their work too late. Near Kisumu a town on the coast of Lake Victoria, huge floods make people drown. Thousands of children cannot go to school because of the floods. The floods in other parts of this country have to do with deforestation and as a consequence desertification, among others. People cut wood because they prepare their ugali (maize) on char coal stoves. At the same moment a short story went straight into my heart this morning. Last week a total of 18 children were found in town. Even after identification parents did not want their children
May 25, 2005

Medical staff on strike. They want 600% pay rise.

The staff of kenyatta Hospital is on strike. They want a higher salary. People are dying in front of nurses who say they are not on duty. If doctors go on strike in Holland, at least somebody is taking care of the people. Will visit the hospital tomorrow, most probabely.
May 25, 2005

More positive reporting on this beautifull continent :)

Same story as yesterday. Got up at 0500 am to put on the water heater. Had a good coffee at the Holiday Inn, it is one of the few places where you can have coffee at 0630 am. Last night I watched a French movie, Les Choristes, at the ongoing European Filmfestival. The film was sold out, so a lot of people had to sit on the ground. The audience was quite enthousiastic. Almost robbed by some streetkids on the way back. Today they will show Shouf Shouf Habibi, one of the two Dutch movies showing at the festival. The paper this morning made me angry: the mediacongres says that we (journalists) should make an end to negative reporting on Africa. They are right, but the fact is that Africa has a lot of negative stories to tell. How can
May 24, 2005

African Weblog

Welcome to Arjen Westra’s Blog. Arjen is freelance Africa journalist, travelling the continent and publishing stories in Dutch and Belgium-based newspapers and magazines since 2002. On this place, you can read about his where abouts on the African continent.
May 24, 2005

Nairobi morning

Got up around 6.21 am this morning, as usual. Having strong black coffee and reading the Kenyan newspapers. They are writing about the Media Conference in Nairobi. African people blame the media for giving bad image of muslims and promoting the ‘clash of civilisations’. Rwandese president Paul Kagame is blaiming the media for bringing bad news about Africa. Also check the Daily Nation and The Standard (Kenyan Newspapers). Preparing trips to Congo DRC, Uganda and Mozambique. Working on a guide book on the country together with colleague co author Bas Vlugt. Will be published in 2006.
May 9, 2005

Stalls destroyed.

Stalls where destroyed in the night. According to Nairobi City Council because thieves where hiding in the stalls. ‘They came at two last night’, a lady told me. ‘Soldiers of the special forces where assisting them. They carried their guns’ ‘What are they doing for me? Do they provide with my new income, is somebody feeding my kids now?’
February 21, 2005

Travelling from Kampala to Nairobi

Travelling from Kampala to Nairobi with the late afternoonbus. A stop at the border and Ugandan streetkids, apparently full of glue or other drugs, where coming to me. Voices from the dark asking for money, food. One of those things that you don’t experience if you travel by air.