The shores of Watamu on the Kenyan coast should be pristine. They're not.Read More »
Kenya's rolling highlands inspired her to write the bestselling novel "I Dreamed of Africa," but now the situation around her is turning to a nightmare.Read More »
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Conservationist, author of ‘I Dreamed of Africa’ ambushed and shot at her ranch in Kenya – Washington Post
Conservationist Kuki Gallmann was shot in the stomach near her ranch in Laikipia, Kenya, on April 23. She was flown to Nairobi for surgery and is in stable condition. (The Washington Post)
This post has been updated.
Since Kuki Gallmann moved to Kenya in 1972, the conservationist’s life has been plagued by loss and tragedy. In Africa, her husband was killed in a car accident, and her 17-year-old son died from a snake bite.
And yet instead of returning to a comfortable life in her native Italy, Gallmann stayed, compelled by her love for the land and desire to protect it. She would chronicle her experiences in the best-selling novel “I Dreamed of Africa,” which would be turned into a movie starring Kim Basinger.
Now, a wave of misfortune has struck Gallmann again, stemming from months-long local violence and drought. Gallmann, 73, was driving to her property in Laikipia on Sunday morning, assessing damage inflicted by arsonists at one of her tourism lodges, when her vehicle was ambushed by gunmen. She was shot in the stomach, according to the Laikipia Farmers’ Association.
Rangers with the Kenya Wildlife Service helped Gallmann flee the area, and she was taken to a hospital in Nanyuki, a town south of Laikipia, where a British field medic treated her. Then she was flown to a hospital in Nairobi to undergo surgery. Gallmann suffered serious injuries but was in stable condition after surgery, family members told authorities.
Though it is not yet known exactly who is responsible for the shooting, the gunmen are believed to be armed cattle-herders who have been invading Gallmann’s land and other nearby ranches in search of grazing land. A fierce drought has driven these herders — and tens of thousands of cattle — onto private farms and ranches, local media reported.
The Associated Press reported Monday morning that two suspects in Gallmann’s shooting were killed by security agents, according to Kenya Internal Security Minister Joseph Nkaissery. He blamed the shooting on “isolated banditry activity,” according to AP, and said a gun was recovered after Sunday’s attack and was being examined to see if it was used to shoot the conservationist.
Many residents of the area accuse local politicians of inciting the violence ahead of the August elections, trying to drive out voters who might oppose them and win votes by promising supporters access to private land. At least one local politician has already been arrested in connection to the violence. Mathew Lempurkel, the member of parliament for Laikipia North, in March was arrested in Nairobi for inciting the murder of Tristan Voorspuy, a British military veteran who was shot to death while riding a horse and inspecting the remains of one of his ranches. Prosecutors later declined to press charges against Lempurkel, citing lack of evidence.
Kenya’s political leaders and local farming authorities have denounced the violence and Sunday’s attack on Gallmann, one of the area’s most prominent ranch owners. The Gallmann family owns the 100,000-acre Laikipia Nature Conservancy and employs 250 Kenyans on its luxury lodges, ranch and other businesses on the land.
“For months these criminals have been rampaging around with their illegal weapons, destroying lives and livelihoods,” said Martin Evans, chairman of the Laikipia Farmers’ Association, calling the attack a “vicious assault against an elderly and defenseless woman.”
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta decried the shooting, warning politicians in the area not to inflame tension through “reckless rhetoric.” In a statement Sunday afternoon Kenyatta said, “Politicians encouraging invasions of privately-owned property or attacks on individuals can expect strong deterrent action in terms of the law.”
Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader and the country’s former prime minister wrote in a statement that his party, the National Super Alliance, detests and condemns “the hooliganism taking roots in this part of the country and demand action that will restore order before things get completely out of control.”
More than 30 people have died in the conflict over grazing land, the Associated Press reported. Kenya’s military and police have been working for more than a month to drive the herders out of the private land they’ve invaded, but their efforts seem to have escalated the violence. When driven from one ranch, nomadic herders will simply move onto another ranch.
U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec on Monday condemned the attack on Gallman “and all other violence that has taken place in recent months in Laikipia and Baringo.” Godec said in a statement, “I urge all Kenyans to refrain from violence and urge the government to take strong action to hold accountable all those responsible for the attacks and uphold the rule of law,”
Laikipia, located in Kenya’s central highlands, is one of Kenya’s most popular areas for tourism, and many business owners are afraid that if the herders are not stopped, the violence could spread and the economy could take a hit.
Late last month, a luxury lodge owned by Gallmann was burned down by suspected cattle herders in an attack believed to have been retaliation for a police operation. Police had reportedly shot dead about 100 cattle in her surrounding conservancy. Since then, a number of other lodge facilities and farm buildings on her property have been “systematically destroyed and looted by the invading militias,” the farmer’s association wrote in a news release.
After the arson fire at the Mukutan Retreat lodge, Gallmann posted a poem on Facebook earlier this month, writing that “with a bleeding heart” she was trying to gain the strength to see what was left of the lodge, “the monument of my love and loss and longing.”
“They burnt a bit of my soul,” she wrote. “They knew how it would hurt.”
As the armed men set fire to the lodge, they repeatedly shot at her daughter, Sveva Gallmann, who lived nearby. “Our operations buildings and our house came under direct gunfire from armed men,” she said in a statement, Reuters reported. “My nine-month-old daughter was in the house with her carers and I was shot at three times as I ran between the buildings to get to her.”
Speaking to the New York Times this month, Gallmann said that in the past few days, herders had been nearing closer and closer to her home and were attacking her property in revenge for the recent military activity against them.
This is not the first time raiders have tried to kill Gallmann. In 2009, she was driving alone across her property when herders surrounded her and hurled stones, hitting her in the head and hand, the New York Times noted. She barely escaped. Despite the dangers, Gallmann told the newspaper: “There is absolutely no question that I want to stay in this place, die in this place, which could be any minute.”
Gallmann has called Kenya her home since she moved there in 1972, divorced and recovering from a crippling car accident. She found a fresh start in Kenya with her second husband, Paolo, an adventure-loving Italian aristocrat. In 1980, when Paolo was driving home a cradle for his yet-to-be-born daughter, he was hit head on by a truck and killed instantly. Three years later, Gallmann’s 17-year-old son by her first marriage, Emanuele, was killed by a poisonous bite from a puff adder.
When her book first published, some claimed the white European’s story of love and loss in Africa gave off an air of colonialism. But others have praised Gallmann as a viable force in the field of conservation. The Kenyan citizen has waged a war against rampant poaching in an attempt to protect lions, leopards, elephants and other endangered wildlife in Laikipia. She has funded scholarships to help Kenyans use pharmaceutical technology and tribal medicine to halt deforestation and fight disease.
“Landowners? … I do not feel like a landowner,” she wrote in “I Dreamed of Africa.” “I cannot believe that we really own the land. It was there before us, and it will be there after we pass. I believe we can only take care of it, as well as possible, as trustees, for our lifetime. I was not even born here. It is for me a great privilege to be responsible for a chunk of Africa.”
In memory of her husband and son, she created the Gallmann Memorial Foundation, which promotes “coexistence” between humans and nature. “On the grave of both I swore to dedicate my life and my resources to making a difference for the chunk of Africa where we live, which they loved,” she said in an interview with Kenya Citizen TV. Both her husband and son are buried on her ranch.
“There is nothing that people can do to scare or to make me heart,” she said.
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Daily NationProtests as governor handed direct ticketDaily NationAngry Ford Kenya party supporters stare at burnt ballot papers at Masaba Primary School polling centre on April 24, 2017. Area Governor Patrick Khaemba was handed a direct ticket. PHOTO | PHILIP BWAYO | NATION MEDIA GROUP ...and more »Read More »
analysisBy Sekou Toure Otondi, University of Nairobi
In the last few weeks Kenya has seen an increase in intra-party political violence following the start of its political party primaries that began on April 13th and are scheduled to run for two weeks.
The primaries are "mini-polls" held by political parties to choose which candidates will vie for seats in the general election that will be held on August 8th.
The focus has been on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which was the first party to begin the nomination process. The ODM was formed in 2007 and is one of Kenya's main political parties.
Since the start of the ODM primaries chaos has continued to mar the process. The worst cases of political violence were witnessed in Migori in south-western Kenya and Ruaraka in Nairobi. In both cases violence between rival camps led to injuries.
The Busia County primaries, which were the first to take place, also ended in chaos. Busia is a county in western Kenya on the border with Uganda.
The primaries are ongoing and continue to be characterised by palpable tension.
A storm has also been gathering within the ruling Jubilee Party, which began its nominations on Friday last week. Its preparations have also been characterised by internal party tensions.
Recently in Kirinyaga County in central Kenya supporters of two contenders for the gubernatorial seat clashed violently at a prayer rally. That must have been a foretaste of things to come because the first day of the Jubilee primaries was so disorganised that the party announced a nationwide postponement of the nomination exercise.
Kenya's elections laws require all political parties to undertake internal party primary elections. But it's a requirement they'd rather not fulfil.
The truth is that Kenya's political parties coalesce around individuals and ethnic communities rather than ideology. This has made the running of party primaries an arduous task as dejected aspirants often troop to rival political formations after losing in a primary.
This means that parties have to contend with the nightmare of shifting alliances close to the general election.
Rivalry behind the chaos
Party-primary violence has been intense in regions where the main political parties command a strong following. Aspirants who are nominated in their party strongholds have a much better chance of winning. This means that the battle for the nominations is fierce and aspirants often resort to violence against their opponents.
Despite having disciplinary mechanisms the main political parties have failed to rein in those instigating chaos. They usually impose fines on offenders instead of taking more more drastic measures such as a suspension or expulsion.
The fact that most politicians can easily raise the fines has bred a culture of impunity. This has resulted in perennial acts of violence during election cycles.
If the violence isn't contained it could be a harbinger of things to come when Kenyans go to the polls in August. And while the recent conflict has been a wake up call, it has not come as a surprise given Kenya's history of election violence.
Since the return of multiparty politics, the country has repeatedly witnessed ethnic tension and violence around election time. Only the 2013 polls stand out as being relatively peaceful.
The violence during and around election time is an indicator of underlying socioeconomic and political issues such as land injustices, marginalisation and disenfranchisement.
These issues were set out in the 2013 Truth Justice and Reconciliation Report, which was written in response to the post-election violence of 2007-2008. Its recommendations have never been implemented.
The 2007-2008 trajectory of ethnic animosity - which led to 1,133 deaths and 600 000 people rendered homeless - underscores the use of disputed elections to bring underlying issues to the fore.
Although the next election in 2013 was relatively peaceful ethnic tensions have continued to build up across the country. The theatre for this vicious ethnic driven political intolerance has mostly been on social media platforms which are dominated by young Kenyans.
The flame that has been fanned on social media since the 2013 polls is growing into a fire as politicians hit the campaign trail. While leaders engage in polarising rhetoric, it's the youth who become either perpetrators or victims of the political violence.
There are more young people in Kenya than any other demographic cohort. They are also the most disenfranchised which makes them vulnerable to being recruited as perpetrators of violence. Widespread unemployment of 22% is also a contributory factor to young people joining campaign teams as vigilantes, militias or agents.
The making of a peaceful election
The National Democratic Institute has also warned about the likelihood of violence before, during, or after the elections. The institute is an international nongovernmental organisation whose primary task is to advance democratic principles and good governance. In Kenya it's work has mainly involved strengthening electoral and political processes.
The institute has also given a raft of recommendations on how to avoid election-related violence.
But in the end only Kenyans can put a stop to ethno-political violence.
In the medium to longer term one way they could do this would be by implementing the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Report.
Another would be to build programmatic political parties that are rooted in ideology rather than ethnicity.
In the short term the institutions mandated to ensure peaceful electioneering must actively discourage violence. For example the National Cohesion and Integration Commission must fulfil its mandate. The commission is a statutory body established against the backdrop of a reconciliation pact agreed after the 2007-2008 post-election violence. It's aim is to support sustainable peaceful coexistence among Kenyans.
In addition, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has a crucial role in mitigating political violence by conducting free and fair elections. The commission is legally mandated to conduct primary elections for political parties.
But some stakeholders have opposed its involvement in party affairs citing the principle of neutrality. In my opinion, the commission should play an advisory and logistical role to ensure free, fair, and peaceful primary elections in the run-up to the general election in August.
Sekou Toure Otondi does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.Read More »
The Star, KenyaJumwa beats Mtengo for ticket, MP threatens to join rival CharoThe Star, KenyaKilifi woman representative Aisha Jumwa has won the highly contested ODM nominations for the Malindi ticket. She defeated Incumbent Willy Mtengo by 8,436 votes to 3,758 votes. The results were announced by returning officer Samuel Ochieng at the ...and more »Read More »
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Photo: Moses Muoki/CapitalFM
Jubilee members wait to cast their votes at Kiambu primary school polling centre.
Police on Friday fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse rowdy crowds angered by delays in the start of Jubilee nominations in Mau Summit and Nakuru Town.
In Mau Summit, residents blocked the Kericho-Nakuru highway and the entrance to Mau Summit Secondary School protesting alleged vote rigging.
In Nakuru town, voting at the St Xaviers Primary School polling station in Nakuru Town East constituency was temporarily disrupted when a group of youths stormed the station, protesting delays in the delivery of polling materials.
Police intervened, using tear gas to disperse the crowd as the situation threatened to get out of hand.
The youths shouting, wailing and blowing vuvuzelas stormed St Xavier primary school polling centre in Biashara ward saying they would not allow voting to continue until all the polling materials were delivered.
Earlier, youths from Bondeni had staged a protest march from Menengai Social Hall to Mburu Gichua road. They claimed the decision to deny some polling stations voting material was a calculated move to rig the elections.
However calm returned after about half an hour and voting continued uninterrupted.
In Embu, voting in various parts was disrupted by a group of aspirants amid claims of rigging.
Led by Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire and Manyatta MP John Muchiri, the aspirants stormed Kirimari Secondary School where the ballot papers were being supplied and demanded that the process be halted.
They protested that the ballot boxes had no lids and ballot papers were fewer than the number of registered voters.
Ms Mbarire described the process as a sham, and urged her supporters to prevent the ballot materials from being transported to various stations.
They also said they would boycott the elections unless fresh ballot papers were supplied.
Ms Mbarire is set to fight it out with Governor Martin Wambora for the Jubilee party ticket.
The winner will face Senator Lenny Kivuti of Maendeleo Chap Chap and either Mr Kithinji Kiragu or former Permanent Secretary Cyrus Njiru who are fighting for the Party of National Unity ticket whose primaries is set for Saturday.
Mr Muchiri, Mbeere South aspirant Geoffrey King'ang'i and his Runyenjes counterpart Raymond Kinyua criticised the delay in supply of ballot papers.
"I am very disappointed by Jubilee Party headquarters. They announced the elections three weeks ago yet they had not made transport arrangements. They were looking for transport this morning," Mr Muchiri said.
Hundreds of ballot papers marked in favour of a parliamentary aspirant and a sitting MCA also fuelled allegations that the polls were already rigged.
Kirimari ward aspirant Morris Collo said he was shocked to find that his new name was missing from the ballot despite him having communicated the same with the IEBC.
Reporting by By Joseph Openda, Uzzler Ochieng, Francis Mureithi, Magdalene Wanja, Reitz Mureithi and Eric Matara, Charles Wanyoro
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By Halima Abdallah
After finding a temporary pesticide combination that works against the fall armyworm, Uganda's scientists now seek a lasting solution to the pests that have invaded more than half of the country posing a significant threat to food security.
Agriculture ministry officials told The EastAfrican that the armyworms have spread to at least 54 districts that are major maize growing areas. Scientists however said this could be an underestimation given the quick manner in which the pests spread.
The insects can travel up to 2,000km a year. In addition to maize, the armyworms have attacked sorghum, sugarcane and elephant grass.
The current maize shortage not only affects human food but also poultry feed whose prices have began to rise. Elephant grass is a major source of livestock feed.
First reportedSince the fall armyworm invasion was first reported in July 2016, in the western Uganda district of Kasese that borders DR Congo, scientists have been conducting studies to confirm the exactly what type of worms they are as they are alien to Uganda. They are now looking for an effective pesticide to combat them.
The fall armyworm does not have any known chemical developed specifically against it.
"Research has identified dudufenos, rocket and striga and any insecticide that contains profenofos as a rapid method to contain the spread, but we are doing further research on how to find a lasting solution to the problem," said Dr Michael Otim, head of cereal research at the National Crop Resources Research Institute in Namulonge.
"We have recorded resistance from two major sources, the presence of counterfeit drugs on the market and farmers not knowing how to effectively mix and apply the drugs," said Sunday Emmanuel, the secretary general of the Uganda National Farmers Federation.
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