FOREIGNERS: Tuning Careers - P38
ISSUE No. 0007 September 2012
The Big Debate: The State of Kenya’s Wildlife - P8
KSh280 • USh8,500 TSh5,300 • RF2,000 • BIF4,500 • USD4
Mixing Water and Football How a US-based NGO is rolling out the ultimate community project in Africa – and attracting global attention — P22 Cover PHOTO | Anthony njoroge
PERSONALITY: Through Glass Brightly P46
EVENT: The Turkana Festival 2012 P52 August 2012
This Month East African Flyer August 2012
P54 7 EDITORIAL: Our August menu 22 COVER STORY: Mixing Water with Football
– The story of American international NGO PITCH_Africa and the Ultimate Community Project is brought to you by EA Flyer Contributing Editor (Science and Technology) WYCLIFFE MUGA
8 THE BIG DEBATE: The State of Kenya’s Wildlife – Three perspectives on the prospects of Kenya’s iconic wildlife resource by KWS Director JULIUS KIPKENG’ETICH, the palaeontologist RICHARD LEAKEY and EA Flyer’s WYCLIFFE MUGA
38 FOREIGNERS: Tuning Careers – the story of NATALIE LUKKENAER, who wrote a thesis on Kenyan hip-hop during the Moi era and produced a major project on how to start a music school in Kenya, as told to EA Flyer’s ROOPA GOGINENI
P16 P22 42 BIG IDEAS: ‘The Miracle Moringa Tree’ – STEVE MBOGO reports on a many-splendoured wonder plant that provides ingredients for food supplements, medicines and beauty products, acts as forest cover, helping to slow down climate change and ease soil erosion as a windbreaker 46 PERSONALITY: ‘Through Glass Brightly’ – Correspondent BRIAN OBARA introduces Jeremy Gituru, a glass sculptor who works on flat surfaces to produce stunning three-dimensional effects
50 BOOK SERIALIZATION: ‘New Hope’ – from Amboseli, A Miracle Too Far – Part 4 of this remarkable memoir by David Lovatt-Smith, onetime Warden of Amboseli National Park
P56 P59 52 EVENT: ‘A Feast for the Eyes: The Turkana Festival 2012’ – Photojournalist ANTHONY NJOROGE’S graphic essay, in words and pictures, celebrates a throbbing scene by the Jade Sea 56 CAR SHOW: ‘Nairobi’s Hottest Rides’ – Red-hot images of motoring show held at Westgate, Nairobi, and sponsored by personal-care products giant Gillette and captured by ANTHONY NJOROGE
60 LETTER FROM KAMPALA: ‘Laughter the Best Medicine’ – Kampala Correspondent ANGELA KINTU on the joys of laughing at yourself
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Welcome August 2012
THE REGION’S AVIATION LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE
A Supplement of Aviation East Africa
By East African Flyer Chairman Eric Mwandia
The Ultimate Community Project
inding a fit between football and rainwater harvesting is thinking way outside the box. And yet this is exactly what an organization with the distinctive name PITCH_Africa (yes, written exactly that way, complete with the underscore) has done, as you can see from our Cover Story. PITCH_Africa is a US-based social enterprise organization that, in its own words, “focuses on promoting high-yield community-integrated rainwater harvesting initiatives using sport as a catalyst”. The organization is best known for the Rainwater Harvesting Street Football Stadium that sits above a school and community education centre. It has now turned its focus on Africa, where water access is a big issue that often degenerates into violent conflict. Their projects have attracted global attention. PITCH_AFRICA’S Co-Director Jane Harrison spoke to EA Flyer Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) Wycliffe Muga in a
riveting and informative interview. In ‘The Big Debate: The State of Kenya’s Wildlife’ our other big story in this issue, Kenya Wildlife Service Director Julius Kipng’etich, the palaeontologist and author Richard Leakey and EA Flyer’s Wycliffe Muga bring three knowledgeable analytical perspectives to bear on the issue of Kenya’s iconic wildlife resource and heritage of splendor and the way forward. In this month’s Personality feature, ‘Through Glass Brightly’, Writer Brian Obara introduces us to glass sculptor Jeremy Gituru and his wondrous works. EA Flyer photojournalist Anthony Njoroge presents two superb photo essays back-to-back on two events that are as different from each other as it is possible to be divergent – the Turkana Festival 2012, held by the shores of the Jade Sea itself and the Nairobi’s Hottest Wheels car show held in Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall and sponsored by Gillette, the brand of Procter & Gamble worldfamous for safety razors, among other personal-care products.
Natalie Lukkenaer wrote a thesis on Kenyan hip-hop music during the Kanu era and produced a major project on how to start a music school in Kenya. “From that point, everything I did was about Sauti Academy and building that idea”, she tells EA Flyer Correspondent Roopa Gogineni in our Foreigners feature for August – ‘Tuning Careers’. In ‘New Hope’, the fourth installment in the ongoing book serialization of Amboseli, A Miracle Too Far, by David Lovatt-Smith, onetime Warden of the Amboseli National Park, we are informed that ‘There are a thousand places in the world where livestock of a higher quality can be produced more efficiently than in Maasailand, but there is scarcely another area on the globe that is so potentially rich in wildlife’. Angela Kintu, EA Flyer’s ever upbeat Uganda Correspondent, reminds us that laughter is not only the best medicine but good business too, in this month’s intriguing ‘Letter from Kampala’. As always, enjoy a rich and varied menu from Team EA Flyer!
The Big Debate
State of Kenya’s Wildlife Population
Laying the Foundation for Kenya’s 21st Century Conservation The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director, DR. JULIUS KIPNG’ETICH, elucidates the organisation’s game plan
he natural resources of this country – its wildlife, which offers such an attraction to visitors from all over the world, the beautiful places in which these animals live, the mighty forests which guard the water catchment areas so vital to the survival of man and beast – are a priceless heritage for the future. “The Government of Kenya, fully realising the value of its natural resources, pledges itself to conserve them for posterity with all the means at its disposal . . . “We, therefore, invite other nations and lovers of nature throughout the world to assist us in honouring this solemn pledge.”
The above pledge by Kenya’s founding Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta, made on September 18, 1963, shortly after Kenya attained internal self-rule (Madaraka) from the British, provides a clear example of the Kenyan Government’s commitment and dedication to conservation. Forty-seven years later, when Kenya adopted a new Constitution on August 27, 2010, and 45 years later launched the Vision 2030 economic blueprint, the same spirit was re-affirmed by the important role accorded to the environment in national development. Indeed, the history of the Kenya Wildlife Service has emerged as one of Kenya’s inspiring success stories, as I will show in the rest of this article.
Introduction Since the first national park, the Nairobi National Park, was gazetted in 1946, the pledge quoted at the beginning of this article has seen an increase to more than 60 national parks and reserves as well as conservancies. However, climate change, high population growth and inappropriate land use practices have seen loss of wildlife habitats, migratory corridors and dispersal areas remain major challenges. This has greatly reduced the land available for wildlife outside protected areas. Many changes affecting conservation have taken place, both locally and globally. About KWS The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is a State corporation established by an Act of Parliament, Cap 376, in 1989, with a
mandate to conserve and manage wildlife throughout Kenya in protected and nonprotected areas. The KWS presides over a sprawling system of more than 60 national parks and reserves as well as 125 stations for wildlife outside protected areas. KWS has its headquarters in Nairobi and is divided into seven administrative divisions while the rest of the country is organised into eight conservation areas. The protected areas encompass 8 per cent of the nationâ€™s landmass. Reviving conservation Since its inception, KWS has made huge strides in curbing poaching, enlisting international support for conservation, establishing infrastructure and developing human capacity. This success has been made possible through support from
the Government of Kenya and local and international non-governmental organisations. But our history has not all been plain sailing. Eight years ago, when the Head of State honoured me with the appointment to preside over the nationâ€™s natural heritage, I felt truly privileged and profoundly shocked. At age 39 and a non- biologist, I was relatively young and a greenhorn in matters conservation, unlike the previous holders of the position. However, as a management specialist from the University of Nairobi, I was certain I was up to the enormous task ahead. Here I was to oversee the revival of endangered species, including rhinos, elephants, lions, cheetahs and their Turn to P10
Photography | anthony njoroge
The Big Debate
State of Kenya’s Wildlife Population
degraded habitats, not forgetting the incredible pressure on wildlife habitats from the fast- growing human population. Before I took over the management of KWS, the organisation had gone through a period of sharp decline. It had suffered from a high turnover of 13 chief executives within a span of 14 years. This resulted in low staff morale, lack of clear direction and a poor public image. The organisation had also suffered from political interference, bad governance, inadequate systems and structures, and low revenue occasioned by fraud (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2005:5). In fact, workers lacked basic supplies that would support their routine operations in the field. Having been weighed down by these challenges, the organisation had to be stabilised before fundamental changes could be effected. The organisation chose a phased approach to implementing wide- ranging reforms through a number of strategic management tools and initiatives. We are in the third phase of reforms to drive conservation and tourism efforts in the 21st Century. One early key decision was the Board of Trustees’ approval of the Strategic Plan 2005-2010 in June 2005. This marked the first phase of the reform programme that is continuing. The Plan, whose focus was science for wildlife management, information for institutional development and marketing for financial management, used a logical framework. Within the five-year Plan, we developed a mission statement that outlined the aim of the organisation: to conserve and manage Kenya’s wildlife for posterity on a sustainable basis. The Plan concentrated on institutional strengthening, specifically creating order and discipline among a de-motivated workforce and designing structures, systems, processes and procedures to produce a more accountable and agile organisation. It also developed a clear organisational structure with distinct job descriptions, evaluation and performance indicators, so that all KWS employees knew what was expected from them (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2005:5; Kenya Wildlife Service, 2006:7). The new KWS brand promise was developed and articulated at strategic points within the organisation. It contained a clear vision, mission and expression of core values that was cascaded to all field stations and national parks and reserves to enable full participation by all staff.
New and imaginative programmes to engender the brand promise have been implemented. These include daily communal staff tea taken in open courts rather than in offices, Director’s tea every Friday, Quarterly Kamukunji (informal meetings) and Gemba Kaizen competitions. Honouring fallen conservation heroes One factor not generally appreciated by outsiders is the sheer danger that many KWS officers face in discharging their duties. The stakes in wildlife crime are so high that rangers in particular put their lives at risk when pursuing poachers and other criminals. Since its inception, the KWS has lost more than 50 rangers in the process of fulfilling its mandate. This loss has not been in vain; they have lost their lives for the country and the world at large. To demonstrate this appreciation, KWS holds a Conservation Heroes’ Day every December 16 at a special monument erected in Nairobi in the rangers’ honour. The commemoration date is the day Nairobi National Park was gazetted. The event provides a special occasion to reflect on the lives of those who displayed courage and self-sacrifice in the face of danger, and to celebrate the continued commitment by their remaining colleagues. Most of these heroes died in combat with armed bandits, preventing wildlife crimes, on rescue missions and protecting people’s lives and property from damage by wild animals. The departed heroes’ families, friends, KWS employees, government agencies, conservationists and well-wishers, all converge on the monument. From 2012, a ranger’s statue was erected and unveiled at the entrance to KWS Headquarters compound to serve as an inspiration to the living heroes. Thanks to exceptional dedication by KWS staff and upturn in tourism earnings, the Strategic Plan 2005-10 was virtually completed by the end of 2008, well ahead of the 2010 target. This made it necessary to develop the Strategic Plan for 2008-2012 which built on the achievements of the previous Plan – especially the new policy framework, enhanced management and embracing of ICT systems, greater institutional capacity and improved relationship with stakeholders. We synchronised the new Strategic Plan with rolling planning cycles as well as the national development goals of the Vision
2030 roadmap. This marked the second phase of the reform process. The Plan, which integrated the Balanced Score Card approach, deepened emphasis on science, information and markets. It also extended the organisation’s focus on people as its most valuable resource, new opportunities arising from emerging technologies and the strengthening of the KWS brand. Highlights of the new Plan included force modernisation, building of forensic and genetic laboratories, and the creation of an information system to enable KWS and other stakeholders to base wildlife conservation decisions on sound scientific data. Performance Management The Government of Kenya’s Public Sector Reform Secretariat has recommended public agencies to adopt various tools to improve efficiency and productivity in public agencies. Given the complexity of the KWS mandate, which ranges from tourism, security, research and regulation to infrastructure (roads, bridges and airstrips), and the need to balance the various objectives, the organisation chose the Balanced Score Card management tool to guide the strategy. This is a sophisticated, strategic planning and monitoring system that allows every department and employee to report and track progress towards the varied strategic objectives (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2008). Once fully implemented and computerised, the Balanced Score Card system is expected to become a nerve centre of the
Photography | anthony njoroge
Harnessing emerging technology
organisation – showing the user progress, blockages and what needs to be done to resolve bottlenecks. Already, we are ISO 9001: 2008-certified, an international recognition of the KWS management systems. Through this, KWS was among the first conservation bodies to get the certification. This is a confirmation to our suppliers, customers and other stakeholders that we maintain robust systems and standards in service delivery (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2008: 53). To keep abreast with developments in management in the corporate sector, KWS has consistently participated in corporate competitions. Since 2007, KWS has consistently won several awards in the Company of the Year Award (COYA) in its drive towards attaining global competitiveness. It’s instructive that these accolades resulted from external assessment of corporations by an independent agency. This has created considerable improvements in operational effectiveness and shown that even public institutions can beat the private ones at their own game (Kenya Institute of Management 2010; Kenya Wildlife Service 2010:9). KWS has also been vetted by Superbrand, an independent authority on branding, with experience in over 80 countries, and awarded the Superbrand status based on a consumer feedback mechanism in the areas of quality, reliability and distinction (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2010:9). This momentum for excellence is expected to continue as the organisation aims for the ISO 14,000 series on
environmental standards and ISO 22,000 for advanced quality measures (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2009:13). Force Modernisation One of our main challenges lies in fighting the ever-increasing sophistication of wildlife crime. KWS is implementing a force modernisation programme based on three core principles: force restructuring, professional force and equipment acquisition as well as infrastructure to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The programme recognises the need for change in strategy and operational tactics, use of post-operation intelligence and leveraging of information and communication technology. As part of this, we are in the process of establishing a forensic laboratory to support law enforcement and prosecution of wildliferelated crimes. Over the last decade, KWS has started a number of bold initiatives to support the conservation and management of wildlife. Besides being a national pride and international heritage as well as the backbone of the tourism sector, Kenya’s wildlife heritage is a vital component of the biological diversity essential for sustaining life and economic development. To protect wildlife populations and conserve their habitats, we have adopted an all-inclusive strategy encompassing strengthening of law enforcement, enhancing wildlife industry governance and maintaining ecological integrity (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2009; 15).
To stay afloat in the fast-paced technological era, KWS has deployed wide-ranging information communication and technologies in decision making and implementation processes. For instance, to keep tabs on the movement of wildlife and fortify ecosystem monitoring, KWS is rolling out a rangerbased management information system. This geo-referenced wildlife monitoring system enables rangers to collect vital information on wildlife (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2009; 16). We have also embraced social media – You Tube, Facebook, and Twitter – to engage the public besides an interactive website. Over the last decade, KWS has employed a coordinated and participatory approach to conservation that ensures the involvement of key stakeholders while respecting the rights of communities and individual landowners. We partner with various like-minded non-governmental organisations, corporate bodies and governmental agencies to undertake conservation efforts. One of the most outstanding partnership achievements steered by KWS and Rhino Ark was the completion of the 450km Aberdare Fence that took a decade (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2009: 18). KWS has also been instrumental in efforts to repossess and rehabilitate the Mau Forests Complex, the largest closed canopy forest ecosystem in Kenya. Millions of people depend on the 12 rivers that flow from this large ecosystem. In recent years, this ecosystem has been under immense pressure from illegal squatters and political magnates who see capital to be gained from arbitrary land allocation, regardless of the catastrophic implications that this involves for the environment and the livelihoods it supports. International engagement Internationally, Kenya is an active party to a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) relating to wildlife resources conservation and management. These include CITES, the Lusaka Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on Migratory Species, World Heritage Convention and the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands. An example of which we are particularly proud is our leadership in developing the African Elephant Action Plan, resulting in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Turn to P12 August 2012
The Big Debate
State of Kenya’s Wildlife Population
Flora (CITES). Kenya has been honoured to host the Secretariat working towards the development of the African Elephant Action Plan and Fund for the conservation and management of the African elephant in 37 African countries. KWS has also partnered with private organisations to save endangered habitats like Nairobi National Park, which is under siege from the growing metropolis. To address habitat degradation, a KSh40 million (US$500,000) Nairobi Greenline Project, an initiative of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and KWS, to act as a green buffer zone protecting the park from the growing town, was established (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2010; 12-13). The 32km-long and 50-metre-wide of trees project brings together industries, conservationists, corporate organisations and the public. On the conservation front, a number of management and conservation plans have been developed for large carnivores such as spotted hyenas, lions and wild dogs, as well as marine species like sea turtles. Indeed, Kenya is the first African country to develop national conservation strategies for large carnivores (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2010; 13; Kenya Wildlife Service, 2009; 12). The strategies recognise not only the existing and potential geographical range of the species and their threats, but also provide guidance to efforts aimed at improving their conservation and management. These new strategies are expected to help ease the pressure facing large carnivores due to the fast human population growth. To give an indication of the scale of the challenge we face, it is sobering to realise that Kenya’s population has risen from one million at the turn of the last century to 10 million in 1963 to an estimated 40 million this year. This is one of the highest growth rates in the world, and puts intense pressure on land use. At the same time, task forces on large carnivores, sea turtles, bongo, roan antelopes, sable antelopes, sitatunga antelopes, giraffes, primates and management committees on hirola antelopes and Grevy’s zebra have been set up (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2010; 13). Visitor experience and customer orientation Over the last couple of years, KWS has become more people-centred and customer-focused, shaking off the previous paramilitary image. Professional customer service officers replaced rangers at park gates to make the visitor experience more
pleasant and memorable. Deploying uniformed customer officers represented a great stride in enhancing KWS brand visibility as well as staff motivation and identity. KWS has a developed strong customer orientation and conducts regular competition analysis and market intelligence. Systems for measuring changes in customer trends include Tourism Economic Impact Analysis Survey, KWS visitor statistics analysis, Kenya Advertising Research Foundation Quarterly Reports, Tourism Satellite Accounts, monthly industry tourism trend reports by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) and United Nations World Tourism Organisation. As part of the KWS revival and to prepare the ground for park entry tariffs review, a branding programme was started in 2005 with the aim of giving each park a unique identity. The programme, which has covered 22 national parks and reserves, has paid dividends in more visitors and positive feedback from the tourism industry, communities and KWS staff. The programme involves infrastructural refurbishment, retraining of staff to improve service delivery and community projects support in three areas: water, health and education (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2005:33).
This exercise has seen each branded park recreated, including new systems, signage, visitor accommodation and infrastructure. The refurbishment of the parks and reserves is in line with Kenya’s Vision 2030 development blueprint, which seeks to make tourism a leading contributor to the economy. This has the potential of placing Kenya among the best destinations in the world, offering a high-end, diverse, exclusive and distinctive visitor experience. The complete make-over of national parks and reserves includes not only the rehabilitation of their infrastructure but also a community outreach programme. The huge investment in branding has shown good returns in improved service delivery, increased park visitation, good customer feedback, more positive community perceptions of wildlife as well as provided a unique identity for each protected area. However, one of the biggest challenges KWS is tackling is to tilt tourism earnings in favour of communities living in wildlife areas. Visitor safety The safety of local and international tourists within wildlife protected areas and other areas is ensured through enhanced visitor security patrols and operations.
Photography | anthony njoroge
KWS, in close liaison with the Tourist Police Unit, keeps vigil in wildlife protected areas as well as on important roads linking protected areas. The organisation also works closely with other stakeholders, especially the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) and Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), to ensure that Kenya’s parks and reserves maintain their world class standards by remaining safe and secure. Financial management Until a couple of years ago, KWS relied heavily on the Government, tourism revenues and the goodwill of the organisation’s development partners to fund its operations. In the course of eight years, we have increased the KWS budget sevenfold. For a record six years, we have had a clean bill of health from the National Audit Office. At the same time, we have made the organisation more transparent, one of the most transparent organisations in the world. We have had three corruption-free ranger recruitments not only for selecting the best but also to build public confidence in our operations. We have won accolades in Leadership and Corporate awards, beating private sector organisations in what is believed to be their field.
We continue to do this with the strong belief that we are owned by the public and should be accountable to them. The organisation’s new thrust is devising innovative sources of funding and creative solutions to support conservation. The revenue trend has been upwards due to park entry charges adjustments, increase in tourist arrivals and marketing as well as compliance with financial and procurement procedures. KWS has sought creative ways to cushion conservation activities from the variability of the tourism industry without compromising the core business of managing and conserving wildlife. Towards this end, the KWS Board of Trustees in 2009 approved the establishment of the Endowment Fund for conservation activities to provide predictability in budgeting and operations (Kenya Wildlife Service 2009: 11, 37; Kenya Wildlife Service 2008:14; Kenya Wildlife Service 2007:15). This is meant to serve as a mechanism through which Kenyans and the rest of the world can contribute to the conservation of wildlife and their habitats against the vagaries of international economics and trends in tourism. The Fund has registered phenomenal growth, starting with KSh20 million in 2010 to KSh60million in January 2012. KWS projections indicate that the initial target of US$100 million by 2020 will be achieved, increasing the organisation’s capacity to wean itself off over-reliance on the Government Treasury and unreliable tourism earnings (Kenya Wildlife Service 2010: 6). The success of the fund is a clear indication that both local and global communities value their natural heritage, of which KWS is privileged to be the custodian. It’s this human charitable nature that KWS is tapping into to enable it to discharge the mandate of protecting wildlife for the current generation and posterity. Through the Fund, KWS seeks to boost its financial ability to avert both natural and illegal depletion of the world’s inventory of biological diversity (Kenya Wildlife Service, 2010:6). This is in keeping with the 1992 Rio de Janeiro United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (the Earth Summit) that emphasized protection of the world’s flora and fauna. KWS is working to diversify its revenue streams to not only broaden its sources of funding but also provide a buffer against unanticipated events such as abrupt declines in tourism and shifts in development partners’ priorities.
Environment KWS has implemented a corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility policy based on the law on wildlife conservation. It has established strong links with surrounding communities through programmes such as provision of health facilities, public education and awareness programmes and provision of clean water. This has a great impact on poverty reduction and improvement of livelihoods among communities living around conservation areas. KWS observes key principles of environmental conservation whose main components include prevention of adverse impacts, compliance with national legislation and regulations, promotion of the use of eco-friendly and efficient technologies, education of employees, stakeholders and communities and auditing for continual improvement (Kenya Institute of Management, 2010). Species revival For the last 10 years, we have engineered a major turnaround in the fortunes of conservation and KWS as a corporate. We have increased the budget sevenfold and made the organisation more transparent. On the endangered species front, we have made major strides by increasing the elephant population by 8,000 at the rate of 1,000 each year. At the same time, we have grown the rhino from about 600 to 920. These are no mean achievements for endangered species in the midst of escalating insecurity and climate change. KWS, with the Ministry of Lands and the Africa Wildlife Foundation, has formed the Kenya Wildlife Land Conservation Trust (KLCT) to acquire more land for wildlife. It’s no mean achievement that, within the last decade, we have managed to acquire more than a million hectares of land under community conservancies for wildlife conservation. The latest acquisition is the 17,000-acre Laikipia National Park donated to KWS by the Africa Wildlife Foundation and Nature Conservancy. The other is Kenya’s first voluntary easement at Nairobi National Park. We are seeking more community land for conservation. The Mount Kenya East Pilot Project (MKEPP) is jointly implemented by KWS and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project aims to reduce poverty around Mt. Kenya and the Tana River Catchment Basin through sustainable natural resource management practices.
Corporate Citizenship and Turn to 14 August 2012
The Big Debate
State of Kenya’s Wildlife Population
Photography | anthony njoroge
Stepping into the future Going forward, Kenya faces huge environmental challenges in various key areas – food security, water, energy, pasture for livestock. We are also working with other stakeholders on alternative sources of energy away from the charcoalburning that has depleted forests. We are encouraging commercial tree planting and educating communities to conserve the environment and use it in a sustainable way. We are reviewing human settlements in a way that minimises effects on the environment as well as protecting wildlife space and migratory corridors across the country. A distinctive characteristic of our mandate is that the challenges never go away. Climate change, a volatile global economy, capricious land-use policies and poaching are threats that will be with us for the foreseeable future. Despite these challenges, KWS is well-positioned to face them. The new Constitution adopted on August 27, 2010 will help conserve wildlife for generations to come. It provides for a devolved structure in which natural resources are managed at two levels: national and county. Already, the KWS Board of Trustees has approved a wetlands management structure to protect these fragile ecosystems. We are also embarking on the fencing of the critical water catchments of Mau Eburru and Mt. Kenya. Loita Forest in Narok and Marsabit are all within our sights. KWS will provide leadership and engage other stakeholders in protecting key water catchment areas. Phase III-KWS 2.0 Strategy In the third phase of our reforms, we have realigned our Strategic Plan away from aspiring to be a world leader in wildlife – a task that we feel has largely been accomplished – towards ‘Saving the Last Great Species and Spaces on Earth for Humanity ’, dubbed the KWS 2.0 Strategy. This new focus puts greater emphasis on the urgency of protecting our natural heritage from the threats of growing population, climate change, wildlife crime and abuse of the environment. To achieve this vision, we will need to successfully execute three priority areas of the new strategy, namely: Conservation Stewardship, People Excellence, and Collaborative Partnership. All our initiatives are aligned to these strategic focal areas. Improving and aligning our intangible assets and our organisation’s readiness to improve critical processes depends 14 |
on having people with the right attitude, character, capacity and aligning their aspirations to our strategic objectives. Executing this strategy and achieving our strategic results will depend on engaged leadership at all levels, interactive communication among all employees, and strong adherence to our core values of Passion, Professionalism, Innovation and Quality. Our success will be defined by the impact on execution of our mandate. This will be achieved through enhanced ecological integrity, improved wildlife industry governance, reduced human/ wildlife conflict, enhanced collaboration with our stakeholders, and strengthened law enforcement and security. In this third phase of reform, the organisation will be rolling out a number of initiatives to have a sound financial footing to support conservation activities. These include revision of pricing to reflect true value of product and service and diversification of revenue streams. KWS is in the process of refreshing of the domestic tourism campaign and leveraging branded parks by segmenting and repositioning them to meet market demands. Plans are also underway for agency selling to increase service points while encouragement of tourism investment in key strategic areas outside national parks is an ongoing process. KWS will also impress upon the Government the urgent need for appropriate legislation and policy, engage the Treasury for budgetary support and extend partnerships for funding in Kenya and abroad. KWS will also strengthen relations with communities living near wildlife areas as well as ensure they benefit from the presence of wildlife in their
areas. Internally, we are working on having employees with a greater passion for the job, well-paid, well-equipped, well-housed and knowledgeable. With the new Constitution, provisions of the Vision 2030 development blueprint, the Endowment Fund and the expected review of wildlife policy and Bill, wildlife conservation in Kenya will have a more enabling environment to play its rightful role. We are particularly keen on new benefit-sharing arrangements with communities and other stakeholders as well as more responsive institutional arrangements that reorganise the sector. The new policy and Bill are also expected to enhance penalties for environmental crime. Finally, the conservation journey ahead of us is still long. A lot needs to be done to heal a fragile planet from climate change and other challenges. KWS has a good foundation for an exciting future full of hope and promise. References Kenya Institute of Management (2010) OPI Management Report 2010 Kenya Wildlife Service (2010) Kenya Wildlife Service 2010 Annual Report (2010) Kenya Wildlife Service 2010 Annual Report (2009) Kenya Wildlife Service 2009 Annual Report (2008) Kenya Wildlife Service 2008 Annual Report (2008) Strategic Plan 2008-2012: Our Heritage, Our Future (2007) Kenya Wildlife Service 2007 Annual Report (2005) Kenya Wildlife Service 2005 Annual Report (2005) Kenya Wildlife Service 2005 Annual Report (1995) Kenya Wildlife Service 1995 Annual Report
Julius Kipng’etich, EBS Director, Kenya Wildlife Service email@example.com
The Big Debate
State of Kenyaâ€™s Wildlife Population
Photography | Courtesy
Leakey is Convinced Danger to Wildlife has Reached Saturation Point
The world-renowned palaeontologist, conservationist, author and one-time Head of the Civil Service was interviewed in Nairobi by KIBIWOTT KOROS 16 |
KIBIWOTT KOROS: We have seen a high number of human-wildlife conflicts, especially the lions in Nairobi National Park. What could be the problem? DR. RICHARD LEAKEY: There is a problem here. What do you expect when cattle is kept where lions are? When people live closer to parks with their animal cattle bomas, definitely there should be
something instead of wasting time and our wildlife and KWS getting constant bad publicity, yet it is something that can be contained. Q: But won’t the fencing close the migration corridor between Nairobi and Serengeti? A: Yes it could, but which migration corridor? Let us be real here and not behave like we are living in the 1930s, when there was migration. This is 2012 and there is no natural migration. There is no migration corridor today. The area is blocked already by buildings which are coming up day by day. We have even seen an airport called Orly come up in the area. There will be more coming up and there will be settlements too. The land is not owned by the Government but locals, so they will come up with what they want in their land.
a conflict. To bring this to an end, the Park should be fenced as was done to Nakuru. We need to keep the wildlife away from the community. Fencing of the Park was recommended 25 years ago, when I was the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, but this is yet to be done. This will prevent animals. I remain convinced that this could be the saviour of Nairobi National Park. This should be done in a way that the livestock can get water in Mbagathi River and wildlife as well, without interfering with the wildlife. KWS need to talk with landowners in a way so that each party can access the river without any confrontation. We should do
Q: How do you rate poaching in this country? A: My impression is that poaching has reached a level which is no longer increasing because the wildlife numbers have dwindled. This is not to say their numbers have reduced because of poaching, but also due to natural factors. In the past, when you crossed over Tsavo, you could see a lot of animals, but not today. Look at the dik diks, zebras and gazelles, their numbers have significantly reduced. You can see, in most areas, villagers graze their livestock in the parks, thereby endangering wildlife. This is also associated to increasing population. KWS has also tried here. They have had more rangers trained, but, I think, they could have also done something on footprint reading. But I must say KWS has tried a lot. If you compare poaching in Tanzania and Kenya, it is worse in Tanzania. Look at South Africa – it is recording high numbers of rhino deaths as a result of poaching. Compared to other countries in the region, I think we are far much ahead as far as containing poaching is concerned. Q: KWS says the number of animals has been increasing. Are you in agreement? If Yes or No – why? A: No I am not. I think KWS is not being
totally open on their data. We no longer see the data of wildlife counts as before. We no longer see the participation of NGOs in open discussion forums. I believe the rhino figures are wrong, though I don’t have exact information. But I think the figures KWS has, especially of the rhinos, are wrong. We have no more than 400 rhinos in Kenya today, according to me. I don’t think they have identified the rhinos with ear-tags and I don’t think they are under surveillance, although I don’t have any evidence on this. But I am only not sure about the numbers. Q: Do you see the wildlife numbers going up, especially the lions, elephant and rhino? A: Yes, it is possible, but this will all depend on how the Government and KWS will address the issue. With serious policies in place, poaching will be contained. It will also need a lot of resources and intelligence. Farmers should stop grazing their livestock in the parks to reduce poaching. Q: Poaching has been reported mostly in Laikipia and northern parts of the country. Do you think this money is Turn to P18
The Big Debate
State of Kenya’s Wildlife Population
used to fund terrorism activities? A: No. That is being too cheap and an attempt to seek public sympathy. Current poaching is not large-scale and therefore cannot raise a lot of money. The poachers are just criminals who have perfected it. Al Shabaab need a lot of money. I don’t think they depend on funds from trophies. Q: As a conservationist, what do you think of the proposed road that is set in part of Nairobi National Park? A: Well I think the bypass is inevitable. I can’t actually see how the capital city has to be strangled without looking for options or alternatives. But this has to be done with a lot of talking and consultation to minimise environmental degradation as the case might be. This is not something new. That bypass road was discussed in 1990, when I was Director of KWS, and discussions have been there before, when they were planning a pipeline across the Park. I don’t think it is an ecological disaster to put a road at the edge of the park, provided that it is put as close as the current boundary and provided that it will be the absolutely irrevocable, final line for encroachment in the northern area of the Park. There should be flyovers in other areas like Nakuru, where another bypass has been proposed; though it is more complex. Q: What can you say of your tenure at KWS? A: For the period I was there, I think I did my best – but it is for Kenyans to judge me. During my tenure, KWS was able to construct a new office block. I left there when animal numbers had risen by 70 per cent. We had contained poaching and several other things. It is during my time that we managed to petition for ivory prices to come down. It was a success being there. It was also during my time when a huge haul of ivory was burnt. This was a strong signal to the world that we were serious in saving the elephant and that is how KWS managed to get donor funds too. I am happy the current Director has also picked up well. I recently wrote him a mail to congratulate him.
Q: Why has Kenya remained a transit point for ivory and other trophies? A: There is a rise of conservancies and ranches in the country, where many of these animals are being poached. Do you think more should be licensed? I have always been worried about the
private ranches, but, again, some are well managed. The Constitution also allows Kenyans to run ranches. The reason I am worried is the land that could have been used for crop production is turned into a ranch, yet it cannot sustain any wildlife. The ranches have been turned into cash cows for the rich. They don’t pay tax either. However, some are really well managed and have given our parks a run for their money. It is easy for tourists to see some animals in the ranches than in the parks. Somebody in the near future could say why do we need parks yet we can get the best from the ranches? I think we still have enough space for our wildlife in the parks. We also need to make our parks more attractive to tourists. Q: Smartcards were introduced during your tenure to curb loss of
Photography | Courtesy
funds at the gates. But some years later, investigations by the Inspectorate of State Corporations pointed a finger at you. What do you say about this? A: Smartcards were introduced to curb loss of revenue at the gates. Research was carried out and showed that KWS was losing close to 70 per cent of our revenue. The issue was that we picked one company to produce worked on the smart cards. This was something that needed security and we picked one firm. There was no way more than one firm could share a password. Q: You are a palaeontologist, where much of your work is traced to Turkana. What do you think of the Gibe 3 Dam that is set to be constructed by Ethiopia? Will the lake still have a lifeline? A: For me as a palaeontologist, this will be a very big welcome, because it could open up more for my research work. I would be very happy then, but what of the population that is relying on the lake? Gibe 3’s construction is currently going on and I am surprised our government is keeping quiet. Ethiopia is planning to irrigate more than 3000 hectares of land along the River Omo, which will mean the lake may dry up. It is actually going to dry up. The only remaining thing is when. This is a global disaster in waiting. Lake Turkana is going to dry up. Q: Your entry into politics during the Moi era – what actually made you join politics? A: I joined politics because I believed it was the only way to change this country. There was a public outcry over the need for reforms and I wanted to be part of those people who delivered it. Q: Do you think retired President Moi made you Director in your second stint to appease donors? A: This was a short stint. It was only for four months and it was a way for me to go and head the public service. I could not go straight from politics to the Civil Service and there was no way I could win over the donors in four months. Q: You became a critic of Moi, but
between me and the President. Moi held me personally responsible and said I had to ‘turn on’ the donor funds and he said to me if you switched it off, then switch it on! Moi announced my new appointment as Head of the Civil Service after several consultations. I told him I could not reach the donors alone but needed a team. When the team was constituted, the members said they could not work without me.
he later appointed you to head the Civil Service. How was this reached? A: I was a SAFINA Nominated MP and this was during the time when the Moi government was facing a huge economic crisis. I had been very active in opposition, calling on donors to close all avenues of donor funds to Kenya and Moi saw how the World Bank and donors had withdrawn their funds. He needed a quick fix and he had the belief that I could talk to donors. KWS was the only government body that was being funded, when all donors shied away and Moi asked if I could help. I had to resign from Parliament and get back to KWS as Director. I was at KWS for four months and that was how to get into the Civil Service. It was an arrangement
Q: Did the team meet its mandate? Why did you resign? A: It was hard working with KANU. Most of the issues we were to address were not welcome to those close to power then, but we managed to make a mark . . . nothing worthy because we left too soon. Q: What do you think about current politics in the country? A: I think Kenya has come out of age. We are a country that is admired by many countries in Africa, despite what happened in the 2007-08 post-election violence. There is maturity in our politics nowadays. Well, I resigned when I saw that there was nothing much we could do. The people surrounding Moi were not happy about what we were going to do. We needed to restructure the Civil Service, which was not welcome to many. There were several stumbling blocks.
The Big Debate
State of Kenya’s Wildlife Population Photography | anthony njoroge
If you want to understand what is happening to the animal populations, you have to abandon poetry and consider the issues in a cold, dry light, argues EA Flyer Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) WYCLIFFE MUGA
Kenya is Not Doing that Badly in Conserving Wildlife
f we are to go by the recent wildlife-related news headlines, we might easily conclude that Kenya’s fabled wildlife resource is being rapidly depleted. And from this it would be tempting to extrapolate that very soon we will read of the death of the last rhino or the last elephant living in the wild. As it happens, nothing could be further from the truth. Kenya’s wild game populations may have suffered a catastrophic decline over the past 30 years or so: but that was more or less inevitable, given the steep rise in our human population, leading to a widespread human-wildlife conflict, which the wild animals were bound to lose. And although it is quite common to see the nation’s wildlife written about in grandiose poetic terms (“our priceless heritage”, etc) if you want to understand what is happening to the wildlife
populations, you have to abandon poetry and consider the issues in a cold, dry light. Game parks have to be seen as being of “alternative land use” to small-scale farming or ranching; the wild animals must be seen as a “natural resource”; and the whole setup of wild animals and panoramic landscapes have to be considered as “environmental assets”. Without such a perspective, it is impossible to have a serious discussion on the science and the economics underlying the existence of Kenya’s wildlife and game parks. Now in Kenya, the continued survival of our wildlife is threatened by three factors, none of which yield to easy solutions: First is the rapid human population increase. It is true that our current average is about four children for every adult woman (down from seven children per woman just two decades). But, for a country in which
most people are still reliant on small-scale agriculture for their income, we are still too many people living on too little land. The second threat is the general poverty of the rural population. And given that it is in these rural places that the game parks and wildlife conservancies are to be found, it is actually quite amazing that the levels of poaching are not higher than they presently are. Free Why would a poor man, whose family has a pretty good chance of going hungry on any given night, restrain himself from killing an antelope which would be, effectively, a week’s supply of free meat? And why would not a group of villagers, if approached by a middle-man, not seek to bring down an elephant, if they knew that this animal’s tusks would fetch them more money than their small farms can make
them in a year? But the third, and comparatively new, factor is one which has proved to be the catalyst which, combined with the other two, has led to the recent increase in poaching, specifically targeting rhinos and elephants. This factor is the explosive increase in legitimate trade as well as travel, between Africa and the Far East, the key market for the illegal trade in rhino horns and elephant tusks. Thus this increase in smuggling opportunities is actually tied to what is otherwise a positive development: this increase in trade and travel. Kenya Airways has long had flights to China, and, a while back, even introduced a large aeroplane dedicated to airfreight services on this very route. Korean Airlines has also recently made a grand entry into the market. This illegal trade has thus effectively “piggybacked” on a positive economic development. Trafficking It’s in much the same way that you will find Kenyan students in jails all over the Far East, where they were arrested for drug trafficking. This followed directly from the realization by Kenyan parents that a firstclass college education could be obtained in the Far East (Malaysia, Singapore, etc.), at far less cost than in the US or the UK, leading to an exponential increase in the number of Kenyans enrolling for studies in that part of the world. In most cases, these were actually just ordinary Kenyans seeking an education. Many were not even from poor families by Kenyan standards. But then they yielded to the temptations posed by drug dealers, and became drug couriers making lots of easy money – until the day when they were arrested. These factors combine to produce a situation in which the insatiable demand for illegal game trophies in the Far East creates an immense pressure on local poaching operators to supply this demand. But the problem is not limited to East and Central Africa. For many years, Kenyan tourism stakeholders, as much as Kenyan environmental conservationists, have used South Africa as a benchmark for their best practices. There is good reason for this. While Kenya is only now heading towards 1.5 million visitors a year, South Africa, postapartheid, has averaged 5 million tourists annually. And those who are attentive to news about the latest happenings in wildlife
These figures put into perspective the panAfrican nature of the illegal trade in game trophies”
circles will know that South Africa has donated dozens of rhinos to Kenya over the past several years, to help restore our massively depleted population of rhinos. So it might come as a surprise to many readers to learn that South Africa is currently losing at least two rhinos every day to poachers – and this despite the fact that, in the most important game park in South Africa, the Kruger National Park, the South African Army has now been brought in to help fight the rampant poaching. This year alone, South Africa has lost 250 rhinos to poaching. In 2011, they lost 448 rhinos to poachers. In comparison, Kenya lost 23 rhinos last year, and has thus far only lost four rhinos to poachers this year. Bear it in mind that South Africa effectively accounts for half the wealth in sub-Saharan Africa. What our Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has available by way of resources is mere peanuts, compared to what South Africa National Parks (SAN-Parks) can mobilize. And, despite this, and even with the extreme measure of calling in the Army, South Africa still continues to lose its rhinos at a devastating rate. These figures put into perspective the pan-African nature of the illegal trade in game trophies, specifically the rhino horn and the elephant tusks which are greatly prized in the Far East. With rhino horn having an estimated value of $65,000 (KSh5.5 million approx.) per kilo, and an adult rhino carrying roughly 7kg of horn on its head, you could say that each adult rhino carries anything from KSh30-40 million on its head. This is far more than even the most audacious gangs of bank robbers manage to make off with, in a heist involving many people both inside and outside the bank. Ivory is not quite as valuable, but, at a current historical high of $2,000
(KSh170,000 approx.) a kilo, ivory poaching is an extremely lucrative business, if you can get your illegal store of ivory to the Far East. So, if we consider the comparative success in limiting the number of rhinos killed every year in Kenya, and the fact that Kenya’s elephant population actually grows by about 1,000 elephants every year (despite poaching), we have to concede that KWS is actually doing a pretty good job in preserving Kenyan wildlife. Containers The question bound to arise then is, “What about all that ivory that was found a few months ago in containers just about to be shipped out in Mombasa? And what about the equally big haul of ivory discovered in Sri Lanka, which had already escaped the surveillance of the KWS teams at the port of Mombasa?” Well, while undoubtedly some of that ivory has to be from Kenya, by far the greater quantity of those ivory-bearing freight containers are actually from the Congo DRC, coming into Kenya via Uganda. Unlike in Kenya, where elephant populations are monitored by satellite tracking, the comparative lawlessness of eastern Congo DRC is the perfect environment for industrial-scale poaching. It should be borne in mind that a lot of cargo moving through Kilindini port in Mombasa at any one time is actually from Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo DRC, all of whom rely on the Kenyan port for their exports. So, whereas the casual newspaper reader might easily form an impression that Kenya’s elephant population is being decimated, the fact is that it is the Congo DRC – which by some accounts has more elephants in its forests than all of East Africa combined – which is the real location of this massive elephant poaching.
In addition to being East African Flyer Contributing Editor (Science & Technology), Wycliffe Muga is the Weekend Editor as well as a columnist for The Star. He also contributes a weekly “Letter from Africa” to the BBC World Service (Business Daily). He is a former columnist for the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper, and the monthly magazines, Nairobi-based Diplomat East Africa, and the London-based African Business. In 2006, he was listed by the Financial Times as Kenya’s most influential print commentator. And in 2011, he won the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Award prize for ‘Best Tourism Feature’. He is also a previous winner (2004/5) of the Peter Jenkins Awards for East African Conservation Journalism. Mr. Muga is a Fellow of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of the Property and Environment Research Centre (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana and the International League of Conservation Writers.
Cover Story |
The Fit between Football and Rainwater Harvesting How water filtration, conservationist agricultural techniques and other community-integrated dimensions of one project are becoming part of a larger programme that can be communicated throughout the region, through football, a league and a cup. PITCH_AFRICA’S Co-Director JANE HARRISON spoke to EA Flyer Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) WYCLIFFE MUGA. Her Co-Director is DAVID TURNBULL. See boxed item alongside the following interview headlined “About PITCH_Africa”. Excerpts:
EA FLYER: What gave you the idea for your concept? PITCH AFRICA: There are two ways to answer that question. We were in Copenhagen, at the Homeless World Cup in 2007, having already been working quite seriously on the relationship of soccer and water. The Homeless World Cup is a social enterprise co-founded by a Scottish entrepreneur called Mel Young to address homelessness internationally using football as a catalyst. Their annual event, where all the partners come together, is a kind of parallel football cup for homeless kids. This was the first time that we had seen street football played in any formal way and it was a big surprise because it was a very energetic and dynamic game and a great deal of fun to watch. That combined with the really impressive quality of the teams and the very clear benefits they had got from this experience was significant. Q: What would you say those benefits were? A: A lot of them were certainly from slums, homeless people in very bad situations. I spoke with Mel Young at the time and he had
said that, of all his various philanthropic projects, this was the most profound in terms of getting players off drugs, getting them into the workforce, beginning to build lives for themselves and so on. Heâ€™s the guy who set up a paper in Britain called The Big Issue, a newspaper that was being produced, distributed and sold by homeless people to generate an income for themselves. This has now become a Europe-wide franchise, but what was striking was that he said compared to The Big Issue, the impact of a Homeless World Cup was far more dramatic. So, there was something very special about the football energy and, of course, there are many other organizations working in this territory.
The experience confirmed for us that a fit between football and the work we had already been doing on rainwater harvesting systems could be even more interesting. There has been a lot of focus on solving water problems by drilling boreholes, but, in many areas of the world, drilling into aquifers is not a particularly sustainable operation, in part because many of these aquifers are non-renewable, these are not water resources that will replenish in our lifetime. Further complicating matters, as water levels drop, drilling gets more and more expensive and more prone to damage, fluoride content in the water can escalate and so on. Borehole breakage rates can also be shockingly high. It is by no means an uncomplicated solution to the problem of water access. So rainwater harvesting, rather than being an incidental tool, starts to become very important and that has now even been recognized by organizations such as UNEP. It has been estimated that there is something like 13 times the amount of rain falling on the African continent than is needed by the population. In Kenya specifically, the conditions that have been analyzed really suggest that rainwater harvesting is a
One Pitch, 1m Litres: Aerial view of LA Prototype launch Home on the Pitch: The Homeless World Cup PITCH Game
really significant, an essential, tool here for addressing issues of water access. We had been working with these ideas for some time, developing methods for harvesting and storing water in full-scale football pitches, but that is, of course, a fairly expensive operation. Copenhagen was significant because we were sitting in a street football venue with a playing court that is only 16 metres by 22 metres. Itâ€™s quite a small, intimate stadium and we were sitting there with probably 1,000 people watching this football game and started to calculate how much water could be harvested from it and it was dramatic. Obviously the rain you are harvesting varies dramatically from region to region, but even looking at the lower ends of the rainfall spectrum, say 600 millimetres a year or even 300mm or less, you would be able to gather substantial amounts of water. When you consider that more than two-thirds of the African Continent has 600mm or more rainfall a year, this is significant. Along with the realization that such a structure could produce a large water resource, it was clear to us that important social programmes, schools, clinics, Turn to P24
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community workshops together with substantial amounts of water storage could be incorporated within the structure. Water and sport together become a powerful tool – a child’s abilities in sports are not pre-determined by political, ethnic, economic and social boundaries/identities and therefore sport can be a powerful component in enabling communities to transcend these perceived boundaries building sense of community cohesion and common identity within a given geographic location. We are interested in water as a socially integrated resource, as a peace-builder, rather approaching it as a material resource that simply requires technology for its delivery, a tap, a pump, borehole. We are interested in water solutions that encourage community engagement around a water source, a solution that a lot of different groups within the community could feel invested in. PITCH set out to be a crosscutting project, to be multi-dimensional, so
that the community could take ownership of the basic proposition and use the spaces provided under the seating areas to provide school facilities, clinics, micro-enterprise initiatives and anything else they felt like. So it’s a very malleable idea. The key idea is the link with the football, but we have also adapted this now so that the stadium can be used for volleyball and other sports, thereby gender issues, in different communities. Q: Just to take you back a little bit. Out of all the people who were sitting there watching this street football, possibly it was only you who realized that there was potential in that. What’s your academic background? There must have been something that you knew. A: Well, my training is as an architect as is my co-founder David Turnbull, who also has a very strong engineering background. But there are a number of motivations that we have had in setting out. Architecture is a profession that tends to serve the
Consulting: Jane, centre, at Ewaso Nyiro, Kenya, 2012
most privileged people in any society and the profession is obviously structured in a way where it supports this. And it’s not necessarily very easy to find alternative ways of practicing. So, we weren’t interested in finding ways of designing cheaper versions of what you would ideally be doing if you had a bigger budget. What we were really interested in doing is finding a way of practicing on the issues that are just not getting the same kind of attention. And, really, what was interesting to us is whether architectural solutions and architectural thinking might have something to offer in extreme situations. That was the question; it was by no means something we assumed. Obviously our instinct was that it should, and so that was the great motivating force in setting up the umbrella non-profit organization, ATOPIA Research, through which we’ve developed many different projects, new building and infrastructure typologies, addressing specific complex issues around the world. The PITCH_Africa project is the one for which we received a
significant amount of R&D support from the Annenberg Foundation, early on, and that enabled us to take it a lot further. Q: So, the Annenberg Foundation, was this a competition, or you knew someone there? How did you get them to sign on to this? A: We were very fortunate. One of the trustees had heard about the project and we were invited to present the project to the Board. It was an unusual situation and we were very fortunate to get the opportunity to do that. What was important was that that’s the hardest stage to get supported in any project. Five minutes into the presentation Wallis Annenberg stood up and said “this is great, let’s fund this”. We’d done an awful lot of work on it ourselves, but, in order to be able to take it to the next level and build the first prototype, we needed to have that kind of Research and Development support so it was an important moment for the project. Q: So, have you been given enough money to be able to do the prototype?
A: We built and tested a series of prototypes in the US, including building a full-scale mock-up in Los Angeles in 2010. That all went very well and we are now working on PITCH Kenya, the first real project on African soil, with our local partners, the Zeitz Foundation. We are now in a position where we need to raise an additional US$350,000. The project in Laikipia is going to be a secondary school and it will include eight full-sized classrooms together with the Samuel Eto’o Soccer Academy, which is very exciting, and an environmental and social-micro enterprise centre for the region. It will also be a hub, an incubator for ongoing environmental initiatives and a home base for the Laikipia Unity League and the Laikipia Unity Cup, two very interesting programmes Turn to P26
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project become part of a larger programme that can be communicated throughout the region, through football, through the league and the cup. This means that PITCH_Kenya can serve both the immediate community and participate in a powerful mechanism through which knowledge and training can be shared throughout the region.
established by the Zeitz Foundation to promote environmental sustainability and peace-building through football in the region. The League is being formed now and will be active year-round, but the Cup, a biennial event that has been running since 2010, is currently already reaching 20,000 people in Laikipia. This will grow to 40,000 once the League is up and running. We are in the process of working with the Zeitz Foundation to link the PITCH_Africa initiative and the Samuel Eto’o Soccer Academy and School with the LUL and the LUC under a larger umbrella. Samuel Eto’o has generously committed 50% of the construction costs, so we now need to find matching funding, plus costs to support start-up operations. Our relationship with the Zeitz Foundation is very good and I think this is absolutely crucial to the success of an enterprise like this. They are fully integrated in the community, headquartered there, and have earned a great deal of respect from the community for the work they have been doing. The collaboration with them and the links to these other programmes is so important in order for PITCH_Kenya to be at its most effective.
The link with the Laikipia Unity League means that the principles embodied and demonstrated in PITCH_Kenya, the knowledge about rainwater harvesting, about water filtration, about conservationist agricultural techniques and all of the other community integrated dimensions of the
Above: David Turnbull with Headmaster in classroom Below: The PITCH_Africa Studio
Q: But the essence of it, from my understanding of what I’ve read from your material: Number One, sports as a unifier and a peace-builder and Two, collecting water so that you have a reservoir of water available to a community in areas which have water shortages at some point. It rains of course, but it rains very heavily for a short period, then there is no rain for the rest of the year. A: The issue in those communities is there is very little water storage, so it rains a lot but a lot of the water just evaporates or runs off. In a typical year with rainfall of about 600mm, PITCH_Kenya is actually going to be able to harvest and store 2 million litres of water; in a drought year (300mm), 1 million litres and in a high rainfall year (900mm), 3 million liters. Q: Just to put it into perspective, that’s enough water for how many people to use for how long if they are using how much water? A: The actual strategy that we are developing in Laikipia is not only to be able to provide water for the student population generally, but include an additional supply that will be available to the girls because there is a real issue with enrollment in that region. And so part of the strategy with the project is to provide the resources that the girls would otherwise have to be going off and collecting, so that there is enough water where they can, in essence, come to school to collect the water. So that’s a particularly significant dimension to it, because, for girls, the time-consuming role of water-gathering and chores is the beginning of a very slippery slope. Q: So, how many people can get water per year and for how long? A: We are doing the fine-grain calculations now, but 2 million litres roughly
Q: Yes. A: Well, it’s not such a simple calculation because it’s a scalar project, so at the level of the LUL and LUC, that at the moment is a community of about 20,000 people that are being impacted at the regional level across Laikipia, which will expand to 40,000 when the LUL is launched. If you just took the cost of the building in relation to the children who get the water and forget everything else, nominal maintenance costs, programme costs and so on, it’s $375 per child. But this, of course, is a one-off cost, and the water will keep coming each year, so the investment per child over 5 years drops to $75.
means 5 litres per day, year-round, for more than 1,000 children. We have found an elegant way to extend the storage capacity of the central 1 million litre tank that collects rainwater directly, to include subsidiary tanks for surface water runoff. So, if you are working on a basis of five litres per person per day, which is enough for both a child’s drinking water, domestic consumption and basic nutritional requirements through lowwater agriculture, the total amount of water available in a typical year would be enough for more than 1,000 students. But we are going to play with those numbers because what we want to do is to be able to provide an additional amount that can be allocated to address the issue of the girls who assume the responsibility for watergathering (and other chores) at an early age. In the pastoralist communities in Laikipia, the impact of this is particularly high. These obligations interfere with the girls’ ability to study and school attendance for girls drops dramatically in secondary school, where I understand that there may be as few as two girls enrolled for every 10 boys in this region. These are the big concepts; but if you have a mechanism via sport and football for navigating peace and unity issues, for bringing the community together in areas where much of the violence is directed at girls and women, in that region it is being caused by the lack of water and the girls and the women are the ones who really feel it – because the violence ends up being directed to them.
So, those two are the big themes and then, second to that, we have the Zeitz Foundation as well as ourselves that work on lots of other dimensions in terms of fuel-efficient uses, solar lanterns, a lot of that kind of secondary technology, all of which will be part of the role of the regional environmental centre there. And then, of course, in the protected circle around the pitch, you are using conservationist agriculture to cultivate vegetables and vitamins for the children. Q: So, have you done a calculation for what’s the cost per child? A: You mean if the building costs are linked to impact?
Above: Rainchute demo Below: Rainchute campaign
Q: That’s very cost effective. A: We’ve done a lot of work this year to really work out how to get the cost down. We are probably at a place where it needs to be for the first project, right now Q: Now, this is in many ways a very exciting time for development work in Kenya because our structure of government is due to change. For the last 49 years that we’ve been independent, everything has revolved around central government and central government tends to think in terms highways, water supply where pipes run for hundreds of miles and Turn to P28
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so on. But now, as a matter of the new constitution re-arrangements, we’ll have 47 counties and each county will be headed by a governor. So, I’ve met many people who are running for governor and the more thoughtful of them, the more serious of them, the ones who to some extent are already front runners, are already thinking in terms of there is only so much money and I need to be able to show in five years that this thing works so that it can make a difference. And they are looking for ideas and ways in which they can tangibly demonstrate to the voters that yes, there is something happening here which was not happening before. So one of the fundamental challenges would be infrastructure development because people will want to see better schools, people will want to see water supply, people will want electricity, people will want some form of sewerage systems. The point is, is your project replicable and would it not lead to a situation where after you build it, all that would happen is that people
would say, ‘ok, now raise some more money and come and build it here. We also want one.’ What often is the tragedy of development projects is that where there could be a definite multiplier effect where people see what’s happened there, see that it’s working and start their own, people instead say, ‘that’s really wonderful, when can we have one?’ Then as I talk to politicians, I realize that there are so many people who are looking for new ideas for how they can re-invent development and take it to the county level. If I wanted to ensure a better supply of water here, the nearest dam might be 100 miles away in another county, what could I do? Do I and the other three governors go and make a joint presentation to the Ministry of Water? And then it struck me that given this concept, given the idea of a school as a location for harvesting rain water which is then available to both the school and the community on a large scale, this is something which if it works as advertised, it would be a big eye-opener which virtually every governor in every semi-arid place, will
Above: HWC meeting with Cup-founder Mel Young Below:Jane at Ewaso Nyiro
see a potential solution to so many problems in one step and it reminds me of something else. When you hear that there is a group coming to do research on a new model of slum toilet, you wince and say, well, who hasn’t done that? There have been so many. But then, there is a group from M.I.T. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that whether this particular
effort succeeds or not, for a slum area, a new model of sanitation is called for. You can’t hope to have pipes carrying sewage into a central treatment plant. You need something completely different. A: You need decentralized infrastructure, which is exactly what Pitch Africa in a larger sense is about.
Q: Yes, exactly. That’s what struck me. Now, rainwater harvesting is a major infrastructural advancement. A: It’s a radical conceptual shift in what infrastructure is. What is particularly strong in the way PITCH_Kenya is developing is that coupling this decentralized infrastructure with the League and LUC we have built into this programme the tools and mechanisms to ensure that communication and therefore scaleability will be rapid and practices more widely adopted. Q: If you can prove it works. A: Yes, exactly. What we’ve been doing in addition to developing the Sports integrated rainwater harvesting is developing smaller scale buildings and systems that harvest substantial amounts of rain and can be readily adapted for use as schools, clinics, latrines, commercial space and so on that incorporate many of the same principles. These fall under the umbrella of what we call Waterbanks. The Zeitz Foundation have been doing crucial work in the region assisting communities in building schools and developing environmental programs. They asked us earlier in the year to what extent could
Above: PITCH_Africa demonstration Left: PITCH_ Africa Studio USA
the principles of PITCH be integrated into a school that would cost the same as a traditional four classroom rural school. The Waterbank School is our answer. With funding and support provided by the Zeitz Foundation and Guernsey Overseas Aid Committee we are building a Waterbank school right now in the same area. If this works, and there is lot to say that it will, this could be a highly replicable typology, offering a way for key sustainable principles to be integrated at a smaller scale and lower cost.. And so that’s been very exciting, it’s under construction and should be completed in three or four months. And we are all hoping it works, works for the headmaster, the teachers, the children, the parents, the community and the builder. The Waterbank school provides four full size classrooms plus a substantial water supply for the kids. The school can harvest almost 350,000 liters in a typical year and store 150,000 liters at any given time. Addtionally, we are also providing with in the school, a community theatre where environmentally-based theatre productions can be performed , by and for the community and we are also providing a large communal space that can be used in Turn to P30
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any number of ways from workshops and so on. It was quite a challenge because we are building a substantially bigger structure for the money. The principles of the Waterbank School are quite simple; invest more in the size of the roof , design it to help collect, rather than deflect rainwater, and detach the traditional building enclosure, usually stone or concrete, from the school itself to form a perimeter enclosure creating a more protective world within the bounds of the school. These strategies allow us to address some of the considerable problems in the region presented by black cotton soil and they allow the school to be more open to the outside, so vegetable gardens are protected and can be an extension of the classroom. The Waterbank school literally embodies key sustainable principles pertaining to water and and conservation agriculture that should help make teaching of environmentally sustainable principles easier. So itâ€™s not just a teacher telling you, but you see it yourself: the water filtration systems incorporated and so on. This is a real experiment because itâ€™s quite a challenge to see if we can do
something within some quite considerable constraints, but if we can, then we could have something replicable and this could be very good. Q: Yes. And I can tell you ten years ago, there would have been interests yes, but there were no legal structures in place let alone a budgetary allocation going out to the counties which would have allowed leaders to think of this stuff. Increasingly now, anyone who wants to be a governor has to think in terms of the total amount of money they are getting. But if you bear in mind how many people there are in each county then you realize that unless you find radical and decentralized solutions to infrastructure needs, you are simply not going to be able to do very much even with all that money. So, to me that was the strongest aspect of this and Iâ€™ll tell you something else: anything which works in Kenya, works in East Africa. Where Kenya goes, East Africa goes. A: Yes, now I realize. I think this is why we have invested so much time, energy and passion in getting this work. The problems
that we are having to solve in Laikipia, the soil and even the logistics, it’s an excellent opportunity to really test the strength of the idea. Q: So, supposing I was to tell you I’d like to organize at some point a visit by some people I know who have all discussed with me how to create infrastructure in a decentralized context, how soon would you have something you can show them on the ground? A: Well, there is a big hole right now. The central water storage tank is almost complete, the building should be complete to ground level in a week and up to roof level in the next month, then it is finishing the inside.
Above & Centre: Rainchute Campaign
Q: Are you filming this? It’s very important to document this. A: Yes. We are running a flickr stream throughout the process and also compiling video footage. We are using a builder who has worked with the Zeitz Foundation before to build schools in the area. We are using all the methods he is familiar with. Because again, if you start doing everything in a different way it has a significant impact on replicability… We are interested in lowtech things and processes and in innovating at this level because of course together, many such things in fact can behave in very sophisticated ways. It was nerve wracking watching the builders dig the hole, looking for some stable soil. In the rainy season, black cotton becomes an almost viscous liquid. Coupled with this, in this region the winds are very strong which is one of the reasons buildings tend to be barrack-like, solid, enclosed. By having a tall, strong perimeter wall defining the school precinct, it allows us to do several things: we can block the wind and produce a good micro-climate in the school itself, conducive to the equator, and below ground, create a filter in order to better manage the soil conditions within the enclosure. So we are doing the most we can at the moment to try and address this. I mentioned earlier, that at PITCH_ Africa we have also been looking at some alternative ways of thinking about domestic Turn to P32
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rainwater within communities themselves. We have developed something that we call a Rainchute. I brought a demonstration with me which consists of a decommissioned 1966 ex-Vietnam parachute mounted upside down on poles. Q: It’s not air-worthy but it’s waterproof? A: Yes. Parachutes are typically made from rip-stop nylon so are both strong and water-resistant. Many of the rooves of people’s homes are just not suitable for water capture or are too small to deliver the quantities of water needed. This provides a way to capture water in a clean way and direct it to a storage tank. Q: They’ve got what? Grass roofs? A: They’ve got grass and mud roofs for the Samburu and Maasai. So we are testing it in a quiet way at the moment. We are working with some of the women’s groups Q: How much water can that harvest? A: This can keep several families going for a year. Q: And how many litres is that? A: A 7.5m diameter Rainchute harvests on average 70 litres a day
Q: 70 litres is what it would harvest or 70 is what’s available from it every day? A: The Rainchute can harvest over 25,000 liters in a typical year so if you can store the water you harvest and regulate its use, you would have 70 litres every day all year . Q: In one parachute? A: Yes. It’s 7.5 metres across and it would cost under $100 (USD). So, we’ve been looking at the cheapest instance in order that we cover a broad spectrum of rainwater harvesting needs and not just focus on the institutional proposition. We wanted to have systems that could also address needs in domestic situations. The common practice is to put gutters on houses, but that’s one of those things that may work well in many situations but certainly not all. Again there is a lot of focus on gutter-based rainwater harvesting systems, so we felt our efforts were based placed looking at the issue from a different point of view. In fact, we just took to the Rainchute to the school and the boys set it up as a demonstration. We are now working with the girls’ volleyball and netball team’s to see if the girls can get involved as Rainchute ambassadors in the community. Q: And are there hundreds of those
Above: Waterbank School Construction Harambee Below: Waterbank School Classroom Garden
parachutes available? A: Yes. There are a lot and if it proves viable, I’d like to start negotiating with some of the world’s armies to see if we can get some form of sponsorship and drive the cost down further. I particularly like the directness of this proposition, turning military equipment on its head to create a peace building initiative. Access to water is a cornerstone in building peace.
Q: What do you use to hold it up? A: When we had set it up in the States, we were using bamboo poles because they were the cheapest, lightest and strongest pole we could find, but bamboo poles don’t make sense, certainly not at this point in time because they are actually quite expensive so we were looking into using these other poles that are used traditionally by the Maasai to build the manyattas which I understand can be harvested sustainably and the cost is negligible. What is rather nice about a parachute of course is that it comes complete with ribbing so you get a lot if the structural properties that you want in order to deal with the weight of water. you’ve got a hole in the middle and you’ve got all your strings as readymade tension so it helps to save the cost because you do not have to adapt something. You can erect the Rainchute in 20 minutes and take it down as easily. Q: And where would the water get out of this? A: You would need to build a water storage tank and position the Rainchute over it. The water flows directly to the hole in the centre that has a funnel attachment to give you more control over directing the
water. The easy portability means a they can be moved to different locations and shared among a community. In some regions where you have relatively shallow wells that have dried up, this might be an effective way to help recharge wells. Q: And now once you have the water, how do you make sure it’s hygienic, how do you make sure it’s potable? A: The filter we are using was originally developed by potters in Nicaragua in the 1980’s. The filter is based on ancient principles and like many things we work with, it is not a new concept. These potters who formed an organization called Potters for Peace, started making pots as water filters working with a simple principle. You begin with clay adding carefully graded sawdust into the mix; you press and fire the pot and you produce a porosity within the thickness of the clay as the sawdust burns off. You then dip the pot in colloidal silver which acts as an anti-bacterial agent. The capacity of a single pot about is 10 litres and you can filter somewhere between two and three times its volume every day. So each pot cleans about 20 to 30 litres of clean water. This filter literally removes 99.9% of the bacteria and pathogens. Each pot lasts about 2-3 years.
Above: Waterbank School
Q: And it costs approximately how much to manufacture? A: The cost per pot is under $20 dollars, though we hope to get it as close to $10 as possible. Q: That’s all it takes to create a filter that is that effective? I must be missing something. I thought it would cost a lot? A: No. At the moment we are able to get them to Laikipia for $20. There are quite a few organizations around the world and in Africa working with these or similar filters. Now what we became interested in is whether you could adapt this principle to filter water on a larger scale because back then we were looking for a filtration system that could cope with the quantities of water stored in PITCH and Waterbank school. The filters cannot at the moment be enlarged due to the demands of balancing water pressure with clay strength, We developed the principle of banking individual filters together, like a battery, and combining this with a header tank, receiving tank and distribution system. This is another really exciting thing. This was presented at a conference last year attended by many representatives of Turn to P32
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African water municipalities and they got really interested in this,. I just love it when these low-tech propositions enters into that world where high tech solutions tend to be given precedence., The reason for their interest was that the cost of chemicals for water purification is very high and what these filter banks can do take out a chunk of that expenditure. And the other thing which is really interesting about this and it’s one of the things that we are going to be doing when we set pitch up, is that these filters can be produced anywhere and so we think for about $10,000 or $15,000, we can start up a small business in Laikipia to start producing them. Q: Remarkable. I always thought pottery required special soils? A: Well, we are going to have source the clay.
Laikipia? A: There are areas of clay that look promising along the Tana River, but we don’t know if the materials are suitable or available yet. Q: But it’s potentially a business in itself especially if you have all the parachutes. That actually is so insightful. A: Yes. I think one of the crucial points about PITCH is that it has been developed with a view to encouraging local enterprise intiatives as much as possible. Should someone in the community be motivated to take up an opportunity such as the water filtration, it would be a great asset. The filter and the scaling of the filters in filter-banks are a great example of how a small and quite simple component could have a massive impact across a region. This is just one example, but PITCH contains the seeds for many such social enterprises.
Q: Where will you get the clay in
About PITCH_Africa PITCH_Africa is a US-based social enterprise organization and subsidiary of ATOPIA Research, a US-based 501c3 non-profit Research and Development organization that brings architectural, engineering and planning expertise to bear on some of the most intractable environmental issues facing populations in the 21st Century. PITCH_Africa focuses on promoting high-yield community-integrated rainwater harvesting initiatives using sport as a catalyst. The design for which the organization is best known is a Rainwater Harvesting Street Football Stadium that sits above a school and community education centre. The organization is focusing on the African continent, where the need to address water access is fundamental though their projects are attracting attention globally. JANE HARRISON is a British-American architect, founder of The ATOPIA Project and Founding Director of PITCH_Africa. She was educated in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the United States, attending college at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and completing her graduate work at the Architectural Association in London. She has been in Architectural and Strategic Practice with David Turnbull since 1988. Her focus on practice runs in parallel with a continuing commitment to academic research. She has taught Architecture and Design Innovation globally since 1990, including at the Architectural Association in London, The Vienna University of Technology, Yale University, Harvard University, Columbia University and has been on the Princeton faculty since 2002. PITCH_Africa and the other not-for-profit initiatives of ATOPIA Research began in 2005.
UK-born DAVID TURNBULL is a Director of ATOPIA design<>communication<>urbanism (LLC), a founder of ATOPIA_ RESEARCH (Inc) and Design Director for PITCH_Africa. He has worked extensively in the UK, Japan, SE Asia, China, the Middle East, Europe and the USA. His academic career started in 1989 at The Architectural Association in London. His more recent academic appointments include the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professorship in Architecture at Yale University, USA, and Visiting Professorships at the University of Toronto (sponsored by CITY-TV), Canada, and Columbia University in New York, USA. He was Professor of Architecture at the University of Bath in the UK from 2000-2005. He is currently a Professor of Architecture at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union, where he held the Ellen and Sidney Feltman Chair in 2008 and 2009, and Visiting Professor of Design & Innovation at The African University of Science & Technology in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts in the UK.
PITCH_AFRICA IN PICTURES: Promoting high-yield community-integrated rainwater harvesting initiatives using sport as a catalyst
Above: Children at the LA launch Below left: Ewaso Nyiro students Below right: Cistern Corner Bay
Turn to P36 August 2012
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4 5 1: Through the net 2: Waterbank School classroom Interior 3: Homeless World Cup opening ceremony 4: Ewaso Nyiro Girlsâ€™ Netball Water Ambassadors 5: Waterbank School foreman Wilson measuring 6: Waterbank School Reservoir Construction 7: Waterbank School
Tuning Careers N
NATALIE LUKKENAER wrote a thesis on Kenyan hip-hop during the Moi era and produced a major project on how to start a music school in Kenya. “From that point, everything I did was about Sauti Academy and building that idea”, she tells EA Flyer Correspondent ROOPA GOGINENI 38 |
atalie drives a small car, coffee in hand, navigating rush hour traffic into downtown Nairobi. It is 7:30am as she rattles off a list of e-mails to write and people to call. Her colleague, Insect, sits in the passenger seat, making notes and taking the coffee whenever Nairobi drivers require both of Natalie’s hands on the wheel. This is the second day of auditions for the Sauti Academy, an artist development programme housed within the Penya Africa music label. In the joint office-recording studio in Nairobi’s Pangani neighborhood, Natalie confirms the lineup of auditions. Thirtyone people are expected today. Each will be given 15 minutes to
Photography | ROOPA GOGINENI
convince Natalie, the executive director, Anyiko, the label manager, and Insect, the outreach coordinator, that he or she has the voice and ambition to fuel a successful musical career. Audition The first audition is scheduled for eight. It is now 8:10. “They’re late,” Natalie declares, “if they’re late for class I just tell them to leave.” She receives a call – the eight o’clock is lost in town. “If she really wanted this she would make sure not to get lost, look it up beforehand!”
Slowly, the hopefuls show up, nervously clutching guitars and sample CDs. One by one they are brought into the recording studio, where Natalie, Anyiko and Insect wait. Natalie Lukkenaer first left The Netherlands for Kenya in 2007. She studied music and music business, but was growing tired of the commercial Dutch music industry after managing a band. In Nairobi she began interning with Sawa Sawa, a nonprofit music label associated with the Sarakasi Trust. After meeting several artists, Natalie found critical gaps in the music education offered in Kenya. Students were trained to reproduce western classical music and traditional Kenyan music leaving little room for innovation. Furthermore, few were equipped with business skills. Regardless of musical talent, an inability to navigate the industry stumped potential careers. Natalie began offering private lessons free-ofcharge, providing voice training and sharing her knowledge of the music industry. After her internship ended, Natalie moved to London to further study music business at Westminster University. “I just ended up crying for six months! What am I doing here? I want to go back to Kenya,”
Main: Above: Musicians wait to audition Below:Natalie Lukkenaer, executive director of the Penya music label, in the recording studio.
she recalled thinking. Her work in school reflected this – Natalie wrote a thesis on Kenyan hip-hop during the Moi era and produced a major project on how to start a music school in Kenya. “From that point, everything I did was about Sauti Academy and building that idea.” Natalie returned to Kenya amidst the post-election crisis in early 2008 and her music school plans were put on hold. She began volunteering with internally Turn to P40
Natalie became director of Penya Africa, Sauti Academy’s umbrella organization, in early 2011. The Pangani-based company is composed of three departments. The first is the record label, representing the music groups Sauti Sol, Just a Band and Elani and solo artists Dempsey and Dela. The international success of the Kenyan band Sauti Sol has promoted other Penya programmes. Natalie founded Sauti Academy before she knew the band – the name is mere coincidence. “Now it’s good because Sauti Sol does inspire a lot of young
displaced persons (IDPs) in a camp in the neighborhood of Jamhuri. During this time, she taught music to the children there, believing “music is good for the soul”. Eventually, the IDPs found homes and left the camp and Natalie began working six days a week at a music school. On Sundays, she was allowed to use the space to teach the first cohort of Sauti Academy musicians. In the following years, Natalie worked to formalize her old lessons into an official school. With the goal of making music education accessible to everyone, she founded the Sauti Academy. “Sauti” means voice in Kiswahili. “I want them to become my colleagues, not stay my students,” Natalie said of the musicians at the academy. The students come from diverse backgrounds, those who can afford to pay school fees do and the rest receive scholarships. In a city heavy with disparity, the professional and personal relationships cultivated at Sauti Academy are remarkable. Within one year, the programme aims to produce independent artists who are trained in music theory, practice, and business. The term ends with a talent showcase. The musicians must organize the event themselves, exercising the non-musical elements of their training by reserving the space, promoting the concert, 40 |
and finding caterers. Back in the recording studio, 21-year-old Zablon is the first to audition. He takes a seat in front of Natalie, Anyiko and Insect. He begins with I’m Yours by Jason Mraz. He sings softly and his hands shake. After he finishes, Natalie asks him to stand behind the thick door of the studio and sing the song again. Facing a door and blind to the room, his voice is transformed, full and confident. He emerges from behind the door smiling. Song “Why do you want this?” Natalie asks every person after he or she finishes with a song. In many cases, the answer to this question is more important than the voice. It is clear some expected only to sing, not to explain their ambitions. In an answer, Natalie looks for an absolute commitment to a musical career. Sauti Academy is not the place for hobbies. Following Zablon is Mary, a nineteenyear-old girl who starts with Adele’s Someone like You. Natalie stops her halfway, “scream at me!” she demands. Mary resumes, singing just a few decimals louder. Natalie stops her again. Inches away from Mary’s face she begins screaming the ballad, which now suddenly sounds poppy and Adele-like. “People are afraid to be loud!” she tells Anyiko and Insect during deliberations.
Above: Anyiko, Insect, and Natalie make notes during deliberations after Sauti Academy auditions. Right: Natalie plays a chord, asking an auditioning musicisan to match it.
artists, it was meant to be,” she observes. Natalie first met Sauti Sol while at home in Amsterdam. She had just returned from her internship in Nairobi and saw a poster for Sauti Sol’s European tour – they were performing in Amsterdam. Thrilled at the prospect of hearing Kenyan music, Natalie went to the concert, where she met Nynke Nauta and Robert Wawesh, managers of the band and founders of the Penya Label. Her professional relationship with Sauti Sol, Nynke and Wawesh grew when she returned to Kenya later that year. Now with
Above: Auditioning for the Sauti Academy, the artist development program housed within the Penya music label Below: Natalie Lukkenaer, executive director of the Penya music label, in their Pangani ofﬁces.
Natalie at the helm of Penya in Nairobi, Nynke manages the European division to organize global tours and music distribution for Penya artists. The second arm is the Sauti Academy. Penya exclusively scouts for new talent from the alumni pool, a serious incentive for auditioning musicians. The label has signed the most promising graduates, many of whom are already recording albums and performing widely. The final component incorporates outreach initiatives. Penya’s outreach coordinator, Kelvin Kiprono, aka Insect, gives music lessons to street boys in the slum of Kangemi and students at an informal primary school in the Dagoretti neighborhood. Penya’s premiere outreach programme, ‘Music Behind Bars’, began in 2010, when Natalie and Insect began teaching music in Nairobi West Prison. Twice a week they wrote songs and performed with a group of 20 inmates. Through music and poetry, ‘Music Behind Bars’ aims to empower and rehabilitate Mary comes back inside after the decision is made. “We are looking for people who need the last little push,” Natalie starts, “I’m not saying that this will never happen for you, but this is more of a talent development programme rather than a music school. You’re really young, you have
time!” Natalie gives Mary a list of people to contact – voice coaches, other musical artists. Before she exits, Mary turns to the room and declares, “I shall be back”. Talent After three days of auditioning, only 12 were selected from the group of 70 musicians. Each audition cycle, more talent shows up and the decisions become harder. A corollary programme called Raw Talent was recently created for those who are not at the level of Sauti Academy, but show potential, and even this has become extremely competitive. Natalie is honest. She tells one young man auditioning, “At the end of the day, they will have a choice between you and John Legend. And who will they play? John Legend.” She is looking for new musical identities, voices that can turn into brands of their own. Roopa Gogineni is an American journalist and photographer based in Nairobi. She received a BA in History and African Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an MSc in African Studies from St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. She has produced radio, video, photographic and written reports for various outlets, covering news in North and East Africa. Roopa is a regular contributor to Voice of America and Radio France International
Big Ideas Forum |
Innovations for a Changing World
The ‘Moringa’ Miracle Tree This many-splendoured wonder plant provides ingredients for food supplements, medicines and beauty products, acts as forest cover, helping to slow down climate change and ease soil erosion as a windbreaker
By STEVE MBOGO
ith a few-days-old baby in her lap crying for mother’s milk that did not flow, Elizabeth Mbogo was getting to a near-desperation stage when her husband decided to bring home the grounded leaves of
the moringa tree that he had been told helps increase milk supply for nursing mothers. She dissolved the powder in warm water and took it as directed. The next few days, the cries for milk were no more as the mother had more than adequate milk supply. A communicator by profession, Mrs. Mbogo instantly took this nutritional marvel to heart and, three years down the line, she has abandoned her media work, trained as
does well,” she said. Early February 2012, President Mwai Kibaki took a keen interest in her products when he visited her stand at a youth businesses exhibition event in Nairobi. The President took her business card and before he left the event, formed a committee to probe how the growing of moringa can be up- scaled across the country. Benefits The moringa is a tree farmers, especially those in semi-arid and often underutilized lands, should know about. Its benefits stretch from its potential to reforest the
a nutritionist and is working with more than 500 farmers to grow, process and sell food
land, fighting malnutrition, to driving
supplements and beauty products derived from moringa.
industrialization in rural areas, hence curbing
She owns five acres of moringa trees and is negotiating for financing to expand this to 100 acres in due course. “The opportunity is big and this is an alternative cash crop
for farmers in drier areas where this tree
the often destructive rural-urban migration, especially among the youth.
Photography | Courtesy
Mrs. Mbogo runs her moringa enterprise from the Karen area of Nairobi, with an outlet along Moi Avenue in the capital city’s central business district. She also works with tens of suppliers across the country. Her business plan is to work directly with farmers, buying their seeds and leaves with minimal use of the middle-man brokers who exploit so many farmers in so many other sectors. “When we started going to the farmers encouraging them not to cut their trees and
increase the acreage, they were skeptical, because they were not aware that there could be a sustained market for moringa leaves and seeds,” she says. The challenge of educating farmers and even consumers on the health and commercial benefits of moringa still persists. For Mrs. Mbogo, it has been a long journey. “I took it as a personal initiative to educate farmers and consumers after witnessing the efficacy of its leaves’ powder on my ability to produce milk,” she said. “I would attend any public forum to speak and I still do today. I embedded with the Ministry of Agriculture to attend their farmers’ education meetings to educate farmers about moringa. Even in matatus, I made sure that the person who sat next to me alighted knowing what moringa is,” she said.
Three years down the line, it’s still working for her. At her shop along Moi Avenue, customers walk in regularly. Her outreach farmers in Meru, Embu, Kibwezi and Mbeere are also increasingly appreciating the value of the moringa as income from the sales flows in regularly. For farmers, the first beauty of moringa is that it only takes an average of eight months to mature, and will be harvested many years down the line, just like a coffee tree. Crops Then the crop is drought-tolerant. With the advent of climate change that will make most of East Africa drier than it currently is, such crops are what will ensure farmers continue to earn an income. The moringa tree is a veritable godsend. As it provides ingredients for food supplements, medicines and beauty products, it also acts as forest cover, helping to slow down climate change and easing soil erosion as a windbreaker. As evidence shows, poverty levels in the predominantly agro-economies of East Africa are highest in arid and semi-arid areas, where land utilization is low for lack of Turn to P44 August 2012
Big Ideas Forum |
Innovations for a Changing World
rainfall and irrigation infrastructure. A moringa-led economy in some of these areas could be a game changer as it assures them of regular incomes. Its high protein nut is able to defeat malnutrition that is often prevalent in high-poverty areas. A kilogram of moringa seeds now retails at KSh50-KSh70 at the farm-gate level, while a kilo of leaves retails at KSh20-KSh30, depending on the location. Successive studies indicate that moringa nuts can be used to purify water as its oils are a magnet for bacteria and impurities, serve as an anti-malarial, and are the highest protein nut oil used as an antiseptic. They also have anti-aging cosmetic properties. Moringa leaves are multivitamins â€“ providing vitamins B1, B2 and B3. They can be ground to become organic fertilizers. Juice extract from the leaves is good for relaxation, detoxifies the body and is anticancer. Its oil extracts are high in calcium and magnesium while its roots are nitrogen
fixers in the soils. Moringa products, processed and unprocessed, have been used as food and medicines for many years by communities across the world. At her shop along Moi Avenue, among the products most popular with clients include the leavesâ€™ powder. It has 96 nutrients and 36 anti-inflammatory properties that make it good for prevention or management of cancer. Seeds She packages the seeds. When chewed, they provide energy and relax the nerves. The seeds are now being processed into a sex performance enhancement supplement. They are also natural antibiotics. Another product offered at the shop is the juice made from the leaves and fortified with other detoxifying herbal products. It has a nerve-calming property and streamlines the digestive system. It also conditions the reproductive system, making
it popular with women who want to maintain hormonal balance in their system. The other category of products offered is a range of beauty products, including lotions and bathing soap. Farmers like Raphael Mjoba, 33, have already seen the commercial benefits of the moringa tree. His love affair with the moringa tree started when he was barely in his teens. Growing up in Taita Taveta, his parents would send him to pluck the salty leaves from the tree, which would be
Photography | Courtesy
“By the time we set up come here in 2003, we used to import 90 per cent of our seeds needs from Uganda and Tanzania. We have now started seeing local supplies going up because of our partnership with the farmers,” Bharat said in an interview. transported to Nairobi’s Ngara market to be sold as vegetables. Now married with children, the moringa tree is still a feature of Mjoba’s lifestyle. Since 2007, he makes regular journeys to Nairobi, this time not with the leaves but with the seeds, to sell to processors who use them to make beauty products. Wayne Bharat is the Managing Director of Earth Oil EPZ, one of the main buyers of moringa seeds from farmers like Mjoba.
Opportunity He said local farmers have a big opportunity to gain from the export market of processed moringa seeds. “We are going for a gradual increase now that local farmers are keen to grow moringa”. Before Earth Oil set up a factory in
Kenya, Mjoba says farmers in Taita Taveta who had known about the value of the seeds since 1997 used to export to Arusha, Tanzania. “We grow individually but we have now formed a farmers’ group to help us exchange ideas and take care of our welfare. I have 236 trees, but planted 250 more because of the increasing demand. My parents have 1,120 trees. One acre can take about 400 trees. The tree farming has helped me to build a house, get married, educate my child and support my relatives,” says Mjoba.
Turn to P40
Through a Glass Darkly . . . and Brightly
This artist works on a flat surface, for stunning three-dimensional effects, reports BRIAN OBARA
rt in Kenya seems to be stuck in a time warp. Besides painting and sculpture, little else seems to be on the up and up. Working on the fringes, one man, Jeremy Gituru, is attempting to change this, using his chosen medium of expression – glass engraving. Gituru has been around the Kenyan art scene for a while now. Eleven years to be exact. You probably remembered him best as the guy who rendered KTN’s iconic ‘robotic man’ logo (complete with the TV-size head) in glass. He got a lot of buzz after the station returned the
favour and featured him in one of its art programmes. When we met at his small studio in Kahawa Wendani, Gituru remembered fondly how, when he was a struggling artist looking for odd jobs around the city, he was introduced to Phillipa Simpson, the director of the Glass Gallery in Karen: “She took several of us in and taught us the art. Some were unable to continue after some time, but I stuck on till the end. “Am grateful for what I learn there because, without it, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today.”
Photography | anthony njoroge
The first-born child in a family of four has had to grab his opportunities with both hands when they come along, because he learnt early in his life that luck favours the prepared. His ‘artsy’ temperament was always evident to teachers and they encouraged him to enroll in art competitions. Success He got his first taste of success in 1993, at Igoji Primary School, when he came third in a nationwide art competition sponsored by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. As a prize, he and the other winners of the competition got to spend five days in the Mara. It’s an experience that is seared deep into his mind: “That was the first time I realised that I could make something of myself using this ‘art’ thing.” Even so, Gituru’s decision to become an artist was less a choice and more
of something he was forced into by circumstances. In 1998, after sitting his Form Four examinations at St. Pius Seminary School, Meru, financial difficulties at home made it impossible for him to continue with his education. This would later prove to be a blessing in disguise, since it set him on the path to where he is right now. Gituru is quick to point out that the fact that he deals with glass means that he has to work with the caution of a bomb disposal expert: “I can’t afford to make any mistakes when am working. Any small error and I have to begin from Square One. This means that I have to work with extra caution so that I don’t waste glass,” he says almost mournfully. Gituru doesn’t do faint praise, especially when he is extolling the virtues of his craft. Chief among these, he insists, is the fact that glass is a three-dimensional art form: “Even though I work on a flat surface, I get the three-dimensional effect by varying the depth of the engraving. And to get a darker shade, I use polishers because a cut surface of glass is white and when you polish it, you make it ‘dirty’, hence the dark areas.” He goes on: “Unlike on paper, where the artist
and the viewer both view the work from the same point of view, when using glass, I engrave on the negative perspective of the object so that the viewer sees it from the positive perspective.” The 34-year-old likes to talk shop. More specifically he likes to talk about how some of his Kenyan customers are ‘a big let-down’: “You find you use so much money buying the glass and spend time working on it only for a client to come off the street and want to buy it from you at a throwaway price.” Illiteracy The oft-repeated lament by his clients is that ‘glass breaks easy, so it’s difficult to keep for long’. Gituru brushes this aside and is frank about what he thinks the problem is. He puts it down to ‘art illiteracy’, especially when it comes to glass art: “Kenyans have no appreciation for artists who work with glass. They think they are buying the glass and not the art engraved on it. This mindset is hard to change.” Not that Gituru hasn’t been trying, either. Recently, he was commissioned by a friend who was getting married to engrave the wine glasses to be used at the wedding with the names of the important guests in attendance. He did the job gratis, partly as a wedding present for his friend and partly because he knew the work he did would be Turn to P48 August 2012
an advertisement in itself for his business, as Gituru explained, a knowing smile playing on his face: “They wanted 12 sets to be made, each with the names of the different people in attendance. I made it for them and offered it as a wedding present.” While he waits for his fellow Kenyans to embrace glass art, Gituru has had to make do with the steady stream of orders for engraved commemorative plaques and crests from British Army soldiers at the Kahawa Army base. He shows me an etched photo cast of a bereted-soldier’s head with an engraved desk clock on the side. “They sent this back because, in my haste, I had engraved the wrong motto of the battalion at the bottom of the plaque. This happens. You just have to be more careful,” he said with a shrug. Beside the customers from the Kahawa Army base, Gituru is also building up some contacts in the corporate world. He showed me some customized plaques, etched paperweight and pen bases that he has made for his clients. He told me he hopes to get commissioned to make engraved awards for his corporate clients because “that is where the real money is”. As he showed with that famous sketch of the KTN logo, Gituru is a man who doesn’t skimp on detail. In his Kahawa Wendani studio he pulled out two miniature model KQ and Fly540 airplanes and showed me how he had painstakingly made sure that the proportions of the models matched those of the actual planes. He said it he did it because he knew that a trained eye would be able to spot any errors on sight:
“The people who work for the airlines know their aircraft well. They will know the instant they see them that the proportions are not right. That’s why I have to use exact measurements.” Drill Gituru does all his work by hand, using a machine that looks like one of those you usually see at the dentist’s, with a drill fixed at the tip. He says he doesn’t dream of mass producing his work by using a machine and would rather train and employ a few other people in his studio than mess with the ‘purity’ of his craft in that way. What of the future? Gituru hopes to expand his business by opening up a gallery and maybe employing a few more hands to help him run it. For now, though, he wants to be realistic: “The best I can hope for is that more Kenyans will embrace glass engraving as an art form. This is something that has enormous potential as long as more people give it a chance. There is some room for growth for sure.”
Photography | anthony njoroge
David Lovatt Smith was a warden at Amboseli in the years between 1952 and 1960, after which he served in other National Parks and finally in the Head Office. He later returned to Amboseli at the invitation of the local Maasai people, and was instrumental in the formation of their community wildlife tourism areas, including those at Kimana, Eselengei and Elerai. His film promoting the preservation of wildlife, Wildlife Means Prosperity, with commentary in Maa, was shown annually to all the 40 or so primary schools around Amboseli for many years from 1998. — Excerpt 4
‘New Hope’ There are a thousand places in the world where livestock of a higher quality can be produced more efficiently than in Maasailand, but there is scarcely another area on the globe that is so potentially rich in wildlife . . . Already, as education widens, many of the younger generation are beginning to realise that wildlife and its associated tourist potential is the only land-use Beauty or suited to the desiccated country around Amboseli wonder of wilderness have been the downfall of the Maasai as a here is light on the horizon is a very race, generations ago. A Maasai elder must, for Amboseli, for there first and foremost, be a good stockman are descendants from the Western and know the best grazing grounds for older, more genuine Maasai concept. his cattle. In former times as a young families—the ones who produced the Aesthetics man – a warrior – he must keep in prime leaders in the past—who still have the condition for the defence of his people, best interests of their people at heart, and, are not for ready for the plunder of more cattle from given the right opportunities, will guide the the Maasai” weaker, neighbouring tribes. Above all, people through the difficult times ahead,
as they did in the distant past. Before one can judge the problems associated with Amboseli, one must know the Maasai people, their language and their culture. From childhood, the genuine Maasai show respect and politeness to each other, epitomised in their formal (and somewhat complicated) greetings still practised. Compassion, however, is a different matter and is perhaps the preserve of Maasai women. A man cannot afford the luxury of compassion for anything other than his livestock and family. It would be a weakness, and would render him and his clan subservient; brought to its logical conclusion, compassion or altruism would
boy and man, he must remain proud of his birthright and defiant. This characteristic is still innate within Maasai society. The lives of both genders are ordered from birth to the grave, and the sense of security this gives them, plays a large part in their well-being. Life is punctuated by progressive stages, which are known about from an early age and prepared for by the parents and grandparents long before each stage is reached. For boys, participation in the age-group is of utmost importance and each individual knows exactly what is involved in reaching full participation, and the prestige, the opportunities and the benefits it brings. The girls too, have
their lives mapped out for them and they are therefore thoroughly prepared for what is to come. As soon as they are able to walk, they start helping their mothers in the daily chores. They know from an early age about circumcision, marriage and parenthood with all the responsibilities each stage carries with it. Both boys and girls understand the importance of cattle, sheep and goats – their constant companions – and the husbandry of them. An awareness of their heritage and culture is taught as a priority. Singing, dancing and special ceremonies are a major part of their home life. Reason As far as wildlife is concerned, the Maasai do not kill wild animals without a good reason, but neither do they have a love of those they see around them every day. Beauty or wonder of wilderness is a very Western concept. Aesthetics are not for the Maasai. They cannot afford the luxury of such an abstract and, to them, worthless emotion. They will overgraze a piece of land and move on to the next piece, as easily as they will kill a lion that has taken a cow. Boys will chase brightly coloured birds until the birds die of exhaustion, so that they can hang the skins around their necks as ornaments. The Maasai people simply look upon the wildlife they see around them every day with benign indifference. Thus, when Joseph Thomson shot that first rhino as he went through Amboseli on his exploratory journey in 1883, no Maasai objected to the killing of that and many other animals. Nor
did they object when more hunters came onto their land to shoot all manner of wild animals in the early 20th Century. Giraffe, elephant, rhino and buffalo and the graceful impala hold no significance, and they have great difficulty in understanding why anyone should think differently. It is as difficult for them to understand others’ love of wilderness as it is for Westerners to understand their absence of it. In truth, I believe a Maasai would not care if he woke up one morning and there were no more leopards or wildebeest or other wildlife – unless, of course, it was providing him with a means of income. Yes, they appreciate the value of money now, as a means to buy more cattle, and yes, they want education because, without it, they realise they will not be able to stand up to the authorities who govern them; but to give up their grazing land to form a wildlife sanctuary so that people can come in from other countries and photograph them, oh no, that is of little interest to them. Though if someone else is benefiting from that wildlife, e.g. the National Parks’ authorities, or the local District Council, they naturally want a share of the profits. This has not happened since they were evicted from the National Park in 1974. If the Kenya Government and the wildlife authorities, now, in 2008 [when the book was written] are serious about keeping Amboseli as a wildlife area for tourism and have a real inclination to do something about it, they must consider the alternatives very carefully indeed.
There is ample evidence to show that if control of Amboseli and the financial benefits therefrom are handed to the Ol Kejuado District Council or to any other local government body, it would be the shortest route to the final destruction of the place. In truth, it might be better to cultivate the whole national park and use the water from the swamps to grow tomatoes or beans – it would at least provide temporary employment for local people and give an income to a wider selection of Maasai than just those few District Councillors. If the wildlife authorities are seriously looking for the best option, they must turn the whole area, including the National Park, over to a Trust or to a Public Liability Company where the genuine local Maasai elders hold the majority in committee. A comprehensive ‘Blueprint’ for such an organisation is given in this book. If that can be carried out successfully, now, at a time when more young Maasai men and women receive an education giving them the capability to shoulder the responsibilities involved with such and organisation, they may be able to save Amboseli. From work I have undertaken more recently in Amboseli, I find they are beginning to see that wildlife is not only the best and proper use of their dry savannah land, it is the most efficient use of it in financial terms as well as environmentally. They understand that cattle die in drought conditions while wildlife is not so susceptible; they can see
Landowners marking out an area that is to become their local community wildlife tourism sanctuary - Elerai, Amboseli, 2001
It is as difficult for them to understand others’ love of wilderness as it is for Westerners to understand their absence of it”
that wildlife can be more profitable than livestock – that it requires no herding nor input by humans; that it is self-sustaining and self-regenerating. Let us hope that by setting aside areas of their land for wildlife, they will discover that it will repay them a hundred-fold for preserving it in bygone years. There are a thousand places in the world where livestock of a higher quality can be produced more efficiently than in Maasailand, but there is scarcely another area on the globe that is so potentially rich in wildlife. Counting Then, in the not-so-distant future, old men might no longer go out in the early mornings to look over their cattle, but will be out in the bush, counting their elephants and making sure their lions are in good health! The shambas that grow mediocre crops which provide a pitifully small income for their hardworking owners may one day not be worth tending when the owners realise that all they have to do is to set it aside for wildlife, and reap the benefits of their actions. Already, as education widens, many of the younger generation are beginning to realise that wildlife and its associated tourist potential is the only land-use suited to the desiccated country around Amboseli. Hopefully the Kisongo and the Kenya Government will learn what most of the world already knows, that although oil made the Arabs one of the wealthiest races on earth, their resource is finite. Each litre of oil that is pumped from the ground can never be replaced. Wildlife can be unlimited and infinitely more valuable in those semi-arid conditions, for all it needs is to be given an area of land and be allowed to live and breed naturally on it, and citydwellers will come from the ends of the earth to watch it and photograph it in the Maasailand bush and be willing to pay dearly for the privilege of doing so. Let us hope that when that a new generation of Maasai is in control of their own destiny, the older generation will have left them sufficient wildlife and wilderness areas from which both they and the rest of the world can benefit. Amboseli – A Miracle Too Far, by David Lovatt Smith (Former Warden Amboseli National Reserve), is published by Mawenzi Books 2009, Sh1,600. Available from all good bookshops.
Culture by the Jade Sea
A Feast for the Eyes: Lake Turkana Festival 2012
seven-day trip to Turkana? This I have to do, I said to myself. The Lake Turkana Festival is an adventure worth covering, a stark contrast to what is usually on the news about Turkana â€“ drought, famine, the oil find and the wind farm stories. We board an overland truck which is part of a convoy. This was to be our mode of transport to the beautiful and breathtaking landscapes of North Kenya. Loiyangalani in Turkana was our destination. The Lake Turkana Festival is an event which has been happening from May 18, 2012 and is in its fifth year. It is an annual event proposed by the local community of Loiyangalani. It is jointly organised by the local community Festival Committee, German Embassy, the National Museums of Kenya and Private Safaris.
By ANTHONY NJOROGE
It brings together 10 communities who live in a remote region of the country who have different traditions â€“ the El Molo, who are the only fishermen in the community, the Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dassanach, Gabbra, Borana, Konso, Wata and Burji, who are pastoralists and believe that you cannot eat anything from the lake since it is taboo. A point worth noting is that the El Molo substitute the fish with hippos and crocodiles.
Photography | anthony njoroge
After five hours of chit-chat on the road and a picnic stopover, we are in Isiolo town, which is largely Muslim-populated and where we get our first rest on this trip. Adventure We start out early in the morning for Loiyangalani. I already know that this remaining bit is the adventure of a lifetime we had been promised. From here we get a police escort since the route is still prone to bandit attacks. True to what we had been promised, it’s a drive to remember on the un-tarred road to-and-from Laisamis, but one cannot get enough of the hills on the horizons of these breathtaking plateaus and soon everyone has their cameras clicking. After a long drive, which truly shows just how vast Kenya is, we are welcomed with the hot, salty smell of the lake to Loiyangalani. Since it’s a bit dark there’s not much to click away at, but you can see the shimmer on the lake of the sky filled with stars. I have not yet got over the large panoramic landscapes in this region, more so of the lake. They leave the eyes greedy for the sunrise, which is something that has
always been described as one of the best. My first time to sleep in a grass hut and I totally love the air- conditioning, since it is a really humid place and I get to see the outside, which I thought was only possible through a window. The sunrise happens very fast and any minute spent previewing your pictures means no sunset shot for you. It’s a vibrant morning with a lot of activity, from the different communities who have come to participate in the Festival adorned in
Rhythm: German Ambassador Margit Hell Wig-Botte and Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth join another guest on the dance floor
brightly-coloured beads, dyed hair, ochrecoloured skin and assorted markings on the skin, including cicatrices (which sure beat tattoos!), to signify beauty. The coloured fabrics make it a heaven for anyone who knows how to use a camera. The entertainment reaches its climax and, before long, one is able to tell the different communities apart, from the Gabbra, who display an ancient Arabic influence in their dress of long, flowing white or coloured robes, to the Samburu, who have brightly coloured large necklaces, to the dreadlocked Mohican-dyed hairstyle of the Turkana, which is much-copied among urban area youth hundreds of kilometres from these shores. Moves The evening was turning out to be even more fun, with Eric Wainaina and the Ketebul Band there to set it off after the vigorous dance moves of the diverse ethnic communities. I finally had the opportunity of meeting with German Ambassador Margit Hell Wig-Botte herself and her entourage, who attended the Festival to the accompaniment of Bayern Munich clashing with Chelsea on DSTV at The Oasis Club. This made for a lively pre-match sundowner debate on which was the better team. Drogba and his teammates humbled Bayern on penalties. What an evening it was watching an evening of European football by the Jade Sea in the Turn to P54 August 2012
Events Event |
Culture by the Jade Sea
women’s elaborate, bold and brightly coloured beaded necklaces. This is markedly different from the Turkana, who have fewer rows of necklaces around their necks. As we leave Loiyangalani for Nairobi the following day, the adventure continues with the beautiful landscapes flowing from one town to the other, a beautiful consolation for the rough and bumpy un-tarred road that the stretch from Baragoi to Maralal is. The adventure of a lifetime they call it – and it shows you that Kenya is truly a beautiful place.
presence of German diplomats! I manage the next sunrise, but not really what I was expecting for my sunrise picture album, so I resort to wait for the sunset. Apart from the hot humid weather, which I have become accustomed to for now, it’s a beautiful place to be in. I find my way to an El Molo village with two “snapper friends” I have met on the trip, who have more or less the same objective as mine – of making the best of the trip picture-wise. The El Molo village is just next to the Lake Turkana shoreline and is a place full of activity as the women carry jerry cans of water to and from the lake. It is here we get to know that out of the 10 communities who live in this region they are the only ones who are not pastoralists and they only engage in fishing, unlike the rest, who believe that fish, which, to them, emit a bad smell, must be taboo as a meal. We trek up the hills to the desert museum and the rock art site, where I am
lucky to spot, and snap, a snake in a rocky place. Later, I enjoyed a boat race staged by the locals in a competition that was part of the Festival. Sunset The sunset is a sight to behold! I make sure that it finds us having a dip in the salt lake, which is the largest alkaline lake in the world, or, better still, the largest desert lake. Formerly known as Lake Rudolph in the colonial era and romantically dubbed the Jade Sea, it has three islands which are a stopover for migrant birds and also a breeding site for crocodiles and hippos. Apparently the El Molo believe that you can only be attacked by a crocodile if you carry a sign of bad luck on you; I hope none of us does! I also notice they have slightly smaller manyattas than their counterparts in the region’s other communities. Immediately we enter a Samburu village you can’t help but admire the
Night music: Afro-fusion star Eric Wainaina has festivalgoers on their feet
Feel at home: German envoy Margit Hell Wig-Botte chats with area MP Joseph Lekuton
Photography | anthony njoroge
‘Hottest Rides’ in Nairobi Go on Show
he Hottest Rides in Nairobi’ car show event was sponsored by Gillette, the brand of Procter & Gamble worldfamous for safety razors, among other personal-care products. It was held in the Westgate Car Park in mid-June. The participants were
individuals who own and take pride in hot cars and bikes in Nairobi and farther afield, including a number of local garages who “pimp” cars, such as Unity, West Coast Customs, etc. EA Flyer photojournalist ANTHONY NJOROGE captured the red-hot images in pictures that speak thousands of words
Photography | anthony njoroge
Photography | anthony njoroge
Letter from Kampala
Kampala By ANGELA KINTU
Laughing at Yourself is Good Medicine – and Business Even former Prime Minister Dame Margaret Thatcher weighed in her displeasure by covering the new tail fin on a model Boeing 747 with her hanky and declaring: ‘We fly the British flag, not these awful things’ 60 |
lying in an airplane is such a serious thing – from the rigorous security checks to the visa requirements and the prohibitive costs. International airports are aweinspiring and the very idea of flying exhilarating. The hostesses are hand-picked, with not a hair out of place and the image topped off by the airline pilots, with their perfectly-fitted hats and crisp uniforms. I have always wondered how they look so crisp even after 8-hour flights – do they do a quick change of shirt before landing?
Photography | Courtesy
Airlines walk a tightrope between appearing serious and efficient while at the same time being professionally friendly. Why so serious, one would ask? Perhaps it is to assure people that they are safe up in the air. Even the most seasoned air traveller must occasionally feel a twinge of apprehension at the slightest bit of turbulence. When it is raining outside and the plane is rocking unsteadily, I suppose it helps if everyone around you looks so neat and efficient, and the captain of the plane appears to have military precision and heroic powers . . . maybe. British Airways has repainted nine of its planes with a dove design to mark the London 2012 Olympics. The design is the result of a contest run by the company to promote British talent. It transforms the plane into a bird, as it were, with the dove being a symbol of peace and social unity and the Olympics. While the British are excited about the dove plane now, in 1997 when BA attempted a stylish tail design for their new Speedbird logo, there were protests. BA used designs from international artists to represent the countries they flew to and perhaps even reflect the cosmopolitan nature of British society. However, the country, whose traditional fish and chips had long been overtaken by the curries of the Asian subcontinent, suddenly wanted the tail of their national carrier to stay ‘British’. Even former Prime Minister Dame Margaret Thatcher weighed in her displeasure by covering the new tail fin on a model Boeing 747 with her hanky and declaring: “We fly the British flag, not these awful things.” Enter Kulula, a South African domestic airline, which in 2010 decided to go completely in the opposite direction. A friend recently emailed me a series of
British Airways has repainted nine of its planes with a dove design to mark the London 2012 Olympics”
funny pictures and quotes depicting the Kulula changes. Kulula decided to go crazy with their image, poking fun at flying and pouring humour into the in-flight handling and even the way their planes were painted. It was refreshing to see an airline have fun with its image, and the airline said the campaign was meant to demystify airline travel for their fans. Arrows The ‘Flying 101’ campaign consisted of painting directional arrows on the planes, pointing out the location of the loos (dubbed the mile-high initiation chamber), the First Class seating (the throne room), the captain’s cabin (the big cheese), the black box (which is actually orange), et cetera. Some planes were even marked like big boxes, with a big ‘This Side Up’ painted across the exterior. The flight attendants were part of the campaign and there are many really funny quotes attributed to them. For instance, one flight attendant’s comment on a less-than- perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.” Or, after another bad landing in Johannesburg: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching
halt against the gate. Once the tyre smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal”. After one landing, another Kulula flight attendant announced: “Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride”. And that sums it up nicely. Laughter is good business. After seeing the email about Kulula, my friend, all the way in Algeria, said he’d love to fly with them if they ever have an international flight. My husband and I felt exactly the same way – everyone I have shared this with has said they would gladly become Kulula customers just for the laughs they gave. The ability to laugh, especially at oneself, is integral to maintaining sanity. It stops you when you are on the path of self-delusion, and even makes you more likeable. In any case, for all you lonely hearts out there, one of the Number One things people want in a partner is a good sense of humour. So kudos to Kulula – it cannot be a coincidence that sometimes I get a bit of a giggly thrill when a plane is taking off. Hopefully even after the London Olympics, British Airways – and indeed other airlines – will consider spicing up their friendly, efficient image with a little bit of humour. Angela Kintu is a freelance writer and columnist for The Sunday Vision. She has worked as a radio producer and been a writer, editor and copy editor for an array of publications in Uganda, including The New Vision, Sunday Magazine and Flair magazine. She is a regular contributor to African Woman magazine and a media consultant at the African Centre for Media Excellence.