Tourism, White Privilege and Colonial Mentality in East Africa

Media Diversified

By Samira Sawlani

We walked into the police station in Uganda. My white British friend who wanted to file a complaint had asked me to accompany her. The three officers behind the desk stood up immediately, one giving her his chair, the other rushing to take notes and the third, with a great deal of concern on his face asked her what had happened.

Sat in the waiting area were a pregnant woman and an elderly gentleman, both were black Ugandans. The lady had been waiting over two hours for the police to attend to her while the gentleman had spoken to them regarding his issue and been told to wait. He’d been waiting for almost three hours. My friend on the other hand was dealt with immediately and within thirty minutes all procedures had been carried out and her complaint both logged and addressed.

Two years prior to this…

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Pride and Prejudice

I was seated in a café of an elegant shopping mall in Nairobi’s posh area. I was reading next to a couple sitting at the table next to me. The man was black and wore elegant yet casual clothes. The white woman wore clothes that would go unnoticed. They had ordered one drink which they shared with the help of a single straw, and, as they liked it, the man ordered a second one. They were happily recalling the safari they had just come back from, laughing and speaking of how lucky they were and how wonderful it had been. As it was getting dark and cold, the man then asked for the bill. It was brought to them.

Suddenly the woman started speaking in an angry tone and I was dragged out of my reading.

Every time it’s the same thing! When did it not happen these last days! I will tell the waitress! She has to know. I’m fed up with this!

Honey you can’t go on educating the whole world, said the man

I told you already that I have no ambitions as far as the world is concerned, but I don’t want to contribute to world’s racism. I understand that for you it is not insulting.

You are wrong it is as insulting for me! Do you think I was not annoyed by the warden at Amboseli when he asked if you were also paying for me? It seems like I am a kept man.

She calmed down. It was obvious that she was extremely angry but probably angrier at her partner not understanding, so she calmed down. From the conversation she had I understood that the couple were both UN workers but the man held a higher or more lucrative position.

Finally the waitress came back.

Excuse me do women in Kenya pay for men’s bills? Continue reading Article “Kenya: les députés adoptent une loi répressive controversée sur la presse”

Les députés kényans ont adopté jeudi une loi controversée sur la presse, qui selon ses contempteurs, «muselle» les médias en donnant des pouvoirs étendus à une instance de régulation et en prévoyant de fortes amendes contre journalistes et organes de presse.

La nuit précédente, ils avaient en revanche rejeté une série d’amendements à la législation sur les ONG, encadrant leurs activités et limitant leur financement, un texte que ses adversaires estimaient aller de pair avec la loi sur la presse pour restreindre les libertés au Kenya.

Un premier projet de loi sur la presse avait été adopté début novembre, mais le président Uhuru Kenyatta avait opposé son veto et l’avait renvoyé à l’Assemblée, assorti de ses recommandations que les députés ont adoptées jeudi.

«Le projet de loi sur les médias a été adopté avec les recommandations du président Kenyatta», mais ces amendements «n’améliorent pas la loi», a commenté Beryl Aidi, chargée des médias à la Commission kényane des droits de l’Homme (KHRC), une ONG ayant combattu le texte.

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Article on Standard Digital: The brave boy who confronted the terrorists


Following last Saturday 21st’s  news in Westgate here is an inspirational article on the matter.

Compiled by Sheila Kimani (@sheilakimm)

Soon after his mother had been shot on the thigh during the Westgate mall terror incident, Elliot Prior, a four-year-old British boy showed astonishing bravery by confronting the marauding gunman who ended up begging for his forgiveness.

Elliot Prior, from Windsor, Berkshire, told one of the terrorists that he was a ‘very bad man’ as he protected his mother, Amber, who had been shot in the leg, and six-year-old sister Amelie.

Incredibly, the attacker took pity on the family and bizarrely handed the children Mars bars before telling them: ‘Please forgive me, we are not monsters.’

All this was going on as gunfire rent the air but the family stayed strong hoping for the best.

His mother (Amber, a film producer) told of how she was on the queue to buy milk when the terrorists struck, causing mayhem within the mall. In a bid to stay safe, she and her children hid under a cold meat counter in the Nakumatt supermarket for an hour-and-a-half, upon until the terrorists found them and shot her on the leg.

Elliot’s uncle, Alex Coutts, told The Sun: ‘They had a lucky escape. The terrorists said if any of the kids were alive in the supermarket they could leave.

‘Amber made the decision to stand up and say “yes”.

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Article on Standard Digital: How men unprepared for marriage ward off clingy women

This article drawn from the Standard Digital explains  the other side of  “the marriage issue” in Kenya.

During my stay here I have heard a lot about marriages and their lack of success. I often think that the key to others’ behaviour lies in our own. This article confirmed this fact.


self imposed marriagesApparently, a huge percentage of marriages in Kenya are based on cohabitation. It all starts like a joke that unfortunately ends with tears — for the woman. It begins with a sleep over where the woman puts her best foot forward; cooks tasty meals, wash and clean and generally keeps the house in good condition. This will impress the man, no doubt.

It has been alleged that most men hardly know what they want in a wife, and therefore any woman with average so-called ‘wife material’ credentials can trick such men to marry them. All she needs to do is behave well during formative years and before the man knows it, she sticks on him like glue forcing him to marry her. Unfortunately, they never fake it for too long before things get thick. Things always fall apart with the woman, ironically, calling an morning show FM radio host to whine — about how she no longer ‘feel’ or love her husband.

The Maasais

DSCF4066The Maasais are a tribe of shepards who still preserve their culture as it was hundreds of years ago. Last century they suffered the biggest expoliation of land in the British colonial history. They are nomads and when they were asked for they fertile lands, they invited the British. In the Maasai’s perspective everything is temporary. So they thought they would be given back their lands. But instead they were pushed up the hills and then to the Mara river, which is why the southern lands of Kenya towards Tanzania are called the Maasai Mara. This is where the main Kenyan game reserve is located.

DSCF4034The Maasais  live in huts made of cowpat, and branches. Their fences are made of branches and they are circular. It looks so beautiful. This is where their cattle sleeps at night.

Each hut has five rooms, the main room where they light a fire and cook one for the parents, one for the children one for the guests and one for the baby cattle. There are tiny window in each hut that mesure around 15X15 cm.Inside the hut

They sleep on a cow skin. In each land enclosed by branched fences ten families live.

Their diet consists of cow blood and milk. Continue reading

My favourite vegetable ever

ladies fingers

look at the beautiful star shaped vegetable…

I had tasted it for the first time in 2008 in India. The lovely taste of something melting in your mouth. What’s it called? ” Laydiezfingars” – ” mmm, I beg your pardon?…-“Laydiezfingars.” – I couldn’t get it. The indian accent was not helping either… at that time I was just beginning to understand tamil English…

“You mean “ladies’ fingers” I asked showing my hand. “Yes that’s correct….

Of course when I told my mum the name of the vegetable she had the same reaction. We thought we din’t get it properly.

Then in Singapore also the Chinese cooked it.. mmmmiam….

Before coming to Africa I had tried to show this to my aunts and see if we could find it in Spain for them to taste. But I didn’t even know the name…

When I finally managed to check the spanish name ” el gombo” I didn’t find it on the peninsula.

I check the areas where it was grown before coming here, to see if I had a chance to find it in Kenya…. Yes!

Here I found it in a supermarket owned by Indian Kenyans… the Gujarati people that I had met in Pondicherry which had made a lot of business inTanzania, were also found in Kenya. The only difference is that the ones in Kenya had not been asked to leave as the ones in Tanzania. All those Gujaratis  were still very rich nowadays in Pondichery. Or at least they wanted to show they were. Everyone remembered Doctor Raichura and his Mercedes…

Here this is called Okra…

Below is my first cooking experience…mmm let me ask how they do it in Singapore next time I get there!


Warthogs…phacochère in French…

before coming to Kenya I didn’t even know the word, not to speak of the animal… not even in French… They feed on their knees… so funny….They look like domesticated wild pigs, they look like cartoon animals! I see families:  the mother and the playful kids. They are never afraid of us…

more info click on the link to wikipedia