Saturday, Nov 01st 2014

Andrea Bohnstedt

Africa Is A charming Mixture of Glee And Glum

Saturday, November 1, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
My favourite story of this week is probably #JollofGate: British celebrity/TV chef Jamie Oliver had done what he [or his web editor] referred to as ‘Jamie Oliver’s twist’ on a Jollof rice recipe. The entry on his website came with a little paragraph on the Wolof people in Senegal who (reportedly! Because we’re generally treading on thin ground here, as you will see shortly) invented it, before it travelled across the continent as far as Ghana and Nigeria. And the version published is not the original recipe if there is such a thing at all: “Some nations use coconut milk, others nutmeg or...

State Stifling Growth Of The Film Industry

Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
A film-maker.Photo/File
A film-maker.Photo/File
There are many things that you can say about Kenya. That it’s a stunningly beautiful country. That it’s full of enterprising, creative people. That it has many interesting stories, rural and urban, to tell. And I’m glad that more and more of those stories are being told and told for bigger global audiences. ‘Nairobi Half Life’ travelled the world. Or ‘I will not be silenced’, the documentary about my friend Charlotte’s seven-year battle (seven years, just let that sink in again) to get her rapists convicted, which is now going to be screened at international film festivals. A big part of her...

Sensible Laws Being Eroded By Bribe Culture

Saturday, October 4, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
A police officer receiving a bribe from a motorist on Ruaka Limuru road. Photo/Albert Nyakundi
A police officer receiving a bribe from a motorist on Ruaka Limuru road. Photo/Albert Nyakundi
I once spent a good bit of time and effort on trying to find out from Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero and his deputy why the traffic lights in Westlands weren’t working. And also if there was a link where one could download the traffic study. I asked those questions for many days, without a response. Which suggests that Dr Kidero’s office is a little old school about social media, not using it as (subject-related pun ahead!) a two-way street, but to talk at people. Anyways. The traffic lights in Westlands have been resurrected, finally, if a bit haphazardly, so that’s progress. Sadly,...

Is Devolution Providing Value For Money?

Saturday, September 6, 2014 - 00:00 -- By ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
It’s the Tibetan prayer mill of Africa’s new oil countries: Of course we’ve studied the case of Nigeria’s Niger Delta carefully, and of course we’re going to avoid this. Because, you see, we’ve studied this, and we say so because we’re serious. And credible, too. That is what any government would tell you, and just as obviously you will take government statements at face value at your own peril. Economist David Ndii didn’t look towards the often-referenced Niger Delta to sound a warning to Kenya. Instead, he looked at Ghana: A country that discovered oil at roughly the same time as Uganda,...

Do We Need To Start Offering Poacher Tours?

Saturday, August 23, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
The impact of insecurity in Kenya on its tourism sector should be one of our biggest concerns, not the least because it will further increase overall insecurity if nothing is done about it, soon, and credibly, tangibly so: So many jobs, especially in the semi formal and informal sector, depend on it – and the formal sector is relatively small to start with. Many of those jobs aren’t particularly good or promising ones, just things to get by on. The current situation is particularly bad at the coast. Still, I find this a difficult one: Two female tourists were shot dead on the streets of...

Why Ebola Is A Tough Business Case

Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
It is difficult to disengage from the Ebola coverage at the moment. Even if you follow it from a public interest/current affairs perspective, I am sure you probably have had some very emotional, personal reactions, too. Two of those stayed with me: One to a comment from a doctor that there was no good death to be had with Ebola – that you die not just miserably, but in isolation. And then to the story of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian American man who flew from Liberia to Lagos despite knowing his health status and died shortly after his arrival, infecting more people. It is easy to hate and...

The Annual StoryMoja Literature Festival Is Here With Us Again

Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
It is that time of the year again. Not rockstar bashing – Bob Geldof lost his daughter, and if that stops even Jane Bussmann, it will stop me, too. And the latest do-gooder thing I heard from Bono was so snoozemaking, I rolled over and went back to sleep. No, it is my other favourite: Literacy! A Kenyan writer, Okwiri Oduor, won this year’s Caine short story award – again. It is a bit like the marathons where you can have any (insert city name) Marathon, but it will inevitably be won by East Africans so, people of the world, back off. For Kenya, this is great news. And it again prompted a bit...

Land Is The Genesis Of Kenya's Complex Conflicts

Saturday, July 12, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
I feel for Mzee, I really do: Kenya is such a fractious country already, it can’t be easy running it. And then you have Al Shabaab to contend with, and after their Westgate gig, now CORD seemingly encroaching on their business. Plus the rains weren’t very good this year. It must be quite taxing to be Kenya’s president, and noisy, too, what with all those rallies and MCAs throwing chairs and rotten eggs at each other. And now it appears that those 30,000 hectares of land that he owned in Tana are also at risk – in the words of the esteemed poetess Sitawa, the third Namwalie: ‘Oops, I lost my...

How Risk Assessments Work For Eurobonds

Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
I have heard mostly two reactions to Kenya’s oversubscribed Eurobond issue: wild excitement because this is such a vote of confidence by investors (and also, hey, LOADSA CASH!) and ‘wait, how does that work exactly? So much money even though Kenya has all these corruption and security problems?’ So what is it ‑ a vote of confidence? Well, yes and no. A sovereign bond is not the only kind of investment. In fact, it is a very different kind of investment decision than, say, considering investing in a factory out in industrial area. An investor in a sovereign bond will lend to the issuing...

Flinging Cash Not A Solution To Youth Jobs

Saturday, June 14, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
One column cycle later, security is still on my mind: Not that Eaton Carey’s life is inherently worth more than that of people who are shot dead without being covered in the papers. But his killing, apart from getting media coverage, also affected me more because it was in my circle of contacts: mutual friends, mutual work contacts, the tech industry that I write about occasionally. Silicon Savannah: yes, it’s all mobile and apps and tech hubs and competitions and M-PESA – and also yet another violent death. Not terrorism, just plain old, business-as-usual violent Nairobi crime. And then...

Security Matters Crucial For Economic Growth

Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Kenya Army officers heading to the Somali to fight the Alshabaab.
Kenya Army officers heading to the Somali to fight the Alshabaab.
When the last explosions happened in Nairobi, my mum and my aunt checked in to see if I was ok, and I very nearly said that statistically I was probably still at a much greater risk of getting mugged and shot at my gate – but did not, because I somehow suspected that it would not really reassure them (If they read this column, my cover is blown. I will be careful, Mami!). Terrorism is, as President Kenyatta rightly said, not exclusive to Kenya. But the fact that people regularly worry about getting mugged violently at their gate (or maybe just getting held up at gunpoint by guys on motorbikes...

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