brad brace

9/15/2006

Climate fears for Bangladesh’s future

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 7:43 am

Masuma’s home is a bamboo and polythene shack in one of the hundreds of slums colonising every square metre of unbuilt land in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Masuma is an environmental refugee, fleeing from the floods which have always beset her homeland but which are predicted to strike more severely with climate change.

She has found her way to the city from the rural district of Bogra – a low-lying area originally formed from Himalayan silt where the landscape is still being shaped by the mighty Brahmaputra river as it snakes and carves through the soft sandy soil.

“In Bogra we had a straw-made house that was nice. When the flood came there was a big sucking of water and everything went down,” Masuma says.

“Water was rising in the house and my sister left her baby upon the bed. When she came back in, the baby was gone. The baby had been washed away and later on we found the body,” she recalls.

‘Climate refugees’

Masuma’s story is already commonplace in Dhaka, the fastest-growing city in the world. Its infrastructure is creaking under the weight of the new arrivals. Climate change is likely to increase the risks to people like her.

Climate modellers forecast that as the world warms, the monsoon rains in the region will concentrate into a shorter period, causing a cruel combination of more extreme floods and longer periods of drought.

They also forecast that as sea level rises by up to a metre this century (the very top of the forecast range), as many as 30 million Bangladeshis could become climate refugees.

“Climate refugees is a term we are going to hear much more of in the future,” observes Saleem-ul Huq, a fellow at the London-based International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED).

He says many Bangladeshi families escaping floods and droughts have already slipped over the Indian border to swell the shanty towns of Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta.

“The problem is hidden at the moment but it will inevitably come to the fore as climate change forces more and more people out of their homes.

“There will be a high economic cost – and countries that have to bear that cost are likely to be demanding compensation from rich nations for a problem they have not themselves caused,” Mr Huq predicts.

It is a problem that incenses informed politicians in countries like Bangladesh, which are at the sharp end of climate change.

Environment Minister Jafrul Islam Chowdhury demands that rich nations should take responsibility for a problem they have caused.

“I feel angry, because we are suffering for their activities. They are responsible for our losses, for the damage to our economy, the displacement of our people.”

The UK government is taking something of a lead in helping Bangladesh try to cope, by conducting a review aimed at ensuring that its international aid programme takes account of a changing climate.

The Department for International Development (DfID) believes that up to half its aid projects in the country could be compromised by climate change.

Tom Tanner, climate and development fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK, is in Dhaka reviewing UK aid.

“We estimate that up to 50% of the (British) donor investment in a country like Bangladesh is at risk from the impacts of climate change,” he says.

Shifting sands

DfID is already starting to modify some aid programmes for the poorest of the poor who make their homes on shifting silt islands in the great rivers of Bangladesh.

The islands – known as choars – last on average about 20 years. Then the inhabitants are flooded out, and need to seek new land created elsewhere by the highly-dynamic rivers.

Locals say siltation levels appear to have diminished, so less new land is being created.

We have nothing left, but we have to survive, so we’ve had to build our house from reeds
Pulmala Begum

For Pulmala Begum, who lives on an embankment on the Brahmaputra, rebuilding has become commonplace; but each time she loses more. She has been displaced by flood waters six times.

“We used to have a house and cattle and now we’ve got no land where we can move to. This time we don’t have any money to make another start, or to educate our children,” she laments.

“We have nothing left, but we have to survive, so we’ve had to build our house from reeds.”

The UK government is the biggest donor to Bangladesh, but its current annual aid package of £125m cannot hope to tackle the scale of the challenge now, let alone the problems that will come.

I understand that a review by Sir Nicholas Stern, commissioned by the UK’s prime minister and chancellor to look at the economics of climate change, will conclude that rich nations need to do far more to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change.

It will also say developed countries must cut emissions immediately to minimise the effects.

Engineering solutions

Sir Nicholas’ approach is criticised by some economists who argue that as climate change is beyond human control we should continue to maximise economic growth so we will be able to afford to pay for adaptation in the future.

In a recent article for the Spectator magazine, former chancellor Lord Lawson argued: “Far and away the most cost-effective policy for the world to adopt is to identify the most harmful consequences that may flow from global warming and, if they start to occur, to take action to counter them.”

Lord Lawson suggests that a Dutch dyke-building engineer might solve the problems of Bangladesh.

The Stern review is likely to insist that both mitigation and adaptation are necessary, and will argue that economists have under-estimated the costs that climate change will impose and over-estimated the costs of cutting emissions.

The Dutch government itself rejects the optimistic view taken by Lord Lawson. A spokesman for the Dutch Embassy in Bangladesh told BBC News that it would be impossible to protect Bangladesh in the way Holland had been protected.

He said there were 230 rivers, which were much more dynamic than Holland’s rivers, consistently undermining attempts to channel them through the sandy soil.

Mr Huq goes further: “It is ridiculous for people who know nothing about Bangladesh to make pronouncements on how much of it can or cannot be saved.

“Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable, and there is a major moral issue because this is not a problem that people here have caused,” he said.

9/14/2006

70 million people live under poverty line in Bangladesh

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 6:42 am

New Delhi, Sept 13, IRNA
Bangladesh-Proverty-Seminar
Speakers at a seminar in Dhaka Tuesday observed that the country’s poverty ratio has increased in the last few years due to adoption of the World Bank and IMF prescriptions.

In 1972 about 50 million people used to live under the poverty line. But the figure rose to 70 million in the year 2005 which, they said, resulted from the adoption of various suggestions made by the two international lending agencies, although aids from them increased by 63 percent during the same time, Daily Star reported from Dhaka.

The observation came at a seminar dubbed `Interest of World Bank and International Monetary Fund: Policy Making, Condition and Sovereignty’ organized by the Alliance for Economic Justice (AEJB), a platform of 36 organizations, including the Campaign for Good Governance, held at the National Press Club.

The seminar, chaired by Hoque Mukta, director for research and advocacy of Karmojibi Nari, was held prior to the 50th summit of the WB and IMF, due to take place in Singapore from September 14 to 20. Zakir Hossain and Rashed Al Titumir of Unnayan Onneshan were also present at the seminar.

“The government has failed to monitor the domestic market by following WB and IMF prescriptions. As a result, poor people suffer more due to sky rocketing prices of commodities,” said Mousumi Biswash of the Campaign for Good Governance.

She said: “By adopting WB and IMF prescriptions, about 20 million people fell under the poverty line during the last few years.” Abdullah Al Mamun of Karmojibi Nari said: “As the national budget and other economic policies are usually formulated by following WB and IMF suggestions, the ratio of poverty alleviation has come down.”
Although the country’s GDP has gone up 5 percent in the last 15 years, poverty has been reduced by only one percent, said Monwar Mostafa of Unnayan Onneshan.

He said: “If we continuously follow the donors’ prescriptions instead of our own homegrown policy, it would not be possible to remove poverty from the country.”

9/13/2006

Bangladesh opposition protest turns violent, 100 hurt

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 11:08 am

Bangladesh police fired tear gas and used batons to stop thousands of opposition activists trying to march to the Prime Minister’s office on Tuesday to demand electoral reforms, witnesses said, reports Reuters.

At least 100 people were injured in the clashes that erupted in Dhaka after opposition members tried to break past barbed-wire barricades around Begum Khaleda Zia’s office.

Protesters also exploded crude bombs at several places in the city, but there were no reports of any casualties or damage, witnesses said. Several police vehicles were attacked with stones.

“The violence has been widespread, with protesters fighting police and attacking vehicles,” one witness said.The government did not make any immediate comment on the violence in the city.

The opposition had planned to lay a siege around the prime minister’s office to force her to accept reforms for a free and fair national election in January 2007.The opposition wants the chief election commissioner and his deputies removed, accusing them of a pro-government bias.

The parties also want a say in choosing the head of a caretaker administration that will supervise the election.Khaleda has rejected the demands, saying the opposition was trying to destroy democracy and push the country into anarchy.

9/8/2006

Celebrating The Kriol Culture

Filed under: belize — admin @ 8:26 am

As part of the September celebrations the annual Kriol Festival was held today on the grounds of the House of Culture. The festival is notable because it is part of an effort by Belize’s Creole population to assert itself as a distinct group, rich with its own traditions that go way deeper than just a plate of rice and beans. Today the Kriol Council, the National Library Service, and NICH put on a show that proved once again that whoever said ‘Creole noh got no culture,’ was dead wrong. Here’s the story.

From Belize Elementary School’s dance number to Kayla Arnold’s comedic monologue, the Grandmaster’s poetic diatribe, and the reigning queen of Brukdown Leelah Vernon’s duet with Sylvana Woods – today it was a celebration of all things Kriol on the grounds of the House of Culture. The audience of hundreds of school children saw more than just Leela and Mr. Peters. From the nest of the Kriol culture in Gales Point they got the sambay.

[Clip of Sambay]

That’s 10-year-old Richard Cherrington. He is a part of the Fore Afrique Group from Gales Point. Emmeth Young is the group’s artistic director. He says the Garifunas have Punta, the Mayans have the Deer Dance, and the Kriols have the Sambay.

Emmeth Young, Fore Afrique
“This is Kriol. The first rthymn that we played, that is the sambay. That is the traditional fire sambay of Gales Point Manatee which is the Kriol (Creole) dance of Kriol people. Traditionally the way how this dance is done is they would form a big circle in the night around a full moon in the center of the square and then you would have one person go in the middle of the ring and do the dance. The male dance is a little bit different than the female because it is a fertility dance. It is when the young girls and guys are coming of age. This is when we do this dance. This is typical Kriol.”

And from dancing to jewelry. These pieces were hand crafted by villagers in Gales Point. Elida Zayden was buying.

Elida Zayden,
“I like to celebrating this. I come every year, this is part of my culture also.”

Keith Swift,
You’re buying jewelry?

Elida Zayden,
“Oh yes. I like that but I especially like the one that he has on.”

Gales Point was also responsible for the food. Sure you had the Creole staple: rice and beans but Ena Wade from the ‘Sisters of Point in Movement’ was cooking up cashew bun and many creations from banana. In Gales Point Manatee banana is a big part of the Creole diet. Here we have banana salad, banana fritters, I guess this is banana cake.

Ena Wade,
“This is the banana fritters made from the ripe banana. This is just like conch fritters but it is made from ripe banana. Then we have the banana salad. This is the banana salad made from the green banana with the other stuff in it. Instead of using the potato, we use the green banana.

The corn cake is made out of the green corn. We grate the green corn and then we put the coconut milk in it and sweeten it and put a little bit if nutmeg and spice it up and you bake it.”

And those who weren’t cooking, were teaching.

Keith Swift,
So you will show us how the coconut grinding machine works. Let’s see.

Ifelma Wilhelmina Bennett,
“My grandfather is from the Mosquito Caye. He is a Mayan Indian, was living in Mullins River. Well when we came well you know everybody brings their things with them and of all the grandchildren, I am the one who got it.”

Of course a culture isn’t a culture until there is a language. That is where the Kriol Language Project comes in. Those folks have already published fifteen books. Yvette Herrera is a translator for the Kriol Project.

Yvette Herrera,
“We are trying to promote to let people learn to read Creole. Everybody come and say Creole is hard to read and it isn’t hard because they already know phonics and it is written just like how it sounds.”

President of the Kriol Council is Myrna Manzanares. She says today is proof positive that whoever said Creole noh gat no culture was dead wrong.

Myrna Manzanres,
“All the time, like Leelah says, everybody says Belize Kriol doesn’t have a culture and they don’t realize that the Creole culture was the culture that established in Belize and then all the other groups that came to Belize just fitted into the Creole Culture and so because they fitted in and they were able to also promote their own culture with elements of the Creole culture and it looked like the Creole don’t have any culture.”

The day was rounded out by the plaiting of the maypole along with coconut tree climbing and greasy pole competitions.

Corn Island

Filed under: nicaragua — admin @ 7:46 am

One of the things which first strikes the visitor to Nicargua’s Corn Island is the dichotomy of the people, their language and their customs compared with those on the mainland. A visitor described his first visit to Corn Island by saying “I closed my eyes, listened to the conversation and the music, and thought I was somewhere else…like Jamaica.”

Corn Island is located in the Caribbean Sea, 52 miles from the port city of Bluefields. Its population of approximately 2,500 is predominantly Carib. The largest of the Corn Islands is approximately four square miles in size. Little Corn Island, about nine miles northeast of the largest island, is a little over one square mile in size with a population of 250. Corn Island has almost 16,400 feet of white sand beach and crystal water which are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and other water sports.

Just 17.5 miles from Corn Island are the Pearl Keys. They are practically unexplored and their clear waters are ideal for fishing and diving.

About a mile southeast of Corn Island divers can explore the wreck of Spanish galleon which lies in 72 feet of clear water. Since this area was a favorite haunt of pirates who roamed the Caribbean, it is thought that many other ancient wrecks – some most certainly still containing their rich cargo – lie in the waters off the Corn Islands.

For centuries, the Corn Islands were under British domination and served as a refuge for British, Dutch and French pirates escaping the Spanish fleet. Thus, it is not just idle speculation that the waters are the final resting place for countless ships waylaid on the route to Europe.

It was not until the year 1894 that the government of Nicaragua declared the area’s sovereignty.

Most of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast is inhabited by Miskito Indians, descendants of the Caribs who were driven from the Pacific coast by the ancient Nahuas of Pipiles Indians. The Caribs spread our through the dense rain forests which cover much of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coastal area settling along the large rivers which run through the area. Some still reside on the Corn Islands to this day. Most of the population of Corn Island is either black or a mixture of black and Miskito Indian. However, the British influence still exists in the language and the type of housing seen on the island.

Two (some days 3) 1:30 hr. flights are available from Managua with small aircraft operated by La Costeña and Air Alantic. Tourism is just starting even though the beauty of the sea and white sand beaches is incredible. Services still are influenced by the local relaxed way. Snorkle around the islands; beautiful coral formations.

9/7/2006

Bangladesh police clash with anti-government protesters, several injured

Filed under: bangladesh — admin @ 6:36 am

DHAKA, Bangladesh Dozens of people were injured in Bangladesh’s capital when baton-wielding riot police clashed with stone-throwing protesters marching on government offices to demand electoral reforms, witnesses and a news report said.

Police also used tear gas to scatter nearly 5,000 opposition demonstrators who tried to overrun barbed-wire barricades in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi residential district in efforts to march on election commission offices a few blocks away.

At least 60 people, including five policemen, were injured in the violence, the United News of Bangladesh news agency said. The protesters also burned tires and set fire to a van, it said.

The demonstration shut down businesses and disrupted traffic in the vicinity, residents said.

The protesters defied a police ban on rallies and meetings in the area.

Nearly 7,000 security forces were deployed around the election commission to enforce the ban and prevent protesters from laying siege to the office.

“It’s our democratic right to stage such protests. Police can’t stop us,” opposition spokesman Tofayel Ahmed told The Associated Press.

The protest was called by opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, who has threatened to boycott general elections scheduled for January unless reforms are undertaken.

Hasina’s Awami League party and its 13 smaller allies have planned a series of protests this month against Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s administration to press their demands, including a daylong nationwide strike on Sunday.

Zia’s five-year term expires next month, and a nonparty caretaker government is to take over to hold elections in 90 days.

The alliance accuses the chief election commissioner, M.A. Aziz, of favoring Zia’s government. It also says the election commission included fake voters in a recently compiled electoral roll. Aziz and the government have denied the allegations.

Bangladesh police clash with anti-government protesters, several injured

Filed under: bangladesh — admin @ 6:36 am

DHAKA, Bangladesh Dozens of people were injured in Bangladesh’s capital when baton-wielding riot police clashed with stone-throwing protesters marching on government offices to demand electoral reforms, witnesses and a news report said.

Police also used tear gas to scatter nearly 5,000 opposition demonstrators who tried to overrun barbed-wire barricades in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi residential district in efforts to march on election commission offices a few blocks away.

At least 60 people, including five policemen, were injured in the violence, the United News of Bangladesh news agency said. The protesters also burned tires and set fire to a van, it said.

The demonstration shut down businesses and disrupted traffic in the vicinity, residents said.

The protesters defied a police ban on rallies and meetings in the area.

Nearly 7,000 security forces were deployed around the election commission to enforce the ban and prevent protesters from laying siege to the office.

“It’s our democratic right to stage such protests. Police can’t stop us,” opposition spokesman Tofayel Ahmed told The Associated Press.

The protest was called by opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, who has threatened to boycott general elections scheduled for January unless reforms are undertaken.

Hasina’s Awami League party and its 13 smaller allies have planned a series of protests this month against Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s administration to press their demands, including a daylong nationwide strike on Sunday.

Zia’s five-year term expires next month, and a nonparty caretaker government is to take over to hold elections in 90 days.

The alliance accuses the chief election commissioner, M.A. Aziz, of favoring Zia’s government. It also says the election commission included fake voters in a recently compiled electoral roll. Aziz and the government have denied the allegations.

About 20,000 people trafficked every year from Bangladesh

Filed under: bangladesh — admin @ 6:27 am

Almost 20,000 people are trafficked every year from Bangladesh because human trafficking has turned out to be the third most lucrative but illicit business in the world after arms and drug trafficking.
South East Asia and South Asia are home to the largest numbers of internationally trafficked persons estimated to be 2,25,000 and 1,50,000 respectively.
Pornchai Suchitta, country representative in Bangladesh of the United Nations Population Fund, said this while releasing the state of World Population Report 2006 in the city Wednesday.
In 2005 there were nearly 200 million international migrants in the world of which 95 million were female migrants (49.6 per cent). And Bangladesh had been the ninth largest human exporting country.
Along with Bangladesh some other countries including China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand have also been the safe haven for human trafficking
There are 15,000 Bangladeshi women employed in Dubai and Bangladeshi women working in the Middle East sends home 72 per cent of their earnings on average.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 2.45 million trafficking victims are toiling in exploitative conditions worldwide. An estimated 6,00,000 to 8,00,000 women and children are trafficked across international borders each year and among them, 80 per cent are women and girls.
The above-mentioned regi-ons contribute one half and two thirds of all the documented immigrants and refugees to the international migration stream.
The report shows that most of the female migrants are engaged as domestic workers, carers and nurses of the sick, the children and elderly people.
The report also disclosed that almost half of all the migrants were from Asia in 2005 and throughout the 1990s many of the women migrants worked in unregulated sex industry fuelled by dire poverty, discrimination and unemployment in Asia.
Reports of abuse and exploitation come from all over the world, domestic workers have been assaulted, raped, overworked. Many had been denied pay, rest days, privacy and access to medical services; verbally and psychologically abused and sometimes had their passports withheld.
One third of the global trafficking in women and children occurs in South East Asia. The ILO estimates that the traffickers earn US$32 billion every year of which half the amount is generated from industrial countries.
Migration, when well-managed, can be beneficial, only when the contributions of women are acknowledged as women who migrate experience double discrimination, as migrants and as women.
Among others, Nurul Ameen, assistant representative of the UNFPA and Shahidul Haque, regional representative of International Organisation for Migration were also present.

9/6/2006

Strike victory in Bangladesh

Filed under: bangladesh — admin @ 6:10 am

Workers in Bangladesh staged a national hartal (general strike) on Wednesday of last week. The victorious strike followed the shooting dead of six demonstrators protesting against a plan by a British company to construct an opencast mine.

The government reached a deal with Asia Energy to extract coal from north eastern Bangladesh. The agreement was against the interests of ordinary people. On 26 August, 50,000 gathered for a protest in Fulbari, the location of the company’s headquarters.

The Bangladeshi Rifles – a government militia – opened fire on the protest. This triggered a wave of anger across Bangladesh. An indefinite hartal was enforced in Fulbari.

The government was forced to negotiate with leaders of the Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Energy and Ports, which is led by left wing activists, and agreed to the demand to scrap the agreement with Asia Energy.

9/5/2006

Kenya Killings Put Aristocrat in Racial Fire

Filed under: global islands,kenya — admin @ 6:30 am

Of all the upper-crust British families who came to this country and never left, one is more famous than them all: the Delameres.

They had the most glamorous parties, the most fabled pedigree (going back to William the Conqueror, they said) and, not insignificantly, the most stunning land.

Soysambu Ranch is the jewel in their crown, 50,000 acres teeming with giraffe and zebra in the heart of Africa’s great Rift Valley. The scenery is straight off a postcard — the golden pastures, the sculptured hills, the sense of getting so much of the world in one big gulp.

But Thomas Cholmondeley, the cravat-wearing scion of the family, who until recently was on track to be the sixth Baron of Delamere, is no longer here. He is in Kamiti maximum security prison in Nairobi, the rare white face behind bars in this country, awaiting trial in a murder case that is dividing Kenya.

Because in little more than a year, he has shot and killed two black Kenyans on his ranch.

The first was an undercover wildlife ranger who was arresting some of Mr. Cholmondeley’s workers suspected of poaching. Claiming self-defense, Mr. Cholmondeley was cleared without trial.

The second was a poacher himself, with an antelope slung over his back. Mr. Cholmondeley says that the poacher’s dogs attacked and, again, that he fired in self-defense.

White farmers in Kenya, an increasingly beleaguered and endangered species, are deeply sympathetic. They say that crime is out of control and the police are useless, and that the bush, however beautiful, is awash with guns.

Certainly, there has been an explosion of violence in the Rift Valley, with gangs surging in from Nairobi and tensions peaking between the dirt-poor farm workers and the handful of white Kenyans still living on vast tracts of land. Joan Root, a famed conservationist, was gunned down in her bedroom in January. Other whites have been killed in holdups. One farmer said he now slept with an elephant gun by his side.

During colonial times this area, 50 miles northwest of Nairobi, was famed among whites for its hedonistic lifestyle and called Happy Valley. Now, it seems to be under siege.

But black Kenyans see Mr. Cholmondeley’s situation differently, and worry that the days of white privilege may not be over. His absolution in the first case deepened their cynicism about an already suspect judiciary and ignited large protests. Some people even threatened to invade white farms.

The case seems to be hitting many of Kenya’s sore spots — land, violence, corruption, the illegal game trade and, of course, race.

“It’s very sexy when a white man gets in trouble,” said Maina Kiai, chairman of Kenya’s human rights commission. “We still have this inferiority complex and get a thrill out of seeing a white man in a powerless position.”

And this is not just any white man.

The Hon. Thomas Patrick Gilbert Cholmondeley, 38, is a 6-foot-6, raised-in-the-bush anachronism, who has a scar running from his ankle to hip from when he was attacked by a buffalo several years ago and whose great-grandfather made it fashionable for British aristocrats to move to Africa.

That settler, Hugh Cholmondeley (pronounced CHUM-lee), the third Baron of Delamere, took chunks of the Rift Valley from local (and illiterate) Masai tribesmen in the early 1900’s, turning the area into a playground for whites. He rode horses through bars and shot chandeliers at fancy hotels and went on to become a leading dairy farmer and politician. Nairobi’s main street was named Delamere Avenue until independence in 1963.

Thomas was born five years later, grew up on Soysambu (the name means “place of red rock” in the Masai language) and eventually was shipped off to Eton. By then, a Masai named Samson ole Sisina was fixing trucks for Kenya’s tourism board, hoping to become a wildlife ranger. Robert Njoya, a poor Kikuyu tribesman, had dropped out of school to haul rock, and to poach game. The men lived near Naivasha, a once sleepy town going through serious growing pains.

Flower farms were sprouting up along Lake Naivasha, drawing thousands of low-paid temporary workers. Many lived in squatter camps, including one named Manera built on Delamere land. The people there call Mr. Cholmondeley “the honorable killer” and say he has terrorized them for years.

Mary Njeri, 51, said Mr. Cholmondeley caught her collecting firewood on his property two years ago and slapped her until she saw stars. Peter Kiragu, 12, said he was playing soccer on Delamere property four years ago when Mr. Cholmondeley snatched him by the back of his shirt, threw him into a truck and kept him locked up for hours.

Both episodes were reported to the police but charges were never pursued. “The Delameres used to be untouchable,” said Gideon Kibunjah, a Kenya police spokesman. “But that’s changed now.”

The Thomas Cholmondeley described by white friends is much different: charming, genuine, a good listener, a father involved with his two sons, the type of rancher to speak Swahili to his workers and look them in the eye.

The director of his family’s dairy and beef ranches, he is a proponent of wildlife and his efforts have increased the numbers of giraffes, zebras, pelicans and flamingoes in the area. One reason he was licensed to carry a gun was to protect that game.

“Tom loves that land,” said Dodo Cunningham-Reid, a friend who runs an exclusive bed-and-breakfast in Naivasha.

Fred Ojiambo, Mr. Cholmondeley’s lawyer, said his client had been unfairly demonized. He did not want to discuss details, but said: “It’s very difficult to only look at this case as the firing of a gun. This happened in a context.”

Last year, Kenya wildlife officials said, workers at Soysambu were suspected of poaching and dealing in illegal “bush meat” from poached animals. On April 19, 2005, Mr. Sisina, who had been promoted from mechanic to ranger, and two other rangers drove onto the ranch, undercover, and caught workers skinning a buffalo.

Just as Mr. Sisina and his colleagues began to make arrests, Mr. Cholmondeley arrived. He saw strangers in street clothes holding his staff at gunpoint and shot Mr. Sisina.

After Mr. Cholmondeley was arrested, he told the police, “I am most bitterly remorseful at the enormity of my mistake.” He said he thought Mr. Sisina was a robber.

The case cracked open a rift between police officials pushing for a murder trial and prosecutors who believed the claim of self-defense. And the Masai were watching.

The Masai are famed for their red ochre war paint and traditional pastoralist ways. Most are dirt poor, but Mr. Sisina was different. He had moved from a dung hut to a respectable government job.

When the charges were abruptly dropped a month later — a picture of Mr. Cholmondeley flashing thumbs-up ran on the front page of Kenya’s leading newspaper — the Masai detonated, protesting outside the attorney general’s office and threatening to storm Soysambu.

“The Delameres were the ones who stole our land in the first place,” said William ole Ntimama, a Masai member of Parliament. “And now look at us. We’ve become part of the wildlife.”

Angry Masai marched onto white farms two years ago and tried to reclaim ancestral land. But Kenya is no Zimbabwe, where the government instigated such seizures. Kenyan police officers in riot gear cleared out the Masai.

Mr. Sisina left behind eight children, and his widow, Seenoi, now relies on handouts to feed them. Mr. Cholmondeley returned to the family business, Delamere Estates Ltd., and to patrolling Soysambu with guns.

On May 10 this year, Mr. Njoya, the Kikuyu tribesman, went looking for food for his wife, Sarah, and their four children. He took two friends and six dogs and they found a dead antelope in a trap they had laid on Soysambu land.

That evening Mr. Cholmondeley, carrying a colonial-era rifle, was out scouting a location for a house.

What happened next is not clear. Mr. Cholmondeley said the hunters turned the dogs on him, and he shot two, accidentally hitting Mr. Njoya. Mr. Njoya’s friends said they never even saw Mr. Cholmondeley.

“We just heard shots coming out of the bush,” said Peter Gichuhi, who said he was standing next to Mr. Njoya.

Mr. Njoya bled to death within minutes.

“Oh no, not again!” was the headline this time, and the protests were extensive. Many black Kenyans boycotted Delamere products, calling the family’s yogurt, marketed with the distinctive golden crown, “blood yogurt.”

This time, prosecutors filed murder charges. The trial is set for Sept. 25. If convicted, Mr. Cholmondeley could be hanged.

The last time a white man was at the center of such a sensational case in Kenya was in 1980, when Frank Sundstrom, an American sailor, killed a prostitute in Mombasa. Mr. Sundstrom pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was fined $70 and let go.

Widows Who Refuse to Be Inherited Care for Orphans

Filed under: General,global islands,kenya — admin @ 6:25 am

St Claire’s Orphanage in the western Kenyan city of Kisumu also shelters widows who do not wish to follow the traditional practice of being ‘inherited’ by their husbands’ brothers.

“When a man dies, his wife will be inherited by his brothers or close cousin – if she refuses, she is chased away. To them the disease that killed the man is immaterial, but what matters is that the wife is ‘cleansed’ [by remarrying] so that she can be allowed to mix freely with the rest of the community,” Sister Philomena Adhiambo, the home’s director, told PlusNews. “This has added to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Luo community.”

Caroline Atieno, widowed at 23, commented: “After the death of my husband, the family made sure I had nothing; nothing to eat, and my house was falling down. My daughter didn’t attend school. Here I can eat, I have shelter, I can wash my children’s clothes and my daughter will attend school.”

The orphanage, open for only a year, houses five widows and their eight children who share the home’s three small rooms with 40 orphaned children. Helena Ogada, 50, and widowed two years ago, came to St Claire’s with her two grandchildren, whose parents both died from AIDS-related illnesses after her in-laws refused to acknowledge her, but she wishes for a house where she could take care of her grandchildren.

The widows have become ‘housemothers’, helping to run the orphanage and attached nursery school that caters to an additional 30 fee-paying children, with a daily schedule that sees them feed, wash, dress and play with 70 children while keeping the home and school clean, but this is still preferable to being inherited.

Constalata Atieno, 32, has also been living and working at the orphanage since she refused to be inherited by her husband’s family a year ago. “They wanted me to continue with a husband, but I did not want to as already I knew that I was sick. When I refused to marry again they forced me to leave,” she said. “I stayed with my brother here in Kisumu, where I met Sister Philomena – she invited me here to help her.”

Three housemothers and five children are HIV-positive, but they all receive life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) medication from government hospitals nearby. Kisumu has a prevalence of 15 percent, more than double the national average of about six percent.

“I have been taking ARVs for one month and am already better, but there are some problems here and there – I feel sick sometimes and dizzy,” Constalata said. She earns no income at the home and often struggles to find money for medicines to treat opportunistic infections.

“We are full, but if I see that there is a need I can take more. They can even squeeze here,” Adhiambo said, pointing to a space on the floor of her room. “I have just heard of two children who are HIV-positive – their parents are dead, their grandmother is very old and blind. Their uncles will not care for them and chased them away. I must take them.”

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

Land Invasion Wave Hits Coast

Filed under: global islands,kenya — admin @ 6:21 am

A spate of land invasion has hit Mombasa District following a presidential declaration that absentee landlords would lose their land to squatters.

And as hundreds of settlers subdivided about 100 acres of land in the north Coast at the weekend, landlords condemned the move.

Squatters armed with machetes were invading more land by Sunday, which they claimed had been idle for years.

“We have decided to take up this land because it cannot remain idle for ever while there are landless people. It has remained idle since 1952 when I settled here,” said a squatter, Mr Matano Sudi, 70.

Squatter families could be seen clearing bushes for settlement.

On his first leg of Coast tour last month, President Kibaki announced that land belonging to absentee landlords would be taken up and allocated to the landless.

The President also dared absentee landlords to sue the Government for the action. But landlords complained that the Government had failed to protect their property.

Mr Mohamed Rashid Riyami, a landowner, protested at the invasion of his more than 16 acres of land in Kisauni, which he said was inherited from his father.

He showed The Standard a title deed issued under Colony and Protectorate Ordinance of 1908. Mr Ali Riyami, who owns more than 10 acres in Kisauni, said squatters invaded his land on Friday and had shared it out.

He blamed politicians for inciting residents to take over private land and warned that such a move could degenerate into anarchy.

Ali said as a Kenyan he has a right to own property anywhere in the country, which must be protected by the State.

Another landowner, Mr Miraj Ali, said squatters killed his cows and destroyed crops on his 10-acre land on Friday. Miraj said the invaders brought down cowsheds and disconnected electricity and water.

Mombasa District Commissioner, Mr Mohamed Maalim, confirmed the invasion and promised that the Government would evict the squatters.

He said people who proved land ownership would be protected. The DC warned the squatters that stern action would be taken against those found to have invaded and destroyed private property.

“We are also aware that some of the people invading land are not genuine squatters,” Maalim added.

The Government has promised to settle the land problem by the end of this year. In June, President Kibaki directed that squatters be issued with title deeds by December.

Acting Lands minister, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, has said more than 30,000 title deeds have been processed and would be issued to squatters.

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