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Nairobi's Pamoja dancers defy disability with new "Koncrete City" performance

Siena AnstisWebsite

There’s a scene in the Kenyan dance company Pamoja‘s new ballet, Konkrete City, where all I could feel was the hectic beat of downtown Nairobi, or Vancouver, or Toronto. The dancers—most of them handicapped—depicted the Central Business District, Kenya’s core of business towers and banks, during the rainy season. Walking, running and jumping; swinging arms, […] More »

Kwani? magazine shifts Kenya's national political conversation

Siena AnstisWebsite

Several of my previous blog posts have mentioned Kwani?, the Nairobi literary journal/publishing network dedicated to building contemporary African literature. My interest in the publication was first aroused by the contrasting literary scenes in Uganda and Kenya. While FEMRITE, based in Kampala, Uganda, is a strong local writers’ organization, I never found a literary magazine […] More »

An open source project to map one of the world's biggest slums

Siena AnstisWebsite

Kibera, one of the world’s biggest slums, is a “glaring omission” on Google Maps, says Erica Hagen, member of the Map Kibera team. Indeed, Kibera remains a blank spot in relatively well-mapped and densely populated Nairobi, the economic hub of East Africa. When I first heard of this project, my first thought was of the […] More »

Unique deaf school in Nairobi slum is a sign of hope for disabled Kenyans

Siena AnstisWebsite

Patrick teaches at the Greenhouse Pre-School in Kibera. Tucked into a sunny courtyard, the school is not typically representative of Kibera, the largest slum in the world and often used to represent Kenya’s “darker” side. The 25 students Patrick teaches are deaf. While they might be silenced to the busy noise of the surrounding city, […] More »

In "Forgotten Kenya," mobile classrooms follow in nomads' footsteps

Siena AnstisWebsite

The drought in Northern Kenya this year is severe. Farah Olad, the Deputy Chief of Party of Education for Marginalized Children of Kenya (EMACK), an organization which works with Somali pastoral communities, tells me grey is the “color of death” in this rural region. And the whole landscape is grey: from the ground to the […] More »

Young Kenyans reject Truth and Reconciliation, favour International Criminal Court

Siena AnstisWebsite

The Obunga Youth Group sits on the edge of the biggest slums in Kisumu, the main city in the Nyanza Province of Western Kenya, and the epicentre of post-election violence. This week they held a forum and how to move beyond that horrific episode. With 12,000 people living on less than $1 a day, the […] More »

In the shadows too long, one of Kenya's gay male prostitutes speaks out for change

Siena AnstisWebsite

John Mathenke was once arrested for being gay but, after failing to pay the customary bribe, was forced to have sex with the policeman. He had an orgy with a priest who publicly excoriates homosexuality, along with five other Masaai boys. And his Arab trader clients curse him during the day, but come back looking […] More »