In March 2018, social media in Kenya was awash with images of old rickety Spanish trains that the Kenyan government was allegedly planning to buy at a rough estimate of between Sh71 million and Sh137 million per train to supplement the need for the Nairobi commuter train demand.
According to a media report, the Kenyan government was planning to import at least 11 diesel multiple units (DMU) of trains from Spain, with some as old as 25 years. The Transport Secretary, Esther Koimett, however, refuted the claims while sharing images on Twitter of what she said were the actual DMUs that government is planning on shipping to minimise the traffic congestion in the city.
“These are the actual DMUs we are getting. Cost for the 11 DMUs is Sh1.5 billion NOT Sh10 billion. They should serve us for another 20-25 years,” said Ms Koimett.
Whether true or not, the demand for commuter trains in the country is ballooning and that Nairobians religiously use the commuter trains to and from work is revealing. In March for instance, tens of thousands of commuters were heavily inconvenienced due to delays on the Nairobi commuter railway service (NCRS) schedule caused by the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron in the country.
“Dear customers, please note that the evening commuter train services will tomorrow (13/03/2019) experience delays. Syokimau 1 will depart at 1845 hours while Embakasi train will leave at 1900 hours. The other evening trains will run as scheduled,” read a notice by the Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC).
It was on the same day that the French President was conducting a station tour of the Nairobi Central Railway Station off Haile Selassie Avenue with commitment of funding the proposed development of a commuter rail service to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. This is aimed at decongesting the city as well as reducing the time taken between the central business district (CBD) and the airport.
The proposed JKIA commuter rail service, which is set to be completed by 2021 is part of a Sh340 billion public and private infrastructure trade deal between Kenya and France.
The Transport Ministry documents that over 13,000 Nairobians use the Nairobi Commuter Rail Service (NCRS), which was unveiled last December, every day. The NCRS is part of the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Master Plan, which aims at decongesting the city.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on the other hand keeps the data of revenues collected from ticket sales. It, however, does not report the number of travellers who use the NCRS in a day.
The data below shows the amount of money in millions that KRA collected from NCRS in terms of number of tickets sold in the period 2013 – 2016.
The NCRS operates 20 trips every day as shown in the below schedule, with average fare costs of between Sh30-Sh60. The Nairobi Transport executive Mohamed Dagane said in an interview last December that the commuter trains move over 40,000 different people daily contradicting reports by the Ministry of Transport.
“When the full complement is in they will enable us to transport around 132,000 people a day compared to the 13,000 we do today,” said Ms Koimett.
KRC in December said the NCRS project dubbed Nairobi Railway City (NRC) was part of its efforts to decongest the city roads. It is co-funded by the government and the World Bank.
To this effect, 10 new stations were to be completed to facilitate the plan. The Dandora, Mwiki, Githurai, Kahawa, and Ruiru were among the new stations. They complement the existing ones – Kibera, Imara Daima, Syokimau, and Makadara.
But the commuter train services in Nairobi are not a new thing. The services were introduced in the 1980s to provide a low-cost public transport alternative to the urban poor in the city, following the crippling economic inflation the country was experiencing at the time.
The long-distance passenger services had also been in operation between Nairobi and Mombasa, as well as to Kisumu, since the railway service went into operation in 1903 and as a result, the Kenya Railways Corporation did not therefore have to acquire any new passenger wagons for the new services.
Despite the addition of the new wagons, the capacity is still limited as more and more Kenyans choose the trains over matatus, mainly because of time constraints and convenience away from the public service madness on the Kenyan roads.
Commuting to the city centre by train is much faster than by road, and more affordable. The trains carry sitting as well as standing passengers, with some hanging at the doors, and the more daring riding on the roof especially for passengers plying the Kibera route.
Most of the new stations constructed in the 2000s contain parking facilities allowing personal vehicle owners access to the stations.
The commuter trains operate on weekdays twice during rush hours in the morning and evening. Some routes like the Nairobi – Syokimau also have afternoon services.
The service is not available on weekends, public holidays, and during certain times of the day mostly non-peak periods.
The train picks up commuters at designated stops and takes approximately 20-30 minutes between stations. This includes a stoppage of two minutes at halts to pick up or drop commuters.
The current commuter rail network is so dilapidated that the average speed on some sections is as low as 15 kilometres per hour due to broken rails, unstable tracks and insufficient ballast.
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The Music of the Nyayo Era
Perhaps, we argue, that if we listen to the popular music of his twenty four year rule can we observe the fingerprint and maybe get a glimpse of the Man and his legacy.
This week marks the first anniversary since the death of the second president of Kenya, Daniel Torotich Arap Moi. Indeed, much has been written and said about Daniel arap Moi, and his death uncorked a litany of previously hidden details and insights into the Shakespearian drama he presided over while in office.
But how do we evaluate the legacy of Moi’s agency during his time in office?
Is it through the memoirs that will and have been written, the popular slogans that were created by his regime and sang by his supporters or is it the “official” narrative peddled by the state? Or is it, perhaps, the pain his detractors and critics faced or the scars of the victims who suffered his heavy hand?
Popular music reflects the culture of our day. Through it, we can observe the blueprint of an age in the lyrics and sound of that time.
Perhaps, we argue, that if we listen to the popular music of Moi’s twenty four year rule can we observe the fingerprint and maybe get a glimpse of the Man and his legacy.
The following is a chronological account of the sounds and hits that defined the twenty four year rule of Daniel Torotich Arap Moi.
1978: The Kenya scene is just coming off of Daudi Kabaka’s African Twist. But we must start with that style Msichana wa Elimu, a song that advises about marriage. Daudi Kabaka was born in 1939 and died in 2001, was a popular Kenyan vocalist, known by his fans as the undisputed King of twist. Jomo Kenyatta died on August 27th of 1978 and President Daniel Torotich took over as the second president of Kenya.
1979: Nico Mbarga has taken over Africa with Sweet Mother. Locally Slim Ali and The Hodi Boys Band are all the rave, playing in hotel lounges and clubs across the Middle East and North Africa and ended up in Kenya Slim Ali is from Mombasa. Here, President Moi is still loved and respected by many people. He enjoys popular support from the people. A pull-out from the Nation describes him as a humble and accessible president.
1980: Fadhili Williams re-releases Malaika. The song was first recorded by a Tanzanian musician Adam Salim in 1945. Fadhili was born in Taita Taveta in 1938 and died in 2001.
1981: Maroon Commandos and Habel Kifoto produce Charonyi Ni Wasi.
1982: The August 1st coup, a failed attempt to overthrow President Daniel Arap Moi’s government so musicians are under pressure to release unity and praise songs. The biggest hits come from Jambo Bwana by Them Mushrooms which was featured in Cheetah, a Disney film that had the phrase Hakuna Matata which became very popular when Disney released The Lion King later.
1983: Safari Sounds Band releases are recorded That’s Certified Gold. Among the biggest hits were Mama lea mtoto wangu.
1984: Moi has banned Congolese music. But he changes his mind after the release of Mbilia Bel – Nakei Naïrobi (“El Alambre”).
1985: By now the Nairobi live scene has suffered because of the effects of the 1982 coup and Moi’s informal censorship. The dark days of the Nyayo era at a crescendo. Detention without trial of many political prisoners and others flee the country at risk of facing the heavy hand of the regime. Still, a rebirth happens in the music scene led by Sal Davis and The Establishment The music isn’t politically conscious however.
1986: The many detentions of the Nyayo era has also killed the vernacular live scene. State operatives at the time saw these spaces as points of political mobilisation, but Joseph Kamaru leads a little uprising popularising Kikuyu vernacular hits.
1987: D.O Misiani and Orch come to the scene. And Shirati Band releases some seditious tracks among them Safari Ya Musoma.
1988: Mombasa Roots Band arrived on the scene with Disco Chakacha – originally released in 1986.
1989: Ten years after it was founded Muungano Choir finally created a pop smash hit Safari Ya Bamba. The following year they released Missa Luba recorded in Germany after the Berlin wall came down, ending the cold war era and the triumphant of liberal democracy.
1990: Les Wanyika released an earthshaking album. One of the biggest hits was Sina Makosa
1991: Albert Gacheru makes his way through Kikuyu Pop music. His biggest hit Mariru – Kikuyu Mugithi Songs
1992: JB Maina releases Mwanake. And Japheth Kassanga, Mary Wambui, Helen Akoth and Mary Atieno are redefining gospel music with the shows Joy Bringers and Sing and Shine.
1993: Diversification happens in Kenya’s music industry. Many acts like Sheila Tett, Musically Speaking – later Zanaziki and a boy band called 5 Alive change the music scene. Among the many tracks released by Zanaziki is a popular hit. Also, Okatch Biggy and not to forget Princess Julie who create the soundtrack to the Moi government response to HIV in Kenya Dunia Mbaya.
Mid-90s: Urban Music is now bigger than was ever expected. Another boy band Swahili Nation Mpenzi makes their way into the music scene. The opening up of Kenya’s democratic space after the repeal of section 2a in 1991, the import of American culture and growth of local media outlets drastically shifted Kenya’s music scene.
Ted Josiah brings out a guy called Hardstone – Uhiki who is loved by the growing young urban population.
Jimmi Gathu and others organise for a musician called Eric Wainaina to do the first version of a new national anthem dubbed Kenya Only
Shadez O Black are challenging Hardstone for the artiste of the year award with this smash hit: Serengeti Groove.
Still in the mid 90s there’s a cultural earthquake that changed the music scene in Kenya. Kalamashaka’s hit –Tafsiri Hii. A culmination of poor governance by the Nyayo era, the structural adjustment programs of the 80’s and 90’s and new young urban generation raised by a staple of America’s hip hop culture and Nairobi’s budding urban culture produces a socially and politically conscious movement of artists who go by the moniker Ukoo fulani.
Eric Wainaina later drops Nchi ya Kitu kidogo. The song that Moi’s government truly hated.
2000s: The music scene expands dramatically and is ungovernable A growing sign that the years of Moi were coming to an end and that he could not hold on any longer to power. Ogopa Deejays arrive in the music scene. The biggest song of those first two years, the soundtrack to the Exit if Moi. All the way from Okok Primary school Gidigidi Majimaji – Unbwogable. This song was used as a slogan by the coalition government that removed Moi from power.
Journalism and the Second Sex
Women are the untapped potential — a large, invested group of potential readers and viewers who want information that is relevant to their lives and those of their families and communities.
In March 2020, as COVID-19 spread around the world and political leaders began to realise that an immediate response to the pandemic would involve personal sacrifices and public action, politicians and their directors of public health policies took to stadiums, lecterns, and cameras to speak about the need to stay home, close schools and nurseries, and ration access to grocery stores and health services.
The men spoke of social cohesion and the need to act selflessly and responsibly. The women — who take on the greatest burden of housework, childcare and responsibility for ageing parents — sighed, took a deep breath and got to work.
In the past year, people worldwide have had to rethink the way they work, travel, educate their children, interact with their communities and maintain family ties.
And research has shown that during that weird year of stress, stillness and grief, women’s voices have largely disappeared, even though it is clear that while the long-term impacts of COVID-19 resonate through the whole of society, women have been hit the hardest financially.
How women consume news matters. Women are citizens and access to accurate, timely news is necessary for their democratic participation. It is also important as a channel to give people information about regulations, services, rights, and protections that affect them directly.
This is true at all times but particularly so during a pandemic when there are extraordinary controls on people’s behaviour and movement, and new advice on how to react to health-related issues. The pandemic has also brought with it new dangers for women: domestic violence and abuse in homes where they often feel trapped with their abuser.
A UN report on the impact of COVID-19 on men and women highlights how it has affected women disproportionately, “forcing a shift in priorities and funding across public and private sectors, with far-reaching effects on the well-being of women and girls”.
The report also warns that women worldwide have been hit harder economically by the crisis and that their lesser access to land and other capital makes it more difficult for them to weather the crisis and bounce back. In other words, there is a real danger of the pandemic leaving women weaker, poorer, and pushing them further out of the political sphere than they were before.
In such a climate it is vital that women have access to news and information that will help them survive and recover. This can be immediate, practical information about, for example, places of refuge and emergency legislation that allows them to leave their home and stay with a friend if they are in danger, even during a lockdown. And it can be broader: news about the efficacy and health impacts of vaccinations, about school closures, and the trustworthiness of politicians.
News, and in particular news organisations, can also serve another more social function: as a source of companionship, solace, identity, and entertainment. Again this is true at all times but it is particularly so with the restrictions necessitated by COVID-19 that have upended so many traditional networks and community spaces.
The first thing to understand is that men and women consume news differently, at different times of the day and in different ways. The traditional print model revolves around the idea of a man reading the paper at the breakfast table, with his wife preparing breakfast, possibly with the radio or television on in the background. Traces of these habits still remain in some countries, and many editors in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Brazil, find that print is still more popular among men, while women use TV and radio more. Overall, however, patterns of use are changing.
Patterns of news consumption are now determined by access to mobile data, broadband, and enabled devices, as well as the commute to work, types of employment, and, crucially, the time available — how women consume news has often been shaped by their domestic responsibilities. Many women also say news is a low priority for them, not something they believe they need in the course of their everyday life, and something that should not supersede other tasks.
News does not provide them with what they need; it provides neither escape nor information they feel they can utilise, and the emotions it invokes are negative. Instead, avoiding the news is often a strategic decision by busy caretakers to narrow their “circle of concern” — the things they have to think about on a daily basis.
It is clear that one of the structural inequalities COVID-19 has increased is women’s “time poverty”. Even before the pandemic, women did nearly three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men, and in the past year, as schools and nurseries closed, women found themselves trying to juggle yet more responsibilities at home.
Women and news: an overview of audience behaviour in 11 countries, a report published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, shows that women are more likely to use TV and radio — media that can be consumed while multi-tasking — while men use print and magazines.
Men and women interact with news differently, partly through personal choices and partly in response to the way in which they are treated when they do venture into public debates.
Men often receive more comments directed at their opinions and attitudes, but women who come under attack are likely to change their behaviours and become more wary of expressing opinions publicly. And while men tend to be attacked for what they think, i.e. their arguments and political attitudes, women are attacked more for simply being women.
Data shows that in most countries women are far less likely to read news via Twitter, which can often be a prime site for trolling and harassment, than men.
Online harassment towards women uses hyperbole and sexualised language, along with more subtle suggestions that women are somehow lesser beings, undeserving of resources, and less capable than men.
This online environment may well explain the differences in how women engage with news, and how they comment and share news with their networks.
Kenyans as a rule are very interested in news. The study showed that the number of both men and women who said they are extremely or very interested in news is higher than in the other countries covered and, significantly, 73 per cent of women said they were very or extremely interested in news — a figure that is much higher than in all the other countries surveyed.
And while women in many countries rely on a trusted friend or relative, or their partner, to tell them the news, passing on the snippets they feel may be interesting or relevant to them, this is especially true in Kenya, where they rely on friends and family rather than news editors to curate their news consumption.
It is worth spending some time looking at just where women do build communities and share, and where they are likely to feel comfortable in the company of others in their network. While men are more likely to be counted as news lovers in most countries, women are still likely to spend vast amounts of time consuming news and information, albeit on different platforms, often those that are linked to their caring responsibilities.
In many countries, a portion of some women’s time is spent on other forums — often ones about parenting — that still play a significant role in how women consume news. While not all women are parents, many still join these sites to participate in a female chat forum. As a result, many women occasionally consume news through links to the original article but more frequently through summaries and the ensuing debates.
Trust in news is a multi-faceted concept and a quick glance at the data shows that, in most of the countries analysed, women and men are almost equally likely to trust or distrust news. But it is worth looking at the patterns of how people share news, and how much they trust the news they receive through social media and through private messaging apps from their close friends and family.
There is usually a positive correlation between interpersonal trust, trust in the media, and trust in other institutions.
Wealth and education matter in this area too. A person’s level of education is the strongest sociodemographic predictor of trust in the media, with men and women with lower levels of education trusting news more than those with higher levels of education.
There are some differences between how much men and women trust the news they see on social media and the news they receive through their personal networks, but overall, the trends in the trust in news move in the same direction for both genders.
But what women want from news and crucially, what they are prepared to tolerate, is also changing.
Social media has helped here. Feminists have used new platforms and new activist tools to speak out and organise against sexism and misogyny, sometimes in the news media too. We see this with the #MeToo movement, but also with important specific mobilisations around, for example, #EleNão in Brazil, #ProtestToo in Hong Kong, and many more.
In Kenya this activism comes from Kenyan women’s anger over the country’s high rates of domestic violence and femicide, and the media’s portrayal of victims as somehow complicit in their own deaths has sparked a nationwide conversation about the role of women in newsrooms.
Some recent high-profile murders have acted as lightning rods for the protests. The rape and murder of university student Sharon Otieno in 2018 is a case in point. Much of the media used her case as a hook for writing articles about sugar daddies and female students, much to the fury of women who felt the coverage took away her dignity. Protests also erupted the following year after medical student Ivy Wangechi was murdered by a man who was stalking her and the media spent a disproportionate part of the coverage on her killer’s motivations.
The anger generated a series of social media movements including the Twitter hashtag #TotalShutdownKe and the Counting the Dead project (which keeps a tally of femicide victims) which sprang up and coalesced around the Women’s Day demonstrations. Attention also turned to the dangers faced by women living with abusive partners during lockdown.
This is part of a broader trend where historically disenfranchised populations in many countries are using digital media to work around male-dominated established news media spaces they have long been excluded from. Our audience data shows that women engage with established news media in ways that are sometimes quite different from those in which men engage with news.
The growing number of women-led protest movements against femicide, sexual assault, and online harassment around the world has also created new conversations about who in the newsroom is deciding the agenda and framing the news.
Newsrooms in Kenya are still dominated by men at the higher levels, and while there have been a handful of senior newspaper editors who are women, “Kenyan female journalists have tended to cover the more traditional beats of health, science, and lifestyle”.
This has meant that the news agenda has been decided by men with women portrayed under the male gaze. There is a new generation of female investigative and political reporters who are building up impressive reputations but they frequently find themselves the target of online attacks.
Two respected female news anchors, Lulu Hassan and Kanze Dena, were subjected to an absurd level of trolling in 2017 after they interviewed Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta in a wide-ranging interview that included a few soft questions about football and how he spends his free time. The comments focused on how they were asking silly questions, and were unsuited for political interviews, even though the resulting programme was a hit in terms of ratings with both men and women.
There are some initiatives to serve women audiences, but they tend to be external. The BBC has partnered with many media stations in Africa to create She Word, and The Nation, one of Kenya’s main newspapers, has a donor-funded gender desk. These initiatives have created space for news aimed at women, often by women, but they are generally seen as separate from the main news desk and their existence has little impact on the wider culture of Kenyan newsrooms.
Many media organisations are struggling to remain relevant to their readers and crucially, to persuade people to pay for journalism. Women are the great untapped potential here — a large, invested group of potential readers and viewers who want information that is relevant to their lives and those of their families and communities. In order to survive, journalism and journalists need to recognise this fact and change their message accordingly.
Kings, Presidents and Tyrants: Uganda, 1500 to Present
1500 – 1852 – Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom: Bito dynasties of Buganda, Bunyoro and Ankole founded by Nilotic-speaking immigrants from the current southeastern Sudan. Expansion of Buganda at the expense of Bunyoro and take control of the territory bordering Lake Victoria from the Victoria Nile to the Kagera river.
1862 – The first European, British explorer John Hanning Speke visits Buganda.
1875 – Christian missionaries are allowed to enter the realm of Buganda King Mutesa 1.
1890 – A treaty signed between Britain and Germany gives Britain rights to what was to become Uganda.
1894 – Uganda becomes a British protectorate.
1900 – Britain signs an agreement with Buganda giving it autonomy and turning it into a constitutional monarchy controlled mainly by Protestant chiefs.
1958 – Uganda granted internal self-government.
1962 – Uganda becomes independent with Milton Obote as prime minister and with Buganda enjoying considerable autonomy.
1963 – Uganda becomes a republic with Buganda’s King Mutesa – Edward Luwangula Walugembe Muteesa II – as president.
1966 – Milton Obote ends Buganda’s autonomy and promotes himself to the presidency.
1967 – New constitution vests considerable power in the president.
1971 – Milton Obote toppled in coup led by Army chief Idi Amin.
1972 – Around 60,000 Asians Ugandan citizens expelled by Amin from Uganda.
1976 – Idi Amin declares himself president for life and lays claims to parts of Kenyan territory.
1978 – 1979 – The Uganda – Tanzania war known as the Kagera War in Tanzania and The 1979 Liberation War oust president Idi Amin from power.
1979 – Tanzanian forces invade Uganda, unifying the various anti-Amin forces under the Uganda National Liberation Front. Amin flees out of the country; Yusuf Lule installed as president, but quickly replaced by Godfrey Binaisa.
1980 – After elections Milton Obote returns as the president of Uganda.
1985 – Milton Obote is deposed in a military coup and replaced by Tito Okello. The new military leaders Tito Okello, Bazilio Olara Okello and Gad Wilson Toko hold onto the presidency for under a year before they are also ousted from power by the National Resistance Army (NRA) on January 26, 1986.
1986 – Yoweri Museveni becomes president after National Resistance Army rebels gain control of Kampala.
1993 – Yoweri Museveni restores the traditional kings, including the king of Buganda, but stripped of their political power.
1995 – The new constitution legalises political parties but maintains the ban on political activity.
1996 – Museveni returned to office in Uganda’s first direct presidential election.
1998 – Ugandan troops intervene in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the side of rebels seeking to overthrow Kabila.
2000 – Ugandans vote in favour of continuing Museveni’s “no-party” system rejecting multi-party politics.
2001 – Museveni wins a new term in office, beating his rival Kizza Besigye by 69% to 28%.
2005 July – Parliament approves a constitutional amendment which scraps presidential term limits. Voters in a referendum overwhelmingly back a return to multi-party politics.
2005 November – Kizza Besigye, opposition leader is imprisoned shortly after returning from exile having undergone a trial in a military court on various charges including treason and illegal possession of firearms. Supporters claim the trial is politically motivated, and take to the streets. Besigye is released on bail in January 2006, ahead of presidential elections.
2006 February – President Museveni wins multi-party elections, taking 59% of the vote against the 37% of his rival, Kizza Besigye. EU observers highlight intimidation of Mr Besigye and official media bias.
2010 October – Constitutional Court quashes treason charges against opposition leader Kizza Besigye.
2011 February – Museveni wins his fourth presidential election. Challenger Kizza Besigye alleges vote-rigging and dismisses the election result as a sham.
2011 April – Kizza Besigye arrested several times over ”walk-to-work” protests against rising fuel prices.
2016 February – President Museveni wins re-election against veteran candidate Kizza Besigye, amid opposition, Commonwealth, US and European Union concern about fairness and transparency of the electoral process.
2017 January – President Museveni appoints his son, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, as a presidential advisor
2017 April – Former musical artist Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu popularly known by stage name Bobi Wine wins a by-election to become the legislator for Kyadondo County East against formidable opposition and draws attention in Uganda and abroad.
2017 December – Parliament votes to remove the age-limit for presidential candidates, clearing the way for President Museveni to run for another term.
2018 – The arrest and torture of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu known as “Ghetto president” ignites popular protests with demands for his release.
2019 – Ugandan Musician and opposition leader Bobi Wine announced he’ll run for president in 2021, in an effort to thwart President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power in Uganda since 1986
2020 – Political fever spikes as Uganda elections near with Bobi Wine running in 2021. Kizza Besigye challenged Museveni four times since 2001 and is no longer going to contest any election organized under the ruling NRM. Gregory Mugisha Muntuyera, the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president, and Bobi Wine have joined forces in a new alliance called the United Forces of Change.
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