5 min read. The rigid distinction between “the tolerant secularist” versus the “barbaric religious fundamentalist” in today’s discourse on the global War on Terror has been employed to justify the extreme measures taken against so-called Islamic terrorist groups.
19 min read. Seven years after an independent oversight body was formed to monitor and investigate police misconduct and abuse, Kenyans are still suffering under the hands of an incompetent and uncaring police force that gets away with excesses with impunity. Has IPOA lived up to its promise?
15 min read. IBRAHIM MAGARA argues that instead of exploring opportunities to heal wounds, and mending ties in pursuit of the national interest, specifically national security, the Kenyan state has adopted counterterrorism approaches and strategies that are deeply divisive and historically and contextually insensitive.
16 min read. As Kenya’s forgotten mothers get worn out by the load of a nation’s collective misdeeds in pursuit of political power, a day shall come when the Mama Victors will no longer be in a position to continue doing national duty as national trauma-bearers.
< 1 min read. A podcast of Bulimu Chole's article "Red Earth: The Killing of Carilton David Maina" published on The Elephant
< 1 min read. Something happened on December 31st, 2011, and seemingly overnight, Kenyans began to religiously comply with the expanding security protocols. I was no exception. I credit a young woman named Rebecca Kerubo, a security guard for this transformation. A podcast of Sitawa Namwalie's article "No African Women Allowed: Equality in the Age of Terrorism" published on The Elephant
6 min read. The “War on Terror” is a disruption, that makes normal, absurd reality, a privation of humanity, a shape-shifting enemy that yearns for innocent lives and souls; the menacing colonial state with new fangs.
< 1 min read. The sound of the gun was so loud that we thought he had shot at us from inside the building, perhaps from the ground floor through the staircase. And because of the terror, I remember freezing on my way up for a few seconds before I regained my senses. A podcast of Silas Apollo's article published on The Elephant.
10 min read. I have been thinking about the old man who spoke to me on my way to work. Why me? Why did he follow and ‘perform’ for me? Who asked him to? For what purpose? When I told my friend about it, he didn’t hesitate: “That’s a spy. That’s his job. He was paid a hundred or two hundred shillings to follow you to your destination.”
5 min read. There has arisen a new security architecture mostly in the city that commodifies our fears, and develops surveillance products to monetise it. They promote an ever-expanding range of options for intrusive security measures pegged on lucrative public tenders. But it isn’t built to guarantee our safety. It preys on scared city folks who are not its clientele, partners, allies, or staff.
8 min read. After the Garissa massacre, universities became like military installations. Private security firms were deployed to man the gates and the buildings within universities. Non-students must produce national IDs and explain what they are going to do at the university.
5 min read. I. Some years ago, I forgot my national ID in a jeans pocket before a wash and it’s been steadily losing glue ever since. Now at least three corners of this sad rectangle have curled up to expose government paper with my zeros and ones. The card’s many adventures inside the small purse that lives […]
7 min read. Rather than destroying the colonial system, what Kenyan leaders desired at independence was to replace the coloniser. So they saw no need to reform the police force, the very system that propped up the colonialist. Since then, Kenya’s police and security forces have been used as weapons of terror against the “natives” by the country’s administrators.
5 min read. Since 1975, about 350 terror attacks have occurred on Kenyan soil. Data compiled by JULIET ATELLAH and graphic design by MDOGO.
6 min read. In other countries, it is understood that the intention of terrorists is to make crowded spaces “empty” – to terrorise the public into retreating inwards in fear. But in Nairobi, where inclusive, truly public spaces have long been “designed” out, where the attack happened in one of the most insulated, formidable-looking, closed-off, “safest” places, the horror of urban terror attacks runs deeper.
6 min read. Something happened on December 31st, 2011, and seemingly overnight, Kenyans began to religiously comply with the expanding security protocols. I was no exception. I credit a young woman named Rebecca Kerubo, a security guard for this transformation.
6 min read. I find it humorous that the guards at some buildings never search my pockets when I have a bag. On the other hand, they are very quick to find out what is in the bag. They mostly find either a rugby kit or a book and packed lunch.
7 min read. The sound of the gun was so loud that we thought he had shot at us from inside the building, perhaps from the ground floor through the staircase. And because of the terror, I remember freezing on my way up for a few seconds before I regained my senses.
10 min read. Red earth is blood, Red earth is life, Red earth is what takes and keeps safe the lives we lose. Friday the 21st of December 2018, around four in the afternoon, mother and son sit for lunch at their house in Soweto Phase 3 estate, Kibera. The meal does not have much of a conversation […]
8 min read. There is more to the war on terror than meets the eye. Globally, as well as regionally, writes ABUKAR ARMAN, when it comes to understanding the causes and effects of terrorism, most have surrendered their commonsense and capacity to think critically to their respective authorities, who often subjectively frame their perceptions to a single narrative of religious extremism.
11 min read. As an American citizen, writes ANDREW FRANKLIN our perpetual war on terror as conducted in this region, is undermining all of our efforts to assist emerging democracies to develop systems of good governance, justice, rule of law and respect for human rights that are conducive for significant and sustainable American commercial engagement as envisioned before Cold War exigencies derailed our soft power activities. America is inadvertently facilitating the sort of environment in which China’s long-term initiatives can be successfully implemented and within which China prospers in Africa.
< 1 min read. Since 1975, about 350 terror attacks have occurred on Kenyan soil. Data compiled by JULIET ATELLAH, YVONNE MASINDE and graphic design by MDOGO.
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< 1 min read. On the afternoon of Tuesday, 15th January, 2019, armed gunmen stormed into 14 Riverside, a corporate campus in Westlands, Nairobi that hosts offices of several corporates, a restaurant and a hotel, DusitD2. The Africa Uncensored crew, who were nearby, was the first at the scene and this is a compilation of how the attack unfolded.
9 min read. The potential significance of the abduction of Ms Sylvia Romano has already been pushed into the background but will this be yet another wake-up call to be ignored by the Government of Kenya. By ANDREW FRANKLIN
5 min read. This ‘Brazen: Reflections’ series was born out of a desire to continue the conversations springing out of the ‘Too Early For Birds: Brazen’ theatre performance in Nairobi in July 2018. TEFB-Brazen was a mix of straight-up scripted theatre, narration, poetry, music and dance that featured the little-known stories of six fearless women in Kenya’s history […]
8 min read. The Westgate attack was a missed teachable moment in the country’s Western-funded counterterrorism campaign and Kenyan continue to pay the price for it. By ABDULLAHI BORU
7 min read. Few terrorists have actually been convicted in Kenyan courts for the taking of Kenyan lives and the violation of Kenyan laws. By PATRICK GATHARA
9 min read. Kennedy “JJ” Chindi is a popular man. In the three days I spend shadowing him during his rounds as a community organiser for the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), none of our conversations are uninterrupted. While we are walking through the informal settlement, people of all ages and backgrounds come up to him just to […]
6 min read. ~In memory of Senior Private Antonio Centenio Kaseyani~ News of Mwalimu Miriam’s son’s death spread in our little cosmopolitan village in Bungoma County late in the afternoon of the 28th of January 2017. I had arrived home the previous day to support my family in the burial preparations for my uncle who had passed away […]
10 min read. On 15 January 2016 and 27 January 2017, Al Shabaab fighters stormed Kenyan military bases at El Adde and Kulbiyow, respectively. Despite promising full accounts of the battles, the Kenyan government still hasn’t released comprehensive details of the dead and wounded and whether the terrorists took prisoners of war. As a consequence, speculation in the […]
13 min read. “To my daughter I will say, ‘when the men come, set yourself on fire’.” – Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth In July 2011, while the world’s attention was focused on the famine in Somalia, a plot was being hatched in Nairobi to cross the Kenya-Somalia border and wage a war […]
< 1 min read. The Elephant in conversation with Andrew Franklin, a security consultant and former US Marine.
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10 min read. It could be an empty bed or an untouched room. An automated horoscope on their Twitter account or a dormant Facebook profile. All that remains are memories. A family photo no one talks about anymore. Things left unsaid. Spaces left unfilled. Some choose to keep them that way in the hope that their loved one […]
< 1 min read. The Elephant in conversation with Peter Kiama, Executive Director, IMLU.
5 min read. There was a time Ahmed was regarded as a refined gentleman in his community. Suave, modern, worldly-wise, street-smart, business-savvy, always dapperly dressed and cheerful. He alternated easily between business suits and ties and the long flowing robes and turbans he donned for worship and religious occasions. He was just at home in a five-star restaurant […]
12 min read. On January 15, 2016, about 209 Kenyan troops posted at the El Adde military camp in Somalia were rattled by sounds of gunfire followed shortly by a large explosion. It immediately dawned on the soldiers that they were under attack by a special contingent of Al Shabaab’s infantry specializing in mass raids against isolated Amisom […]
21 min read. Another Beginning? In May 2017, delegations from a wide and diverse array of international stakeholders with interests in Somalia gathered in London to attend a high-level multilateral conference, the third major conference to be held on Somalia since 2012. Hosted by the British Government in conjunction with the United Nations Secretary-General, more than forty organisations […]
12 min read. For over a decade now, Kenyans have been listening to talk about police reforms. And though it may be true that police now have more fancy crowd control equipment than they did 10 years ago, and more cars, a forensic lab, health care insurance, armed vehicles, and some extra housing, this has yet to translate […]
11 min read. Sometimes when I see an acacia tree, if the location is just right, I am transported back to my first home. For a moment, despite the heat and the dust, I see another scene, a rocky hillside brown with heather and a different kind of tree, a Scots Pine. My two homes, the highlands of […]
14 min read. The widely publicised recent invasions of wildlife conservancies in Laikipia County in Kenya have often been framed as conflicts between pastoralist communities and conservationists. However, the conflicts in Laikipia and elsewhere in northern Kenya ought to be looked at as a national security issue exacerbated by historical land injustices and the pursuit of an inappropriate […]
12 min read. When Kenyan troops crossed the proverbial Rubicon and entered Somalia nearly six years ago, it caught almost everyone by surprise. It was Kenya’s first sustained and significant foray into its troubled neighbors territory and ran counter to the country’s historic pacifism -at least in international if not necessarily in domestic, affairs- as well as against […]
7 min read. Listen to audio or download I had arrived late to Ethiopia, when I first visited it in 2012, barely managing to see the vestiges of the early 20th century nation of lattice work balconies, of Lada taxis, family pizzerias and piazzas; also the Ethiopia of Red Terror squares and state surveillance carried out on such a […]
8 min read. Nairobi, Kenya “That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.” – Martin Luther King Jr When my colleagues and I at the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) learnt about the disappearance in June 2016 of our comrade advocate Willie Kimani, his client and […]
7 min read. Nairobi, Kenya ‘The traveller whose name is not Annah remembers thinking about all the mothers she had seen on television, clutching old photographs, speaking of sons who never made it home. She wonders how it must have been for them – sitting, waiting, hoping that each knock on the door was from their son’s fist.’ […]
13 min read. Meru, Kenya – TERRORISM JOINS THE TRADITIONAL QUARTET OF WAR, FAMINE, PESTILENCE, AND DEATH Developments of the past two decades have elevated security concerns within every domain. Issues ranging from data to employment to identity now invoke the need for protection in some manner or form. Hot viruses and Biblical climatic events lie in wait. It […]
6 min read. Kampala, Uganda – AN ASYMMETRICAL CONFLICT WITH A SHAPE-SHIFTING ENEMY There were two historic junctures at which the journey to the current ever-globalising quagmire of the ‘war on terror’ could have been headed off. I say ‘globalising’ because what began as a promise of a quick war to depose the Bin Laden-friendly Taliban regime in […]