Tanzanian Ferry Capsizes, Killing at Least 131

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF NEW YORK)

 

Tanzanian Ferry Capsizes, Killing at Least 131

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Rescue workers on Friday recovered the body of a woman who was killed after a ferry overturned on Lake Victoria. Credit Reuters

NAIROBI, Kenya — The death toll from the capsizing of a Tanzanian ferry on Lake Victoria had climbed to at least 131 people and could rise further, officials said on Friday as they vowed to investigate the disaster.

Exactly how many people were on board the ferry, the MV Nyerere, remains unclear, as the authorities fear that the person who had handled ticketing was among those who drowned. But some estimates put the number of passengers on the boat when it overturned on Thursday at more than 300, according to Reuters.

Officials say the ferry appears to have been overloaded, with far more passengers than was advisable. One local official said the ferry’s capacity was 100 passengers.

By Friday evening, dozens of survivors and 131 bodies had been pulled from the water, and identification of the victims was underway, said Isack Kamwelwe, Tanzania’s minister for communication, transport and infrastructure. The numbers mounted steadily as the day went on, and officials cautioned that the death toll could continue to rise.

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More than 24 hours after the tragedy, with hopes dimming for finding anyone still alive, Mr. Kamwelwe said the government’s search for survivors was at an end.

The inspector general of the Tanzanian police, Simon Sirro, said a special investigation into the accident would be conducted.

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Officials said the ferry appeared to have been overloaded, with far more passengers than was advisable. Credit Stephen Msengi

President John Magufuli declared a three-day mourning period, beginning Saturday. Mr. Kamwelwe said the funerals for the victims would be a national event, with the country’s leaders participating.

The ferry, managed by Tanzania’s Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, had been traveling between two islands — Ukara and Ukerewe — when it capsized Thursday afternoon, according to local reports. The islands are on the southern, Tanzanian side of the lake, which is shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The ferry journey takes about an hour.

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Thursday is a big market day on Ukerewe, and the MV Nyerere is typically more crowded on that day than some other weekdays, local residents said. Many of those on the boat on Thursday were returning home to the smaller Ukara Island after shopping on Ukerewe, residents said. As the ferry approached the shore around 2 p.m., many passengers appear to have rushed to the front of the boat, to get in position to disembark quickly.

The ferry was only 100 or 200 meters from shore, when “the balance of the boat was overwhelmed and it started to capsize,” said the commissioner for the local Mwanza region, John Mongella.

On the shore, dozens of people began to scream in horror and helplessness as they watched the ferry overturn. It was clear to those on shore that many people were caught underneath.

One witness, Abdallah Mohammed, said that nearby fishing boats had converged on the ferry in an attempt to rescue as many people as they could.

“The ferry continued going down as people yelled for help,” Mr. Mohammed said.

Officials said that the ferry had an overall capacity of 100 people, 25 tons of cargo and three vehicles. A new engine was installed as recently as June, officials said.

Lake Victoria, where old ferries are often overloaded with passengers, has been the site of several maritime disasters, including the 1996 sinking of a Tanzanian ferry, the MV Bukoba. The death toll in that accident was at least several hundred, and some estimates put it over 1,000.

Kenya: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This East African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Kenya

Introduction Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform. KIBAKI’s NARC coalition splintered in 2005 over the constitutional review process. Government defectors joined with KANU to form a new opposition coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement, which defeated the government’s draft constitution in a popular referendum in November 2005. A disputed presidential election victory by KIBAKI over challenger Raila ODINGA in December 2007 led to widespread rioting. Following talks, the two candidates agreed to an accord establishing the office of prime minister and the creation of a coalition government.
History Palaeontologists have discovered many fossils of prehistoric animals in Kenya. At one of the rare dinosaur fossil sites in Africa, two hundred Cretaceous theropod and giant crocodile fossils have been discovered in Kenya, dating from the Mesozoic Era, over 200 million years ago. The fossils were found in an excavation conducted by a team from the University of Utah and the National Museums of Kenya in July-August 2004 at Lokitaung Gorge, near Lake Turkana.[7]

Fossils found in East Africa suggest that primates roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya’s Lake Turkana indicate that hominids such as Homo habilis (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus (1.8 million to 350,000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens and lived in Kenya during the Pleistocene epoch. In 1984 one particular discovery made at Lake Turkana by famous palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu was the skeleton of a Turkana boy belonging to Homo erectus from 1.6 million years ago. Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified to Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, who are responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.

Pre-colonial history

Cushitic-speaking people from northern Africa moved into the area that is now Kenya beginning around 2000 BC. Arab traders began frequenting the Kenya coast around the 1st century AD. Kenya’s proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century. During the first millennium AD, Nilotic and Bantu-speaking peoples moved into the region, and the latter now comprise three-quarters of Kenya’s population.

In the centuries preceding colonization, the Swahili coast of Kenya was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands some time around the year 1700.). Initially these traders came mainly from Arab states, but later many also came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip).

Swahili, a Bantu language with many Arabic loan words, developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.

The Luo of Kenya descend from early agricultural and herding communities from western Kenya’s early pre-colonial history. The Luo people and dialects of their language have historic roots across the Lake Victoria region. Chief among the powerful families to which the Luo trace their ancestry were the Sahkarias of Kano, the Jaramogis of Ugenya, and the Owuors of Kisumo, whose clans married several wives and had multitudes of grandchildren and heirs to various chieftainships. Leaders of these lineages typically had multiple wives and intermarried with their neighbours in Uganda and Sudan. The Luo tribe, through intermarriages and wars, are part of the genetic admixture that includes all modern East African ethnic groups as well as members of Buganda Kingdom, the Toro Kingdom, and the Nubians of modern day Sudan. In recent times, the Luo have had many enemies with whom they fought for access to water, cattle, and land including the Nandi, Kipsigis and the Kisii. As a result of these wars were peace treaties and intermarriages were resolved resulting in a mixture of cultural ideals and practices. As with all so-called tribes of modern day East Africa, Luo history is intricately interwoven with the histories of their friends, enemies and neighbours and attest to the complexity of East African precolonial history.

Colonial history

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the region of current-day Kenya, Vasco da Gama having visited Mombasa in 1498. Gama’s voyage was successful in reaching India and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading networks of mixed land and sea routes, such as the Spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean. The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. After traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks, Portugal hoped to use the sea route pioneered by Gama to break the once Venetian trading monopoly. Portuguese rule in East Africa focused mainly on a coastal strip centred in Mombasa. The Portuguese presence in East Africa officially began after 1505, when flagships under the command of Don Francisco de Almeida conquered Kilwa, an island located in what is now southern Tanzania. In March 1505, having received from Manuel I the appointment of viceroy of the newly conquered territory in India, he set sail from Lisbon in command of a large and powerful fleet, and arrived in July at Quiloa (Kilwa), which yielded to him almost without a struggle. A much more vigorous resistance was offered by the Moors of Mombasa, but the town was taken and destroyed, and its large treasures went to strengthen the resources of Almeida. Attacks followed on Hoja (now known as Ungwana, located at the mouth of the Tana River), Barawa, Angoche, Pate and other coastal towns until the western Indian Ocean was a safe haven for Portuguese commercial interests. At other places on his way, such as the island of Angediva, near Goa, and Cannanore, the Portuguese built forts, and adopted measures to secure the Portuguese supremacy. Portugal’s main goal in the east coast of Africa was take control of the spice trade from the Arabs. At this stage, the Portuguese presence in East Africa served the purpose of control trade within the Indian Ocean and secure the sea routes linking Europe to Asia. Portuguese naval vessels were very disruptive to the commerce of Portugal’s enemies within the western Indian Ocean and were able to demand high tariffs on items transported through the sea due to their strategic control of ports and shipping lanes. The construction of Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1593 was meant to solidify Portuguese hegemony in the region, but their influence was clipped by the British, Dutch and Omani Arab incursions into the region during the 17th century. The Omani Arabs posed the most direct challenge to Portuguese influence in East Africa and besieged Portuguese fortresses, openly attacked naval vessels and expelled the remaining Portuguese from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts by 1730. By this time the Portuguese Empire had already lost its interest on the spice trade sea route due to the decreasing profitability of that business.

Omani Arab colonization of the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts brought the once independent city-states under closer foreign scrutiny and domination than was experienced during the Portuguese period. Like their predecessors, the Omani Arabs were primarily able only to control the coastal areas, not the interior. However, the creation of clove plantations, intensification of the slave trade and relocation of the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1839 by Seyyid Said had the effect of consolidating the Omani power in the region. Arab governance of all the major ports along the East African coast continued until British interests aimed particularly at ending the slave trade and creation of a wage-labour system began to put pressure on Omani rule. By the late nineteenth century, the slave trade on the open seas had been completely outlawed by the British and the Omani Arabs had little ability to resist the Royal Navy’s ability to enforce the directive. The Omani presence continued in Zanzibar and Pemba until the 1964 revolution, but the official Omani Arab presence in Kenya was checked by German and British seizure of key ports and creation of crucial trade alliances with influential local leaders in the 1880s. However, the Omani Arab legacy in East Africa is currently found through their numerous descendants found along the coast that can directly trace ancestry to Oman and are typically the wealthiest and most politically influential members of the Kenyan coastal community.

However, most historians consider that the colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar’s coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This followed the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway passing through the country. This was resisted by some tribes, notably the Nandi led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1895 to 1905, the British eventually built the railway. It is believed that the Nandi were the first tribe to be put in a native reserve to stop them from disrupting the building of the railway. During the railway construction era, there was a significant inflow of Indian peoples who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction. These people remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili muslim and Sikh communities.

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. However Lt Col Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany by the Royal Navy, von Lettow conducted an effective guerilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow the British deployed Indian Army troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior by foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and were offered undue political powers because of their effects on the economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu tribe, most of whom had no land claims in European terms (but the land belonged to the ethnic group), and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled.

In 1951, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice in Kenya (coming from Ceylon, where he had also been Chief Justice) and sat in the Supreme Court in Nairobi. He held that position until 1954 when he became an Appeal Justice of the West African Court of Appeal. On the night of the death of King George VI, 5 February 1952, Hearne escorted The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, as she then was, to a state dinner at the Treetops Hotel, which is now a very popular tourist retreat. It was there that she “went up a princess and came down a Queen”.[8] She returned immediately to England, accompanied by Hearne.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King’s African Rifles. In January 1953, Major General Hinde was appointed as director of counter-insurgency operations. The situation did not improve for lack of intelligence, so General Sir George Erskine was appointed commander-in-chief of the colony’s armed forces in May 1953, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.

The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (a.k.a. General China) on 15 January 1954 and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954 after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege, and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. May 1953 also saw the Home Guard officially recognized as a branch of the Security Forces. The Home Guard formed the core of the government’s anti-Mau Mau strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King’s African Rifles. By the end of the emergency the Home Guard had killed 4,686 Mau Mau, amounting to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on 21 October 1956 in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive.

Post-colonial history

The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to “moderate” African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on 12 December 1963. During the same year, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War against ethnic Somalis determined to see the NFD join with the Republic of Somalia. The Shiftas inflicted heavy casualties on the Kenyan armed forces but were defeated in 1967.

Kenya, fearing an invasion from militarily stronger Somalia, in 1969 signed a defence pact with Ethiopia which is still in effect[2]. Suffering from droughts and floods, NFD is the least developed region in Kenya. However, since the 1990s, Somali refugees-turned-wealthy businessmen have managed to transform the one-time slum of Eastleigh into the most prosperous commercial centre of Eastlands and increasingly much of Nairobi.[3]

In 1964, Kenyatta became Kenya’s first president. At Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President. Daniel arap Moi retained the Presidency, being unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 (snap elections) and 1988, all of which were held under the single party constitution. The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on 1 August 1982.

The abortive coup was masterminded by a lowly ranked Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and was staged mainly by enlisted men in the Air Force. The attempt was quickly suppressed by Loyalist forces led by the Army, the General Service Unit (GSU) — a paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police, but not without civilian casualties. This event led to the disbanding of the entire Air Force and a large number of its former members were either dismissed or court-martialled.

The election held in 1988 saw the advent of the mlolongo (queuing) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their favoured candidates instead of a secret ballot[citation needed]. This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious clauses, including one that allowed for only one political party were changed in the following years[citation needed]. In democratic, multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running, and Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition “National Rainbow Coalition” — NARC, was elected President. The elections, judged free and fair by local and international observers, marked a turning point in Kenya’s democratic evolution. Kenya is one of the most politically distinguished countries in Africa

Geography Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 582,650 sq km
land: 569,250 sq km
water: 13,400 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Nevada
Land boundaries: total: 3,477 km
border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km
Coastline: 536 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior
Terrain: low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kenya 5,199 m
Natural resources: limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 8.01%
permanent crops: 0.97%
other: 91.02% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,030 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 30.2 cu km (1990)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.58 cu km/yr (30%/6%/64%)
per capita: 46 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: recurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons
Environment – current issues: water pollution from urban and industrial wastes; degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; poaching
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value
 
People Population: 37,953,838
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.2% (male 8,065,789/female 7,953,077)
15-64 years: 55.2% (male 10,498,468/female 10,434,764)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 457,886/female 543,854) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18.6 years
male: 18.5 years
female: 18.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.758% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 37.89 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.3 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 56.01 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 58.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 53.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 56.64 years
male: 56.42 years
female: 56.87 years

32 Killed As Dam Bursts On Rose Farm In Kenya

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

At least 32 killed as dam bursts on rose farm in Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)At least 32 people have died after a dam burst in northern Kenya after weeks of torrential rain, officials said Thursday.

The Kenya Red Cross estimated that up to 500 families have been hit by the disaster, which took place in Solai, near the Rift Valley town of Nakuru, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest of the capital of Nairobi.
The Patel Dam burst its banks after heavy rains at around nine pm Wednesday, sweeping away homes, according to Lee Kinyanjui, the governor of Nakuru County.
Kinyanjui told CNN that those affected by the dam, which is on a commercial farm, are “mostly workers and small-scale farmers.”
“It’s a big farm that employs a majority of the people living in the village. They are in horticulture, coffee, tea among others. The farm has existed for over two generations,” he added.
In an earlier post on Twitter, Kinyanjui said the water had caused “huge destruction of both life and property.”
He said Nakuru County was working with the Kenya Red Cross in a search and rescue operation.
Kinyanjui said foodstuff and other items have been donated to displaced families and a center set up for families to report missing members.
Euloge Ishimwe, head of communications for the Africa region of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a statement, “A multi-agency search and rescue is ongoing where Kenya Red Cross is part of the team.
“The Kenya Red Cross is further moving materials to construct temporary shelter for the displaced families alongside providing first aid services, evacuation of the injured, tracing services for families and psychosocial support.”
Heavy rainfall and floods have hit East Africa in recent months, especially Kenya and Rwanda.
At least 100 people have died and nearly 260,000 have been displaced this month by flooding in Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross said.
Kenyan authorities and humanitarian organizations have airlifted stranded residents to safety and provided aid to isolated communities after weeks of heavy rain and landslides.

Did climate change help modern humans emerge?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS AND THE SMITHSONIAN)

 

Did climate change help modern humans emerge?

Environment changes transformed early humans, who learned how to use lighter tools, hunt new kinds of animals and communicate with other groups

by Maggie Fox /  / Updated 

At this Olorgesailie Basin excavation site, the Smithsonian team discovered key artifacts and pigments. Fossil bones found at the site also showed that a significant change in the kinds of animals in this region occurred around the same time as the transitions in human behavior.Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

Half a million years ago, something big happened in east Africa.

It was a big enough change to transform the terrain, reshape the landscape and to alter the populations of animals living there.

And it completely transformed the early humans who lived there.

“What we are seeing is the demise of a way of life in early human ancestors that persisted for hundreds of thousands of years,” said paleoanthropologist Rick Potts, who heads the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program.

Before the change, pre-humans such as Homo erectus had lived happily for millennia using crude, heavy stone axes. Afterwards, the early humans living in the area traded for sharp, strong obsidian and made delicate tools and spear heads. They learned to hunt new kinds of animals and they carried around a lot of raw materials for making black and red paint or ink.

 A photo of older, more archaic handaxes used by early humans in East Africa, before 320,000 years ago. Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

New studies from Potts and colleagues published Thursday paint a clear picture of a time of total disruption in what is now southwestern Kenya. Not only do they document periods of devastating earthquakes, but climate change that transformed the area from a rich, stable plain to an area ravaged by unpredictable floods, intense thunderstorms and then long droughts.

There’s not much evidence of anything between about 500,000 years ago, and 320,000 years ago. But the transformation is sweeping.

Giant ancestors of elephants, zebra and baboon-like apes disappeared, to be replaced by more modern-looking grazers such as antelope and oryx.

The humans who lived there changed — a lot. Big, clumsy stone axes known as Acheulean tools disappear and instead the archeologists found finer, lighter and more varied tools. They’re made from materials not found locally, such as obsidian and chert, which indicates they were carried and traded over distances.

 For hundreds of thousands of years, people living there made and used large stonecutting tools called handaxes (left). According to three new studies published in Science, early humans in East Africa had–by about 320,000 years ago–begun using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools (right) than those of the Early Stone Age handaxes. Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

“The large, clunky technology is gone and in its place is a smaller technology, more mobile,” said Potts. “What we are looking at is a real change from the hand ax times. Think of the same technology produced over and over again for hundreds of thousands of years. That’s not us. I can barely keep up with the latest version of Windows,” he said.

“The history of technology has been the same ever since, going from large and clunky to small and portable.”

EARLY HUMANS HAD TO ADAPT

It’s not clear which species of early humans is responsible for the artifacts. Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis both lived on the African continent. But Homo sapiens fossils from Morocco date back to 300,000 or so years ago.

Related

“This represents a significant revision in African hominin behavior at or near the time of origin of Homo sapiens,” the teams of scientists wrote in one of the reports published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Whatever species they were, they had to adapt to the climate changes, the natural disasters and the disappearance of the foods they were used to eating; they had to learn how to communicate with other groups of hominids, how to trade information and trade tools and, possibly, food.

“All of these are fundamental aspects of our humanity that are right there at the beginning of our species,” Potts said.

“The history of technology has been the same ever since, going from large and clunky to small and portable.”

“The history of technology has been the same ever since, going from large and clunky to small and portable.”

The ancient people used dye.

The team found rocks with streaks of pigment, blocks of iron-rich minerals used to make ochre and other colors, and pretty colored stones carried from afar.

That shows people were thinking beyond the simple needs of survival.

“Color is the root of complex, symbolic behavior in humans,” said Potts. “We use it in clothing, uniforms, flags, tattoos — whatever ways we have of signaling that I am a member of this particular group.”

Related

What were these early Africans doing with the lumps of coloring?

“We don’t know what they were applying it to but they almost certainly applying it to something; perhaps their skin or hair,” Pott said. “That is a pretty human characteristic.”

In other words, the early humans who lived in this area were becoming more like modern humans. And it sure looks like the dramatic changes were forcing it.

“All this transition, this transformation of human behavior is occurring at a time of upheaval of the landscape,” Potts said.

 A bird’s eye view of the Olorgesailie Basin in southern Kenya, which holds an archeological record of early human life spanning more than a million years. This landscape shows a shift in the environment between 500,000 years ago, which marks the last known evidence of the handaxe toolmakers in the Olorgesailie Basin, and the more recent sediments dated 320,000 years and younger, which preserve the Middle Stone Age evidence. Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

It’s not news to anyone that human beings adapt and even evolve in the face of change. As the Ice Age glaciers receded, so did Neanderthals, to be replaced by modern Homo sapiens from the Near East and Africa.

WHAT ABOUT HUMANS NOW?

But this change was happening 320,000 years ago. The indications are that trade was taking place 100,000 years earlier than anthropologists have believed.

What do the changes say about humans alive today in a time of climate change?

Related

The findings in Kenya indicate people can likely survive. “I tend to be optimistic in that the adaptability of human beings tends to be pretty astonishing,” Potts said.

But he points to the profound transformation of the hominids of prehistoric Kenya.

“We certainly are running an experiment right now where humans are taking what is already a dynamic planet and messing with it,” Potts said.

“Often what people mean by survival in a modern context means whether their way of life will persist and thrive,” he added. “The moral of this story is that the status quo does not survive.”

Kenya: Prominent Ivory Trade Investigator Found Stabbed to Death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

Dr. Esmond Martin of Care for the Wild International holds a news conference at the National Press Club to release the "Wild Ivory Report" which "identifies the US as one of the world's leading ivory markets" on May 5, 2008 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Esmond Martin of Care for the Wild International holds a news conference at the National Press Club to release the “Wild Ivory Report” which “identifies the US as one of the world’s leading ivory markets” on May 5, 2008 in Washington, DC.
TIM SLOAN—AFP/Getty Images

(NAIROBI, Kenya) — Esmond Bradley Martin, a Kenya-based American conservationist whose dogged investigations of the elephant ivory and rhino horn trades over decades were seen as critical in efforts to protect the threatened species, was found stabbed to death in his Nairobi home, Kenyan authorities said Monday.

International conservationists were shaken by news of the violent death of Bradley Martin, a distinctive figure known for his shock of white hair and a handkerchief tucked into his jacket breast pocket whose off-beat appearance belied the passion and rigor that he channeled into his work in far-flung parts of the world. He sometimes worked undercover, and at considerable personal risk, while still managing to extract valuable information from traders and dealers.

“He was an inspiration” and a pioneer of research on the illegal wildlife trade, said Julian Rademeyer, author of “Killing for Profit,” a book about rhino horn trafficking. “He was prepared to go to some of the most remote places on earth to dig up information.”

A family member found Bradley Martin’s body with a stab wound to the neck on a bed in his house on Sunday, said Nicolas Kamwende, head of criminal investigations in the capital, Nairobi.

The motive for the killing of Bradley Martin, who was in his mid-70s, was unclear. There was no immediate suggestion from authorities of a link to his work, which often delved into the illegal activities of traders and traffickers whose exploitation of African ivory and rhino horn for international buyers, many of them in Asia, has fueled the mass slaughter of the iconic species.

The area in Langata, the Nairobi suburb where Bradley Martin lived, has some security barriers and guards on main roads. However, some properties are large with big gardens that could be accessible to an intruder.

An Associated Press reporter who visited Bradley Martin at his home in 2015 noted that the conservationist didn’t appear to be slowing down despite his advancing years. Bradley Martin talked animatedly for about an hour, leafing through research papers and reeling off statistics about rhino poaching. He was both precise and excited, seemingly eager to make every minute of discussion count.

Bradley Martin, often working with co-investigator Lucy Vigne, conducted many surveys for the Save the Elephants conservation group that “shone a powerful spotlight on the wildlife markets around the world that are sucking ivory, rhino horn and countless other African species into their maw,” the group said. The work provided “a solid foundation for action to close them down,” it said.

The pair’s most recent report, published in 2017, concluded that Laos has the fastest growing ivory trade in the world. Bradley Martin was working on research on Myanmar when he was killed.

“Esmond and Lucy have produced report after report that documented in detail the exploding demand for illegal ivory in China, Vietnam and Laos that fed into the worldwide move to ban domestic ivory trade,” Allan Thornton, president of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-profit group based in Washington.

The pair also reported on drops in the price of ivory in China, “providing the world community with key information that underlined the importance of China’s domestic ban in reducing ivory demand in the world’s biggest market,” Thornton said in an email to The Associated Press. China banned its ivory trade at the beginning of this year.

Bradley Martin, whose books include “Run Rhino Run,” co-written with his wife Chryssee and published in 1982, carried out important research in Yemen in the 1970s that linked rhino poaching to the use of rhino horn in carved dagger handles.

Today, Vietnam and China have the main illegal markets for rhino horn, which is viewed by consumers as a treatment for cancer, hangovers and other ailments, even though it is made from the same substance has human fingernails.

Martin Mulama, a rhino expert with the WWF conservation group and former Kenyan government official who worked with Bradley Martin, said the American did the legwork to prove rumors about the illegal wildlife trade, thereby encouraging officials to take action.

“He tried to unearth some of these difficult things,” Mulama said. “He would actually come with evidence to show that this is actually happening.”

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been re-elected

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 98% of the vote in a highly-contentious rerun election that was boycotted by his main opposition rival.

The announcement caps months of drama and sporadic bouts of deadly violence following a landmark decision by the country’s Supreme Court to nullify the previous election in September, which Kenyatta also won, citing irregularities.
On Monday, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced 56-year-old Kenyatta had received 98.25% of votes cast in the last week’s rerun. His main rival, 72-year-old veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga who refused to participate in the poll, garnered just 0.96% of the vote.
Turnout for the election — in which voting had been indefinitely suspended in several protest-hit constituencies — was low, with just 38% of the country’s 19.6 million registered voters casting a ballot, according to the IEBC’s final tally.
The IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, however, said that he was satisfied the voting body had delivered “a free, fair and credible election.”
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Poll reveals a deeply polarized Kenya

The opposition parties, including Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition, now have seven days in which to contest the result by launching a legal challenge, Kenya’s Ministry of Information told CNN. The courts then have 14 days in which to rule on such petitions.
Kenya’s Supreme Court previously overturned the original August 8 results that handed victory to Kenyatta after Odinga claimed the results had been hacked.
When the IEBC failed to provide Kenya’s highest court with access to its computer servers, the court ruled the results were fraudulent and ordered a rerun within 60 days.
The vote was held on October 26, but Odinga had earlier announced he was quitting the rerun because the IEBC had not adequately implemented reforms.
Odinga urged his supporters to boycott the election, and activists tried to stop the vote.
Odinga told CNN on Friday that the low turnout amounted to a “vote of no confidence” for Kenyatta and his administration, adding that the opposition would pursue all legal avenues available to put the government under pressure going forward.
This view was disputed by Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto, who on Sunday repeated a claim that low voter turnout was due to “orchestrated” violence, “sponsored” by the opposition party. Odinga, Ruto said, “organized militia” to prevent election officials and materials from their polling stations.

Ethnic tensions

Violent clashes have broken out over the election, with 24 people killed in the immediate wake of the initial vote, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. At least six have died in connection to the runoff, officials said.
The politically motivated violence has renewed tensions between Kenya’s ethnic groups, whose bonds are often stronger than the national identity. Kenya has at least 40 ethnic groups.
Kenyatta is a member of the country’s largest community, the Kikuyu, originating in the country’s central highlands. The Kikuyu have long been accused of wielding strong economic and political power in the country.
Odinga is part of the Luo community, which some say has become increasingly marginalized in recent years.

Kenya in Upheaval as Supreme Court Delays Hearing on Holding Presidential Polls

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Kenya in Upheaval as Supreme Court Delays Hearing on Holding Presidential Polls

Wednesday, 25 October, 2017 – 09:45
Supporters of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta shout in front of the Supreme Court in Nairobi, Kenya, October 25, 2017. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

The Supreme Court in Kenya was forced on Wednesday to delay a last-minute hearing on holding presidential elections due to a lack of quorum when some judges failed to attend the session.

That meant the court lacked a quorum to hear the petition to delay the vote. “The honorable the deputy chief justice, the deputy president of the Supreme Court is not in a position to come to court,” Chief Justice David Maraga said.

Maraga said one judge was unwell, another was abroad and unable to return in time, and another judge was unable to come to court after her bodyguard was shot and injured on Tuesday night.

The petition filed by three Kenyans including a human rights activist sought to postpone the repeat presidential election and argued that not enough has been done to ensure the process is free, fair and credible. The opposition and some observers have called for the re-run of the election to be delayed after opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the race.

The polls were scheduled for Thursday, but its preparations have been marred by administrative confusion. Only the Supreme Court has the power to delay presidential elections.

The development has plunged Kenya deeper into a political crisis, which has taken on a violent turn.

A lawyer for the election board said the Supreme Court statement meant the elections, which Odinga is boycotting, would proceed.

“It means elections are on tomorrow. There is no order stopping the election,” lawyer Paul Muite told Kenyan television station Citizen TV.

Protesters lit bonfires on the roads of Kisumu, the western city that is a Odinga stronghold, within minutes of the court announcement, a Reuters witness said.

The governor of Kisumu county, said people would be justified in rebellion if the vote went ahead on Thursday. Odinga had urged his supporters to boycott the elections.

“If the government subverts the sovereign will of the people … then people are entitled to rebel against this government,” Anyang Nyong‘o told reporters.

The Supreme Court annulled an August ballot, in which by President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner over Odinga, due to procedural irregularities.

Odinga, who leads the National Super Alliance, had challenged the results claiming hackers had infiltrated the electoral commission’s computer system and had manipulated the vote.

He explained that he is boycotting the polls because the electoral commission has not implemented adequate reforms to guarantee credible elections.

The electoral commission chairman has said that he cannot guarantee elections that are credible and a member of the electoral board resigned and left the country, saying she feared for her safety.

Kenya police meanwhile said they will not allow the National Super Alliance to hold its final rally at the capital’s Freedom Park ahead of their boycott.

Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome said the opposition did not have authorization from the county government to use the park. Odinga was to speak to his supporters at the park.

Kenya’s Election Chief Fears Presidential Vote Won’t Be Credible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kenya’s election chief fears presidential vote won’t be credible

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati speaks to journalists in Nairobi in February.

Story highlights

  • Electoral commission head urges politicians from ‘both sides’ to stop interfering in process
  • Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered new election after invalidating results of August vote

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)Kenya’s electoral commission chief warned Wednesday that he lacked faith in the possibility of Kenya delivering a free and fair presidential election next week — and pointed to political leaders as the greatest threat to a credible vote.

Wafula Chebukati’s comments come in the wake of the resignation of a senior member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Roselyn Akombe, over security fears and alleged partisanship on the board.
“I want to issue a stern warning to the players of both sides to stop intentions to interfere in the process,” Chebukati told a news conference.
“Let my commission and I do our job and we shall deliver. Interfere as you have been doing and we will get stuck as a country.”
The IEBC chairman called for political leaders to hold a meeting to discuss issues around the October 26 rerun.

Raila Odinga would run for president again

Raila Odinga would run for president again 01:27
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The new vote was ordered after Kenya’s Supreme Court invalidated the results of a contentious August 8 election — which gave victory to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta — following a challenge over irregularities.
Chebukati warned that if the current political crisis is not resolved, the country risks finding itself in a situation “possibly worse” than in 2007 and 2008, when more than 1,000 people died in political violence that turned ethnic in nature.
“If we don’t cap this mess I fear for the future,” he said.
Chebukati insisted he had no plans to resign himself. “The politicians are the greatest threat,” he said. “I will not tolerate the threats on my staff any more.”
Since the Supreme Court ruling, Kenyatta’s main challenger for the presidency, opposition leader Raila Odinga, has pulled out of the rerun, saying that issues around the way the first election was run have not been resolved.
Opposition supporters have clashed with police, and the government has banned demonstrations in certain areas.

Akombe: Not too late to avert crisis

Former commission meber Akombe, in a statement issued Tuesday from New York, described the IEBC as “under siege” and said it could not guarantee a credible presidential election next week.
Fellow commissioners had become increasingly partisan, coming to meetings “ready to vote along party lines,” she said, and were unwilling to “be frank with the Kenyan people.”
Akombe said she had agonized over whether to quit, but had decided to do so because the commission had “become a party to the crisis” and lives were potentially at stake.
“It is not too late to save our country from this crisis,” she said. “We need just a few men and women of integrity to stand up and say that we cannot proceed with the election on (October 26) as currently planned.”

Police spray water cannons to disperse opposition protesters last week in Kisumu, Kenya.

Akombe highlighted concerns over last-minute changes to election-related technology and results transmission, rushed training of staff because of fears of protest violence and the intimidation of electoral commissioners and staff.
“We need the commission to be courageous and speak out, that this election as planned cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election,” she said.

Roselyn Akombe, who resigned from Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, doesn't believe that next week's presidential election will yield a credible result.

“Our people are resilient. Our people are patient. What we are faced today is a political crisis that cannot be solved by the commission alone. Let us solve the political crisis we have at hand and then chart the way forward toward a credible presidential election.”
In an interview with the BBC, Akombe said she had received numerous threats while in Kenya and did “not feel safe enough to be able to go home.”

Unrest fears

Speaking with CNN on Friday, opposition leader Odinga said his coalition did not want to “facilitate another rigging of elections” by taking part in a process in which none of the issues that led to the annulment of the first vote were resolved.
He urged the replacement of some electoral commission personnel, among other changes.
The continued uncertainty has raised fears of wider unrest in the east African nation, which has suffered bloody election-related violence in the past, particularly in 2007-08.

Riot police use tear gas on opposition supporters during an October 11 protest in Nairobi.

Last week, the government called for a ban on demonstrations in the central business districts of Kenya’s three main cities — the capital Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu — citing security fears.
Police and opposition supporters have clashed in recent days in Nairobi, Kisumu and elsewhere. On October 11, police tried to deter opposition protesters from marching on the headquarters of the electoral commission in downtown Nairobi by firing bullets in the air and releasing tear gas.

Nairobi Kenya: 7 Story Apartment Building Collapses

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC AND REUTERS)

Nairobi building collapse: People missing as residents join search

Rescue workers at the scene after a building collapsed in a residential area of Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Witnesses said the building had been condemned

Several people are reported missing after a seven-story building collapsed on Monday night in an eastern suburb of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The Kenya Red Cross tweeted that response teams were at the scene, in the Kware Pipeline Embakasi area.

The Star newspaper said dozens of people had been evacuated moments before the collapse.

Witnesses told the paper that the building had been condemned after cracks appeared in its walls.

The co-coordinator of the rescue efforts, Pius Masai, said that more than 100 people had been accounted for, but added that some people may still be trapped.

“Rescue efforts are ongoing,” he said in a statement, and appealed for people with access to “cutters, drillers and any other extrication equipment” to help with the search.

Emergency personnel at the scene of a collapsed building in a residential area of Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Rescuers appealed for help from the public in the search for the missing

The National Disaster Management Unit said that most families acted when ordered to leave the building prior to its collapse, with 121 people making it to safety.

Local media reports that some people re-entered the building apparently to collect their belongings when it caved in, possibly trapping them. Police said they do not know how many people are trapped.

Rescue teams at the scene of a building collapse in Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright ANNE SOY/BBC
Image caption Authorities said 121 people had made it to safety before the collapse

Building collapses are a problem in Kenya with many people in Nairobi living in low-income areas or slums. Housing is in high demand, and developers often bypass regulations.

In April 2017, 49 people died after a building collapsed in heavy rain in Nairobi.

At the height of Kenya’s rainy season in April 2016, a six-storey building collapsed killing 52 people in Nairobi’s poor Huruma district.

Collapsed building in NairobiImage copyright KENYA RED CROSS
Image caption Rescue workers are searching the rubble for survivors

1st Malaria Vaccine To Be Tested In 3 African Countries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

The World Health Organization announced on Monday that Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been chosen to test the first malaria vaccine, which will be administered to hundreds of thousands of young children next year.

The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures, the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.

The challenge is whether impoverished countries can deliver the required four doses of the vaccine for each child.

The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa. The $49 million for the first phase of the pilot is being funded by the global vaccine alliance GAVI, UNITAID and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It will be tested on children five to 17 months old to see whether its protective effects shown so far in clinical trials can hold up under real-life conditions. At least 120,000 children in each of the three countries will receive the vaccine, which has taken decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop.

Kenya, Ghana and Malawi were chosen for the vaccine pilot because all have strong prevention and vaccination programs, but continue to have high numbers of malaria cases, WHO said. The countries will deliver the vaccine through their existing vaccination programs.

Malaria remains one of the world’s most stubborn health challenges, infecting more than 200 million people every year and killing about half a million, most of them children in Africa. Bed netting and insecticides are the chief protection.

Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit by the disease, with about 90 percent of the world’s cases in 2015. Malaria spreads when a mosquito bites someone already infected, sucks up blood and parasites, and then bites another person.

A global effort to counter malaria has led to a 62 percent cut in deaths between 2000 and 2015, WHO said. But the UN agency has said in the past that such estimates are based mostly on modeling and that data is so bad for 31 countries in Africa — including those believed to have the worst outbreaks — that it couldn’t tell if cases have been rising or falling in the last 15 years.

WHO is hoping to wipe out malaria by 2040 despite increasing resistance problems to both drugs and insecticides used to kill mosquitoes.

“The slow progress in this field is astonishing, given that malaria has been around for millennia and has been a major force for human evolutionary selection, shaping the genetic profiles of African populations,” Kathryn Maitland, professor of tropical pediatric infectious diseases at Imperial College London, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in December. “Contrast this pace of change with our progress in the treatment of HIV, a disease a little more than three decades old.”

Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East also have malaria cases.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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