“The doors to my future are open again”

Ahmad Yussuf prepares to take his last pills after two years of daily TB treatment Tuberculosis, a once-endemic disease now under control in the West, infects one person a second mostly in the developing world. In Nairobi, Mike Pflanz talks to three men now finishing the arduous two-year treatment program. MATHARE, April 27, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) AHMAD YUSSUF, 22: “I was born in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, and from a very young age I think I had this disease. By the time I was eight, I was taken to a doctor about pains in my chest, he found I was carrying the illness. I was given pills, they helped, but soon it was the same again. “You know, in Somalia, I was born two years before the start of the civil war. Since then, there has been no government to organize hospitals, or to pay for tablets for poor families Read More…

Food costs double as Arab crises hit Nairobi’s markets

Hundreds of traders descend on Wakulima Market early each morning Staple foods are twice the price they were at the start of 2011. Mike Pflanz hears how this is hurting traders and customers alike. CITY CENTER, April 26, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) – It is not yet dawn but Wakulima Market is chaos. Bystanders duck as men carrying 150lb bags on their shoulders hiss past. Handcart pullers jostle for business in the fluorescent half-light. Vegetable trucks reverse blindly. This is Nairobi’s largest wholesale farmers’ market. Suppliers who have often driven through the night from their fields strike deals with traders who then sell goods on to the city’s supermarkets, restaurants and small-scale market stalls. But here, those deals and those trades are in trouble. Soaring food costs caused by increasing international oil prices driven by revolutions in North Africa, and Kenya’s weakening currency, are hitting these businessmen and women hard.

Faith, hope and charity?

An overflowing crowd watches Pastor David Adeoye at Nairobi’s Winners’ Chapel on Easter Sunday Congregations are growing across all beliefs in Nairobi. Mike Pflanz explores what faith means to religious leaders and their followers in a fast-changing world. WOODLEY, April 24, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) – The main hall, brick-built with a high tin roof, is packed. The tents outside, three of them, are packed. And still people are streaming in. Welcome to Winners’ Chapel, early on Easter Sunday morning. As the choir, smartly dressed in white shirts and black skirts, take their seats, a compact man in a charcoal suit jumps to the stage, beneath a sign promising “Financial Fortune Is My Heritage: Deu 8.18”. This is Senior Pastor David Adeoye, a Nigerian ministering here in Nairobi to what claims to be one of the fastest growing churches in Kenya, an evangelical mission preaching prosperity through sacrifice to Jesus.

The bone collectors

Dr Emma Mbua examines Turkana Boy’s jawbone at the National Museums of Kenya In the vault of Nairobi’s National Museum lies one of the world’s most important fossil collections. Mike Pflanz hears why it is so precious, and why financial struggles might delay fresh finds. MUSEUM HILL, April 19, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) – The steel cabinet looks little different from the other 22 here in this chilly, climate-controlled strong-room. On its door, sticky tabs printed on an old hand-held labeller cryptically say W. Turkana Hominids, 85S, Eliye Springs, Nariokotome. Inside, seven compact wooden cases with black metal clasps lie on shelves, all marked KNM-WT 15000. Dr Emma Mbua reaches straight for the second one down, “85S/B Cranium and Mandible”, pulls it out and gently sets it on a foam-covered table in the middle of the room.

The karate grandmothers

A grandmother practices a palm strike against a punch bag during self-defense classes Mike Pflanz meets Korogocho’s Gender Defenders: grandmothers in self-defense classes learning how to fend off attackers amid a surge in sexual violence KOROGOCHO, April 15 (Daily Dispatches) – First a prayer, then a stretch, then a hammer-fist blow. Two dozen women, none younger than 60, were gathered at a school for disabled children for their latest lesson how to fight back against an epidemic of violence sweeping this Nairobi slum. Under coach Beatrice Nyariara, a spry 68-year-old, each squared up to the punchbag in turn to practice hammer-fist blows to the head, upward palm-strikes to the nose, backwards punches and strong kicks.

Rapping a revolution in Nairobi’s slums

Nairobi’s hip-hop sensation Octopizzo, during a tour of Kibera Octopizzo, a hip-hop artist rising from Kibera, talks to Mike Pflanz about his contempt for US gangsta rap, representing the city’s poorest, and why music must be a business for artists to survive

Ivory orphans

Elephants play after their morning milk feed at a rescue center in Nairobi Rescued baby elephants whose mothers have died or disappeared end up in a very different kind of city orphanage in Nairobi, Mike Pflanz discovers LANGATA, April 6, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) – Five years ago, Abdi Kashel was a waiter in a safari lodge serving gin and tonics to well-heeled tourists. The only elephants he saw were those drinking at the watering-hole below the guest cottages, or the occasional distant herd spotted from the bus taking him home for holidays. Today, he lives with elephants, full-time, in Nairobi. He watches over them as they browse the bush for fodder in the city’s National Park. He feeds them specially-formulated milk, every three hours without fail. And at night, he sleeps sharing a stable with one.

Vox Nairobi | 1

Name – DJ B Age – Young enough to know better Work – Pirate radio DJ, Superhero Lives – It’s a secret, man KAREN, Nairobi, April 4, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) – Thousands follow him on Facebook, tens of thousands hear his radio show, millions see his life illustrated in Kenya’s monthly comic. DJ B is a secret superstar for his country’s youth, a man with a mouth, a mission and a message. He jealously guards his identity, and agreed to talk to Mike Pflanz only by telephone from his shack-studio somewhere on Nairobi’s outskirts.

Under starter’s orders

Under starter's orders

Jockey J Lokorian riding Kimberly on Derby day at Ngong Racecourse | Photo: Brendan Bannon Can a new influx of trainers, jockeys and owners revive Nairobi’s 107-year-old tradition of thoroughbred horse-racing? By Mike Pflanz. JAMHURI, April 3, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) – Henry Muya is angry. A year of dawn training runs, a year in the saddle slowly coaxing the best from his horse, a year of preparing for this race on this day, all for nothing. Three false starts to the biggest event in Nairobi’s racing calendar, The Kenya Derby, spooked Ngobi, his horse. He was among the last out of the stalls, failed to pick up position on the back straight, and flew over the line 2,400m later clumped up in the pack several slots off the money. “Inside, I’m gutted, I’m torn apart, all the hard work it takes to come to this,” the 26-year-old jockey said after Read More…