Bearing Witness

The first time I ever saw people checking under cars for explosives was in Arusha, the tourist capital of Tanzania, a safari springboard just two hours from Kilimanjaro. I was heading into the Arusha International Conference Centre, to see if I could sit in on a trial. I had finished a law degree a few…

Trade delegation

Heading north-east to Thika to interview a coffee cooperative, I took a matatu (Hiace bus) from central Nairobi early on a Thursday morning. As I headed off, I had no idea that the road I took would be one of the most interesting things I observed that day. The ‘Thika Road’ has acquired legendary status…

God’s Cabbie

It’s amazing what business prospects strangers will pitch to you in East Africa. While walking along the street, I’ve been given the option to sponsor the university education of total strangers, and help them fund major business investments, often within minutes of having met someone. And for that reason, I’m out. I had another Dragon’s…

Long Train Running

I’ve done two bona fide ‘classic’ journeys in my time travelling. The first was a slow boat along the coast of Patagonia, which didn’t go exactly to plan and now this, the Mombasa-Nairobi train journey. The train is an old iron snake, split into first, second and third classes, with those up front having cabins…

All Change

Things change quickly here. It’s seven years since I’ve been to East Africa, but even in 2003, things were moving quickly. My first visit was as a greenhorn 21-year-old, working for a tiny Tanzanian NGO. Those two months were among the most isolated of my life. Internet access was sparing and expensive, but fast where…

Karibu Kibera

  Before going any further, the word Karibu means ‘welcome’ in Kiswahili, and it’s one you’re likely to hear on a regular basis here. This post issues after a flying visit to Nairobi, where I arrived on Friday after a long journey from Dublin with delays at both ends. In Amsterdam our engines wouldn’t start….

Blind Man Walking

Just a very short note to mention a documentary showing at the IFI this Sunday. Blind Man Walking features Mark Pollock (pictured), the blind adventurer that just won’t quit. I met Mark while doing a feature on him ahead of his race to the South Pole, in which he became the first blind man to…