Kenya election prompts fears of new violence

GlobalPost
Kiambaa, Kenya

Of all the terrible things that took place in the days and weeks following Kenya’s last election, the worst was the burning to death of 35 people in this village’s small Pentecostal church.

After members of the Kikuyu ethnic group sought shelter there, hundreds of machete-wielding men from the rival Kalenjin tribe laid gasoline-soaked mattresses against the walls and set them alight.

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How Timbuktu Saved Its Books

Harper’s
Bamako, Mali

Abdel Kader Haidara, Mamma Haidara Manuscripts Library, Timbuktu (Photograph by Tugela Ridley)
Abdel Kader Haidara, Mamma Haidara Manuscripts Library, Timbuktu (Photograph by Tugela Ridley)

I first met Abdel Kader Haidara in happier times. It was five years ago, and I had come to see his family collection of ancient manuscripts, which were stored in a grand house midway down one of Timbuktu’s sand-blown roads. Continue reading How Timbuktu Saved Its Books

Mali: first the war, now the crisis

GlobalPost
Bamako, Mali

A girl who fled northern Mali rests her head against a tree at a camp for internally displaced persons in Sevare, Mali (Fred Dufour/AFP)
A girl who fled northern Mali rests her head against a tree at a camp for internally displaced persons in Sevare, Mali (Fred Dufour/AFP)

Mali, it seems, is no exception to the rule that where war leads humanitarian crises follow. The French-led advance into the towns of northern Mali — Diabaly, Konna, Douentza, Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal — has been fast and effective.

In a little over two weeks around 3,000 French soldiers with armored vehicles and air support have ousted the fighters of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its allies from every town in the desert north, meeting little resistance along the way.

But with the focus on the military gains, the human impact has slid from view as aid agencies warn that the combination of insecurity, food shortages and drought threatens the lives of a million people.

Continue reading Mali: first the war, now the crisis