Mzungu prizes

Nairobi, Kenya

‘Ah, the tyranny of mzungu prizes!’ the Kenyan author and journalist Parselelo Kantai said when I rang him up to talk about literary awards for African writers. Mzungu is Kiswahili for ‘white person’ and Kantai was only half-joking.

Since its inception in 2000, the annual Caine Prize for African Writing – awarded, more narrowly than the ‘African Writing’ of its title might imply, ‘to a short story by an African writer published in English’ – has been the most high profile award for contemporary anglophone African writers. But it’s administered in Britain and the £10,000 cash prize is bestowed during a gala dinner at the Bodleian Library. ‘There’s something that rankles,’ says Kantai, who has been shortlisted twice. ‘Once the conferring is done in London you become big on the African landscape.’ Continue reading Mzungu prizes

Tanzania to evict Maasai people in favor of fee-paying trophy hunters

Nairobi, Kenya

Tens of thousands of Maasai people in northern Tanzania, under a new government plan, face eviction from their homes and a ban from the land their cattle have grazed for generations.

Tanzania says it will designate as a “wildlife corridor” a 600-square-mile patch of land next to the popular tourist attractions of the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Continue reading Tanzania to evict Maasai people in favor of fee-paying trophy hunters

How to fight Africa’s wars

Nairobi, Kenya

For Western nations, wars in far off places like Mali and Somalia cannot be ignored, though they might wish they could.

US and European governments worry that Al Qaeda groups in Africa might threaten their citizens and interests — at home and abroad — and while France was willing to briefly intervene in Mali, most are wary of entrenching their own troops in potential quagmires on the continent.

Continue reading How to fight Africa’s wars