I had not spoken to George Obama in years, not since co-writing a story on the far-flung Obama diaspora for this magazine in 2009. But last week, President Barack Obama’s youngest half-brother called. By coincidence, I was in Kisumu, the western Kenyan city closest to Obama’s ancestral village, waiting to meet another of Obama’s relatives, his half-uncle Said, for an interview.
The stale smell of last night’s beer hangs in the Kaloleni Public Bar, a down-at-heel tin-roofed tavern sandwiched between a butchery and a panel beater in Nairobi’s Eastlands.
In its heyday the insalubrious boozer was a favourite of Kenya’s founding politicians and President Barack Obama’s father, Barack Obama Senior. It was here that he had his last drink of whisky on 24 November 1982.
Afterwards, he left in his pickup truck, crashed into a tree and died, aged 46.
Monocle DjiboutiTo get to Japan’s only foreign military base you pass a whitewashed mosque, cross a disused colonial-era railway line and turn onto an unfinished dirt road where a fine fog of choking dust is thrown up by rumbling trucks. The 12-hectare base in Djibouti is next to an airport a few kilometres from the sea, occupying a scorched chunk of desert and rock on Africa’s northeast coast that is among the most sought-after military property on Earth. Clustered around Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport’s single runway are the biggest foreign French base in the world and the largest US base in Africa, as well as Italian, German, Spanish, EU and Japanese facilities, all of varying size, ambition and function. Chinese and Russian bases are in the pipeline. Continue reading Maximum Sun Protection