Sacrificing Human Rights for Development

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“Whoever is cutting off the source of water to the lake is being selfish and wants to benefit alone. We [in Turkana] will die of starvation.”

            Selina Akiru

Pastoralist and firewood seller

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The hot sun rises on another long day in scorching Turkana county. Meanwhile the rays graze over the greener, but also marginalized, Marsabit county. These two counties sandwich Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, nestled in the Cradle of Mankind and containing 3 national parks that are world heritage sites. The lake is a sparkling gem and source of life in the dry northern deserts of the beautiful country of Kenya.

The lake is in dire and immediate danger, however, along with the human rights of 300,000 Kenyans who depend on it for survival. Developments on Ethiopia’s Omo River, which provides the lake with 90% of its water, are threatening its existence. A large hydropower dam, the infamous Gibe III, has been built – without consideration for the impacts it will have across the border in Kenya. Not only will the dam be used for hydropower generation, but large-scale irrigation too – the planned sugarcane and cotton plantations will occupy almost as much land as all the irrigated land in Kenya. Considering how water-thirsty these crops are, imagine how much water will be sucked out of the river – and not make it to Lake Turkana?

The last time something like this happened, the world’s 4th largest lake went from looking like this…

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Aral Sea, NASA satellite image, 1989

… To this.

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Aral Sea, NASA satellite image, 2014

Hydrologist Sean Avery has warned of a similar predicament for Lake Turkana, whose levels may drop by at least 20 metres and shorelines may recede by at least 40 km, potentially reducing the lake to 2 pools of water.

What do the people of Turkana and Marsabit have to say about the dam that is threatening their human rights?

The Right to Food and Livelihood

“We fish at night, we fish during the daytime, to feed our families. Now if they take all the waters, what are we going to do? There will be no life along the lake.”

Hon. John Lolimo

MCA Kalokol Ward

“When the lake overflows then recedes, grass grows on the lake shores, and we take the animals there to feed.”

Esther Epoet

Inlaw of MCA, Nakurio pastoralist village

The inhabitants of Turkana are either fisherfolk or pastoralists. Many pastoralists already struggle to find food to eat, some barely surviving on meagre seeds and fruit that are bitter and cause stomach pain. As the water levels of Lake Turkana drop, there will be insufficient suitable water for livestock, while fish breeding will be severely affected (breeding peaks during seasonal floods). This will kill people’s access to food and a source of livelihood.

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The Right to Water

Many locals of Turkana and Marsabit drink from the lake, which is saline. As water levels reduce, the salt concentration can only increase. The recently discovered aquifers in Turkana contain water that is too salty to drink. Fluoride levels in the lake water are already above acceptable health limits. The large farms in Ethiopia may add significant chemical pollution to the river and lake. The effects could already be manifesting – from a recent Human Rights Watch interview:

“The water that came recently, when the children drink from it, their chest problems increase.”

Teacher from Kalokol School

The Right to Health

According to a report released in October by Human Rights Watch, “many children become sick because their families are unable to provide them with sufficient food and safe water.” There is only “one under-resourced health clinic [in Turkana] serving a geographically dispersed population.” The effects of the dam will only exacerbate these issues.

The Right to Security

“Lake Turkana has provided separation between conflicting communities from Ethiopia and also locally between Turkanas and the Rendille on the eastern side of the lake.”

Kisike Fabio,

High school science teacher

Reduction in lake levels will intensify existing conflict over a very scarce resource, especially in the form of deadly cattle raids.

Ban on Discrimination (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Perhaps the main reason the Kenyan government has not spoken up for the rights of the communities around Lake Turkana is the significant amount of exported hydropower Kenya will be receiving from the Gibe III dam. However, locals of Turkana and Marsabit know they will not be benefitting from that electricity.

IMG_0128.JPG“People are living a poor life . . . What can you do with electricity in a local house like this? You can’t use it, you don’t have electronics to use.”

Lydia E. Kamar

Nurse at Lodwar District Referral Hospital

Sacrificing the rights of the marginalized people of one area to benefit others is blatant discrimination.

Right to Life

Peter Kataboi, Natogo fresh fish

 

“This dam will kill us.”

Peter Kataboi

Chairman, Natogo Fresh Fish

 

No need to say more.

 

Is it worth sacrificing people’s human rights in the name of development? Given the vast possibilities of wind and solar energy in East Africa, let me rephrase: Is it worth sacrificing people’s human rights in the name of an unnecessary development?

Sign Up!

If you would like to be a part of the movement to save Lake Turkana and defend the rights of those who depend on it, sign up here or  contact me and I will pass your contact on to the team – soon there will be an official group (complete with FB, Twitter, email list, volunteer team, etc.). There’s a role for everyone, whether it’s creating a website, maintaining social media, organizing events, or simply signing petitions, sharing information, and talking about the issues!

 

I’d like to include  a shout out to Bloggers Association of Kenya who are holding a panel discussion tomorrow to discuss the state of human rights in Kenya. Check it out here.

 

It’s Human Rights Day tomorrow. What’s your little contribution towards the dream of a world where each and every person enjoys their basic rights?

 

 

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Sweetbitter Reunion

Seasons of friends
Sweet their entrance
Sorrowful their departure
Alien the reunion.

Distance can mean
Growing separately
Growing apart
Incompatibly.

A friendship once so ideal
Treasured in memory
Sours upon meeting
A newly broken jewel

I shed a longing tear
Whisper an ode to lost joy
Steel myself again
And take a step onward.

As Ghosts of Cancer sweep Marsabit… – by Laura Maina

Northern Kenya is known as “The Cradle of Mankind”  due to the famous paleoanthropological site ‘Koobi Fora’[1], which hails one of the oldest human fossils, a 7 million year old from Turgen Hills. The region also unique as home to East Africa’s only true desert; to the world’s largest desert lake, Lake Turkana;  to the elephant with the largest tusks ever seen; and to the smallest Kenyan tribe, the Elmolo (which fears extinction despite the repetitive song of conserving our heritage and culture).

Despite possessing such rich heritage, the region struggles with severe marginalisation. The area is sadly infamous for illiteracy, poverty, insecurity, inadequate infrastucture, ill health, malnutrition and maternal deaths. Marsabit has long experienced various challenges including terrorism attacks, cattle raids, lack of social amenities and  infrastructure, not forgetting the region’s harsh climatic desert conditions.

The discovery of oil and gas deposits in this marginalised area is projected to make Kenya a regional energy hub for Eastern Africa, although this vision is threatened by the poor business environment, insecurity, regulation issues, and most recently the collapse in oil prices[2]. The discoveries sparked the growth of the multi-billion LAPPSET project, which is purported to be developing an oil pipeline that will see the transportation of crude oil and liquid natural gas across the  East African region.The benefits from the region could be significant if governance and accountability of the projects are up to par.

While on one hand, the oil discoveries have led to investment and development, on the other, residents of Marsabit County who happen to be living in the midst of the rich resource hub are mysteriously dying. Marsabit’s population of 291,166 has been hit by a deadly cancer epidemic. These deaths first hit the news in 1994[3], when the then North Horr MP, Ukur Yatani claimed they were caused by radioactivity from the dumped wastes of oil exploration in the 1980s. In 2009, the then M.P Joseph Lekuton raised the matter in parliament on whether the oil exploration caused the deaths; at the time two cancer cases were being reported weekly to the local dispensaries. As of 21st of October 2015, the media reported approximately 500 deaths3, due to diverse forms of cancer; breast cancer, stomach cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer. Speculated causes still vary from radiocativity from non-sealed wells dug by the oil companies in the search for oil, to high concentrations of mercury, nitrate, nitrite and arsenic mineral components that have seeped into drinking water from the wells dug by the oil exploiters.

Cancer in Marsait toon - BM

Recent updates on the crisis indicate a conflict between The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Ministry of Health. KEMRI was tasked to fact find on the epidemic, and claims that they submitted the report to the Ministry of Health; whereas the latter insists that they have not received said report from the KEMRI team[4].

Back in 2004, the National Enviromental Management Authority (NEMA) led the enviromental assessment on oil exploration; the report however did not make it to the public domain. In 2009, the Water Resources Management Authority analysed the water from boreholes and wells in the Kargi area of Marsabit and rendered it hazardrous (components of nitrates, nitrites and arsenic), recommending the use of alternative sources for domestic use.

Thoughts that disturb me on the matter are:

  • Why isn’t the report public?
  • Will the report’s findings be shared with the affected people?
  • Were the policies requiring a credible Environmental Impact Assessment really followed, given allegations on radioactivity and water pollution?
  • Was civic education administered to affected locals to ensure they were informed about the projects and ways to protect themselves? Or did the ‘illiteracy’ stereotype become an excuse?
  • Are the hazardous wells sealed and were the alternative sources of water put up?
  • Has the quest for economic independence (through exploitation of oil resources) trumped the value of the lives of the historical guardians of this land?

Cancer in Marsabit - quote

The implications of such arrogance on how society functions are alarming. Are the deaths of the Marsabit people irrelevant to Kenya’s quest to enjoy the fruits of their land? As the Cancer Awareness month of October draws to a close, what have we to say to those suffering from the mysterious cancer epidemic up north? Not forgetting the faithful Halloween custom followers in our midst who will be dressing up for what is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain in the eight century, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. Meanwhile, the ghosts of our people in the north go ignored. Pains me.


[1] http://www.britannica.com/place/Koobi-Fora

[2] http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/kenyas-oil-dreams-facing-headwinds/

[3] http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/Riddle-of-the-desert-of-death/-/1107872/1254204/-/view/printVersion/-/4gabow/-/index.html

[4] http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/ktn/video/watch/2000099692/desert-of-death-mysterious-epidemic-has-killed-over-500-people-in-marsabit


About the Author

LM

Laura Arudi Maina is a psychosocial graduate who is passionate about understanding diverse life phenomena through research, writing and dance. She desires to bring social change and cohesion through changing of perceptions on various discriminatory attitudes amongst all persons in the society.

Laura is currently on the market for human rights work.

The Day some Classists Crashed my Hike

I had decided not to write about this after getting over my anger a day later, partially because the prejudice was not explicit enough to warrant a blog post, I thought. However, upon recounting the story to a friend, she insisted that I write about the experience specifically because the classism was so subtle, so engrained that a guilty party may not realise their chauvinism while those on the receiving end find it difficult to express.

Elephant in the room. Photo credit to John Duffy (Duffernutter or jduf4 on Flickr).

Elephant in the room. Photo credit to John Duffy (Duffernutter or jduf4 on Flickr).

One beautiful Sunday, some friends and I had decided to hike Mt Suswa, one of Kenya’s beautiful hidden secrets, located ridiculously close to Nairobi. We were a group of 4 – one Rwandan, one Indian, and two Kenyans. The plan was to take the Narok matatu (public minibus) until Duka Moja, then take boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) towards the start of the trail, a good 20km into the Suswa Conservancy.

Mt Suswa crater

Mt Suswa crater. Photo credit to Kim-ani Sam.

Two days before the hike, a French girl I’d briefly met at a get-together heard of our planned trip through a mutual friend and texted me asking if she could join. “Of course,” I said, and again when she asked if she could bring some of her Danish friends along – the more the merrier! Little did I (or she) know that those friends had some supremacist tendencies.

Here are some examples of their subtle displays of classism that fine Sunday:

  1. Acting superior because they brought cars. They probably thought they were doing us a favour. They displayed almost no genuine interest in what we did, whereas we eagerly asked them about their lives and work during the trip there. They only made enough interaction with us to be “polite,” or so they thought. Later, when we made suggestions (like waiting for the slow car to catch up in case it had problems, and keeping the caves as an option later), they were dismissed without consideration. At some point, they told us “If you want to stay longer, you can take your matatus and bodas” – spoken in such a tone that implied these were things they were too good for. At the end of the trip, they became scarily particular about the money, ensuring we paid them back for the fuel and car entry to the park in amounts exact to the shilling! That feeling of “we did you a favour” was evident in the disrespectful manner they demanded these payments.

To the contrary, the cars were a disfavour  –  we arrived 2.5 hours later than had we followed the matatu and boda plan, because there were delays waiting for them to arrive in the morning, and one of their cars was not 4WD (though I had warned of this) and eventually had to be temporarily abandoned in the middle of the conservancy. This delay meant we couldn’t explore the caves that day.

  1. Prioritizing their views and desires over ours. When we arrived, they got together in a circle and spoke in some white language (allow me some racist ignorance here) for 5 minutes, excluding the rest of us (including the French girl). Then they came back to us and demanded that we “rush on the hike,” since we were so late and some of them had to “go to the airport after”(I had some doubts on how true this was), and that we “leave by 4pm.” We weren’t consulted or included in this discussion or decisions (despite the trip having been initiated by us!).

Well, we sure made sure the hike was fast, as per their request 😉 My Rwandan friend ran ahead of all of us, and was relaxing on a low shaded branch at the summit with his boots off long before anyone else arrived. My fellow Kenyan and I walked as fast as we could ahead of the rest, so we wouldn’t cloud our happy minds that wanted to absorb the beautiful nature with their seeping classism that had been offending us up until now. I feel extremely guilty that we left our Indian friend behind with the group as we were walking too fast for her. I was conscious of this but couldn’t bring myself to stay with them because I was on the verge of losing my cool – I don’t see red very often, but when it happens, I can speak my mind so much that I regret it – and in this case, it would have spoilt the eggshell peace we had on this hike.

  1. Feeling “too good” to mingle with us. Sadly, leaving behind my Indian friend was a worse sin than I thought as the group barely spoke to her. We made sure she was with us on the way down. Once the whole group was at the summit, the supremacists sat separately from us during lunch! What we found amusing was that they each brought their own packed lunch that they were not expected to share. There was quite a culture difference in the extremes of individualism and collectivism in this hiking group. Amongst my “lunch group,” whatever any of us brought was for everyone, so the “my food” idea was strange and hilarious.

As we were eating, the guide told us the white group said we had to leave in 10 minutes (excuse me?!). I insisted on staying behind 5 extra minutes as I wanted to meditate a bit and take in the nature. My friends stayed too, and we said we would catch up with the rest. Thus, lunch and the descent were the most pleasant parts of that Sunday, as we were able to be ourselves, to laugh and joke comfortably, and to relax.

Conversing with Mother Nature.

Conversing with Mother Nature

  1. Making a royal fuss when we had to go “matatu style.” At some point in the Suswa Conservancy, one car was going impossibly slowly, so we eventually convinced them to leave it on the side of the road and have us all pile into the 4WD. 10 people in one car! The East African adventure? Not for this lot, who got extremely cranky. My friends and I were all jolly at first, but soon became too nervous to speak to each other in the car due to the bristling air. Being the tiny one, I sat on my Kenyan friend’s lap on the way in. On the way back, he was in the middle of the backseat so I asked the 2 white folks on the edge whom I could sit on… Awkward silence. I asked again.. Awkward silence. Once I realised they didn’t want my coloured body sitting on them in the car, I asked my Kenyan friend to please move to the edge to I could sit on him again. Also note, of course it was only us coloureds who volunteered to sit in the boot. I don’t know, maybe I’m projecting the race aspect here, maybe the reason was still class-related. Regardless:

Intersectionality

I got home fuming, and woke up the next morning still fuming. Just one tweet on the issue from me:

If you want to live in my country, #Kenya, don’t bring your #racism or #whitesupremacyIf you can’t lose that #classism, please leave.

~@NarissaAllibhai

Ok, the labels of “racist” and “white supremacist” may have been too much to assume, but “classist” was certainly accurate.

Luckily, that same morning, I met an inspiring young man with cerebral palsy pursuing his journalistic dreams (see previous blog post “I don’t need Kenya. Kenya needs me!“), which got my mood back on track.

The hike itself, I must say, is absolutely stunning. The entire 6 hour day-trek to the summit and back is along the edge of the crater, meaning the hiker enjoys beautiful views the entire walk, of green trees blanketing the crater, and clouds gracefully decorating that green blanket with lazily drifting shadows. It is also possible to walk round the entire crater if you carry a tent and do an overnight (Any takers? Let me know!). We didn’t even make it to Suswa’s famous caves, which will be the first place we head on the next trip. If you are looking for a convenient day trip, and have done the usual Longonot and Hell’s Gate, make Suswa your next!

Finally, I know people experience far worse, explicit displays of racism and classism – but the subtle ones are important to point out too, because they are the ones that we dismiss yet are indicative of an engrained feeling of superiority by certain classes and races, that perpetuates psychological inequality when it manifests in daily interactions.

“I don’t need Kenya. Kenya needs me!”

Ever watched a talk show where the host has a speech impediment? Stay with me, there’s a great one coming up. Because, why shouldn’t a talk show be hosted by someone with a speech impediment? Especially when that host is a great investigative journalist..

Meet Anthony Ng’ang’a!

“I don’t need Kenya. Kenya needs me.”

Selfie with Anthony

Selfie with Anthony

He is young, ambitious and optimistic. He has cerebral palsy1, a neurological condition which affects his movements and speech. However, this does not deter him from his mission “to bring change and make my country beautiful.”

When Anthony Ng’ang’a walked into my office this morning, my colleagues treated him politely but gave him sidelong odd looks peppered with suspicion. He spoke and looked different. He claimed to be a journalist, but his not fitting the ‘look’ creates suspicion wherever he goes. I sat down with him to see what he wanted. At first, I could barely make out what he was saying, but after a few minutes we understood each other and got along great.

An hour later, I was absolutely inspired by this guy, by his ideals, his big heart, and his “never give up” attitude. I am honoured to have met him and excited to see his dreams come to life. He is creating a talk show called “Voices in the Dark,” in which he is the host. Check out the pilot here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1qumXoi98U. This show will truly prove that ‘disability is not inability,’ and certainly motivate many around the county, including those living with disabilities and special needs.

Filming of the pilot episode of Voices in the Dark

Filming of the pilot episode of Voices in the Dark

He has been promised a contract with a local TV station if he puts forward the 13 first episodes, of which he has done 11. He is now looking for funding for the final 2 – so if you know a person or group he should talk to, please let me know! 

The going has obviously not been easy for him. There was a time he tried to apply for a job at a local TV station, but because of the way he moved and spoke, he was treated extremely disrespectfully and had his CV torn up in front of his face.

CVrip_BM

Credits to the awesome Kenyan cartoonist, Bwana Mdogo

Anthony is one hell of an idealist and dreamer. The positive energy flowing out of him blew me away. “What makes an orphan get up and go to school in the morning? My grandparents made me get up and go to school in the morning. I want to help all these children with special needs or street children in Kenya.”

To Anthony, I’m glad you wandered into my office this morning. I admire your vision for Kenya and your determination to do all you can for it. Kenya certainly needs people like you.


1 Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of problems affecting body movement, related to brain injury or problems with brain development.

Excuse me, but Who are you calling a Third World Country?

Photo from a sticker by Redbubble.com

Photo creds: Redbubble.com sticker

Dear First-World,

American and western European countries are typical examples of what are commonly known as First World countries. Most African, Latin American and South Asian countries are commonly known as Third World countries. By what definition? By neoliberalist capitalist standards, perhaps. By whose definition? By the wealthy countries AKA the victors of past and ongoing conquests AKA the past and current oppressors.

I, as a citizen of Kenya, for one, do not accept that label for my country. We have rich cultures, heritage, traditions, attitudes, music, history, and a vibrant modern generation that I cannot agree with being classified as third world. Yes, economically, we are much poorer that those “first world” classified countries – but why? Due to colonialist and imperialist stealing of our natural resources, due to financial conditions imposed on us by international finance organizations and wealthier countries that do not have our best interests at heart, and due to the proportion of wealth flowing out of our country (e.g. to international companies) being far greater than that flowing in (e.g. through aid and investment). Can those guilty of these crimes fairly hold their self-crowned title of “first world”? Is it right to honour rich thieves over the plundered?

No, I do not accept that derogatory label of “third world” given to us by oppressors and thieves. I would like to assert that WE are actually a “first world” country. We have resiliently survived oppressive foreign regimes. We fought for our independence and won it. Our citizens have not yet fully fallen into the chains of individualist economic, political, and mental slavery (though admittedly we are close) as have some selfish blind robots of several “developed” nations. We continue to struggle against undeserved international debt, unfair economic policies, and a disadvantaged position in the global economy due to what happened in the past. We, however, retain a strong, resilient and entrepreneurial spirit. We retain much of our various cultures, while adapting to a rapidly changing world. We question every occurrence and ideology that is thrust upon us. We challenge global oppressors, whether they appear in the form of dishonest multinationals, corrupt politicians or two-faced international financial institutions. We have many vibrant social movements that may just turn the global tables entirely.

Not only Kenya, but many African, Latin American and other “third world” countries should consider shedding that label. Enjoy your self-crowned title, so-called “first world countries.” Enjoy the superiority while you can. Africa is rising, and soon we will turn the tables of oppression that you have stifled us with against you.

Love,

“Third-World”

 

Turkey: Land of Contradictions

Istanbul. Where impossible contradictions make up an intricate carpet woven by a potpourri of tailors, over centuries of historical events central to the world as we know it.

Istanbul. Where Islam and Christianity inextricably intertwine through the past and the present. Where modernity and culture and not mutually exclusive, but a spicy mix creating a vibrant and thriving society. Where it is difficult to identify a racial stereotype as faces and colours are fluid. Where locals’ ancestry is so diverse that you wonder at the convergence in this special place. Where Asia and Europe, the “east” and the “west,” meet in one city. Where the sea caresses the land. Where languages are dancers of all kinds. Where the wafting vegetarian variety explodes your taste buds into multiple foodgasms. Where art poignantly expresses messages from society’s subconscious. Where both the political left and the political right are strong, and the voice of the people remains assertive through waves of changes.

Istanbul. Photo from bass_nroll on Flickr.

Colourful shopping street in Istanbul. Photo from bass_nroll on Flickr.

Istanbul (previously Constantinople) is the capital of Turkey, and has been the capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire! There is a structure in Istanbul of great spiritual significance – the Hagia Sophia. Now a museum, it was originally built as a Greek Orthodox cathedral, then converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral, and later it became an Ottoman Mosque – 3 forms of religious worship housed in just one building, over hundreds of years. Paintings by previous religions were, as usual, covered by new ones relevant to the current worshippers – signifying how almost all religions have been guilty of defacing others.

Posing in front of the Hagia Sophia

Posing in front of the Hagia Sophia

Does grand, largescale, intricate art require a stark wealth division? Coupled with labour of love by peasants? Think of all the grand and beautiful artistic structures you have ever seen – whether mosques, churches, temples, Egyptian pyramids, Ottoman palaces, Roman stadiums, etc. – that cannot and will not be produced by modern architecture. Why? This thought struck me as I watched one of the few largescale intricate labouring art forms of today – carpet weaving. Months of labour, and very high amounts paid for the products by the extremely wealthy few on our planet.

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Intricate hand-woven carpet – Tree of Life

Muslim Morals.Turkey defies the unfortunate stereotype the world has created of Muslims. In this Muslim-dominated country, the morals of Islam strongly define people’s actions. I commented to a cab driver on Turkey’s streets being so clean that I happily walked barefoot. He proudly replied “That’s because it’s our culture. It’s unacceptable to litter.” Later, I used a public minibus (similar to Kenya’s matatus) and tried to shove my way on, in the style I am used to. However a large man, a fellow passenger, stuck his arm out and prevented me from boarding while allowing those who had been waiting before me to get on. Once they were all in, there was a seat left and he let me climb in. I felt ashamed, while simultaneously admiring the engrained Muslim morals.

I love going to a place where people are proud of their culture. One night, we watched a Turkish traditional dance, and I couldn’t help but compare it to cultural shows that are put on for tourists in Kenya. Back home, the performers are exoticised, their traditional dances are subconsciously labelled by all as ‘primitive,’ and the dancers themselves rarely emanate joy while performing – it’s usually a last resort to earn some cash. In Turkey on the other hand, the traditional dances were given their due respect and admiration. I felt like royalty while watching the various folk dances in a grand round theatre eating traditional food and listening to the band playing Turkish instruments. The dancers entered with pride on their faces, fervour throughout their movements, and joy in their eyes at showcasing their magnificent traditional dances to awed visitors. Can we here in Kenya learn something from this?

Concluding a dance with some Turkish pride

Concluding a dance with some Turkish pride

The apparent impossible has been achieved in Turkey. How has Turkey managed to retain culture and tradition while simultaneously developing and growing into a modern society with a robust economy? Is it partially because the national language is local – Turkish? Is it because leaders have prioritized cultural preservation and respect of heritage? Is it because the country has such historical cultural significance that it is almost impossible to lose it? Or is it the pride of the people in their rich culture, history, and traditions that keeps the flames burning and evolving with the times?

Huge amphitheatre in Ephesus

Huge amphitheatre in Ephesus. Apparently the sound does carry all the way up!

Inside an actual Trojan horse

Hanging out inside an actual Trojan horse

I found my goddess! Natura.

I found my goddess! Natura.

This.

This.

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Port

Pebbles from the beach

Multicoloured pebbles from the beach

Breathing in the ocean breeze

Breathing in the ocean breeze

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Hot air balloons dotting the sunrise over Cappadocia