• Randoms

    Overhead Compartments, Haircuts, and Reverse Culture Shock

    Before returning to the U.S., Melissa and I talked about whether or not life in America would feel strange to us. Since Nairobi is a very cosmopolitan city, I didn’t expect much “reverse culture shock,” but I was really curious to see what things would feel different. Now that I’ve been back in America for 24 hours, here are the two things that have felt most (culturally) shocking so far: 1) Halfway through the flight from London to Nairobi, there was a woman struggling with her overhead compartment. I would guess the woman was in her late-30’s. She was fairly petite and was traveling with two boys that had to…

  • Kenya

    Slum Tourism in Kibera: Education or Exploitation?

    Recently I was contacted by the author of a popular Kenya guidebook. This author wondered if I knew of any responsible, community-oriented groups that do Kibera slum tours. I wrote back that one of the organizations I’ve worked with offers these tours. The group sponsors several projects in the community, and I know some of the people who lead the tours, so I felt comfortable sending in their information. But what I didn’t address is whether anyone should be taking these tours in the first place. So, is slum tourism a good thing for Kibera? It depends on who you ask. Slum tours in Kibera started around 2007 after a…

  • Randoms

    New Blog Shout Outs!!

    I have some friends who are new to the blogging world, so I wanted to give some quick shout outs to them. joskey – Josphat is the Film School Coordinator at the Kibera Film School. He will be blogging about the happenings at the film school and his own personal projects. Bonny’s Writing Space – Bonface is a new trainee at the Kibera Film School. He plans to blog about his new adventures into filmmaking and his other creative ideas. Emily Vraga – Emily is also a PhD candidate at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison. She’ll be blogging about current events in politics and new media.…

  • Kenya

    Leaving Nairobi – Melissa’s Take

    On her site, Melissa has a nice post about wrapping up her research in Kenya. While the post is specific to her work, here’s a passage I could have written almost word for word about my own time here: Making these contacts is so critical to conducting any fieldwork, but it’s especially important if you need to interview people and build case studies. Without good connections, that you build into good relationships, it’s pretty difficult to get anything useful accomplished. In some cases, these contacts become friends–gasp, yes, research contacts can be friends. Despite traditional views about the researcher as someone who is somehow removed from the situation, this is…

  • Kenya

    It’s My Turn to Read: Corruption in Kenya

    Even though I’ve had Michela Wrong’s It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower sitting on my proverbial shelf for over a year, I hadn’t found the time to pick it up and read it until just recently. It’s the story of John Githongo, an idealistic anti-corruption advocate turned government set-piece turned whistle-blower. After heading up the Kenya branch of Transparency International for a few years, Githongo was appointed anti-corruption czar when Mwai Kibaki won the presidency in 2002. Githongo took the position thinking he could contribute to a new dawn in Kenyan politics led by a party verbally committed to renouncing the crooked policies and practices…