Saturday, October 14, 2017

All the President's Women

Check out the opinion piece below written by Sauli Giliard, reprinted from the Tanzania Daily News, titled "Why Women Should Remember Mwalimu Nyerere."

As most of you know, Julius Kambarage Nyerere was the first president of Tanzania and every year on October 14th, all across the country, Tanzanians commemorate the anniversary of his death. 

Nyerere worked as a teacher for most of his adult life until 1953 when he became to the president of the Tanganyika African Association.  This would be his first foray into politics and the precursor to the fight for independence which he eventually gained in 1961. 

In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form Tanzania, and Nyerere became the country's first President.  He resigned twenty years later, relinquishing power to his hand-picked successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, and remained chairman of the ruling party for five more years. 

Despite the fact that Nyerere's reputation is controversial, he is often regarded as the most popular president of Tanzania and Baba wa Taifa or "Father of the Nation."

The op-ed below describes the effect of Nyerere's beliefs on the role of women in Tanzanian society, and why today's Tanzanian woman might owe him a debt of gratitude.... 


This week has been the "Mwalimu Julius Nyerere week."  As the nation is set to commemorate the 18th anniversary since Mwalimu Julius Nyerere departed on October 14, 1999, a lot has been discussed about him and his legacy.
The Arusha Declaration has been part and parcel of the discussions in radio and television programs and feature articles have been written in local newspapers.

The 1967 declaration, famously known as Azimio la Arusha contained the key features of socialism and Mwalimu Nyerere's philosophical point of view is strongly featured.

Though former Tanzania Assembly Speaker, Pius Msekwa, says there were some weaknesses during the implementation of socialism and self-reliance backed by the Arusha Declaration, he admits that there is a lot to learn and still to be implemented.

Decades have passed since the Arusha Declaration came into effect and the nation is commemorating the 18th anniversary since Mwalimu Nyerere passed away in London Hospital, United Kingdom.

Currently, human rights groups in the country have invested heavily in supporting gender parity movements in the country.  Education, economic empowerment, domestic violence, and gender-based budgets have been on top of its agenda.

On the other side, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been very supportive to women on the rights movement geared towards rescuing women from all forms of segregation.

However, did Mwalimu Nyerere's brain child, Azimio la Arusha, lay the foundation for women's rights?  Examining the content of the Arusha Declaration, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) had stipulated principles that entail a lot about the rights of women.

In this article, some of these principles are going to be discussed in relation to gender movements in the country.

It was declared that "all human beings are equal" and the Arusha Declaration believed that there should not be segregation in respect to sex, religion, or tribe affiliation.  Hence, in accessing social services, or utilizing available resources available in the country, women were not left behind in the declaration.

Therefore, gender movements aimed at bringing equality should be an ongoing process until all traditional customs which act as obstacles toward eradicating gender inequality in the society are addressed.  For many years now, Tanzania has been struggling for women's empowerment in economic, social, and political spheres.  As of now, women are seeking a 50-50 percent representation in the Parliament.

It was during Mwalimu Nyerere's tenure that it was declared through the Arusha Declaration of 1967 that "every citizen is an integral part of the nation and has the right to take an equal part in government at local, regional, and national levels."  The term "citizen" does not omit women.

Mwalimu Nyerere treated all human beings equally, hence the 50-50 demand of representation in the Parliament or any posts in the public and even private sector can also be traced from the Arusha Declaration.

"Every individual has a right to dignity and respect," is another loaded phrase proclaimed in the 1967's declaration.  Everyone needs to be respected regardless of gender, religion, or tribe affiliation.  There are some traditions that affect women, causing endless domestic violence in the community.

Stakeholders from both public and private institutions should spearhead initiatives to build a society that treats women with respect and dignity.

The Arusha Declaration stated that all citizens together should own all the natural resources in the country in trust for their descendants.  But in this context, land has been a contentious issue for many tribes in the country and left women behind in ownership of it.

Women have mostly been engaged in agricultural activities, but denied the right to own land.  Rights' activists have been fighting for this for many years in vain.  However, there have been positive outcomes out of the movement seen in some tribes, where women have been allowed to own land for agriculture and other economic activities.  In both formal and informal sectors, women are earning little in comparison to their male counterparts.

A CNBC feature titled "Men Still Earn More Than Women with the Same Jobs," published last year states that studies have shown that even when a woman has the same level of education as a man, the latter can be paid higher.

"Even when comparing the sexes with the same job title in the same company and using similar education and experience, the gender pay gap still persists.  Men earned 2.4 percent more than women on average, down slightly from last year."  Since inequality in pay between men and women has been a global issue, TANU spotted this and insisted on economic justice for all.

It is the role of the leaders and local activists now to team up and make sure that everyone in the society enjoys basic human rights and women's position in the society is recognized, not just as mere observers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Waiting

Hey kids, sorry this post is so late, things have been a bit hectic 'round these parts.  At any rate, this blog entry is kind of dedicated to Tom Petty, whose early demise this week at age 66 has all of us classic rock fans a bit shocked.

"The Waiting" is one of my favorite Petty songs, reminding me of sweet days with a college boyfriend before the world and my own insecurities got in the way....

Anyhoo, for the purposes of Toa Nafasi, however, "the waiting" refers to spending a day at KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre), the referral hospital of Kilimanjaro region, situated in Moshi town, which I have written about on this blog many times before.

Last week, I had the opportunity to accompany one of the Toa teachers, Mwalimu Glory, on a referral visit for a student whom I am following closely.

Meet Malaika*, a student in the Standard One class at Msandaka Primary School, one of Toa's satellite sites.  Malaika is a lovable and much-loved child, with two caring parents and a roster of friends at school and at home.

Shida (trouble) is, she is not doing well in class, and currently weighs over 62kgs (132lbs) at age 7.  At birth, Malaika weighed 6kgs (13lbs), so I am pretty sure she has a hormone, thyroid, or endocrine disorder, but we have tested her for everything under the sun, and this kid is healthy as a horse.... and happy as a clam.

We have not been able to pinpoint the reason for her excessive weight, so we have just advised Mama to punguza chakula (reduce food), especially carbs and sugar.  Because Mama is caring and involved in Malaika's life, she has been more than happy to cooperate, and really appreciates Toa's support, both in the classroom and on the referral appointments.

Unfortunately, Malaika's excess weight on top is causing her wee bones to bend below, and her tibias are becoming bowed.  Hence, our most recent visit to the ortho clinic.

But don't feel too bad for Malaika because with Toa's support and the advice of the medical professionals in Kilimanjaro, this spry youngster will get the help she needs to succeed both in the classroom and in life generally.

And, of course, we thank you, dear readers and donors and friends and family.  Without you, Toa could not do the work it does, and we are so grateful to you for our achievements.

Below, find pics and video of our last visit to KCMC's orthopedic ward.  You will see beautiful, sweet Malaika; Mwalimu Glory with Malaika; and video of how we pass the time: any free moment is a teaching moment!

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the child.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tanzania's Not Tesla

I may just be grumpy.  Or old and kvetchy.  Or a "nasty woman."  But this recent piece from Forbes really chaps my ass.

I mean, okay, kudos, right idea with corporate responsibility, and alms for the poor, and all that, you model-dating bazillionaire, Mr. Musk.

But think for a second about the infrastructure required to put your Xbox or neuro-turbo what-what into play in a country like TZ?

Hello?  Have you ever even come here on safari??  There is no electricity in most schools.  Certainly no internet.  Not enough classrooms.  Not enough trained teaching staff.  Not enough learning materials, i.e. PENCILS.  Not enough teaching materials, i.e. CHALK.  Too many students.  Unengaged parents.  Uninterested school administrators.  The grossest "bathrooms" you will ever see.

I just feel like before proclaiming yourself the "Education Revolutionizer," you might want to come and see what's going on over here for yourself.



Possibly Elon Musk's Biggest Idea Yet - Revolutionizing Education 

An estimated 250 million children around the world cannot read, write, or demonstrate basic arithmetic skills.  UNESCO estimates that the world will need 1.6 million more teachers globally, a number set to double by 2030.  Enter Elon Musk.

Musk is famous for being the face of such organizations as Tesla and SpaceX.  He is also the co-chairman of the AI research company OpenAI and the CEO of neurotechnology company Neuralink, among other companies that he is involved with.  More recently, he provided $15 million to the Global Learning XPRIZE.  The goal is to develop methods to teach the 250 million children who do not have access to primary or secondary education the means to teach themselves to read, write, and do math within 15 months.

Today, XPRIZE announced the five finalists advancing in the Global Learning XPRIZE and awarded each finalist a $1M milestone prize.  XPRIZE awarded each finalist for the open source, cutting-edge learning software they have developed for the competition.  The five finalist teams will begin field testing their education technology solutions this November in Tanzania.

"Universal access to education is a major priority for XPRIZE, and we are proud to celebrate the change-making teams making impressive strides to ensure every single child has the opportunity to take learning into her own hands," said Marcus Shingles, CEO of XPRIZE Foundation.  "The leading solutions born from this competition could provide the key to unlocking literacy for children most in need, giving them access to an education they otherwise wouldn’t have."

An independent committee of 11 judges chose five finalist teams from 198 companies who applied for the award:
  • CCI (New York, United States) is developing structured and sequential instructional programs, in addition to a platform seeking to enable non-coders to develop engaging learning content in any language or subject area.
  • Chimple (Bangalore, India) is developing a learning platform aimed at enabling children to learn reading, writing and mathematics on a tablet through more than 60 explorative games and 70 different stories.
  • Kitkit School (Berkeley, United States) is developing a learning program with a game-based core and flexible learning architecture aimed at helping children independently learn, irrespective of their knowledge, skill, and environment.
  • onebillion (UK/Malawi/Tanzania) is merging numeracy content with new literacy material to offer directed learning and creative activities alongside continuous monitoring to respond to different children's needs.
  • RoboTutor (Pittsburgh, United States) is leveraging Carnegie Mellon's research in reading and math tutors, speech recognition and synthesis, machine learning, educational data mining, cognitive psychology, and human-computer interaction.
"Our five finalists are developing the most promising software solutions to enable children to teach themselves basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, as determined by our panel of expert judges," said Matt Keller, senior director of the Global Learning XPRIZE.  "As we move to the final field testing phase, we are one step closer to scaling transformative technology solutions that foster child-driven learning and provide a world-class education for all."

To field-test the five finalists' solutions, the Global Learning XPRIZE partnered with UNESCO, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Government of Tanzania.  Approximately 4,000 children in 150 villages in the Tanga region of Tanzania will use 8,000 Pixel C tablets donated by Google to test the top software solutions for approximately 15 months.

At the end of the field testing phase, the team whose solution enables the greatest proficiency gains in reading, writing, and arithmetic will receive the Grand Prize of $10 million, to be announced in April 2019.  Each of the five finalists will be required to open source both their code and their content which will be free and available for anyone to build on.  By ensuring each finalists' solutions are open source, XPRIZE also aims to proliferate solutions worldwide at the intersection of technology and learning.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Check out the recent article from The Citizen reprinted below for a story that will give you the warm and fuzzies.

It goes without saying that these girls are pretty amazeballs, pursuing their dreams of becoming teachers, even in the face of true adversity.

But, as a sister myself, I have to give them major props for doing it TOGETHER, and for not killing each other on the way!  There is no fight in the world like a fight between two sisters!! 

Optimism High As Tanzania's Conjoined Twins Join University

Iringa — It was a dream come true for the conjoined twins Maria and Consolata as they made their first day at university Wednesday to pursue their goal of becoming teachers.

They were grateful to their lecturers for the warm welcome accorded to them in addition to the suitable learning and living environment that has been prepared for them at Ruaha Catholic University (Rucu).

They arrived at the institution ahead of other students to try and cope with the environment and get ready for their academic path ahead of them.  They start their computer lessons today.

The twins said it was all thanks to Consolata Missionaries that they have reached this stage of their life.  The missionaries brought them up and encouraged them as they pursued their elementary education.

The girls, residents of Iringa, were thankful to their sponsors who have offered to cover their education expenses.

A nun at Consolata Missionaries, Sr. Jane Lugi, said the twins' arrival at university before all other students would enable them to prepare ahead so as to cope with the others.

"We cared for these twins way back when they were still in Kilolo District.  I'm sure they will live a normal life here at university.  Sisters of Theresia have prepared a good home for them.  We are satisfied with what has been put in place for them and wish them all the best," said Sr. Lugi.

Three rooms have been prepared for the conjoined twins, which include a sitting room and a kitchen, all fully furnished.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Fr. Kelvin Haule, expressed his joy upon receiving the twins at the university.

He said the academic year begins at the end of October but computer classes start today.

Ruaha Catholic University's computer tutor Robert Manase promised to guide the twins well as they embark on their computer lessons.  "I have come to learn that Maria and Consolata have basic knowledge of computer but because of their nature, I know we have more time and I will do my best to teach them more things regarding computer, this is why they are here earlier than the rest," said the computer tutor.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Arrested Development

Oftentimes, people who do not live here or have not worked in development ask me, "What's the hardest part of the job?"

Could be a lot of answers to that one single question.  Culture shock.  Language barrier.  Lack of amenities.  Electricity cuts.  Minimal bandwidth.  Squat toilets.  Eating foods that require you to use squat toilets whether you want to or not.  Strange creatures, large and small, creeping and crawling, outside and in.  Strange illnesses, severe or moderate, that hit you like a ton of bricks or linger on for weeks on end.  Dust dust dust, or alternatively, mud mud mud.

But I think the hardest part of working in development is other people.  Not to go all Jean-Paul Sartre on you or anything, it's not because of the people themselves, but because of the communications and miscommunications among all the different types involved.  Whether we are Westerners or locals, the problem is the same: communication - the act of conveying intended meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules.

When I first got here, Moshi was very different than it is today.  I will not deny that I have seen a lot of change over the past ten years.  Sky-high buildings with "offices to let."  Cafes serving barista-made coffee drinks with colonial-style wraparound porches.  Nail salons and massage parlors.  An enormous "superstore" selling everything from Heinz baked beans to flat-screen TVs.

But what has not changed is the way in which development occurs, or does not occur in this case.  All the old gaps are still there, the redundancies, the lack of partnership, the bickering and squabbling in both the NGO community as well as the local government community.

Everyone seems to put some sort of proprietary sense of "my Moshi" above what really matters - communication - something of which I have been guilty at times too.  When you look at it logically, "my Moshi" means something different to every single one of us, whether you're an expat New Yorker looking for the meaning of life or a Chagga schoolchild trekking a couple kilometers to and from class everyday.  I think it's fair to say that if Moshi has room for all of us - so nationally and culturally diverse - so should we find a way to make room for "all of Moshi."

Tanzania had a population of 45 million people when I first came here in 2007.  Now it's 55 million.  The shilling was 1250 to the dollar.  Now it's 2250.  Is it reasonable to assume that if we all worked together, if we actually communicated, the case might be different?

Among the Western community, it's a shame because we pretty much all came here with the same purpose: to help others less fortunate than ourselves.  But then sometimes we get wrapped up in our own narratives.  Which is fine to some extent because this is how we have chosen to live our lives.  But to another extent, there's a selfishness, a need for others' approval and platitudes.  "What wonderful work you are doing!"  "God bless you!"  "You're a saint!"

I am not a saint.  For one thing, I'm Jewish.  For another, I'm distinctly flawed.  And that's okay.  Being flawed is human.  Being human is real.

Among the local community, it's a shame because there is still an overall lack of responsibility in the uplifting of one's own nation.  People don't vote, have given up hope of any kind of fair governance, have lost faith in their nationhood.  I still see the same people at the same places doing the same things talking the same game.  There's very little sense of agency, of movement.  There may be passion simmering beneath the surface, but it hardly ever amounts to action.  Complacency abounds.  Communication falls short.

Kilimanjaro and Arusha in the Northern Zone plus Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in the coastal region are basically the only places in which the country has any proper infrastructure.  The tourism industry booms with safari, mountain-climbing, beach getaways, and any number of adventure sports. 

Wazungu (foreigners) are attracted to these places because the rest of the country is basically one giant tumbleweed.  Myself included.  I make no bones about it; I am a city girl and need at least the basic amenities to get by, so I won't even front.  You will not find me roughing it in a Maasai boma made out of cow poop.

But the "real" Tanzania is a place I feel I have not even experienced.  A place I would not even recognize.  Sometimes, I chide myself for living "the good life" here in Moshi and not out in the bush somewhere where the needs are surely far greater than here.  I mean, there's pizza delivery in Moshi these days, for God's sake!

But then, when I am tempted to reproach myself into a place of shame and guilt, I remember the individual stories, both those that I have heard and those that I have told over the years, and even though I do not live in a cow-poop hut, "my Moshi" is a story that matters.  Really, a series of stories over the course of a decade during which people have touched my life, both mzungu and local, and I theirs.  Communication.

So, I guess "development" is subjective as well as objective.  Perhaps the country as a whole remains behind, still lost in a post-colonial and poorly-run republic.  But what I, and others like me, came here to do cannot be underestimated.  Nor can those strides made by those we seek to support, those individuals whose lives have been made better because we worked together.  Because we communicated.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

"I Have Not Even Had Lunch Since I Heard the Results."

This blog entry is a shocking (in a good way) addendum to my last post about the chaos in Kenya following the recent presidential election.  From, on September 2nd, Farai Sevenzo reported from Nairobi and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London.  Briana Duggan, Idris Mukhtar, Fabien Muhire, and Katie Polglase also contributed to this report.

Though this is not about Tanzania per se, many people are saying the judiciary overturning of the Kenyan election results have implications that go far beyond Kenya to the entire continent of Africa.

New elections have been called for within two months and though sitting president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has said he doesn't agree with the decision, he has accepted it and so far there has been no violence.

Supporters of the opposition party are obviously joyful beyond belief.  This article veers a tad negatory towards the end, especially with John Kerry's "little aberrations" statement, the murder of the electoral management dude, and Kenyatta's strong political rhetoric.  Yet, the fact that the new vote is happening at all is certainly novel and newsworthy.


Kenya Supreme Court Nullifies Presidential Election, Orders New Vote 

Kenya's Supreme Court has invalidated the result of last month's contentious presidential election and ordered a new vote, the first time in Africa that a court has nullified the re-election of a sitting leader.

The court upheld a petition by opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who said the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta on August 8 was fraudulent.

"The presidential election was not conducted in accordance with the constitution, rendering the declared results invalid, null, and void," Chief Justice David Maraga said, ordering fresh elections within 60 days.

In a decision that surprised many observers, including Odinga and his supporters, four out of six justices agreed with opposition arguments that the electoral commission committed irregularities invalidating the vote.  It also raised questions for international monitors, who had declared the election fair.

Odinga appeared jubilant as he welcomed what he called a "precedent-setting ruling."

"For the first time in the history of African democratization, a ruling has been made by a court nullifying the election of a president," he said.  "This indeed is a very historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension the people of the continent of Africa."

In a televised address to the nation Friday, Kenyatta said he would respect the ruling.

"I disagree with it because as I've said, millions of Kenyans queued, made their choice, and six people have decided that they will go against the will of the people," he said.

Kenyatta said his primary message was for all Kenyans to keep the peace.  "Your neighbor will still be your neighbor regardless of whatever has happened," he said.  "Regardless of their political affiliation, regardless of their religion, regardless of their color, regardless of their tribe."

But on Saturday, Kenyatta criticized the ruling, the chief justice, and the judicial system.

"Every time we do something, a judge comes out and places an injunction.  It can't go on like this," Kenyatta said before members of his party in a 30-minute televised speech from his official residence.

Kenya has "a problem" with its judiciary that must be fixed, he said.

"Maraga thinks he can overturn the will of the people," Kenyatta said.  "We shall show you in 60 days that the will of the people cannot be overturned by one or two individuals."

As news of the court's decision spread, cheers and celebrations could be heard in parts of the capital, Nairobi.  In its Kibera slum, an opposition stronghold where some post-election violence erupted last month, hundreds of supporters danced and sang in the streets, some chanting "Uhuru Must Go!"

"It does mean a lot to me.  I am sure Kenya will be at a better place.  I am really happy about the decision," Roseyln Aoko told CNN.

"I am really happy about today.  I have not even had lunch since I heard the results," said Margaret Akinyi, 36.

But it's not yet clear if the ruling will spark public protests.

Although Kenya's 2013 election was mainly peaceful, the country plunged into widespread violence in the aftermath of the 2007 vote.  More than 1,000 people were killed in months of bloodshed after Odinga -- defeated by then-President Mwai Kibaki -- claimed the vote was rigged.

After Kenyatta was declared the winner last month by 54% to 45% over Odinga, sporadic violence erupted in some areas, claiming the lives of at least 24 people.

Odinga is a longtime challenger who has yet to claim the presidency.  Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya's founding father, has already served one five-year term.

Kenyatta's lead counsel, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, said in court that his client wanted to see the full judgment to understand how the alleged irregularities would "obliterate" his winning margin of 1.4 million votes.

"My Lord, it's obvious, and I'm not afraid to say, that this is a very political decision you have made this morning, but we will live with the consequences," Abdullahi said.  He added that the will of the people would prevail.

The court has not yet published its full written ruling explaining why the election was invalid but has 60 days to do so.

One of the most contested aspects of the election was the apparent discrepancy between the electronic results as transmitted and the manual count.

The head of Kenya's electoral body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, suggested that discrepancy was the basis for the court's ruling.

"The focus of the decision is in the transmission of presidential results.  Therefore there were no aspersions cast on the voting and the counting of the votes," Chairman Wafula Chebukati said.

Chebukati said the commission was committed to ensuring that the new election "is done in accordance with the constitution, the relevant laws" and urged the prosecution of any staffer found to have broken the law.  He also said he had no plans to step down.

"The commission urges all Kenyans to remain calm and restrain themselves from any political rhetoric that may undermine the stability and cohesion of our country," he said.

In his address after the ruling, Odinga said he had "no faith" in the electoral commission.  "They have committed criminal acts.  Most of them actually belong in jail and, therefore, we are going to ask prosecution for all the electoral commission officials who have committed this monstrous crime against the people of Kenya."

Speaking later at a rally, he also condemned international election monitors.

"With this courageous verdict, we put on trial the international observers who moved so fast to sanitize fraud.  Their role must be examined as it is highly politicized and currently puts status quo and stability ahead of a credible election," he said.

Amnesty International's country director for Kenya, Justus Nyang'aya, said the "ruling demonstrates the independence of Kenya's judiciary and sets an example for the rest of the world."  He urged all parties to comply with the judgment and called on police to exercise restraint in their handling of celebrations or protests.

Most of the demonstrators in last month's post-election were supporters of Odinga, who had called the vote rigged.  National election officials dismissed the accusations, however, saying it was free and credible.

More than 400 international election monitors were deployed across the country to monitor voting, the tallying process and the post-election period.

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, an election observer for the Carter Center, said then that the election was not rigged despite "little aberrations here and there."

In one unexplained incident, the head of information technology for Kenya's Integrated Electoral Management System, Chris Msando, was found slain days before the vote.  His department is responsible for voter-identification and result-transmission technology.

Any unrest in Kenya could have ripple effects far beyond the nation of 47 million people.

As the largest economy in East Africa, Kenya is a crucial trade route to the continent and provides an important buffer of stability in a region that includes the fledgling Somali government and the politically tense Sudan and South Sudan.

Trading on Kenya's stock exchange, the Nairobi Securities Exchange, was briefly suspended following the ruling but has since resumed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

News from Our Neighbors to the North

Horror From Human Rights Watch: August 27, 2017

Kenya: Post-Election Killings, Abuse; Investigation of Police Use of Excessive Force; Upholding the Right to Peaceful Protest

(Nairobi) – Kenya's presidential election on August 8, 2017 was marred by serious human rights violations, including unlawful killings and beatings by police during protests and house-to-house operations in western Kenya, Human Rights Watch said today.  At least 12 people were killed and over 100 badly injured.

Kenyan authorities should urgently investigate the crimes, and ensure that officers found to have used excessive force are held to account.

"The brutal crackdown on protesters and residents in the western counties, part of a pattern of violence and repression in opposition strongholds, undermined the national elections," said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.  "People have a right to protest peacefully, and Kenyan authorities should urgently put a stop to police abuse and hold those responsible to account."

Human Rights Watch conducted research in western Kenya during and after the election.  Researchers interviewed 43 people, including victims of police beatings and shootings, in Kisumu and Siaya counties; examined bodies in mortuaries in Kisumu and Siaya counties; and visited victims at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (Russia Hospital) in Kisumu.

On August 11, following the announcement of Uhuru Kenyatta's victory at the polls, opposition supporters in Nairobi, the Coast, and the western counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, and Homabay protested with chants of "Uhuru Must Go."  Police responded in many areas with excessive force, shooting and beating protesters in Nairobi and western Kenya or carrying out abusive house-to-house operations.

On August 12, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reported that the police had killed at least 24 people nationwide, including one in Kisumu and 17 in Nairobi.  The number is most likely much higher, as Kenyan media were slow in reporting on the violence, and families have been afraid to speak out.

Mild protests and political tensions surfaced in parts of western Kenya and Nairobi on August 9, following allegations by the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, that the electoral commission's system had been hacked and polling results manipulated in favor of Kenyatta.  The protests intensified on August 11, when the electoral commission declared Kenyatta the winner.  Odinga has challenged the results in court, with the verdict due by September 1.

In western Kenya, police fired teargas canisters and water cannons to disperse protesters, who threw stones and other crude objects back at the police.  Protesters also blocked roads with stones and burned tires, and lit fires on the roads.

On August 11 and 12, police carried out house-to-house operations.  Residents said that police asked for any men in the house and beat or shot them.  Police also fired teargas canisters and water cannons in residential areas.  Human Rights Watch confirmed through multiple sources that police killed at least 10 people, including a 6-month-old baby, in Kisumu county alone.  In neighboring Siaya county, police fatally shot a protester near the town of Siaya and beat a 17-year-old boy to death in the outskirts of Ugunja, as they pursued crowds of protesters into the villages.  Human Rights Watch found no evidence that protesters were armed or acted in a manner that could justify the use of such force. 

In the town of Kisumu, hospital staff and county government officials confirmed that at least 100 people, mostly men, were seriously injured in the beatings and shootings.  Many others did not go to a hospital for treatment for fear of being further targeted or arrested.  As of August 17, at least 92 people with serious injuries, including three women who said police raped them, had not sought any medical help, according to Edris Omondi, the chairperson of the makeshift Kisumu county Disaster Management Center that was registering those affected by the violence and police abuses. 

Residents of Obunga, Nyalenda, Nyamasaria, Arina, Kondele, and Manyatta neighborhoods in Kisumu told Human Rights Watch that during the house-to-house operations, officers broke down doors; beat residents; stole money, phones, and television sets; and sexually harassed women.  Many town residents fled to a nearby school for the night, only to return to find their possessions looted, presumably by police.  Police denied any role in the looting and claimed that criminals were responsible. 

On August 12, the acting cabinet secretary for interior and coordination of the national government, Dr. Fred Matiang'i, denied that police used live bullets or excessive force against protesters and blamed criminals for looting.  "Some criminal elements took advantage of the situation to loot property," he said.  "The police responded and normalcy has returned in the affected areas.  The right to demonstrate should be carried out in a peaceful manner and without destroying property."

International law and Kenya's own constitution protect the right to freedom of assembly and expression, and prohibit excessive use of force by law enforcement officials.  The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms say that law enforcement officials should use force only in proportion to the seriousness of the offense, and the intentional use of lethal force is permitted only when strictly unavoidable to protect life. 

The principles also say that governments should ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense.  Superior officers should be held responsible if they knew, or should have known, that personnel under their command resorted to the unlawful use of force and firearms, but did not take all measures in their power to prevent, suppress, or report such use. 

Kenyan police have a long history of using excessive force against protesters, especially in the western counties such as Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, and Homabay, where Odinga has had solid support for over 20 years.  In the 2007 post-election violence, during which more than 1,100 people were killed, most of the more than 400 people shot by police were in the Nyanza region, which includes those counties. 

In 2013, Human Rights Watch documented at least 5 cases of apparently unlawful police killings of demonstrators in Kisumu protesting a Supreme Court decision that affirmed Kenyatta's election as president.  And in June 2016, police killed at least 5 and wounded another 60 demonstrators in Kisumu, Homabay, and Siaya counties who called for the firing of electoral commission officials implicated in cases of corruption abroad. 

Yet, accountability for police abuses has been sorely missing, Human Rights Watch said. 

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), a civilian police accountability institution, has investigated many abuses in the Nyanza region.  In September 2016, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions opened a public inquest into the 2013 police shootings in Kisumu.  But these efforts have not resulted in any prosecutions of the police officers implicated in what appeared to be unlawful killings and maiming of protesters in western Kenya. 

The government of Kenya should publicly acknowledge and condemn any and all recent unlawful and unnecessary police killings and shootings, Human Rights Watch said.  Donors to the Kenyan government should support police accountability systems, particularly the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, in investigating the recent violence and releasing their findings to the public. 

"With tensions still running high as the country awaits the court's decision on the opposition's petition, Kenyan authorities need to be vigilant in preventing more police abuses and upholding the right to peaceful protest," Namwaya said.  "Kenyans should be able to express their grievances without being beaten or killed by police."

Post-Election Police Operations 
On August 8, Kenya held its second presidential election since the disputed 2007 election that resulted in violence in which more than 1,100 people were killed and another 650,000 displaced.  Within hours after the initial results started streaming live on television on August 9, 2017, but before the electoral commission announced Uhuru Kenyatta's victory, the leading opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, expressed concerns that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) server had been hacked and presidential results that were streaming in had been manipulated. 

Following these allegations and the August 11 declaration that Kenyatta had won, opposition supporters in the capital, Nairobi, in western Kenya, and in parts of the coastal region took to the streets in protest.  Victims and witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Kenyan police responded violently, hurling teargas canisters and water cannons in residential areas and using lethal fire. 

Human Rights Watch interviewed 43 people in Kisumu and Siaya counties about the events, including, among others, victims and witnesses. 

On August 11 and 12, according to victims of police beatings and witnesses to the events, police conducted house-to-house operations in the town of Kisumu, using lethal fire against unarmed protesters, violently storming into homes at night, looking for and beating mainly men, extorting money, stealing electronic goods, and in some cases raping women.  In Siaya county, police dispersed crowds of protesters at market centers along Kisumu's Busia Road and pursued them into villages, throwing teargas into homes and beating residents. 

Killings by Police in Kisumu and Siaya Counties 
Human Rights Watch interviewed family members and witnesses to at least 12 killings by police, 10 in Kisumu county and two in neighboring Siaya county, in the former Nyanza region of western Kenya.  Some occurred as police tried to suppress protests, but others occurred during house-to-house operations or in places with no protests. 

While some victims were protesters, others were not and were either caught up in the violence or attacked inside their homes.  A 33-year-old man from the Obunga neighborhood said police found him and friends standing outside his house on the morning of August 12, and started shooting at them without talking to them.  "They arrived in a Land Cruiser that was followed in the air by a helicopter and they just started firing at us.  They did not even want to know what we were doing outside my house.  We had to run for dear life."

In Kisumu county, Human Rights Watch saw six bodies that witnesses described as victims of police shootings and beatings, four of them in the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital, also known as the Russia Hospital, mortuary.  Two young men in their teens from the Nyaori area had gunshot wounds.  A witness said that police came into the homes of the two teens, Onyango Otieno and Ochieng Gogo, on the morning of August 12, beat them, then told them to run away and shot them in the back.  "As they were running away, police shot them at the back and took their bodies away."

According to relatives and witnesses, two others died from police beatings on the night of August 11 in the Kondele area.  Lennox Ochieng, a 27-year-old man, was beaten to death by police in his house in the Kondele neighborhood.  Another body, described in hospital records as "unknown male alias Kimoko," had bullet wounds, but witnesses could not describe the circumstances of his death. 

Another victim, 35-year-old David Ochieng, was shot while he was protesting on the night of August 11.  An acquaintance who was with him during protests said he saw police shoot him around 11pm as he threw stones at the police.  "The bullet went through his right ear and came out through the other side," the acquaintance said.  "He could not talk at the time we took him to hospital but he could communicate through signs.  He gave us the phone contacts of his next of kin by writing in the air using signs."  Ochieng died in the hospital on the morning of August 13. 

6-month-old Samantha Pendo was another victim.  Eyewitnesses told researchers that on August 11, police violently attacked her family, kicking, slapping, and beating with gun butts and batons everyone in the house, including the baby.  A nurse at Aga Khan Hospital said that the baby had a fractured skull and was in critical condition.  The baby died in the hospital on August 16. 

Police carried out the house-to-house operations in Kisumu, as well as villages in Kisumu and Siaya counties.  Residents of the village of Dago said that on the night of August 11, police officers attached to the Dago police post, 25 kilometers north of Kisumu, started firing at villagers strolling on the road, unaware of the protests in other parts of Kisumu.  In the process, they said a police officer shot 21-year-old Vincent Omondi Ochieng, who was working with Elections Observations Group (ELOG), a Kenyan organization that has observed the past two elections. 

"Vincent and his younger uncle were returning from watching a football game at a few minutes past midnight when police officers, who were hiding at Bar Union Primary School, started shooting at them," said his aunt, who lived nearby.  "His uncle told us that Vincent was on phone and the first two shots startled him and he fell.  It was the third shot that killed him."  Human Rights Watch researchers observed the bullet wound in his chest in the heart area. 

While Human Rights Watch confirmed the killings described above, the death toll in Kisumu county could be higher.  Many witnesses and family members were afraid of speaking up or even going to the hospital, while others said they could not immediately establish the whereabouts of their relatives. 

In Kisumu's Nyamasaria neighborhood, for example, witnesses and relatives of a young man who was shot dead near Well Petrol Station on the night of August 11 declined to be interviewed out of fear of victimization.  In Nyalenda, a family said it could not trace two young men three days after initial protests.  In Siaya county, demonstrations also turned violent as police dispersed protesters and carried out search operations in the villages.  Evidence given to Human Rights Watch suggests that police killed two young men. 

In Siaya county, relatives and two witnesses said that on August 12, police beat to death 17-year-old Kennedy Juma Otieno, after pursuing him from Kisumu's Busia Road, where they had dispersed protesters with teargas.  Human Rights Watch and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights members saw his body in the Sega Mission Hospital Mortuary in Siaya county.  His hand, head, and face were swollen. 

Relatives and a witness said that police shot and killed Zacchaeus Okoth, a 21-year-old man from Anduro village, Siaya county, on the night of August 11, as the police used teargas and live bullets to disperse crowds of protesters after the announcement of Kenyatta's victory. 

Beatings of Protesters and Residents in Kisumu 
On the night Kenyatta was declared the winner, the electricity went off in some parts of Kisumu, plunging residential areas into darkness just as police began door-to-door operations that targeted mainly men for attacks, according to victims of beatings interviewed by Human Rights Watch.  At least 100 people were injured by gunshots and beatings. 

A police officer in Kisumu said that a combined team of officers from various police units, such as the General Service Unit, Quick Response Team of the Administration Police, Border Patrol, Special Crime Prevention Unit, and Kenya Wildlife Service were responsible for the operations.  The officers were drawn from several counties and were ferried to Kisumu neighborhoods days before the announcement of presidential results.  Plainclothes officers, whom Kisumu residents suspected to be from the directorate of criminal investigations, swarmed the neighborhoods before the demonstrations started. 

Multiple witnesses, including those who said they were victims of police beatings in Nyamasaria, Arina, Kondele, Manyatta, and Car Wash neighborhoods, said police responded to the "Uhuru Must Go" chant with teargas and gunfire.  They said police dispersed with teargas any groups of more than three people, even people who were not protesters.  International human rights law and Kenya's constitution guarantee the right of peaceful assembly. 

House-to-house operations began soon after the electricity went off.  A 32-year-old father of two and resident of Nyalenda said, "Police started throwing teargas in the neighborhood, sometimes even in the houses, and shooting."

At 11am on August 12, according to witnesses, police carried out a door-to-door operation in Arina estate, beating men and children, and sexually harassing women.  A 17-year-old high school student said she was among a group of people the police beat that day for no reason.  "I was in the house with my younger brother when police kicked the door open and started beating and stepping on me.  They then went to the neighbor where they beat a lady there and her brother."

Police raided the home of a 35-year-old freelance photographer in Obunga estate and beat him severely.  "They broke into my house and started beating me.  They were hitting mainly the joints – knees, shoulders, arms, head, and back.  They stepped on me for a while and then left me lying there, unable to walk.  They broke my rib."

Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 victims of police beatings and gunshot injuries during the protests and during house-to-house operations in Kisumu alone. 

From the hospital records, at least 27 people with injuries were admitted at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (Russia Hospital) on August 11 and 12.  On August 17, officials of a makeshift Disaster Management Center told Human Rights Watch that they had registered an additional 92 victims of police beatings and shootings who were yet to seek treatment at any hospital due to fear of reprisal. 

Edris Omondi, the head of Disaster Management Center, said, "Some of them have very serious injuries like broken legs, arms, and ribs.  Others cannot walk or eat at all and they will need urgent medical attention."

Extortion and Theft from Kisumu Residents  
Many witnesses said the police broke into their houses and demanded money or simply stole money and electronic items. 

In Arina, a 30-year-old woman said that on August 12, police took Ksh5,000 (US$50) from her and another Ksh2,000 (US$19) from her brother.  A 15-year-old girl in Arina said that on the same day police kicked the door to their house open and started beating her with gun butts and batons, and stepping on her.  The officers took Ksh2,200 (US$21) meant for buying charcoal and food. 

In Obunga neighborhood, many families fled the harassment and beatings to seek refuge at Kudho Primary School on the night of August 11.  Many said that when they returned home, they found electronics such as radio receivers and television sets, and money missing, and presumed that police were responsible. 

Those who reported the theft to the nearest police stations in Kondele, Nyamasaria, and Obunga said police were unwilling to investigate and said that thieves had stolen the goods. 

"Police are telling us that it was the thieves who stole our items from the houses," said a mother of three from Nyamasaria.  "But which thieves were these when everyone had either run away, was writhing in pain and unable to walk, or dead?"