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Pastoral Shoot-Outs by Stephen Mbogo (12/03)

On a normal morning in March 2001, hundreds of young men from the Pokot ethnic group in Kenya, armed with small arms, violently attacked neighboring Marakwet villages. The raiders left 47 people dead, stole livestock, and burned an estimated 300 homes. Officials minimized the raid as part of traditional practice. 

The story was much the same in 1999, when up to 1000 men, also presumably Pokot, killed dozens, including 28 women and 15 children under 12, at a Kenyan market. The raiders fled with cattle, goats, and donkeys. read more

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Tiomin Resources: a controversial mining in Kenya (06/01)

At least a quarter of the half million people who live in Kenya’s Kwale district, near the Indian Ocean coast, eventually may be evicted to make way for a controversial mining project by the Canadian firm Tiomin Resources Inc. The rest, and others living along the coast, could face significant health risks due to the toxic emissions associated with titanium mining.

As controversy rages, Kenya’s government is caught between pleasing the company and remaining accountable to its citizens. The standoff also pits the government and Tiomin Kenya Limited, the Kenyan subsidiary of the Canadian firm, against local and international environmental groups. The critics include farmers, the Coast Mining Forum, Action Aid (Kenya), Muslims for Human Rights, Coastwatch, Environment Trust of Kenya, and coastal leaders. read more

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Overlooking Genocide (9/99)

The wide-spread and systematic abuses of human rights carried out by the current National Islamic Front (NIF) government in Sudan are well-documented. Most of what is reported by international human rights organizations concerns the extensive abuses, including genocide and slavery, that have occurred in the war-torn areas of southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains.

These horrors certainly deserve the attention that they have received. But the NIF government has pursued similar policies with equally brutal results in other parts of Sudan, and these cases have been covered in only the most cursory manner. A glaring example is the brutalities meted out on the Massaleit people of Western Sudan, a campaign in which thousands have been killed and tens of thousands more forced to flee into neighboring Chad. read more

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Clerical Imposters (8/99)

In the days of ragtag freebooters like "mad" Mike Hoare, Jacques Schramm, and Bob Denaed, the term "Dogs of War" had a romantic ring. Some White mercenaries fighting in Africa’s many conflicts even wore it as a badge of honor. But the old image of this once "dark continent" is changing fast with the persistent calls for transparency in all aspects of international relations. Yet, even though foreign mercenaries have curbed their barks and claim they’re now only guard dogs, they remain among the continent’s most detested instruments of instability and carnage. read more

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South Africa’s Mad Science (6/99)

Even James Bond would have been shocked to walk into the secret laboratories of the former South African White minority regime not so long ago. He would have seen some of the country’s best and most experienced scientists developing an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons to be used against the Black opponents of apartheid.

One of these "mad" scientists, Dr. Wouter Basson, faces 64 charges, including 16 counts of murder and 24 counts of fraud. His trial is scheduled to start October 4 in Pretoria’s High Court and could last two years. The South African National Defence Force will foot his legal bills. read more

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Inside the TRC (6/99)

The Jakaranda trees were in full bloom in late October when I arrived in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, as part of a massive media contingent covering the national event of the decade – the hand over of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) final report to President Nelson Mandela. The purple flowers, like the customary garb of the TRC’s illustrious chairperson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, seemed to overwhelm everything.

Unlike most other journalists – pampered, pompous, and jockeying for position in this earth-moving event – I was tired and disoriented from a 19-hour bus ride, and still recovering from almost three years in the cauldron of the TRC Investigative Unit. Nevertheless, I was eager to see what the commission would release as the product of all our work. I didn’t really doubt that it would "do the right thing," yet I wasn’t certain exactly how the report would look when unveiled to the world. And I couldn’t forget the deep, almost soul-destroying battles which had been waged behind the scenes. read more