Catcalling: Two Sides to the Story?

In my previous article “Compliment or Catcall”, I addressed the issues of catcalling, why it is done, why it shouldn’t happen, and its effects on women. Which made me wonder-what happens when the roles are reversed and women are catcalling men?

Do men like the attention and respond positively to it, or do they feel objectified and uncomfortable like many women do?

Earlier this year, a shopping mall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, reported 16 cases of sexual harassment of men by women, prompting outrage in the conservative kingdom. Men were followed around the mall and catcalled in a growing trend that is challenging gender roles in the Middle Eastern kingdom. Many said the women should be punished severely, to ensure that this kind of behaviour doesn’t happen again. According to one male shopper, “Women harass men verbally for emotional enticement, especially if the man is handsome.” This issue was unexpected. However, the amount of sexual harassment of women and girls still vastly overshadows the limited harassment of men, and we don’t see that being brought to light every time it happens.

Malaika Norman, a high school student from Nairobi has an opinion on this issue. She brings up an interesting idea about where this double-standard might stem from: “Some men are hypocritical in the way they do things. The same men that you will find catcalling women are the same men that if you ask ‘What if someone did this to your mother, sister, etc?’, they will be against it, as they see clearly it is disrespectful and that a woman is not to be objectified. Yet they are the same people who still do it. Does it start from the way boys are raised? And how does that play into their actions now? Shouldn’t boys [and girls] be taught to be respectful and understanding human beings in general? As the one time a woman stands up for the disrespect that men of this class dish out, we are rude, bossy, crazy feminists.”

Many social experiments have been performed in order to uncover what men think and feel about catcalling. In videos titled “Sons React to Their Moms Getting Catcalled”, “Dads React to Their Daughters Getting Catcalled” and “Men React to Their Girlfriends Getting Catcalled,” we see that the issue can hit close to home, and that most males did not like it when those close to them were victims of this disrespect. However, catcalling shouldn’t only become disturbing when it happens to someone’s mother, daughter, sister or girlfriend. Shining a light on the commonness of street harassment women experience on a daily basis (often when a male friend or loved one isn’t around) can have a powerful impact.

In other social experiments, such as “The Shame Game”, we see that flipping round catcalling doesn’t quite work in the same way. The reactions that the women conducting the experiment get ranged from confused to amused, and – unfortunately – the men seemed to like it.

So, women are in a conundrum; it is hard to explain the combination of shame and being “creeped out” that comes with frequent objectification, especially when you are trying to explain the experience to the opposite sex, and if most people of the opposite sex (i.e. men) seem to like it.

Ivan Coyote, a transgender activist, has a message for men who don’t understand that a woman’s existence in public is not an invitation for male attention. “Just leave her alone,” Coyote wrote in a status on Facebook. “She is wearing her headphones AND reading her book at the bus stop. What part of that says ‘I want to talk to you?’ She’s not dressed up for you…She doesn’t want to smile. She knows she looks good.”

So when in doubt, people of public spaces, just follow Coyote’s advice: “Just leave her alone.” We need more people to spread the word and understand this simple message. You might like catcalling and being catcalled, but that doesn’t mean others feel the same way.



The African Dream:Tradition, Federation and Independence

Pan-Africanism is an ideology that encourages solidarity between African people. This mindset encourages the unification of all Africans – this is a very powerful idea. We, as African people, are called to stand together and build one another up for the mutual benefit of the entire continent.

Africa has been globally labelled as the world’s poorest continent; in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than 218 million people live in extreme poverty.  Africa is also known to be the wealthiest continent, full of natural resources. This creates a paradox between extreme potential and extreme poverty. The continent also boasts the highest birthrate, and has the fastest growing economies and one of the best mobile phone markets in the world, second only to Asia.

Africa’s modern history has been defined by oppression from colonial powers that fragmented various communities and social groups. This caused incredibly weak infrastructures, resulting in an enormous dependence on foreign aid from the West, despite each country’s claim of independence. Why are the countries of Africa still in isolation and still reliant on the West after several decades of independence? According to Pan-African theory, it’s because we are trying to run on a non-African model. Under this model, each fragment of Africa is attempting to survive, while facing very high odds, alone. A Pan-African state would not only stand together politically, but share militaristic and economic goals. “If we were able to work together as a continent we wouldn’t have to rely on the West to help us process our resources”, Njeri Thuo – a high school student in Nairobi – stated when asked about the idea of Pan-Africanism.

With all things considered, a “United States of Africa” is an amazing idea that can only become a reality if we adopt a new model of state firmly rooted in African traditions and ways. Many Pan-Africans blame Western government transplanted to Africa as the root of some of the major problems on the continent. Mwayila Tshiyembe, a firm believer of inventing a multinational Africa, states that the failure of the post-colonial state reflects a questioning of the will to coexist, and a loss of purpose and direction. The nations (or ethnic groups) are in fundamental disagreement about the community’s basic values. How are we to define a free society, authority that is properly conferred and shared, and law that seems to come naturally? State and society seem to have been in conflict ever since Africa’s plurinational societies saw their own model destroyed to make way for an enforced Western caricature.”

If the various nations in Africa could see one another as comrades rather than competitors, and help each other destroy problems such as corruption, we could stomp out poverty and civil unrest. We shouldn’t look to the West to solve problems that are specific to us. We shouldn’t look to adopt forms of government from other civilizations, but rather create various forms of government that work for us – and perhaps only us. As different African countries, we shouldn’t accept the hiring of other nations to build our countries up to their standards. We should understand that we are different, and that because we are different, we need to do something different. 


Uber in Nairobi: The Death of the Taxi?

Uber launched in Kenya in late January. Its efficiency and convenience has quickly made the Uber concept popular across the world. But, for Nairobi, is Uber truly better than getting a taxi?

Most people would argue that Uber, compared to regular taxi services, is safer and more secure to ride. According to Alude, an Uber driver, “If an Uber driver decides to do something bad to a client, he can easily be traced through the system, so if you complain they will go through the record and find out who picked the personage and catch him.” Therefore, with the existence of a system, personal safety is almost guaranteed. Taxi drivers, on the other hand, don’t have a system that monitors their actions. The only thing that control them is morality. This doesn’t imply that all taxi drivers will take advantage of these lax roles. but most people are afraid of uncertainty, especially since Africa is often seen by the outside world as “unsafe”.

Another argument that people propose in favour of Uber is that it is more affordable than taking a taxi. However, experiences may call this idea into question. If an individual lives in Kileleshwa, next to Valley-Arcade in Nairobi, it will cost about 1,250 Kenya Shilling, or $12.50 to travel to the Gigiri area. This is around 250 shilling (or $2.50) more expensive than travelling by taxi. Uber’s price is determined by distance, and therefore if an Uber car gets stuck in a traffic jam it cam become unprofitable for the driver; as a result, often the criver will opt to take the longer route. This will increase the cost to the rider. However, since the route is ultimately up to the driver, the price does fluctuate. Because Uber uses shilling per kilometer, it becomes hard for passengers to correctly analyze how much the ride should cost. Most passengers don’t have a clear idea how far away their destination is, or how long it will take.

Having this in mind, Taxi’s are a different story. Since Uber uses a phone app to decide the final price, it’s very hard for passenger to bargain over the cost. In the case of a taxi, everything is negotiable. When the passenger arrives at the destination he or she can usually negotiate the price of the ride. Thus the decision is in the hands of the passenger as well as the driver. It can result in a good bargain for the rider.

Convenience is another factor. Uber is very convenient within Nairobi, but it only operates in Nairobi proper. So if a passenger wants to travel to Naivasha (a city outside Nairobi city limits), it would be difficult with Uber. This said, a taxi driver can drive a passenger to areas outside Nairobi such as Naivasha and Kisumu without any issue.

In general, the decision that a client needs to make between Uber or traditional taxis depends on the situation. The two main factors to consider are distance and how familiar you are with Nairobi. If you just want to travel within Nairobi and you are not familiar with any taxi driver, Uber is safer. But if you have lived in Nairobi for some time and are acquainted with a few taxi drivers, then taxis are the better choice. And, if you want to travel outside Nairobi, taxi are the only viable option.

Is Nairobi ready for the Uber movement? Most definitely! But does it mark the end of the taxi business? In my opinion, absolutely not. What do you think Nairobians?

Ivory Inferno

The Ivory Trade is nothing new to us; it has been going on for centuries. Novels have been written about it and speeches have been made in bid to stop it, but poachers seem to always have a way to obtain ivory. Security is never enough. Today, we know the Ivory Trade to be the commercial, illegal trade of the ivory tusks of – most commonly – Asian and African elephants. Ivory has been valued since ancient times for such things as manufacturing, art, false teeth, fans, and dominoes.

Poachers are now slaughtering up to 35,000 of the estimated 500,000 African elephants every year for their tusks. With a pound of ivory fetching as much as $1,500 on the black market, and the rhino horn raising as much as £54million ($80 million) – more than gold or cocaine – it is obviously a problem of massive proportions.

It is absolutely sickening that poaching continues, and that innocent animals are being decimated for their ivory, only for pieces made of this substance to end up as dusty trinkets on shelves of wealthy people that will forget about them eventually or sell at a higher price.

On Saturday 30th April 2016, ivory from about 8,000 dead elephants went up in thick smoke. Twelve towering piles of ivory – £68m ($100m) worth – were incinerated in Kenya’s Nairobi National Park. Lighting the fire to what has been described as “the world’s largest stockpile of ivory and rhino horns” confiscated from smugglers and poachers, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta demanded a total ban on ivory in order to end the ‘murderous’ trafficking. The event marked the nation’s fourth such burn, raising awareness about the importance of protecting animals and rejecting illicit business at their expense. This symbolic act shows Kenya’s stance on wildlife poaching. “From a Kenyan perspective, we’re not watching any money go up in smoke,” Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Kitili Mbathi said. “The only value of the ivory is tusks on a live elephant.”

While the burns are setting records, conservationist groups have noted that there’s still more work to. And Kenya is seeking a total worldwide ban on ivory sales when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets in South Africa later this year, as poaching poses an increasing risk to the species.

Celebrities, including actress Kristin Davis, attended the event to show support. Representing the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a Kenyan organization that rescues orphaned baby elephants, she said: “It’s very sad to see so much ivory in one place. I have no doubt that tusks from mothers of some of the orphaned baby elephants are in those piles.”

I was sadly not able to attend this event, but Rhea Chakrabarti, student and member of the “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign managed to witness the spectacle. When asked about her thoughts on the event she replied, “When I was confronted by the 105 tons of ivory stacked up awaiting cremation, it was simply too much to take in. It baffled me how the ivory was stacked in a way that made it seem so beautiful. The tusks had writings on them, their weight and location -the little things. The pyres of ivory represented the lives of 8000 elephants. 8000 elephants. It’s disgusting just saying that…The ivory burning might seem controversial, but being there compared to nothing else I have experienced – it was beautiful and heartbreaking. Our government and many different organizations stood together for one common goal: to not let this happen again. The ivory burning was a step in the right direction for Kenya, [and] it sent a well-needed message to poachers, and hopefully next year there will be nowhere as close to the amount of ivory that was poached.”

Kenya’s ivory is not for sale! This trade means death – of both our elephants and natural heritage. I am a proud Kenyan living in this beautiful country, and I am proud that our country took a stand for its elephants and sent a message – one that I hope that transforms into action.

Who Writes History? The Gender Gap

Is the significance of women’s roles throughout the course of history diminished in education? Some people claim that history was written primarily by men and for men. Few of the textbooks used in history education are written or edited by women. And yet, there are groups that still disagree with the opinion that there is gender bias in today’s history classrooms. They hold to the opinion that many of the leaders in the past were men and it is therefore natural for these curricula to focus more attention on men than women.

It is important to remember that written history is not based only on facts, but also on the views of those who write it. Furthermore, our perception of what has happened in our past is important because it is reflected in how we experience the present. The way we see the role of women in history, therefore, does matter in the current debates concerning gender equality.

In speaking with some students at my school, Rosslyn Academy, opinions varied on the perception (or lack thereof) regarding gender bias in history education. I posed the question “In your experience, do you believe that there is gender bias in history education?” to ten girls and ten boys. Interestingly, seven out of the ten girls thought that the history education they receive shows gender bias, whereas only two out of the ten boys think so. Boys, generally, did not seem to see anything problematic in the history they’ve been taught, while girls answered very differently.

Johanna French, a history teacher at Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi, says that her history teachers and professors of both genders were intentional in talking about women in history. I asked her about the books she uses in her classes, which I have noticed to contain quite a few documents and statements made by women, and she said “The books are good and also [intentionally] include women, but sometimes you still need other sources and documentaries that shed more light on women’s perspectives and experiences.”

Textbooks used in schools are not always the most recently updated versions, and the process for bringing in new research findings to the school education seems to be a slow process. Ms. French also says that “so much of history has been written by men that sometimes little attention is given to women acknowledging what they have done [throughout history] – including being some of the first writers and scribes in ancient Sumer and Mesopotamia. An interesting event in the US this week was about the idea of putting women on the new US dollar bills – like Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt.” Evidently, people are opening their eyes to the roles that women have played throughout recorded history, and their importance in the stories we tell. However, a large part of history seems to be seen through men’s eyes.

What are some possible effects of a skewed perception of history? Perhaps there is a fine line between historical accuracy (because human history is dominated by men) and the diminishing of women’s roles. What we can hope for is further development of history education, and a greater diversity among the people working with it. Only then, perhaps, can the stories of our world’s women be told.

Pride vs. Pride: Lions in Nairobi

The continent of Africa is known for its diverse wildlife, and among this wildlife roam the kings of the jungle – the lions. However, the lion population in Africa has declined by more than 40 percent in the last two decades, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

On the 19th of February 2016, six lions caused panic on the streets of Nairobi after escaping from the Nairobi National Wildlife Park the previous night. It wasn’t clear what path they took to sneak out of the park and enter residential areas. The lions were first spotted at 4 a.m. Friday near a hospital in Langata, and later near Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udoto said. Officials urged vigilance and warned residents to call a toll-free number if they spotted the big cats. The rangers scoured the bush and agricultural land searching for the pride on the loose to return them to the park, but the big cats were later spotted back in the park, having made their own way “home”. 

On March 18th, another stray lion clawed and injured a 63-year-old man on Nairobi’s Mombasa Road. The man has since been discharged from hospital, and the lion has been captured safely.

Then, on March 30th, things took a turn for the worse, as Kenyan rangers killed a lion that pounced on a man in a crowd after it escaped the park. The man, who was hospitalized with deep lacerations, had joined hundreds of noisy bystanders surrounding the animal. In order to save lives, as the “last resort”, rangers shot it to death as the animal was considered a “threat to human life” before veterinarians arrived with tranquilizers. The death of Mohawk, a majestic 13-year-old big cat – so named because of the shape of his black mane – sparked an outcry among Kenyans. I am glad I got to see Mohawk several times, but am saddened by the fact that I will not see him again. Did he deserve this brutal, bloody end? Who was at fault? Bansri Joshi, a student in Nairobi, spoke the words that so many witnesses thought, “I expected the rangers to have tranquilizers to protect and disable him not kill him.” The death of an African lion is always a tragedy. Could this have been avoided?

The next morning, a 2½-year-old lion known as Lemek also found his way through the fence. Later, wildlife rangers discovered Lemek’s speared body “under a large thicket beside a dry riverbed” – evidently killed by Maasai tribesmen 12 miles south of Nairobi, the service said in a statement.

Why are lions trying to escape all of a sudden?

There are many factors that may have been contributors to this clash between humans and lions in Nairobi, but is obviously connected to the encroachment of human settlement on lion habitats, and a sharp decrease in their natural prey. The government has also started building a highway through a section of the park, agitating the animals with constant noise, affecting their behavior and leading more big cats to attempt to break free in search of quieter hunting grounds.

But wildlife tourism is also an essential foreign revenue earner for Kenya. Instead of protecting our animals that tourists come to admire, it seems like we are intruding into their habitats and homes. And as we are more powerful with our machine guns and weapons, and always put ourselves first, we will get what we want, but at the expense of possibly losing our animals. Is our own pride worth the deaths of prides of lions?

Kenyan wildlife officials, and many Kenyan citizens, enjoy the fact that Nairobi National Park is the world’s only urban wildlife range, connoting the idea that a satisfactory arrangement has been made between man and animal. But is that still true? 

The Day the World Changed – Again

On March 22, 2016, ISIS set off two explosions at the Zaventem Airport in Brussels that killed 11 and injured 300 people at 7:00 GMT near the check-in areas. An hour later, Khalid El Bakraoui caused another explosion, a suicide bomb that killed another 10 people at Maelbeek Metro Station in the same city.

On that day, I was in France, on a Spring Break cultural experience school trip. On the 23rd, we were to be travelling from Geneva to Paris, so we set out early in the morning. Once we loaded the bus, one of the French teachers informed us of the ISIS attack in Brussels. Mrs. Mithika, one of the French teachers and leaders of the group, said her initial reaction was “to pray for God’s protection over us especially because we had 21 students under our care. I also began thinking of ways to keep us all together and as safe as we could.”

My travel mates and I sat shocked by the news. There was no knowledge of the attack prior to that time because of the very limited access to the internet where we were staying. My first questions were, “Are we going to make it to Paris unharmed? And, “Is a train really the smartest way of travel?”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I had been close to a terrorist attack. On September 21, 2013, I was only a few kilometers away from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi when Al-Shabaab attacked it with bombs and guns. My brother was supposed to go to a friend’s house that day and they were going to stop by Westgate. They could have been caught in the crossfire, but due to fortunate circumstances, my brother was delayed and the family did not make it to the mall. So close. Too close for comfort.

Life now, though, seems to be different. Terrorism is part of our world. On the cultural trip, we went to see the Eiffel Tower the night we got to Paris, and found it beautifully lit with the flag of Belgium, in homage to those affected by the tragedy. After viewing the Tower, we began heading back to our bus and were stopped by a number of hawkers, coming up one by one to us trying to sell their Eiffel Tower merchandise. Then, without warning, the group of hawkers suddenly broke out into a full sprint and left us behind feeling stunned. For a few moments, time stood still. Life had changed – again – and we were not sure about this new world. What was happening?

It only took us a few moments to realize that the hawkers were only reacting to the local police presence (the hawkers apparently weren’t allowed to sell in this area), and we all broke out into nervous laughter, trying to make light of our fears. After we boarded our bus, we eventually settled in for the ride, and an uneasy silence became almost palpable. I imagine that it was our epiphany, our coming to terms with what had just happened (or didn’t happen) – we were all imagining how it would feel like to get stuck in an actual attack like that. And if it did, if we would have reacted that same way. What would it be like to wonder if we would see our families again?

Thinking back to Westgate in 2013, I can easily recall the happiness and joy in my Dad’s voice when he found out that I (and my brother) were safe, and hadn’t been at the mall during the attack. Tragically, that kind of joy will never be heard by the people who perished during the Brussels attacks. Life is different – again.

I learned, as I had learned before, a simple message: don’t take family for granted. Treasure those everyday moments. Life is a gift.


The Trump Card

The U.S. presidential race, still in its early stages, has grabbed people’s attention largely due to the fact that Donald John Trump is involved. And what initially seemed like a long shot has changed as polls show Donald Trump is currently the Republican front-runner to win the election in 2016. Would Donald Trump really make a good president?

He has become the focal point of the presidential campaign by saying outrageous and derogatory things about minorities, women and immigrants. He sometimes speaks without thinking and embarrasses himself on occasion. However there’s no denying Trump has done a good job of making himself rich and famous through his business (The Trump Organization) and his reality T.V show “The Apprentice,” – his net worth is about 4 billion USD. And with the U.S. Government currently trillions of dollars in debt, this is the sort of leader that might be able to fix the financial problems that the country faces. But is that it? What else does he have to offer as a potential president? He is a businessman. Is he a politician? Does he have what it takes to run a country?

It seems that he is trying to invoke the hidden racial / religious bias that might be rooted in the sub-conscious mind of America. Trump has now openly advocated banning Muslims from entering America. He controversially has said, “They’re not coming to this country.” He is blunt, and occasionally, his remarks can even be considered to be incredibly rude, racist, and brash.

Donald Trump is seen by many individuals of the international community as the type of leader who will deport every non-American back to “where they came from”. But is this view entirely correct? As Trump has stated, “we want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.” This statement goes to show that Donald Trump’s agenda is not to deport every non-American, but rather to remove all the illegal immigrants.

Some people also think Donald Trump will ruin the economy and destroy American-dependent countries. Tae Wuk Woo, a Korean student currently attending Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi says, “How can we not be afraid of the outcome of the US election when the United States, Wall Street in particular, has a grip on the world’s economy?” The US is a world power, and a major player in the global economy. Should the world be afraid of Trump?

The truth of the matter is that Trump does not hold such power and the world’s economy would not be held in the palm of his hands if he were to become president of the United States. Supporters of this particular candidate believe in his idea of making “America great again”, even though this is tied together with building a wall along the border between the US and Mexico. Is the building of this wall taking it a little too far?

Should internationals of non-American descent give any thought to the elections going on in the United States, knowing that Trump’s loyalty will only be to America and Americans. Making American great again will be good for American citizens, but what about countries that continue to be dependent on America and its foreign policy? Will there be any negative repercussions for the rest of the world? We can only hope that the future president – regardless of who is eventually sworn in – will not only concern himself (or herself) with American, but also will keep in mind America’s relationships with other countries too.

Hidden in Plain Sight

In the majority of African countries, homosexuality and “non-natural sexual interactions” are looked down upon by the majority of people. Here, in Kenya, homosexuality is seen as taboo, and those who are known to live this lifestyle are often met with fierce and even deadly repercussions. If a person is even accused or “outted”, he or she is subject to societal shaming, or worse. Often, they are kicked out of their house by their family, but this can be only the first stage of what will become a terrifying nightmare.  

Homosexuality is looked down upon in many African countries (including Kenya), mainly because of Kenya’s core values of maintaining culture and tradition. “Most of us grow up in traditional and cultural households, so we never truly get the chance to think about other norms because they aren’t in always in our face” declares Kanjaa Dwayne, a Kenyan national studying at the University of Barcelona. Any changes in culture, if they happen at all, take a long time to occur.

Kenya is also facing serious Western pressure to become more liberal about its stance on homosexuality, and how it works with its own homosexual community. According to many, it should be more accepting of the homosexual community.  In response to this growing pressure, a small group of Kenyan youth have begun to accept homosexuality into the society as a norm. Saleh Aahil, a student attending the International School of Kenya in Nairobi stated that Personally, [I think] accepting homosexuality as part of society does raise awareness and educate people; however, the people need to be willing to accept diversity in a way that produces a conducive society for those even that do not feel [part of it]”.

In comparison to Western countries such as the United States of America, Kenya is a very anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) nation. Western nations are more accepting of the homosexual community, and are very supportive of choices the people make. As Kenya is becoming more of an industrialized nation and begins to be influenced more and more by the West, perhaps in the future, the homosexual community might one day be seen as being equal.

The United States government sees the acceptance of homosexuality as something that can be learned over time, as indicated by President Obama during his visit to Kenya in July 2015: “I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage. But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine”.

Compared to other African countries such as Uganda, Kenya is actually quite relaxed in its treatment of the LGBT community. During an interview with CNN in 2015, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, when asked about his view on the bill passed banning homosexuality in Uganda stated that “The West must respect African society and its values.”  This statement symbolizes the ways homosexuals are often viewed in some parts of Africa. They might exist, but will never be viewed as an equal and valuable part of society.

Will Kenya one day be able to accept the LGBT community as part of itself? Will homosexuals be able to live without fear of shaming, or more serious repercussions? It’s hard to say what the future of this evolving nation holds. As of now, it seems that the homosexual community must stay hidden in plain sight.

Made in Kenya (by China?)

Mombasa has always been the center of Kenya’s export and import industry. Millions of tons of cargo flows in and out of the city. When goods are brought to Mombasa, the only possible infrastructure available for the transportation of these goods is Mombasa Road. This is true, but it won’t be this way for much longer.

The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway is the biggest infrastructure project that China has embarked upon (up to this time) with Kenya. The total proposed investment for the project is about 3.8 billion dollars (US), with 90% of this funding provided by China. Once this railway is completed, the total time required for goods to travel from Mombasa to Nairobi will only be 4 hours; presently, it can take approximately 36-48 hours for similar cargo to travel the same distance by lorry. Although this project is greatly supported by the  Kenyan government, not all Kenyans seem to be in favour of this large project, or the partnership that has been formed between Kenya and China.

Arthur, a Kenyan Student from Rosslyn Academy, states, “The advantage is being taken [by the Chinese], because the Chinese people are bringing everything from China. They bring workers from China, they bring materials from China, and they bring machines from China.” Many people think that China’s development of the railway is not currently helping the economy of Kenya. According to some statistics, Mr. Huang, a manager from the project’s front line, there are about 30,000 native Kenyans employed to help out with the construction. Though it may be true that Chinese workers are also employed by the project, it is also true that Kenyans are set to benefit from this partnership through job creation.

Another problem that has bothered some people of Kenya is how the money will be paid back to China. Njeri, another student, says that Kenya is too poor to pay back the money. After asking Mr. Haung about what arrangements have been made regarding repayment, he said that China is currently investing money in the construction of the railways, and once the railway is done, for the next 30 years, the ownership rights of the railway will belong to the Chinese. If this is the case, then the advantage obviously belongs to Kenya; after 30 years of service, the railway will belong exclusively to Kenya.

Another misunderstanding in this issue is that the Chinese will be able “steal” natural resources as part of their presence in Kenya . “Chinese are just digging up land, under the light they are building the road, but under the dark they are actually stealing gold from the land.” said Mwangi, an Uber driver in Nairobi. The sentiment behind this critical and cynical statement has recently become popular, especially since oil was found upcountry. Some Kenyans think Chinese are eyeing their oil.

In response to this allegation, the Manager of the Railways project, Mr. Haung, stated that many people think that China is stealing their natural resources because it is requesting land from the people. Building a railway requires land to set up headquarters, and other accompanying structures. Since the Mombasa-Nairobi railway is exceptionally long there will be a huge amount of land in use. After buying so much land from the people, the locals begin to think that the Chinese organizations are just digging up their natural resources; however, this is not the case.

Although the railways might not have a positive image in the hearts of some locals, it can’t be denied that the completed rail line will have a positive impact on Kenya. Once the railway is finished, Kenya’s economy will quickly develop. Perhaps then, people will be more thankful for the good working partnership of China and Kenya.