Thursday, September 30, 2010


I want to begin with a confession. I am quite a big critic of western media, and more than once, on this blog and on other platforms, I have said, and been quoted as saying, that Africa is often portrayed in the wrong light by western media; that Africa is not a continent represented by a thin black child reaching out his hand for food, his ribs pushing through his thin skin, eyes bulging out of sockets , and hunger pangs that could only have been in Sudan when Kevin Carter took this famous photograph during the famine, the vulture at the back of the photograph was waiting for the child to die.

I have never thought that this is an image I would ever use to describe a situation in my country, one which is supposed to be a bread basket of the East African economy.

But events of this past weekend was more than a jab of reality.

Citizen TV broke the news of a family in Central Turkana that had resorted to killing their dog and having it as a meal. If you are not a Kenyan, and you are from a country that eats dogs as a meal, you may not feel the emotion that brought me to tears when I saw that story. In most of Kenya ( if not all) eating a dog can be considered a taboo, you’d rather die hungry, with your dog, and we never even look at it and see food.

For a mother to slaughter the only dog the family had, roast it, and feed her family, and store the remains for another day, can only be described as the highest disregard for humanity.

Central Turkana has a poverty rate of 95% according to the area MP, Ekwe Ethuro that, does not come as a surprise, it is one of the driest areas in the country, where nothing grows. There is no ready food for families that have learned to live on one portion of food for several days.

It isn’t that there is no food to feed them. The government’s food reserves are piled to the roof with maize meant to feed the hungry, but it did come out clearly that some people have been sleeping on the job. It does not matter which parties could not agree at the expense of human beings. There is a chain of who does what, where and when, but I totally place the blame on the area member of Parliament. How can he sleep well when his constituents still die of starvation? How can w stand proud as Kenyans, In today’s Kenya, after we proudly raised our flag at the highest point of Uhuru park to celebrate what we described as a new Kenya?

Where was Ekwe Ethuro when the government recently donated food to the Pakistani flood victims? Or is PR for the Kenyan brand so important that it forgot it’s very own dying voters?

Ekwe Ethuro, and those that are to blame for letting Kenyans live as if they are slaves in their own country and leaders like these are the reason pictures like this will keep being the identity that Africa has. While the rest of us are celebrating a new Kenya under the new constitution, these people are putting new wine in old wine skins..and the cracks are beginning to show.

Where are the young professionals from Turkana?
Where were you when this was happening?
Has Turkana no voice?

Apart from the media that’s dotted in parts of the vast desert? What if the media did not capture that story?

What is the work of the leaders from Turkana? I say feed your people, else, resign and let someone who can do the job do it. It is an embarrassment, not only to the people of Kenya but for the rest of humanity.

I am sickened, disgusted and totally vexed by the lack of priorities our so called leaders have, but , my dear reader, we have another chance in 2012, remember we will vote in the leaders we deserve, let’s separate the boys from the men, and lets truly, be part of creating a better Kenya, I never want to use this picture, ever again.


  1. I just cannot believe it...... How could our Government feed citizens of another Country while we have Kenyans taking the life of their dear pet for food? We still got unsettled IDP's & Forests such as Mau evictees hungry & our Government is giving away food!

    MP Ekwe I also agree should be blamed. What has he done to develop his Constituency since Kenyans voted for him? Did he have to wait till his constituents took the life of their dog for food for him to act? We were recently informed by the media that his constituency was allocated a big chunk of the CDF money & I hope those funds shall be channelled towards Turkanas development & not corrupt leaders pockets.

  2. Sad story and really the issue falls on local leaders. I know WFP have food stock and transport operations, but their stuff is usually destined for S.Sudan or Somalia (you can't just hijack a food truck and divert it to Turkana - GoK has to request assistance)

  3. @ Anonymous and bankelele; I just cannot believe that in the year 2010, with vision 2030 et all, Kenyan's are resorting to this. Its a signal of things deeper than a food crisis.

  4. Terry: -- Turkana's simply a case of Kenyans not getting their act right. Granted, it's not what you'd call a breadbasket in most respects, but as far as green energy goes, it's a goldmine.

    Ekwe Ethuro, much as he's to blame for what has happened, is a reflection of what we, as Kenyans, regard as 'leaders'. Elect someone who's primary motivator are the perks of the job, not serving the people...and these are the results.

    We've more or less signed our own death warrants in our blood...and we're partying all the way to the grave.

  5. Okay I know it sounds bad but I do not think the two issues are necessarily related. Government did not deliberately starve its citizens to donate food to Pakistan.
    Nonetheless, this should be seen as a case of media doing good. Informing policy makers much in the same way that Mohammed Amin exposed the Ethiopian Famine to the world through his photography. I say kudos to the citizen team and may they keep it up. As for government, Esther Murugi and Naomi Shaban should step up and answer to the call. I hear one of them was grumbling about being left out of Kibaki's itinerary to New York where MDGs were being discussed at the UN Summit. What did they want to go say when people are eating dogs?

  6. It is utterly distasteful for leaders to quarrel about NGOs (Action Aid, World vision)while Kenyans, their constituents, are starving. Quite a poor image for this new Kenya.

    Also, Citizen TV’s Franklin Macharia is quickly becoming the shame on investigative journalism.

    Apparently,the piece was a set-up with the woman paid off to place dog chunks beside actual goat meat by the area OCPD. For an award winning journalist like Franklin Macharia to stoop to such levels, it’s really a sad statement and disgrace to the reputation of the quantitative journalism of Royal Media.

  7. Kenyas have been taught by their leaders and have perfected the blama game, when this story was aired, the MP of Turkana said the government and WFP had enough grain but did not have the right mechanism to distribute it. So if he knew this why until his kinsmen resulted to eating god meat. Those are our leaders!!! We can only wait for Gods Kingdom to bring eternal peace and enough grain for all of us.

  8. I once visited some community irrigation projects in Garissa and I was more confused about the neglected parts of Kenya than I had ever been before. I saw villages bordering the river - tons and tons of water - and they had machines to pump the water. A couple of them were doing well, growing vegetables and fruits and supplying the town. But in others, there was nothing happening at all. There was just such sense of dispair - I think owing to years of hardship - that the people did not even try getting involved. Then I got to learn that the transport business in the town is controlled by a few leaders. They determine what food comes into Garissa. Encouraging the residents to grow their own crops meant death to the businesses. It was sad to think that one elected by the people could undermine development for selfish greedy motives without regard of the suffering masses.
    I had heard of leaders who benefit from the poverty of their own people, but never believed it... It would be very sad if that is what is happening in Turkana. My question then and now is: what can the rest of ordinary Kenyans do? There must be something that we can do to lobby the government to take action.

  9. No hiding our dirt but if something is bad speak about it. If good speak about it too. But both in the fairness of the magnitude of the situation. Problem is picking just the bad as a global representative of everything including the good.

  10. Somewhere in Somalia
    A child stretches on the ground
    It is not a sandy beach of Copacabana
    But a hot, burning soil
    Heated by the rage of a blazing Sun

    I count 24 rib bones
    Then almost 206 bones of his whole body
    There is no muscle
    I can’t find veins too
    They are glued to his dried bones

    Aside a vulture watches
    In vain the body tries to move
    The body tries to cry
    There is no voice
    Because there is no breath

    © Jamala Safari, 26 July 2011