OCT '11 - Kenya Good & Bad

OK, so I'd never seen a termite mound in person before.  Huge, to say the least.  On a short walk from my lodging for exercise, I found this next to the roadway.  People have to walk around it as they make their way to and from school, work, etc.

Speaking of school, I walked by a class meeting under a tree.  The Ministry of Education says the national student/teacher ratio is 46/1.  I've not seen classes that small.  Our elementary school kids are in classes of 100-200 with one teacher.

In Kenya for work but hindered by broken ribs, I had a couple of days in bed followed by cautious mobility until I was able to fly home.  I had a parade of visitors from the local community while I was laid up.  I deeply regretted missing the work opportunity; good folks, good work, useful stuff. 

Walking carefully, feeling my way along as the ribs let me know what my range of movement should be, I got a little fresh air in an attempt to stave off the boredom of bed rest and recuperation.

On the northeastern side of Mombasa, the Shanzu area is coastal and gets rain during a couple of seasons during the year.  It's just enough to encourage gardening and small crops, but it's unreliable enough to preclude dependable harvests.  Much of the produce sold in the area comes from the northern territories.

The beaches are gorgeous and there are numerous resorts and hotels along the way.  Tourism is a large part of the local economy, and variations in the season are felt directly by the day workers.  Political turmoil this summer has lowered the number of tourists, and local folks who depend on them are struggling to feed their families.

Christian and Muslim families live side by side and are proud of their ability to do so with tolerance and grace.  They'll tell you about it if you're interested. 

Most folks are polite, gracious, and worth knowing. 

The rich and the government seem to be more bizarrely corrupt than can really be grasped.  Crooked as a dog's hind leg, my dad would have said.

The average middle-class Kenyan pays 17 bribes per month in the course of their normal affairs.  Construction managers bribe government inspectors rather than provide safety equipment for their workers.  Indigenous folks are evicted from land on which they've lived for generations (centuries) so the rich and influential can take the land for their own use.

Pirates from Somalia make people nervous, but related crimes span the gamut from human trafficking and drug smuggling to neighborhood violence, theft, and kidnapping.  It's not a safe place if you're poor. The rich have walls and guards.

The gap between rich and poor is widening in Kenya, perhaps even more rapidly than in the developed world due to the youth of their constitution and democratic process.  The photo (right) shows the city where wealth is centered and the countryside where the majority of the population lives an less than $1.25 a day.  The same moral dilemma that provoked the world market corruption in '07-8 pervades the Kenyan government and market place.  For now, they can make themselves wealthy at the expense of others and do so without visible restraint.

Aid projects to improve education, governmental accountability, business process transparency, have spent billions with formally reported unsatisfactory result.  Kenya has a long way to go.