Since arriving in Kenya on 3 January I have had my battery-operated transistor radio tuned to the BBC and BBC Africa. I turn it on first thing in the morning and keep it on as a constant whenever I am in the house, even listening to the hour-long Kiswahili program every evening where I understand every 15th word. I bring it into the bathroom in the morning as I shave and shower. The radio is my friend. It helps combat the loneliness that wants to creep into my house sometimes. I love the woman who says: “Kisumu- Monbasa- Nairobi- wherever you are, you’re with the BBC.”
This connection to the world is serious and thoughtful and intelligent. American nightly news and American 24 hour news channels should be ashamed of themselves for the petty concerns they peddle as content. America is ego-centric and the price we pay in global ignorance is leading to a weakening of what once made us strong.
Upon my arrival in early January the news from South Sudan dominated the airwaves, and I learned of the long simmering hostilities between the Dinka and the Nuer that flashed into conflagration in Bor and Juba, with 10,000 killed. A fragile truce in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, allowed the long simmering hostilities in the Central African Republic to become the top story as Christians and Muslims who had lived in piece for the last 40 years erupted in violence, with at least 2,000 killed and at least 100,000 displaced. I know about the anti-Balaka movement. The dire news from Syria is a constant, the largest world tragedy with 136,000 killed and 9 million in need of aid, and President Bashar al-Assad still in power. For the past two weeks the news from Kiev and the Ukraine has taken the lead, an East/West battle reigniting from the past. The news from Somalia is both hopeful and uneasy.
In all cases people are battling ‘the other.’
I am in an oasis in Kenya, with little mention in the world news. But I now better understand tribalism and political corruption and police bribery and poverty from a new perspective. I rarely hear news about the United States, the cold snap and snow in January the only intrusion. When I look at Cincinnati.com to read about my hometown I see that there has been a shooting, and another shooting, and another shooting. One at a time, with a proliferation of guns, Americans are killing each other senselessly.
Like listening to NPR, the in-depth stories and powerful interviews and stories on BBC Africa about science, about freedom, about poverty, about politics, are integral to my engagement with the world.
Asante sana BBC Africa.