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JULY 2003

Lessons learned and improvements made. Our government ministers are learning to temper their rhetoric and are not so prone to making alarmist statements to the press. The fight against corruption continues with the scandal of the Goldenberg Enquiry reported daily in the press listing the billions stolen by stooges of the KANU government. The extent of the previous government's looting (not only money, but also land and forest) continues to leave Kenyans agape with astonishment.

As we sent out our last newsletter, the US Embassy closed yet again for two days "following a Pentagon alert that the threat of a terrorist act had increased significantly" and blaming Kenya for not arresting suspects of the coast terrorist bombing. Two days later 4 were charged, and thereafter pace quickened. UK sent out two Scotland Yard terrorism experts who immediately declared that they felt as safe in Kenya as anywhere in the world (probably not what the High Commissioner wanted them to say). The government banned flights to Somalia, temporarily killing the miraa (khat) industry before being lifted 2 weeks later. Many new security measures were enforced at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Kenya Navy security patrols increased and are working closely with the US fleet based in Djibouti. On 4th July British Airways resumed flights to Nairobi, at the same time lifting the UK travel advisory, and US Ambassador Johnnie Carson had a party! He announced that the US travel advisory "will also be lifted soon" … we are still waiting. The Anti-Terrorism Bill is facing some dissent in Parliament but we hope all parties can find common ground and pass it.

Support, both monetary and moral, continues to pour into the "new" Kenya. EU 1 million from Sweden for Environment (25 Jun), USA pledged $1 billion to combat terror in the East African region and Congress passed a major resolution pledging support in Kenya's efforts towards economic recovery (30 June), Kofi Annan praises Kenya's example to Africa (12 July), IMF to resume lending to Kenya in September (13 July), $15 billion from the US to combat AIDS in Africa, and World Bank ready to fund President Kibaki's reforms (today, 24 July). Kenya was not included in George Bush's Africa Tour. President Kibaki declined an invitation to meet President Bush in Uganda and instead attended the African Union summit in Mozambique.

Tourism is picking up quicker than expected and it is predicted that this year's wildebeeste migration will be bigger and better. On 21-22 September, all hotels are full as Nairobi hosts the 13th Annual Conference on AIDS (ICASA). Carnivore has been voted one of the top 50 restaurants in the world and one of only 2 in Africa. Kenya Film & TV Professional Association and Baraka Films won the Golden Dhow Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival for "Dangerous Affair" (co-produced by Jenny).

Irony - again
Wambui Otieno is a feisty 67 year old who has thrived on controversy all her life. Seventeen years ago she fought a prolonged and very public court battle to bury her husband in Nairobi. His clan in Western Kenya won the case but not before it resulted in street demonstrations countrywide. Wambui has just married a 28-year old stonemason, stating "my family neglected me; anyway, where can you find an African man who will wash your underwear?" Indeed! Again, Kenyans are in shock and awe at Wambui. BUT … it's OK for our Vice President to marry a PYT (pretty young thing) half his age in the society wedding of the year … AND what about Masai octogenarians taking school children as their brides?









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