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Blood tea: The UK’s alleged land theft and Kenya’s demand for justice5 min read

“People were killed. Livestock was stolen. Land was taken. Women were raped… And a crop was planted”

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Blood tea: The UK's alleged land theft and Kenya's demand for justice
A farm worker harvests tea leaves using shears at a plantation in Kenya's Kericho highlands, Kericho county, approximately 296 kilometres northwest of capital, Nairobi. Kericho hosts vast tea estates established at the turn of the 20th century by British settlers who are said to have appropriated the ancestral lands of the local Kipsigis and Tulai communities to start the plantations, displacing thousands of the natives whose decsendants today are demanding a return of their lands currently under tea estates, large swathes of which are still held under colonial-era titles by organisations based in the United-Kingdom. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP)

Kibore Cheruiyot Ngasura was just a small boy when his family was violently expelled from their ancestral land in Kenya’s lush tea-growing western highlands by British colonisers, and banished never to return.

Eighty-five years later, he still bristles at the memory, recalling the fear and confusion as his community was marched to a distant, unfamiliar place, and people around him begged their white overseer for answers.

“They asked him, ‘What wrong did we do? Why are you punishing us like this?” said 94-year-old Ngasura, the only living survivor of a mass deportation in 1934 from Kericho, where rolling green hillsides ripple with Kenya’s world-famous tea.

It is a question those forced off their land over decades in Kericho have been asking ever since.

Fed up with being ignored, the Kipsigis and Talai peoples have urged a United Nations special investigator to open an inquiry into their plight.

British and Kenyan lawyers representing the victims will on Wednesday make their first visit to Kericho since filing an official complaint with the UN, accusing the UK government of failing to account for this colonial-era injustice.

READ: Kenya’s tea price slumps to $1.80 per kilogram

They allege that the British army and colonial administrators deployed rape, murder and arson to seize swathes of arable land in Kericho from its traditional owners — rights violations for which nobody has ever answered.

The victims — more than 100,000 are signatories to the UN complaint — want an apology, and reparations for their homeland being usurped and reallocated to white settlers, who turned the fertile soils to cultivating tea.

Kericho boasts some of Kenya’s most profitable agricultural land — but the Kipsigis and Talai say they reap none of the benefits. The land today is largely owned by corporate giants such as Unilever, which sources tea from Kericho for some of its best-selling brands like Lipton.

‘Blood tea’ –

Blood tea: The UK's alleged land theft and Kenya's demand for justice
In this photo taken on October 2, 2019, Godfrey Sang, a Kenyan researcher who hails from the Kipsigis community, holds up an artefact recovered at a location in now Kericho county, currently occupied by tea estates from which members of his community were forcefully evicted by Kenya’s colonial administration to make way for tea plantations, in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP)

The alleged expropriation of land began in the early 20th century but accelerated from the 1920s, after Kericho’s exceptional suitability for tea was realised.

“There is blood in the tea,” said Godfrey Sang, a historian whose grandfather’s land was doled out to white farmers.

“People were killed. Livestock was stolen. Land was taken. Women were raped… And a crop was planted.”

Lawyers pushing for UN special rapporteur Fabian Salvioli to launch an inquiry say the intentional displacement and resettlement of Kipsigis and Talai occurred when Kenya was under the Crown, making the UK responsible under international law.

The UK Foreign Office, in a statement to reporters, said it supported the work of UN special rapporteurs, and would “respond accordingly” if contacted by Salvioli, the independent expert for the promotion of justice.

Those thrown off their land were herded into so-called “native reserves”, marginal areas where conditions were often appalling.

READ: Forsaken in terror war, Kenyan islands await doctors by boat

Blood tea: The UK's alleged land theft and Kenya's demand for justice
Kibore Cheruiyot Ngasura, 95, sits in his compound with an old picture, bearing his image and those of some of his clansmen with whom he was forcefully evicted from their lands, at his farm in Tugunon village, Kipkelion in Kenya’s Kericho highlands, Kericho county, on October 8, 2019. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP)

In an extreme case, the entire Talai clan — hundreds of families, including that of 10-year-old Ngasura — was deported by decree in 1934 and interned in Gwasi, a barren land two-weeks walk to the west, where malaria was endemic and water scarce.

“Life was so difficult. People were dying,” said Ngasura, speaking through a translator, surrounded by his extended family.

Today, many Kipsigis and Talai live as squatters, humiliated and landless, generations after their forebears were exiled from Kericho’s verdant slopes, land known locally as the “White Highlands”.

Most possess nothing more of their past than chunks of pottery and other fragments, unearthed surreptitiously from beneath the tea fields: proof, they say, that their people once lived there.

“It is very bitter, to see where you used to live, and (know) you were chased away,” said Joel Kimutai Kimetto, staring wistfully at distant hills where his father’s land was razed, and tea planted in its place.

‘Stolen property’ –

A spokesman for Unilever Kenya Ltd told reporters by email they would not comment on colonial-era claims against the UK. Williamson Fine Tea, and James Finlay Limited, two other multinationals with major tea estates in Kericho, did not reply to requests for comment.

“First of all, they need to acknowledge that it is stolen property,” said Kericho County Governor Paul Chepkwony, who has fought for reparations for years.

Blood tea: The UK's alleged land theft and Kenya's demand for justice
Kibore Cheruiyot Ngasura(L), 95, sits in his compound with his two wives at his farm in Tugunon village, Kipkelion in Kenya’s Kericho highlands, Kericho county, on October 8, 2019. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP)

In March, they scored a rare victory when Kenya’s National Land Commission ruled that the Kipsigis and Talai did suffer injustices, and recommended the UK apologise.

But efforts to broker dialogue have not been successful, said Joel Kimutai Bosek, a Kipsigis lawyer representing his people.

READ: Kenya’s Safari Rally returns to World Rally Championship

The UK has faced a slew of compensation claims from across its former empire, including from Kenya. 

In 2013, the government paid reparations to victims of its bloody crackdown on the 1950s Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule in Kenya. But similar appeals have failed.

Rodney Dixon QC, a British lawyer representing the Kipsigis and Talai who is visiting Kericho this week, said the UN special rapporteur could assist in mediating a settlement, and had experience investigating long-past historic abuses.

“This is a precedent that could equally apply here,” Dixon told reporters in Geneva in September.

Ngasura, reaching the end of his years, just wants an apology before he dies.

“After that, we would shake the hands of the British, and forget the past,” he said.

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East Africa News

Madagascar paddy farmers against ‘new city’ relocation

Tempers flare in Antananarivo over plans to relocate Madagascar’s capital

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MADAGASCAR-DEMOSTRATION-URBAN PLANNING
Protestors damage construction equipment after clashes between the inhabitants of Ambohitrimanjaka and police broke out over the protest against the Tana-Masoandra project in the Ambohitrimanjaka suburbs of Antananarivo on October 17, 2019. - Clashes broke out overnight in Madagascar after protesters stormed a company tasked with a controversial urban expansion project, prompting a violent police response. (Photo by Mamyrael / AFP)

Anger is boiling over in the hills surrounding Antananarivo over plans to relocate part of Madagascar’s choked capital to emerald-green farmland.

Hundreds of farmers in Ambohitrimanjaka village are facing off with the authorities over a presidential scheme that threatens to engulf a thousand hectares (2,500 acres) of rice fields.

“We will not swap our land for money and we will not accept being moved,” said Jean Desire Rakotoariamanana, 57, who took part in protests last month.

“These rice paddies provided for our ancestors.”

The unrest has been sparked by a scheme to unclog Antananarivo, a polluted city of three million people wedged in the hills of the central highlands.

If the Tana-Masoandra (“Tana Sun”) project comes to fruition, the area will house all of the government’s ministries, the Senate, a university, a conference centre, hotels and homes for 100,000 people.

Its backers claim that relocation — to what is the city’s distant outskirts — will cost the equivalent of $600 million (542 million euros) and create 200,000 jobs — a major economic boost in the impoverished Indian Ocean island nation.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2024.

Choked capital –

Tana-Masoandra stems from President Andry Rajoelina’s vow on the election campaign trail last year to ease the capital’s chronic problems.

“Antananarivo was built to house between 300,000 and 500,000 people, but today there are 3.25 million,” said project manager Gerard Andriamanohisoa, who is also an advisor to Rajoelina.

According to UN projections, the capital’s population could double within the next 15 years, he said.  

Only 36 per cent of Madagascar’s 26 million people live in urban areas, but the majority of these are congregated in Antananarivo.

Overcrowding has bred monster traffic jams, garbage pile-ups and slums which become routinely flooded.

Air pollution, caused by exhaust fumes and bush fires, is sky-high. On one day last month, a monitoring group found that levels of fine particulates were eight times higher than guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

But the capital’s problems gain little sympathy in the village of Ambohitrimanjaka, which lies around 12 kilometres (eight miles) from the capital.

And the government’s offer of relocating the farmers 700 kilometres (435 miles) away in the town of Bevoay, spiced by the promise of a five-for-one land swap, has gained little traction.

Sacred heritage –

“We are not opposed to development and progress,” said 60-year-old paddy farmer Dada Leba. 

“But let the president set up his project somewhere else. It is not land that we’re short of in Madagascar.”

Referring to a revered 18th-century monarch, Leba added: “King Andrianampoinimerina himself awarded these rice paddies to our ancestors and bequeathed to us the responsibility of farming them.

“Going against this wise king’s wish will cast a curse on the president,” he said darkly.

“If they take our land away from us, we’ll have nothing to live from,” declared Dede Antsahamarina, 60. “This new city is not intended for uneducated farmers like us.”

Violent clashes broke out between police and protesters last month over the building of a bridge designed to link the planned complex with Antananarivo.

One civilian and four officers were injured before police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd.

The government has tried to ease the mood by offering around 700 families the equivalent of around $20 million (18 million euros) in compensation.

“We are going to implement support measures to provide retraining for the farmers or to relocate their activities to other places,” said Andriamanohisoa.

The president has sent envoys to try to talk the farmers around and made a direct pitch to them on the airwaves.

“If you’ve got a one-hectare (2.5-acre) rice paddy… listen, I’ll give you five hectares in Bevoay,” Rajoelina said on TV.

But rather than backing down, the farmers say they are considering filing a lawsuit against the grand plan.

The Battle of the Rice Fields, it seems, has only just begun.

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Business

The growth of digital and online marketing in Africa

Is Digital Marketing for Africa? How have businesses gained by marketing online?

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Growth of digital marketing

Innovative changes have over the years, proven to be a constant. Ways of doing things are changing globally at a rather fast pace; things that affect the way we live, the way we travel, study, do business, run homes and families, interact with others etc.

The influence of innovation is simply overwhelming! One sector that has been touched by the transformative wind of innovation is the business sector. In this article, we are going to evaluate the growth of digital marketing in Africa. Before we dissect the topic, let us first look at the meaning of digital marketing.

What is digital marketing? 

Wikipedia defines digital marketing as the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. From the definition provided by Wikipedia, one may sum up the meaning of digital marketing as the use of technologies in marketing as opposed to the traditional ways of marketing we all know.

Before the digital era, marketing and advertisements were only done using traditional methods such as public announcements, newspaper, radio, television, billboards, posters and flyers. Digital marketing on the other hand employ methods such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-Commerce marketing, content marketing among other methods.

Advertising has been taken to a whole new level through the help of online marketing. Business owners, especially startups in Africa now save millions hitherto used in running newspaper advertisements and paying for sessions on television channels that expire after a short time. They now spend less than half of that amount to advertise on various digital platforms, which enjoy more audience than the traditional means, including television and newspapers. 

The state of online marketing in South Africa

 In South Africa, a study by World Wide Worx in collaboration with Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that as at the year 2010 the number of South African internet users have grown beyond 5 million. Ever since figures continued to advance upwardly.

By 2016 the number of internet users stood a little below 29 million. That was more than half of South Africa’s 52 million population. With that number of internet users, digital marketing will continue to grow in leaps and bound in South Africa.

Kenya and Digital Marketing

In Kenya, the story is pretty much the same as in South Africa. If you are familiar with Kenya’s marketing terrain, you will understand how big it has grown in a very short period.  Just a couple of years ago, expensive traditional methods of marketing still thrived in the country but today the story has changed as around 22% of all media consumption in Kenya is digital.

What is more, this number is growing fast! The German online portal, Statista reported that Internet advertising spending in Kenya is expected to grow from US$72 million in 2015 to US$151 million in 2020.

Digital marketing in Nigeria

Digital Marketing started to gather momentum in Nigeria around 2012 with the entry of e-commerce platforms such as Jumia and Konga in the country. The period between 2015 to 2019 saw a massive increase of Small & Medium Enterprises in the country with a population of 190 million people.

According to Statista, Nigeria had 92.3 million internet users in 2018 and it is projected to grow to 187.8 million internet users in 2023. This was 47.1 per cent of the population in 2018. It is expected to climb to 84.5 per cent in 2023. With 92.3 million people using the internet, the place of digital marketing in Nigeria’s business space has been secured. The prospect for the growth of digital marketing in Nigeria seems pretty good.

From the situation reports in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – three of the largest economies in Africa, digital marketing is growing really fast in the continent. The future of Businesses in Africa can now be viewed better through the lens of the digital.

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East Africa News

Mauritians go to polls in first post-Anerood ballot

He faces two opponents who say his appointment to the country’s top job amounted to little more than nepotism

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Mauritians go to polls in first post-Anerood ballot
Mauritian women check their names on a list before casting their votes for the parliamentary election at Soopaya Soobiah Government School in Reduit, Mauriitus, on November 7, 2019. - Nearly a million voters are registered for the parliamentary election in Mauritius, a stable democracy in the Indian Ocean. (Photo by Beekash ROOPUN / L'Express Maurice / AFP)

Mauritians on Thursday have their first chance to decide if Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth should continue to rule since he was hand-picked for the job when his father stepped down more than two years ago.

Nearly a million voters are registered for the parliamentary election in Mauritius, a stable democracy in the Indian Ocean. The more than 300 polling stations opened at 0600 local time (0200 GMT) and are due to close at 1800.

Jugnauth succeeded his father Anerood Jugnauth as Prime Minister without a popular vote when the older man stood down in 2017, two years ahead of schedule.

The 57-year-old is asking voters to judge him on his short time in office, pointing to his record on modernising public infrastructure and economic reforms in the former British colony.

But he faces two opponents who say his appointment to the country’s top job amounted to little more than nepotism.

The ballot marks the first opportunity for Mauritians to choose whether he deserves a mandate. Counting begins Friday, with results expected later that day. 

Observers expect a smooth election in the prosperous country of 1.3 million that has evolved from a poor, agriculture-based economy, to one of Africa’s wealthiest nations and financial services hub.

Campaigning lasted for a furious two weeks, with Mauritius bedecked in the flags and colours of the warring parties.

Mauritius, comprised of four volcanic islands roughly 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) off the eastern coast of Africa, is predominantly Hindu but has sizeable Christian and Muslim minorities.

New alliances –

For the first time in decades, three distinct political blocs will vie for power in the legislative elections. New alliances could be likely if none can clinch an absolute majority.

READ: Mauritius sets legislative elections for November 7

Jugnauth heads the centre-right Morisian Alliance, Navin Ramgoolam, a two-time former premier leads the centre-left National Alliance and one of his former allies, Paul Berenger, is going out alone with his Mauritian Militant Movement.

Berenger, who briefly served as prime minister between 2003 to 2005, has also denounced dynastic politics and accused Jugnauth of presiding over “scandals of all kinds”.

The Prime Minister has banked on the strength of the Mauritius economy — it grew 3.8 per cent in 2018 — and key reforms such as introducing a minimum wage and hiking pensions.

Mauritius has increasingly come under fire for helping global companies avoid paying taxes and was until October on a European Union watch list.

General unemployment, while low compared to the rest of the continent, also remains high among youth at 22 per cent, and inequality is seen to be rising.

Voters have to choose 62 MPs — 60 from the main island of Mauritius, and two from Rodrigues, a small island some 600 kilometres to the east.

The Electoral Commission then appoints eight other representatives from among those not elected, but who received a high number of votes, to rebalance the distribution of seats between parties and communities in the national assembly.

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