Sunday, November 24, 2013

12 large-scale hydropower projects set to change the face of Africa

The African landscape is quickly changing as integration where former geographical features shared by countries are turned into avenues for mutual benefit.

One such venture is hydro power generation where Africa has a paradox between plentiful untapped hydropower and other renewable energy resources versus very little electricity access.

Only forty-five per cent of the electricity generation in Sub-Saharan Africa comes from hydropower but only five per cent of the continent hydro-potential has been tapped which makes generation of these resources a major boost to spur development.

Recent studies estimate that 57 per cent of Africans are without electricity which is attributed to poor infrastructure.

In 2012, at the 18th Summit of the African Union, African Heads of State endorsed a set of priority energy projects to be implemented by 2020 as part of the Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA)

  1. The Mphanda-Nkuwa project in Mozambique, which is at the financial closure stage. It will contribute to supply energy both to Mozambique and to South Africa.
  2. The Inga hydropower projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Grand Inga will have to be built in several phases. When fully built, it will transform Africa by providing electricity to a large part of the continent with transmission lines interconnecting several countries.
  3. Hydropower components of the Lesotho Highlands water project Phase II, which will supply power to Lesotho and South Africa.
  4. The Ruzizi III project in Rwanda will provide additional electricity capacity in Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC. It is the first regional Public Private Partnership (PPP) power project in Africa and is a model for successful implementation.
  5. The Rusumo Falls development. The electricity produced will supply Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
  6. Batoka Gorge: 1.600 megawatts of hydropower  for Zambia and Zimbabwe
  7. Fomi Dam: A 102 megawatts hydropower station will be constructed in guinea to benefit nine Niger River Basin countries.
  8. Great Millennium Renaissance Dam: The aim is to develop a 5,250 megawatt hydropower plant in the Nile Basin to supply electricity to both the local export markets.
  9. Kaleta Dam: A 279 megawatt capacity gravity dam which will produce electricity for Gambia River Basin Development Organization member countries.
  10. Noumbiel Dam: A hydropower and agricultural purpose dam for Bukina Faso and Ghana 
  11. Palambo Dam: Small 30 megawatt hydropower dam that will regulate water flow on Obangui River to benefit Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic.
  12. Sambagalou: 120 megawatt hydropower on Gambia River to offer affordable renewable energy to countries involved.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bursting The Myth: Africa Is Not A Country by Alex Nderitu.

‘So geographers in Africa maps,
With savage pictures fill the gaps
And over uninhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.’
- Jonathan Swift, author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’
I was surprised and a little amused as I listened to a BBC Radio programme on Africa earlier this year by a field reporter on assignment in China seeking locals’ knowledge of the African continent.
Reactions barely scratched the surface as answers came intermixed with laughter suggesting the world’s second-largest continent is composed of lions, elephants and bushes. There were mentions of Mandela, South Africa and the film ‘Out of Africa’ but some said the continent doesn’t have any towns to speak of.
But what shocked me the most was the suggestion that Africa is a single country, so profound was the belief that the field reporter missed 54 countries and gave 14, at most.
50 years after the scramble for Africa by European colonialists that gave the current borders, the answers amused me.
In fact all attempts to marry up all the countries – to create a United States of Africa – have been futile with diversion being created like Eritrea moving from Ethiopia, Somalia being divided to Somaliland and Puntland. While Zanzibar is itching to cut off her umbilical cord from mainland Tanzania.
And here are more facts about the continent: former Sudan, before South seceded was the largest country. Lying just above Uganda on the map it’s nearly 1-million-square-mile makes it spread towards north to rub shoulders with Libya and Sudan.
While Nigerian in West Africa is the giant in population size with over 100 million people apart from a huge number of people in diaspora strutting US, Europe, Asia and other African countries.
South Africa, apart from giving the continent icons like Nelson Mandela and Miriam Makeba is the king in development. From the southern tip of the continent the country is the home of minerals, Castle Lager, De Beers, DSTV and ‘Cry the Beloved Country’.
In social life aspect, the continent is based described in tribal line. Even in the 21st century tribes are ties that bind to define marriage, voting and conflicts like the infamous 1994 Rwandan genocide between the Hutus and the Tutsis.
You can often tell an African’s tribe from his indigenous name. My surname, Nderitu (pronounced “Day-ri-to”) is a dead giveaway that I come from the Kikuyu tribe of central Kenya.
At first sight, all Africans may look the same but in reality most tribes have distinct features that set them apart – height, skin tone, build, dialects, hair, teeth and even talents. Most have their own language which are over 2,000.
Even though all Negroid (Blacks) originated from Africa not all Africans are Negroes. In northern part of the continent (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco) Semites (Arab-Jew heritage) are dominant. Here is the home of our sons Muammar Gaddafi and Bhoutros-Bhoutros Ghali. Others are found further south in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somali, Sudan and along Indian ocean coasts.
Further south of Sahara Negroid, like me, dominate like former UN SecGen Kofi Annan from Ghana. Further south we find the race with lighter complexions and hooded eyes (Nelson Mandela and musician Usher Raymond have Capoid features).
The continent also has Caucasians (Whites) and other non-Black people like Asians not to be confused with tourists and other visitors as they are descendants of settlers, missionaries and traders who are as African as the marula tree. In fact some are more African than the original Africans.
South Africa has the biggest ‘jambalaya’ of races – Blacks, Whites (including Boers), Browns, Yellows and, for all we know, green people from Mars (that’s why it’s sometimes referred to as “the Rainbow Nation”).
Eastern Africa is widely believed to be the cradle of human life with the earliest human remains, 4.2 million years old found here. According to history a great trek north from Tanzania and Kenya through Egypt to cross over to other continents.
But this history poses some hard-hitting questions. If Africans were the original owners of the world, how come only missionaries woke the continent to advance academically and otherwise? Why is the second-largest continent still the poorest?
The question of non-development, of Africans’ seeming lethargy, is easily answered by Prof. Ali Mazrui’s famous documentary, ‘The Africans’, in which he narrates: ‘If necessity is the mother of invention, then bounty must be the mother of inertia.’
In a land where you spit out a seed and return to find a fruit tree sprouting, the early Africans were under no pressure to advance technologically as the continent still supports the widest varieties of plant and animal life.
And even though Africa is wealthy the reeking poverty is what i can’t get a ready answer for especially the ever widening gap between the rich and poor. While the super rich command customized cars and even private planes the poor majority die from curable diseases like cholera and malaria, and their children walk for kilometres on bare foot for schools and water.
Kenyan 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai (RIP) captured this when she said as a kid the were so poor growing up that she and her friends used to play with frog eggs! (Did Wangari has to say everything? Wonder is I’ll be able to show my face in public when I tour Europe to promote my books)
Across the globe, diamonds, gold and silver gleaming in jewellery shops and boutiques around the world come from Africa. Even the aroma of coffee, tea and flowers come from Africa.
Sadly were these raw materials and wealth are produced the most are under intense conflict fuelled by colonisation and scramble for Africa mentality. These are places like Liberia (diamonds), the DRC (assorted minerals), Nigeria (oil) and Somalia (heaven knows).
What Does It Mean To Be African?
But what does it MEAN to be African? If a Negro was born and lives in the US, can he still claim to be an African? What if a Caucasian (like best-selling author Wilbur Smith) is born, lives in, and loves Africa does that make him a certifiable African? Here’s my circuitous and open-ended answer:
A long, long, time ago (way before the first man loved the first woman and a child was born) all the continents were stuck together. Various disturbances on the earth’s crust coupled with the spinning of the earth (which makes it bulge out at the sides) caused cracks and, ultimately, separation.
You may take it that all continents and islands are jigsaw pieces and all humankind is one large, chequered, family. As I said earlier, the first people lived in the tectonic fragment now known as Africa.
Like an American tourist once said during a recent interview in a Kenyan TV, people should make a Mecca-like pilgrimage to Kenya at least once in their lives because it is our mutual ‘home’ after the Leakeys discovered the cradle of human kind in lake Turkana.
This is the reason the lack of interest in Africa expressed in the BBC Radio programme amused me so much. Chinese, American, French, German, Russian, British or whatever our nationality, we might all be Africans in diaspora!
Alexander Nderitu ( is a Kenyan-born novelist and entertainer. He has also expressed interest in fashion design, music production and sports entertainment. This article was first written in 2006.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nakuru County Politician Gideon Kubai: I’m not the ICC Witness Against William Ruto, Joshua Sang

Gideon Kubai at LaGuardia airport in USA
Gideon Kubai, a Nakuru county politician and the grandchild of former freedom fighter Fred Kubai  has denied that he is the fifth ICC witness testifying against DP William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang at the ICC.

He's currently in Boston, USA. Kubai is my FB friend and the guest blogger in the previous post Why Jubilee supporters Should Leave the President Alone- By Gideon Kubai.

Here is a transcript of a WhatsApp interview I had with him today at dawn: 

Burning Splint: How long have you been in USA?
Gideon Kubai: Since May this year, first at SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont for a peace and conflict management program then in Boston, Massachusetts.

BS: When are you due to be back in the country and who your visit to USA?
GK: For my personal safety I am not travelling back until the matter is conclusively addressed by security agencies. I intend to attend to this seriously. I will also notify ICC for action from their side. Also note that I fear for the safety of my wife and our two years old daughter in Naivasha.

BS: Back to elections as an MCA: which ward did you contest in, what party did you use and what was the elections results if you can remember.
GK: Maai Mahiu ward in Nakuru county assembly on a Kenya National Congress (KNC) ticket. I polled second but left before i received the IEBC tally.

BS: Ok who won? And going back to the earlier question when were you expecting to be back in the country, that's before the current situation?
GK: A TNA candidate won, although on the second part I prefer not to disclose that at this point.

BS: Ok. Who facilitated the exchange programme which took you to USA?
GK: World Learning sponsors the programme on their campuses in Vermont and Washington DC.

BS: Of course World Learning partnered with an organisation in Kenya.
GK: Vijana na Mageuzi Initiative where i’m a program coordinator, the initiative has been involved in civic education, peace and conflict management projects in the volatile Nakuru county and we started the period after the PEV.

I am also the founder of The Fred Kubai Foundation, which engages in social welfare programme in Naivasha constituency in line with my late grandpa aspirations. I have extensively supported IDPs in Maai Mahiu on education.

BS: Going through the FB profile of the person who posted your photo, he states that he worked for The National Alliance Party. Do you believe TNA is behind this ‘leakage’? And where did he get the photo from?
GK: That was lifted from one of my profile pictures on my FB profile.

BS: Back to my earlier question: Do you believe TNA is behind the leakage? Or do you you’ve an hint of who is involved?
GK: The culprit seem to have a link with TNA/Jubilee online hawks. (You see) people have been critical of me not supporting UK despite our families' history, it was an issue that largely contributed to my election defeat.

BS: What’s your message to the IG of Police David Kimaiyo?
GK: The security machinery should move with speed to protect innocent Kenyans against political extremists both on the ground and on social media platforms. The police's cyber crime unit should double its effort in cracking down on these cyber criminals. Above all Kimaiyo should guarantee safety for my wife and daughter who have already recorded a statement with security agents in Naivasha.

BS: What about a message to President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Government of Kenya?
GK: The president should caution his followers across the country against extreme political stance that could put the safety of any Kenyan in jeopardy. He and all government leaders should adopt and set a rational and non-confrontational tone while addressing the ICC issue.

BS: Any statement to ICC president and prosecutor Fatou Bensouda?
GK: I urge constant vigilance from ICC against all forces that can compromise fair trial and justice for both the suspects and the victims through malicious interference of witnesses and unwarranted propaganda. The ICC should treat these claims brought to its attention with utmost seriousness with a view of punishing the culprits.

BS: Good we are about to finish... But first you worked with victims of PEV in Nakuru county, have you in anyway helped to get witnesses for ICC?
GK: My projects were strictly aimed at fostering reconciliation, urge for peaceful dispute resolution and champion the course of peace. A point of correction I didn't work personally with victims, but my work was at Maai Mahiu which was among places most affected by PEV. These projects were implemented in close conjunction with other stakeholders who included local police and provincial administration.

BS: So you were not involved in any way with the current Kenyan cases at ICC?
GK: Absolutely not!

BS: Thanks sir, I'm done. Do you have any parting shot?
GK: Welcome. I urge Kenyans on social media platforms to exercise restrain during discussions on ICC with sobriety and maturity. They should desist from the temptation to be overzealous and misinform.

BS: Better bro, Good morning (it’s 5:02am). I pray that may God keep your family in Nakuru safe. Have a nice time.
GK: Thanks. We will live through it. Later.

BS: Welcome and amen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why Jubilee Supporters should leave the president Alone - By Gideon Kubai

President Uhuru Kenyatta
With the hard fought victory during the last general election which was only decided through a Supreme Court ruling Jubilee and UhuRuto supporters have been in euphoria.

Under the guise of this win, it is becoming hard to reason with millions of Jubilee supporters across the country and in the diaspora.

Suffice to say the campaign and election battle was fought and the win was splendid against seemingly insurmountable odds.
But amid this wall of unbridled happiness, this is an opportune time to direct a few cold hard truths and facts for President Uhuru Kenyatta to be left alone by his supporters and given space to deliver his election pledges.

The space should be left now to help salvage president’s national image and help him carry his national task easily.

President’s personal battle
Once Uhuru became the president he has acquired crucial national responsibilities which surpass narrow ethnic interests which are carried by supporters who come across as his defender in fighting his personal and tribal battle.

These soldiers’ zeal is best manifested online where bundles are dedicated on
facebook, twitter and blogs to sing praise to Uhuru’s and his name against ‘agents of devil and imperialists western powers.’
This otiose zeal has roped in the Kenyatta family, even those who can’t differentiate between Jaba and Jomo, to make it sound like hagiography of Wango’mbe Waihura - the legendary Kikuyu warrior.

The two Uhuru’s sons are young fine men who must be secretly wondering who these very dedicated jubilee supporters are talking about and what is going on.
Equally, both national and senate houses have ground troops have not been left behind in battle mood and arrested campaign mentality. Let us take Aden Duale for example; why did he create a big fuss about withdrawing from the Rome Statute?

Was Duale and Co on a mission to please and ingratiate themselves to the president? Was sycophancy, boot licking and self-preservation so fuzzy to make them realize the pullout was null and was detrimental ongoing ICC cases?
But Duale, like most jubilee elected leaders owe their current positions not from democracy or people’s but due to engrave their images next to the president’s during the campaign period. So perverse was the trend, a foreigner would’ve been mistaken to think Uhuru was running in hundreds of constituencies.

Across the social strata jubilee supporters irrespective of their level of education have became experts on dissecting the country’s sovereignty against imperialism and neo-colonialism pushed down Kenyans throat by US and Britain ‘funded’ ICC.

Even in the most rudimentary United Nation definition we are sovereign and this unwarranted braggadocio on proclaiming the obvious will be our downfall as a country.
Kenya isn’t a military superpower, have a runaway inflation and debt ridden economy and donor fund help fight hunger and disease in don’t have the biggest military in the world, we don’t have the biggest economy in the word and our people are still dying of hunger and st Century and over a half a century from independence.

An overzealous jubilee supporter or legislator wearing a crisp western style suit, a parliament funded by millions of US grant, using standing orders borrowed from British house and laboring in Queen’s English can’t lecture us on liberation and neocolonialism.
Even Uhuru Kenyatta a fully born and bred elite has a degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts; the state famously touted as the spirit of America.

I won’t go about the soft power colonization through English football, Hollywood movies, American music, dressing culture and western food like pizza and burger as we seek to look “in the East for development.’
The world is one big village; we are interconnected because even China we seek for aid can’t afford to cut ties with US even though they compete for world supremacy.

Cord/Jubilee matrix and attack on civil society
And here is how this overzealous sycophancy is affecting Kenya: the country still stays polarized more than six months after election.

Comments, criticism or work of civil society is measured in a very narrow lane of either being a Cord or a Jubilee supporter or a gun for hire.
A simple news post online boils down to Cord/Jubilee insults often laced by stereotype tribal insults. Fellow taken as under-class citizens and activists are often labeled traitors, betrayers and reminded that elections are over and they should move on.

It’s very crucial to hold the current government to account especially in delivering campaign promises and manifestoes and not every critic is a Cord critic or is betraying Kenya, which is sadly mistaken for Jubilee and Uhuru.
From a personal point of view since I have worked as an activist civil society doesn’t want to fix the president. I worked with a Naivasha based youth movement funded by US which was implementing peace and civic education.

Getting grant was purely based on project viability, objectivity and political neutrality and I even went to US for training and not once was I asked to participate in any scheme to overthrow my government or fix anybody in the political circles.

Civil society has taken a key role in changing the country in the second liberation and the West we so much abhor was key in bringing change with most dissidents seeking refugee there and like US Ambassador Smith Hempstone who a key figure against president Moi tyranny.
Uhuru acceptance
The president assumed leadership in full cognizance that he carried personal liabilities, weaknesses that will occasionally if not always impinge on execution of his state duties. He has even accepted that severally on national television.

But his supporters’ overzealous support bordering on ignorance, propaganda and fallacies are pressing the president to dump his personal liabilities on the shoulders of Kenyans who are already sagging with heavy burdens.
This has so far done Kenya as a country a great injustice by demonizing every criticism directed to the government.

(The writer Gideon Kubai is the founder and program coordinator for ‘Vijana na Mageuzi Initiative’ and is a grandson of the late freedom fighter Fred Kubai)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Interview With Idd Salim: Blogger/Coder/Entrepreneur for Star Newspaper

Idd Salim

Sometime last year in January I had an email interview with Idd Salim (May Allah rest his soul in peace). As the Star correspondent in Migori county I approached him via an official request on FB and he accept and gave me his email address easily.

The interview was slotted for the '5 Minutes Interview' though it didn't get published I wish to share it here (the bold are the questions and answers follow after.....):

I’m good at…… Playing pool, Coding using OpenSource, making friends and developing solid and working systems just from a basic conversation.
I’m bad at… Arguing, especially with people who don't have facts.
The last book I enjoyed was….. The Art of War by SunTzu. I live a-lot by it's principles since coding is like war against deadlines, human weakness and complacency and believing you are better than you actually are.
The most surprising thing that happened to me was……. Being called to Starehe Boys' Centre from Isiolo. It was a binary moment in my life. Dead or alive. Starehe made me what I am today.
A common misconception of me is that…… I am player because I have a lot of female friends and I am very open to new people irrespective of their social status and origin/tribe.
One of my worst childhood fears was…….. Ghosts. I still do and I cannot watch a horror movie at night since I cannot sleep afterwards.
My ideal night out is……. Going for a polite dinner with friends around 6PM, African Food. Then playing pool in a money game just for fun, then sip RedBull (I’m a teetotaler) in the dance floor.  
In another life I would be…… A professional football/pool player, I used to be the best striker in Primary, but as soon as I saw a Computer at Starehe, I never looked back.
If I were a politician…….. It would never happen, I despise politicians with their lies, empty promises and embezzlement.
The best age to be is……. 36. 
The best part of my job is……. The fact that I never need to leave home or dress up. I work whenever I feel and however I feel, as long as I deliver the systems on time and as expected. I am in the business of delivery and inventions. Not suits, ties, offices, 9-5s or bosses. 
My greatest regret is…….. Spending 4 years in Uganda. Kampala is like Naivasha here verylow-tech. As a techie, these were wasted years. I have been working hard to recover lost time, and all is looking up.
Historical figure I most identify with is……… Napoleon Bonaparte and  King Henry VII of England. They restored peace where there is chaos. I see myself on their shoes as a mentor in the Kenyan Technology industry to most upcoming software developers.
Living person I most admire is…….. Larry Wall the author of PERL whose book teaches about life skills in a tight world to reach ones goals.
My greatest achievement is…… Developing a Citizen Watch online service for public resource condition and utilization that we are now deploying to over 17 countries.
My favourite  writer is……….. Robert Greene 
My greatest possession is………….. My pride and knowledge. Also, my 3 Samsung Galaxys and Computers.
If I was going to die in five minutes my last words would be……. With God and Code, all things are possible. Respect and worship both.
(Idd Salim is the CTO of Symbiotic Media Consortium and a IT Consultant on Systems, Unix, Mobile and IT Security. He is also a popular blogger and a pool addict. Find out more about him by visiting his website :

John Grisham Is Back With Sycamore Row, Related To His First Novel A Time to Kill

John Grisham takes you back to where it all began . . .

John Grisham’s A Time to Kill is one of the most popular novels of our time. Now we return to that famous courthouse in Clanton as Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial—a trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County to confront its tortured history.

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier.

The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?

In Sycamore Row, John Grisham returns to the setting and the compelling characters that first established him as America’s favorite storyteller. Here, in his most assured and thrilling novel yet, is a powerful testament to the fact that Grisham remains the master of the legal thriller, nearly twenty-five years after the publication of A Time to Kill.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Poem: Should I, Should I Not

When the cool breeze whispers,
And the coconut boughs bows,
The sun rays streaking mourning mist,
Should I sing for love
Should I not
Least the feeling ebb away
Quietly like
Fresh dew on morning grass

Should I,
Sing when your head lifts in lilt of laughter,
With echoes strumming chords in me heart
In muffled music of suppressed love
Should I not
And let the chords rasp on
Like a kicking antelope
From a lion’s grip.

Should i
When the breeze strikes the sea
And to the shore the waves harkens
With giggle as they lap the sand
Then my heart will go on…
Should I not
Love will smite me.

Manuel Odeny

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Africa Is Now The Fastest Growing Continent In The World- AfDB Report

Kenyan engineers with Civicon Compnay taking a rest as they try to raise a tank in Mtwara Tanzania
Africa is now the fastest growing continent in the world a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said.

The Report, ‘Annual Development Effectiveness Review 2013’ said the growth has been pushed by economic governance on the continent and the private sector.

It also places the positive growth on exploitation of oil and minerals and project more positive growth if assets are effectively managed and used in an accountable and transparent manner.”

 “Africa’s economic growth could not have happened without major improvement in economic governance as more than two-thirds of the continent has registered overall improvement in the quality of economic governance,” it said.

According to the report which is published online the costs of starting a business have fallen by more than two-thirds over the past seven years, while delays for starting a business have been halved.

Internal demand has also seen a growth in private sector which is the main engine of growth for the continent’s improved business climate.

“This progress has brought increased levels of trade and investment, with the annual rate of foreign investment increasing fivefold since 2000,” the report states.

The reports forecast a 5.5 per cent economic growth for continent’s low-income countries in coming years after growth exceeded 4.5 in 2012 forecast.

Africa’s collective gross domestic product (GDP) reached US $953 billion while the number of middle income countries on the continent rose to 26, out of a total of 54.

“This growth has reduced income poverty as the share of the population living below the poverty line has fallen from 51 per cent to 39 per cent,” it states.

Some 350 million Africans now earn between US $2-20 (Sh170-1,700) a day with the middle class is increasingly becoming an active consumer market.

However, the report warns of that the continent’s inadequate infrastructure and disparity in earning between rural and urban areas and slums remains a major constraint to the continent’s economic growth and development.

Strong emphasis should be placed in greater regional economic integration to improve prospects for growth by enabling African producers to build regional value chains, achieve economies of scale, increase intra-African trade and become internationally competitive.

Manuel Odeny © 2013

Researchers Discover Use of Radioactivity To End Poaching

Researchers from University of Utah with help from Kenya Wildlife Services have developed a new radioactivity method to end poaching which will save African elephants from extinction.

Through a means to measure radioactive carbon-14 deposited in tusks and teeth the researchers can reveal the year an animal died which can ascertain whether the ivory was taken illegally to curb elephants, hippos, rhinos and other wildlife.

The study is key in arresting poachers and ivory dealers claiming ivory they are using was taken before 1975 and 1989 when international agreements banned most trade of raw ivory from Asian and African elephants respectively.

“This could be used in specific cases of ivory seizures to determine when the ivory was obtained and thus whether it is legal as it has immediate applications to fighting the illegal sale and trade of ivory that has led to the highest rate of poaching seen in decades." Thure Cerling a researcher said.

Published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,’ researchers used open-air nuclear bomb tests  in the atmosphere after the 1952-1962 nuclear weapons tests by US and Soviet, and the 1945 nuclear bombs in Heroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan.

The method uses the "bomb curve," graph showing changes in carbon-14 levels in the atmosphere absorbed by plants and animals in the food chain after analysing samples from 29 animal and plant tissues, most killed and collected in Kenya between 1905 to2008.

“The analysis revealed that various tissues that formed at the same time have the same carbon-14 levels which can determine age of ivory within about a year,” the research states.

The samples from animals died between 1905 and 1953 had minimal carbon-14 because they died before atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. The sample animals killed after 1955 had higher level, which can pinpoint the date.

"The dating method is affordable and accessible to government and law enforcement agencies as it costs about $500 (Sh42,500) per sample and can incorporate the use of DNA,” the study said.

Currently 30,000 elephants are killed annually with 70 per cent of smuggled ivory going to China in an illegal trade that has funded organized crimes and militia in Darfur, Uganda, Sudan and Somalia. So far only 423,000 African elephants are left.

Manuel Odeny © 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Poem: Hell Bound by Manuel Odeny

Do you know the hardest part?
When you’ve been through hell
and back?
It isn’t the yowls of wretched souls,
seeping your life.
Or the fiery flames,
charring your spirits.
Or the painful anguish,
of hopes in dash.
Or hollow dead eyes,
peering in a dark future.
Or dead, torn ear drums,
shattered by incessant screams-
waiting for a voice of hope.

For verily:
what more can life do
to a people who have been through hell,
and back?
But after many sojourns down this path,
I verily know when the hardest part beckons,
for even the Phantom and Count Dracula shudders:
for the hardest part
Is when at the end of the road a soul reaches,
and the familiar hell path again beckons.
When at rock bottom your dream hits,
with slow sickening hit, it thuds,
before giving way, floor opens: