The Nairobi County government has shut down a Chinese restaurant that refused to serve African customers after 5pm.
According to reports in Kenya’s Daily Nation, the restaurant in Kilimani was operating illegally for years without a liquor licence, a health inspection licence and a change-of-use licence.
The closure comes after media reports of the restaurant’s controversial decision to ban African patrons after 5pm. The owners said it was out of concern for the safety of Chinese patrons.
“We don’t admit Africans that we don’t know because you never know who is Al-Shabaab and who isn’t,” relations manager Esther Zhao told the newspaper. “It is not like it is written on somebody’s face that they are a thug armed with a gun.”
However, staff denied that only a select group of Africans were allowed in, saying there was “strictly a no African policy” in place.
Kenyans who were turned away from the Chinese restaurant have been encouraged to lodge a complaint with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
The owner, Zhao Yang, was arrested yesterday for operating the restaurant without a licence, the Guardian reported. If found guilty, he faces a prison term of 18 months or a fine of more than $1 000.
Giant rats may strike fear and disgust into the hearts of homeowners worldwide, but researchers in impoverished Mozambique are improbably turning some of them into heroes.
At Eduardo Mondlane University in the capital Maputo, nine giant rats are busy at work – sniffing out tuberculosis-causing bacteria from rows of sputum samples.
These are no ordinary rats, as they have undergone six months of training in Tanzania. Their most distinguishing asset is their impeccable sense of smell.
Placed inside a glass cage, a rat darts from sample to sample, then stops or rubs its legs, indicating that a sample is infected with a TB causing bacteria.
Once the task is complete, it is given a treat through a syringe for a job well done.
“Within 30 minutes, the rat can test close to a hundred samples, which normally takes a laboratory technician four days,” said Emilio Valverde, TB program director at APOPO, the organisation leading the research.
The project, which started in February 2013, has brought hope to thousands of TB sufferers who sometimes receive false results and test negative using the standard laboratory system.
In 2006, tuberculosis was declared a national emergency in Mozambique, with 60 000 people in 2014 said to be infected, according to the ministry of health.
That number was a 10 percent increase from 2013.
Samples delivered to the university for testing are collected from 15 health centres across Maputo.
Rats in training
Belgian group APOPO is planning to expand the program to other parts of the country, while working on getting the system approved by the World Health Organization.
The organisation claims rat testing is more cost effective than other conventional methods.
Each rat costs around $6 700 to $8 000 to train, with a six-to-eight-year life span.
The cost is lower compared to rapid diagnostic test GeneXpert, which costs up to $17 000 per device, setting the state back between $10 and $17 per test.
The kitten-size rats are also used by APOPO to detect landmines by sniffing out explosives.
They are light enough to cross terrain without triggering the mines, and are followed by de-mining experts who reward the rats with bananas.
The rats weigh up to 1.5 pounds and are said to be “easier to catch and train” – according to Valverde.
Samples pointed out by the rats to contain TB bacteria are then sent for further tests using fluorescence microscopy, a more sensitive laboratory technique.
The results are sent back to health centres, allowing patients to start treatment early.
Although TB is a treatable disease, in underdeveloped countries like Mozambique it can be deadly if left untreated and is particularly harmful to people living with HIV.
Mozambique is one of the countries worst affected by TB and 1 in 10 adults is HIV-positive.
With World Tuberculosis Day being marked on Tuesday, the Mozambican Ministry of Health said it was cautiously monitoring the APOPO work.
“This technique has to be compared to others that are available and already WHO approved, such as GeneXpert or LED microscope,” said Ivan Manhica, who heads the national programme for tuberculosis at the health ministry.
According to the WHO, TB killed 1.5 million people in 2013.
It’s mid-morning and the sun is blazing. It is so hot that germinating seeds struggle to grow.
In Moi Ndabi, about 44km south of Kenya’s Lake Naivasha in Nakuru County, the vegetation dotted sparingly across the village has turned yellow.
More than 100 people have lined up at the Moi Ndabi borehole to wait their turn to fetch water sold at five Kenyan shillings ($0.05) per 20-litre jerry can.
But about 12km away from the water point in this region of the Rift Valley two greenhouses of different sizes stand adjacent to the homestead of Zainabu Malicha. By the end of March, she hopes to have pocketed at least 1.2m shillings ($13 100) from the sale of the tomatoes she grows there.
For the widow who is now solely responsible for the care of her five children, this venture into agribusiness has transformed her life, which for much of the last two decades has been dominated by hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
“Living in this semi-arid area [used to mean] no viable farming activity,” she says.
Malicha’s business venture relies on a simple water-harvesting technology: a water pan. Constructing the pan – a circular container 20m across – involves digging a dam and covering it with a dam liner. The pan then stores the runoff water during the heavy rains. Once full, it can provide enough water for Malicha for up to four months until the next rainy season.
“Before 2011, when the water pan was constructed, life was hard. Extremely hard. Maize would fail due to [the] scorching sun. Vegetables withered every so often. Going to sleep hungry was common,” Malicha says.
Having made 600 000 shillings ($6 500) from produce grown in the smaller greenhouse, Malicha used the proceeds to set up the bigger one. “I have so much joy now because I can comfortably feed my children with [a] balanced diet and meet the education expenses,” she says.
A few miles from her homestead, Florence Muthoni is also enjoying the fruits of the water reservoir.
Having access to a greenhouse has enabled her to grow watermelons, a crop she once attempted and failed to grow on her hectare (2.5 acres) of land.
“After two months, I harvest and make 135 000 shillings ($1 475). This is good enough to pay for my two sons on parallel programmes in local universities,” says the widow, who has lived in the area since 1992.
On a separate half-hectare of land she has also grown vegetables, some bananas and sugarcane, made possible through using water pans.
“I plan to buy a plot and then rear two Friesian cows. This could raise my profits, and when I finally become old, my children would take over,” she says.
Having the water pan, Muthoni says, has emancipated her from hunger and “opened up her mind to hope for great things” not just for herself but for other women in the village.
Muthoni and Malicha now lead a group of 286 women who form the Chemi Chemi ya Tumaini Jangwani Women Group (Springs of Hope in the Desert Women Group) as chair and secretary respectively.
Even though the water pans led to solutions to the problems of food scarcity and related health issues, their construction was possible only with the assistance of an NGO.
Muthoni says the NGO spent 20m shillings ($200 000) on setting up 50 water pans in the area for the women to irrigate their farms. The amount includes the 560 000 shillings used for their smaller greenhouses.
“We hear the government has loans for women, but how to get them is what we do not know. If it wasn’t for the NGO, we could still be suffering in hunger,” says Muthoni. “We need people to reach out to us in the villages and give us a sense of direction, just like non-governmental organisations do.”
Worryingly, the lack of gender-disaggregated information on credit beneficiaries continues to hamper balanced distribution of available resources, it says. Despite the creation of government funds specifically for women, only a few have benefited from them. Women make up more than half of Kenya’s population of 44 million.
Through community groups, women can access money from the Women Enterprise Fund , established in 2007, and the Uwezo Fund , launched in 2013. So far 707 435 women have received funding from the WEF while 274 857 have been trained in business management skills, according to statistics from the Ministry of Devolution and Planning.
Armed convoys, checkpoints and sporadic exchanges of gunfire are still common in the Libyan capital, but residents are flocking back to the streets and surprisingly hopeful of a brighter future.
Sitting in a newly opened cafe overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean, Mohammed, a 19-year-old student, said that while fear remains, Tripoli’s residents are trying to get on with life.
“Tripoli is a city that loves life and wants peace and peace must find her,” he said.
Since the ouster of dictator Muammar Gaddafi almost four years ago, rival militias and administrations have battled for power in the oil-rich North African country.
The city was seized in August by the Islamist-backed General National Congress after weeks of bloody fighting with forces backing the internationally recognised government.
That triggered an exodus of foreign residents and prompted most diplomatic missions to close.
The rise of the Islamic State group, which has claimed several attacks in the country, has also raised fears but the city’s residents are adapting as best they can.
Some even sense a changing tide.
In the coastal neighbourhood of Gargaresh, shops, designer boutiques and restaurants stretch for some three kilometres along the seafront.
The streets are crowded with pedestrians and traffic.
Women in colourful scarves, men and children are busy socialising and shopping.
Almost nothing is missing from stores that continue to import goods through Tripoli’s port.
Petrol is still cheap and the Libyan dinar is stable at 1.36 to the dollar. Power cuts are becoming rare and electronic goods are becoming cheaper as imports from China rise.
“There has been some unrest, people momentarily deserted the area, but now they are coming back,” said Anas, who works in a restaurant in the neighbourhood.
He said the shops and restaurants were abandoned during the deadly summer clashes but life is returning to normal.
“That’s not to say that people are totally reassured. They fear for the future, they are afraid of explosions and fighting that could happen any time,” he said.
Peace ‘desperately needed’
Armed convoys patrol Tripoli’s roads daily, often erecting checkpoints. This is reassuring for residents, but few venture out after dark.
“Some people go out at night, but most stay at home because we can’t identify who is on the checkpoints,” said Anas. “It is difficult to know who we are dealing with these days.”
On the short drive to the city centre from Gargaresh, pictures of killed militia fighters adorn the big metal billboards that once displayed commercial advertising.
The facades of the old town display revolutionary graffiti and slogans of the Nato-backed uprising that drove Gaddafi from power in 2011, such as “Free Libya” and “Tripoli: Citadel of Free Men”.
But new slogans are encroaching.
“Yes for Libya Dawn, No to the Murderer Haftar,” reads one aimed at controversial army chief Khalifa Haftar, who was recently appointed by the internationally recognised government and has vowed to take on Islamists.
Anas el-Gomati, an analyst with the Libya-based Sadeq Institute think tank, said that although Libyans differ on politics, they still want a political solution.
“It would be near impossible to generalise as to what Libyans want. What they certainly don’t want is more war. Any peaceful solution to the current civil war is desperately needed,” he said.
At Mitiga airport to the east of the capital, Raja, an affluent businessman, is returning to live and work in the city.
He fled Tripoli a couple of years ago following an altercation with gunmen in a grocery store.
“They came into the store and kidnapped the owner as they beat me and threatened to kill me. After that I left the country immediately,” he said.
“I left then because of fear, but now I have decided to return because I love my city and I believe that peace will prevail soon. But I will never go to a grocery store ever again.”
Crouched against a wall in the Bardo museum, Fabienne, a French tourist, hid with her guide and 40 French holidaymakers, fearing they would be discovered by the gunmen who had burst in to take the Tunis museum of ancient treasures and its tourists hostage. Whispering, she told French TV station BFMTV by phone: “We’re all terrified … we’re afraid they’ll appear and suddenly kill us all.”
Tunisia, the small north African country which lit the first spark of the Arab spring when its popular uprising toppled the dictatorship four years ago, has been plunged into shock after gunmen killed at least 20 people, including at least 17 foreign tourists, in the worst terrorist attack in more than a decade.
The targeting of tourists by terrorists is a new phenomenon in Tunisia and a massive blow to a country whose struggling post-revolution economy depends largely on its beach resorts and foreign visitors. Tunisia, which peacefully elected a new Parliament in December, has prided itself as a model of political transition since the overthrow of the brutal authoritarian Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, in contrast to the post-revolutionary difficulties of its troubled neighbours.
But it has also been struggling to tackle the growing terrorist threat in the region and thousands of Tunisians have left to fight foreign jihad. The attack immediately raised questions about the Islamist terrorist threat to Tunisia amid mounting anxiety that jihadi violence is spilling over the border from neighbouring Libya, as well as Algeria.
Three Italians as well as visitors from Germany, Poland and Spain were among the dead, as well as a Tunisian cleaner and a security officer. Around 22 other foreigners were wounded.
Bardo museum The attack began just after midday as gunmen armed with kalashnikovs opened fire in front of the Bardo museum, the country’s largest and a major tourist attraction, which houses one of the world’s biggest collections of Roman mosaics and is built in a 19th century palace adjacent to parliament.
As the gunmen struck, tourists were getting out of coaches to visit the museum on a spring day that had seen scores of visitors, many from cruise ships docked in the port for the day.
Wafel Bouzi, a guide with a Spanish-speaking group, told journalists that on exiting the museum with his group, he saw in the car park “a young 25-year-old man, dressed normally, without a beard” who was holding a kalashnikov. “I thought he was playing with it. Then he opened fire.”
The gunmen began shooting near the coaches then entered the museum where hundreds of panicked visitors had taken refuge. Josep Lluís Cusidó, mayor of the small Catalan town of Vallmoll, was at the museum as part of a wedding anniversary trip with his wife. “A few men walked in and started shooting, we’re alive thanks to a miracle,” he told the Spanish news agency Efe. “These men suddenly started shooting and people started falling to the ground dead and things started falling from the ceiling … Everything happened so fast. Right now we’re with the police. It’s total chaos.”
Tunisian security forces entered the museum and shot dead two gunmen at about 3pm local time (1400 GMT). MPs had been in parliament nearby debating new laws which were to include an anti-terrorism bill. After the shots began, the parliament session was suspended and MPs were evacuated. The tourists were also later ushered out of the museum as security officials warned at least two or three accomplices of the gunmen might be at large.
More than 100 European tourists freed at the end of the siege were driven out of the museum gates, their faces showing a mixture of anxiety and relief. The mixture of men and women, young and old, stared out into space, some giving smiles at crowds still packed outside the gates.
One young blonde woman inside the first bus grinned and waved her hand. Dozens of armed police and troops remained inside the museum complex sealed off from the city. One Italian couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on a cruise ship told the Italian newspaper La Stampa how fellow holidaymakers had been rushed from the museum back to the ship. “All of a sudden we saw them all rushing back on board. There was panic among those who had managed to get away from the terrorists,” the newspaper quoted them as telling a friend.
Several hundred Tunisians gathered around the museum gates. Relief that the ordeal was over was mixed with dismay among those watching. “This is a black day for Tunisia,” said Karim Ben Sa’a, a manager in the tourism industry. “We are very sad for these tourists. They visit our country and it is so, so sad to see them die. Our hearts are black.”
There was shock that terrorists had managed to launch an attack at the very heart of the capital. Police set up checkpoints and a policeman with a machine gun was posted outside the office of the UK’s British Council.
“There is a possibility, but it is not certain, that [the two gunmen] could have been helped … and we are currently conducting extensive search operations to identify the two or three terrorists who possibly participated in the operation,” the prime minister, Habib Essid, said.
The president, Beji Caid Essebsi – the 88-year-old secularist elected in December after serving in previous Tunisian regimes – visited survivors in hospital, saying: “The authorities have taken all measures to ensure that such things don’t happen.”
Worst attack since 2002 The museum assault was the worst attack involving foreigners in Tunisia since an al-Qaeda suicide bombing on a synagogue killed 21 people on the island of Djerba in 2002.
The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said: “It is not by chance that today’s terrorism affects a country that represents hope for the Arab world. The hope for peace, the hope for stability, the hope for democracy. This hope must live on.”
The attack came the day after Tunisia announced arrests of a jihadi group trying to infiltrate the country, and in the week a key Tunisian militant was killed in Sirte. Troops are deployed on the Libyan border to stop suspected terrorist groups bringing in men and equipment.
There have also been concerns about the Mount Chaambi area on the border with Algeria where al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has reportedly been helping a Tunisian group that has killed numerous soldiers.
Although the country has been more stable than others in the region, a disproportionately large number of Tunisian recruits – some 3 000, according to government estimates – have joined Islamic State (Isis) fighters in Syria and Iraq, triggering fears some will return to mount attacks back home.
The American embassy in Tunis was attacked in September 2012, seriously damaging the embassy grounds and an adjoining American school. Four assailants were killed. Overall, though, the violence that Tunisia has seen in recent years has been largely focused on security forces, not foreigners or tourist sites.
Philip Stack, of British risk analyst Maplecroft, said of the Tunis events: “This attack is certain to have an effect on the tourism industry, which the authorities have worked hard to rebuild after the 2011 revolution. The principal targets of terrorism in Tunisia in the last couple of years have been the security forces. By targeting foreign tourists at a prestigious city centre site, the terrorists have changed their tactics and raised the stakes.”
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said Washington condemned the attack and continued “to support the Tunisian government’s efforts to advance a secure, prosperous, and democratic Tunisia”.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, blamed Isis, saying in a statement: “With the attack that has struck Tunis today, the Daesh [Isis’s Arabic acronym] terrorist organisation is once again targeting the countries and peoples of the Mediterranean region.
“This strengthens our determination to cooperate more closely with our partners to confront the terrorist threat. The EU is determined to mobilise all the tools it has to fully support Tunisia in the fight against terrorism and reforming the security sector.”