The regular travel books you find in a bookstore are usually full of tips on what to see or where to eat.  What is often forgotten is the must human dimension of experiencing a foreign lands - its people and their culture!  One of the greatest experiences one can have is to observe and experience how others do the same things we do every day, yet in a different way.  This is the angle for Decoding Swahili Culture a must read prior to your next visit to the eastern African Indian Ocean coast.  Read before you step of the plane in Zanzibar, Tanzania or take a dhow in Lamu, Kenya. Read the Reviews here.

3 - D Printing changing our world dramatically?

3-D printing technology is making giant strides.  Companies are printing pre-fab housing using the technology, titanium hearts are printed for medical research on applicability in surgeries, soon a 3-D printer will routinely furnish the crown's used in dentistry and the fashion industry is already sporting 3-D printed designer shoes.  All the indications point to this new manufacturing method becoming increasingly accepted.  Wide acceptance is a pre-requisite for all new technologies to establish themselves as mainstream and subsequently changing the existing paradigm.  There are many fold applications for the 3-D printing technology, some  we  are not even imaging yet, others which already lead one to think about the wide ranging effects that will take place.  What will be the impact of the availability of reasonably priced 3-D printed housing on local real-estate markets?  How will the manufacturing industry develop? Will 3-D printing change the African landscape eradicating slums?  These are just some questions the use of this new way of creating "things" brings to mind.  It is safe to ponder that once fully utilized this technology will change our  "way-of-life" in manifold ways.  It will be a game changer world wide!  One of the many applications that get me excited is the possibility of using plastic as "food" for the machine.  Just imagine the wonderful beaches of our world without the plastic.  Truly that would be a step in the right direction.  Will companies fight to utilize the plastic debris carpet floating in our oceans.  That would be wonderful. Yet, it is likely while there are many positive repercussions one can assume there will be unintended secondary consequences as well.  Leave a comment with your thoughts below.   To read more about how 3-D printers may use recycled plastics click on the link.

In January the U.S. White House announced the first U.S. -Africa summit meeting on August 5 and 6, 2014. Some 54 ambassadors are invited to the event. According to the U.S. State Departement this summit is to strenghthen business relations between the tow continents.  "The daylong forums, to be held in Washington, will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa. It will focus on U.S. private sector engagement in Africa in finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods and information communication technology. It will bring together heads of state and business executives from both sides of the Atlantic for conversations about successes and solutions to build greater access for trade and investment in Africa"

Read more:

The Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor
project aka The Lamu corridor is a transport and infrastructure project in East Africa that passes through Nairobi and much of the Northern Rift.  The project will involve the following components:[1]

In a region rife with official corruption a worry regarding the allocation of project funds is transparency and the flow/ use of public monies.   Transparency regarding the project and the flow of monies is aided by a variety of online web-sites and blogs.  The Valley Institute a local NGO provides a comprehensive listing of active websites by supporters and opponents of the project which can aid in gaining a holistic pictures of the project and its long term impact in the region.


Today the U.S. administration took unprecedented action to combat wildlife crimes.   The WHITE HOUSE press office released the official U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and also provided a fact sheet on a new ban on the ivory trade.  See the text of the Fact Sheet below and you can also download a full copy of the strategy on our Conservation News Page.

FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking & Commercial Ban on Trade in Elephant Ivory

Today the United States announced a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.  The Strategy will strengthen U.S. leadership on addressing the serious and urgent conservation and global security threat posed by illegal trade in wildlife.
In addition to the strategy, we are also announcing a ban on commercial trade of elephant ivory, which will enhance our efforts to protect iconic species like elephants and rhinos by prohibiting the import, export, or resale within the United States of elephant ivory except in a very limited number of circumstances. Taken together, these actions will help ensure that the United States is not contributing to poaching of elephants and illegal trade in elephant ivory.


The National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking establishes guiding principles for U.S. efforts to stem illegal trade in
wildlife.  It sets three strategic priorities: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.


Today we are also we are also announcing a ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory, which will enhance our ability to
protect elephants by prohibiting commercial imports, exports and domestic of ivory, with a very limited number of exceptions.  This ban is the best way to help ensure that U.S. markets do not contribute to the further decline of African elephants in the wild.

To begin implementing these new controls, federal Departments and Agencies will immediately undertake administrative actions

Commercial Import of African Elephant Ivory: All commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques, will be prohibited.
Prohibit Commercial Export of Elephant Ivory:  All commercial exports will be prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, certain noncommercial items, and in exceptional circumstances permitted under the Endangered Species Act.

        Significantly Restrict Domestic Resale of Elephant Ivory: 

We will finalize a proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an
exemption document.

          Clarify the Definition of “Antique”: 

To qualify as an antique, an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the 
            Endangered Species Act: 
The onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.
Restore Endangered Species Act Protection for African Elephants:  We will revoke a previous Fish and Wildlife Service special rule that had relaxed Endangered Species Act restrictions on African elephant ivory trade.

Limited Sport-hunting of African Elephants:  We will limit the number of African elephant sport-hunted trophies that an individual can import to two per hunter per year.

The United States will continue to lead global efforts to protect the world’s iconic animals and preserve our planet’s natural beauty for future generations.  Combating wildlife trafficking will require the shared understanding, commitment, and efforts of the world’s governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, corporations, civil society, and individuals.   At this week’s London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, we hope other countries will join us in taking ambitious action to combat wildlife
trafficking.  In the coming months, we will take further steps to implement the National Strategy, and will work with the Congress to
strengthen existing laws and adopt new ones to enhance our ability to address this global challenge.

Follow this link for a full text of the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

The ancient Swahili town of Lamu, in Kenya along the Indian Ocean coast of east African is getting ready to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with its annual Maulidi festival.  The festival is celebrated via processions, recitations, readings, dancing and music.  In 2012 Abdallah Barghash took the video below in the plaza in front of Lamu's Old Fort.  Lamu has a special atmosphere during Maulidi and a visit is worthwhile.  
More and more press reports surface regarding how the targeted poaching of wildlife provides funding for violent conflicts. Thus in addition to the ecological damages, which will affect human's in the long run, the killing of wildlife, is also a medium for the immediate killing of more animals and humans. 
Press reports highlight the urgency of the issue from a socio-economic and security stand-point. Anti-poaching efforts, therefore, too
have become militarized yet this may be a short term fix to a problem that can only be fought by holistic, long term approaches which address the full magnitude of underlying socio-economic and security dynamics.

© Ann Thompson

Read More About the Issue by Following the "READ MORE" Link

Do you have a great story?  A special expertise?  A passion for a Cause?  If you do and if it pertains to Africa, feel free to contact to submit for review.  We will publish a guest blog entry for you.  Go ahead try it. 
Looking forward to your entry!
Alina is a young Swiss woman who just finished her secondary studies. Part of her requirements to graduate was a monograph with original research.  Alina took a critical look at the topic "aid and development."   In no time, Alina arranged to do, what she always wanted, a chance to prove herself working on a project.  Anidan a orphanage in Kenya, desperately needed help in setting up a library.  The library was needed to deepen the resident children´s love for learning and reading books.  Her research and experiences provided the basis for her thesis which she has now completed.  Alina's thesis and work provides inspiration and a how to in setting up a library project.  You can download her thesis, which is written in German below.  Well done Alina!  For more information on the Anidan orphanage in Kenya  see the YouTube video below.
Alina Maturarbeit
File Size: 3171 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

Walfame is a Kenya group of 15 youngsters gaining fame as hip hop stars in Kenya. The group has  won the MTV heart Journalism Award in Copenhagen 2010 with this music video, filmed and edited by Cultural Video Foundation. With Kibera being the largest urban slum in Nairobi the group's message for recycling as a way to lower pollution and “make a town a green town, is likely based in part on personal experience.  And it is a message and song that will never go out of style. My congratulations to the artists.