Sen. Chris Coons went to Kenya amid chaos after William Ruto was declared the country’s new president.
A visiting U.S. senator says he has encouraged Kenya’s outgoing president to participate in a “peaceful transition of power” amid the latest election crisis in East Africa’s most stable democracy.
“I’ll let the president speak for himself, but that was certainly a hope I expressed today,” Sen. Chris Coons told The Associated Press after his meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday. He said they discussed ways in which Kenyatta can play a “constructive peacemaking role” after leaving office.
Kenyatta has remained publicly silent since the Aug. 9 vote, adding to the anxiety as Kenya again faces post-election uncertainty and a likely court challenge by the losing candidate, Raila Odinga. Coons, leading a congressional delegation on a five-country Africa visit, was in Kenya in part to meet the key parties and urge that calm continue.
Kenyatta had backed longtime rival and opposition leader Odinga in the close race against his own deputy president, William Ruto, who fell out bitterly with Kenyatta years ago. Ruto on Monday was declared the winner, but not before Kenya’s most peaceful election ever slid into chaos in the final moments.
The electoral commission split in two, each side accusing the other of trying to tinker with the results. It came as a shock to many Kenyans after an election widely seen as the country’s most transparent ever, with results from the more than 46,000 polling stations posted online.
Now Odinga almost certainly will challenge the results in Supreme Court. His campaign has seven days from Monday’s declaration to do so, and the court will have 14 days to rule. Odinga has urged supporters to remain patient instead of taking to the streets in a country with a history of sometimes deadly post-election violence.
After meeting with Kenyatta, Odinga and Ruto, Coons told the AP “I was encouraged that in all three meetings we heard a commitment to a call for calm and tranquility, to respect the legal processes established in the 2010 constitution.” He said the conversations were about the rule of law, the importance of free and fair elections and peaceful transitions.
“Obviously, the United States has had a very difficult experience with these issues for the past few years,” Coons said, referring to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as former President Donald Trump tried to remain in power. “I said in all three meetings we have things to learn from Kenya.”
Kenyatta told Coons that Kenya would uphold “its position of a shining example of democracy in the continent by maintaining peace during this transition period,” according to a statement issued by the president’s office.
Coons said he did not come to Kenya seeking anything like the handshake that Kenyatta and Odinga, after prodding, famously shared to end months of crisis after the 2017 election, whose results were overturned by the Supreme Court over irregularities, a first in Africa. Odinga boycotted the fresh vote and declared himself the “people’s president,” bringing allegations of treason.
This time, with Kenyatta’s backing, the Odinga campaign felt he would win the presidency after a quarter-century of pursuing it.
Kenyatta is stepping down after two terms, itself a notable act in a region where longtime presidents like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda have been accused of clinging to power through changes in term limits, manipulation of elections and crackdowns on dissenting voices.
The U.S. delegation is also visiting Rwanda, where human rights and violent tensions with neighboring Congo are almost certainly on the agenda following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit there last week. Coons said he looks forward to visiting again with Kagame.
Kenyatta has played a leading role in efforts to calm the Rwanda-Congo tensions and in trying to mediate in neighboring Ethiopia’s deadly Tigray conflict, with support from the U.S. Coons did not say what kind of peacemaking role he hoped to see Kenyatta play after stepping down.
Ruto’s public comments this week have been on domestic matters, not foreign, but Coons said the president-elect made an “expression of concern and intent in trying to help lead to positive resolutions” in such regional crises.
Coons also has played a role in trying to calm the Ethiopia conflict. But he told the AP the delegation was not having a meeting with Ethiopia’s government or the Tigray forces while in Kenya.
Coons, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and his delegation have already visited Cape Verde and Mozambique and will visit Tunisia as well.
A former IBM engineer is building open-source tractors for the masses in hopes of changing how food is grown and who grows it.
The founder of Ronnie Baugh Tractors in Paint Rock, Alabama learned an invaluable lesson as a marine in the Vietnam War: If you believe something’s impossible, you’re dead.
Horace Clemmons, now 79, says that advice not only kept him alive in the war; it’s also the driving force behind his current effort to reinvent an industry now dominated by corporate giants like John Deere and AGCO.
“The goal is to try to convince everybody else they can make these things,” Clemmons said. “All you need is two jack stands and somebody that can turn a wrench and somebody that can weld, and you’re in business making your own tractor.”
Clemmons worked for IBM in the 1970s as an early software engineer, but his success came after he left that job and founded the first cash register company to use open-source software.
“I said at the time I left IBM, ‘I will create a business unlike IBM,'” Clemmons said. “People will not do business with me because they have to. They will do business with me because they want to.”
In a former t-shirt factory surrounded by cotton farms that now export their harvest to China, Clemmons today is trying to bring that same open-source philosophy to tractors.
Everything that goes into a tractor is somewhat cheap and widely available. If someone can’t afford the $22,000 sticker price, Clemmons will sell them the plans to build their own. Its “open system design” is a far cry from the patented and proprietary technology of a John Deere.
The hope is that this novel approach will inspire farmers to innovate and customize the tractor the same way open-source computing and the coders who had access to it sparked the PC revolution that changed the world.
“So IBM started dominating the PC market, but Michael Dell in his dorm room looked at what IBM was doing and said, ‘But the customers are asking for something different,'” Clemmons said. “And IBM says, ‘No, no, you buy what I got.’ And Michael decided, ‘Screw that. I’m going to start a business doing what the customer wants done.’ Like, what was Dell’s revenue last year? 107 or 8 billion. And what was IBM’s? 50 something? Okay. If we do the right thing, that’ll be John Deere 10 years from now.”
Clemmons says his ultimate goal is to give the millions of impoverished small farmers around the world access to mechanization and the economic empowerment that comes with it. He says the whole concept behind Ronnie Baugh Tractors is to show the world what’s possible. Partners in Uganda, Senegal and the Philippines have already licensed the design and are now building Oggun tractors domestically. They’re even adding two-wheel and fully electric versions to the lineup.
Having access to low cost, highly customizable agricultural equipment that is also open-source technology has the potential to benefit millions of small farmers in the developing world. But in the U.S., the idea is also gaining traction — for very different reasons.
In Tarrytown, New York, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is like a living laboratory for sustainable food production. Jack Algiere, the center’s director of agroecology, says he purchased one of Clemmon’s first Oggun tractors because of its versatility.
“The diversity of a farm like this where we’re growing literally hundreds of different crops — there is no one piece of equipment, there is no giant thing that we’ll use to solve all of our problems,” Algiere said. “There are a lot of little instruments in our toolbox, so we want those to be as minimal as possible and as repairable as possible.”
Not to mention, there’s the ability to tinker with the design. Algiere says he’s made multiple modifications, cutting and welding the frame to raise the floorbed, making room for nearly a dozen different custom tools. All of these changes are shared among the growing Oggun community of small farmers. Farmers, he says, who have been underserved by the agricultural equipment industry since big agriculture all but wiped out the small farm in the 1950s.
“No one goes small anymore,” Algiere said. “Once you get small, you go into garden tractor garden equipment, lawn tractors, because that’s where the market is. This is an invisible market.”
It’s an invisible but growing market. Algiere says as climate change wreaks havoc on agriculture, the need to adopt a smaller scale, locally adapted approach to growing food has never been greater.
“It’s not about reliving some past or, you know, a fairy tale of what agriculture was, but what our future looks like,” Algiere said.
At the Hudson Valley Seed Company in Accord, New York, Steven Crist uses an Oggun tractor to grow more than 70 varieties of crops a year, producing organic, heirloom seeds that are shipped all over the country.
“For us here, it’s our finesse tool,” Crist said. “When we got this tractor, we were scaling up at the same time, so we built our whole farm around this thing.”
Crist says aside from the utility of the tractor, he felt aligned with the philosophy behind it.
“It felt in league with the mission of seed saving, organic seed saving in general, where we’re trying to not create borders, not control a patent or a thing,” Crist said. “We’re trying to proliferate it and give people access to the ability to do good work in the world. That’s kind of mushy, but it’s true.”
With climate change and an ever-widening global economic divide, Clemmons says he’s determined so see his plans through, even if it takes generations.
“I mean, people tell me I’m crazy, and I agree with them,” Clemmons said. “I have a sister who tells me I’m as crazy as she is, and I chuckle and say, ‘You’re right, but mine is socially beneficial. I am me. I get up every day. Being me.”
Clemmons says he would rather fail trying to change a broken system than succeed by following its rules.
African counties are among those most affected by ripples of the war.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Cairo for talks Sunday with Egyptian officials as his country seeks to break diplomatic isolation and sanctions by the West over its invasion of Ukraine.
Lavrov landed in Cairo late Saturday, the first leg of his Africa trip that will also include stops in Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Russia’s state-run RT television network.
The Russian chief diplomat met Sunday morning with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in a Cairo presidential palace, the Egyptian leader’s office said. Lavrov then held talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry.
Lavrov was scheduled to meet later Sunday with the Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. He will also address the permanent representatives of the pan-Arab organization, RT reported.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has had dire effects on the world economy, driving up oil and gas prices to unprecedented levels.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports have halted shipments. Some Ukrainian grain is transported through Europe by rail, road and river, but with higher transportation costs.
The war has disrupted shipments of Russian products because shipping and insurance companies did not want to deal with Western sanctions on the country.
African counties are among those most affected by ripples of the war. The prices of vital commodities skyrocketed and billions of dollars in aid have been directed to help those who fled the war in Europe. That has left millions of people in conflict areas in Africa and the Middle East suffering from worsening growing shortages in food and other assistance.
In an article posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website, Lavrov rejected the West accusations that Russia is responsible for the global food crisis, as “another attempt to shift the blame to others.”
Seeking to rally African nations on his country’s side, he hailed what he called “an independent path” such nations took when they refrained from joining the West in sanctioning Russia.
“We know that the African colleagues does not approve of the undisguised attempts of the U.S. and their European satellites to gain the upper hand, and to impose a unipolar world order to the international community,” he wrote in the article, which also was published in four African newspapers.
Lavrov’s meetings with Egyptian officials and Arab envoys in Cairo come less than two weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden’s Mideast trip. Biden met with the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, before convening a summit with the leaders of Arab Gulf countries, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq in Saudi Arabia.
Egypt, the Arab World’s most populous country, refused to take sides since the war in Ukraine began in February as it maintains close ties with both Moscow and the West. Egypt is among the world’s largest importers of wheat, with much of that from Russia and Ukraine.
El-Sissi also completed a three-day visit to Serbia last week, the first in more than thirty years by an Egyptian president. Serbia has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia and has maintained friendly relations with Moscow despite the war. The two countries promised to increase economic cooperation. The Egyptian leader also visited Germany and France last week.
Russia and Egypt have strengthened their ties considerably in recent years as el-Sissi and Russia President Vladimir Putin developed a close personal rapport which helped increase military and economic cooperation.
Lavrov’s visit to Cairo came as Russia’s state-owned atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, began last week the construction of a four-reactor power plant it is building in Egypt.
For large and small nations around the globe, the prospect of averting a recession is fading.
That grim prognosis came in a report Tuesday from the World Bank, which warned that the grinding war in Ukraine, supply chain chokeholds, Covid-related lockdowns in China, and dizzying rises in energy and food prices are exacting a growing toll on economies all along the income ladder. This suite of problems is “hammering growth,” David Malpass, the bank’s president, said in a statement. “For many countries, recession will be hard to avoid.”
World growth is expected to slow to 2.9 percent this year from 5.7 percent in 2021. The outlook, delivered in the bank’s Global Economic Prospects report, is not only darker than one produced six months ago, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but also below the 3.6 percent forecast in April by the International Monetary Fund.
Growth is expected to remain muted next year. And for the remainder of this decade, it is forecast to fall below the average achieved in the previous decade.
poorer, hungrier and less secure.
Roughly 75 million more people will face extreme poverty than were expected to before the pandemic.
Per capita income in developing economies is also expected to fall 5 percent below where it was headed before the pandemic hit, the World Bank report said. At the same time, government debt loads are getting heavier, a burden that will grow as interest rates increase and raise the cost of borrowing.
“In Egypt more than half of the population is eligible for subsidized bread,” said Beata Javorcik, chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. “Now, that’s going to be much more expensive for government coffers, and it’s happening where countries are already more indebted than before.”
stock market’s woes. The conflict has caused dizzying spikes in gas prices and product shortages, and is pushing Europe to reconsider its reliance on Russian energy sources.
Global growth slows. The fallout from the war has hobbled efforts by major economies to recover from the pandemic, injecting new uncertainty and undermining economic confidence around the world. In the United States, gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
Russia’s economy faces slowdown. Though pro-Ukraine countries continue to adopt sanctions against the Kremlin in response to its aggression, the Russian economy has avoided a crippling collapse for now thanks to capital controls and interest rate increases. But Russia’s central bank chief warned that the country is likely to face a steep economic downturn as its inventory of imported goods and parts runs low.
Trade barriers go up. The invasion of Ukraine has also unleashed a wave of protectionism as governments, desperate to secure goods for their citizens amid shortages and rising prices, erect new barriers to stop exports. But the restrictions are making the products more expensive and even harder to come by.
Prices of essential metals soar. The price of palladium, used in automotive exhaust systems and mobile phones, has been soaring amid fears that Russia, the world’s largest exporter of the metal, could be cut off from global markets. The price of nickel, another key Russian export, has also been rising.
“Insecurity and violence continue to weigh on the outlook” for many low-income countries, the World Bank said, while “more rapid increases in living costs risk further escalating social unrest.” Several studies have pointed to rising food prices as an important trigger for the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.
In Latin American and the Caribbean, growth is expected to slow to 2.5 percent from 6.7 percent last year. India’s total output is forecast to drop to 7.5 percent from 8.7 percent, while Japan’s is expected to remain flat at 1.7 percent.
The World Bank, founded in the shadow of World War II to help rebuild ravaged economies, provides financial support to low- and middle-income nations. It reiterated its familiar basket of remedies, which include limiting government spending, using interest rates to dampen inflation and avoiding trade restrictions, price controls and subsidies.
Managing to tame inflation without sending the economy into a tailspin is a difficult task no matter what the policy choices are — which is why the risks of stagflation are so high.
At the same time, the United States, the European Union and allies are struggling to isolate Russia, starving it of resources to wage war, without crippling their own economies. Many countries in Europe, including Germany and Hungary, are heavily dependent on either Russian oil or gas.
The string of disasters — the pandemic, droughts and war — is injecting a large dose of uncertainty and draining confidence.
Among its economic prescriptions, the World Bank underscored that leaders should make it a priority to use public spending to shield the most vulnerable people.
That protection includes blunting the impact of rising food and energy prices as well as ensuring that low-income countries have sufficient supplies of Covid vaccines. So far, only 14 percent of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated.
“Renewed outbreaks of Covid-19 remain a risk in all regions, particularly those with lower vaccination coverage,” the report said.
KISUMU, Kenya — Before Kenya’s president and other leaders arrived in late May to mark a major public holiday, health officials in Kisumu on Lake Victoria saw disaster brewing. Coronavirus infections were spiking, hospital isolation units were filling up and the highly contagious Delta variant had been found in Kenya for the first time — in Kisumu County.
Dr. Boaz Otieno Nyunya, the county executive for health and sanitation, said he and other health specialists argued and pleaded for the politicians to hold a virtual celebration and skip the mass, in-person events that can supercharge an outbreak. Just weeks earlier, huge political rallies had helped fuel the catastrophic Covid-19 wave in India, where the Delta variant first emerged and became dominant.
Their objections were waved away, the health officials said. President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, the former prime minister Raila Odinga and others descended on Kisumu, drawing large and mostly unmasked crowds who thronged the streets to watch their slow-moving motorcades through the city and gathered to hear them at marketplaces and parking lots.
turning away patients for lack of beds or oxygen, health officials say they fear a wave like the one that ripped through India in April and May could be looming over Kisumu.
“The India example is not lost to us,” Dr. Nyunya said.
Though data on infections and deaths is spotty, more than 23 percent of the people tested for the virus in Kisumu last week were positive — more than double the national rate. Kenya’s overall positivity rate is similar to that of the United States when the pandemic peaked there in January. But the Delta variant was still rare then, the American health system is far more robust than Kenya’s and the U.S. government was ramping up vaccination on a grand scale.
All of Africa is vulnerable, as the latest wave of the pandemic sweeps the continent, driven in part by more transmissible variants. Fewer than 1 percent of Africa’s people have been even partially vaccinated, by far the lowest rate for any continent.
“I think the greatest risk in Africa is to look at what happened in Italy earlier on and what happened in India and start thinking we are safe — to say it’s very far away from us and that we may not go the same way,” said Dr. Mark Nanyingi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Liverpool in Britain. He called the surge in western Kenya a “storm on the horizon.”
said. But experts say the true scale of the pandemic far exceeds reported figures in Africa, where testing and tracing remain a challenge for many countries, and many nations do not collect mortality data.
To forestall the ongoing crisis, Kenya’s Ministry of Health last week imposed a restriction on gatherings and extended a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Kisumu and more than a dozen surrounding counties. But the measures were too late for Dr. Nyunya, who said that thinking back on the deliberations —which involved the county governor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, a former national health minister — over the celebrations last month, “It makes you feel impotent.”
record cases and deaths, President Yoweri Museveni has imposed a strict 42-day lockdown. Just weeks ago, Rwanda hosted the Basketball Africa League and other big sporting events, raising the possibility for a full reopening. But after a spike in cases, the government introduced new lockdown measures on Monday.
The Democratic Republic of Congo — where the virus has claimed the lives of more than 5 percent of lawmakers — is grappling with a third wave as it falters in rolling out vaccines. South Africa, the continent’s worst-hit nation, has reported new infections doubling in just two weeks’ time, with the sharpest increases in major urban centers. Tunisia, where hospitals are full and oxygen supplies are low, is enduring a fourth wave.
“New, higher transmitting variants create a precarious situation in many countries that have weak health systems,” said Dr. Ngozi Erondu, a senior health scholar at the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University.
The W.H.O. attributes the surge in Africa to lack of vaccination, insufficient adherence to precautionary measures like mask wearing and social distancing and the Delta and other variants.
lament a lack of protective gear and health insurance.
“We are buying our own gloves and masks,” said Dr. Onyango Ndong’a, chairman of the local chapter of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union. “We are covering for government inadequacies. We are tired now. We are stretched.”
For now, families who have lost loved ones are adjusting to a new reality.
Edward Onditi, 33, lost both his brother and his mother to Covid-19 this month. He said he left Nairobi to come and assist his family after his brother, Herbert, whom he regarded as a best friend and mentor, fell ill.
For weeks, the family transported Herbert, 43, between three hospitals in two counties — a distance of 70 miles in total — so that he could get high-flow oxygen. On the day before Herbert died, Edward had fish, his brother’s favorite meal, delivered to his isolation ward and promised to take him on a holiday once he was out.
“I’m so touched,” his brother said in a text message sent on June 2.
Barely 12 hours later, he was gone.
A few days later, their mother, Naomi, who had been ailing, succumbed to complications from Covid-19, too.
“It’s one of the toughest moments of my life,” Mr. Onditi said on a recent afternoon, his eyes welling with tears. “Things are just not working. They are not adding up.”
HONG KONG — As tear gas and fiery street clashes swirled around her two years ago, the Hong Kong painter Bouie Choi wondered how she would eventually render them on canvas.
The answer, exhibited at a local gallery about a year later, was “borrowed space_borrowed time,” her suite of brooding, ethereal landscapes that evoked ancient Chinese scroll paintings and captured a city transformed by civil unrest. Specific visual references to the protests were subtly blended into layer upon layer of washed-out acrylic brush strokes.
“My previous landscape works were quite peaceful and distanced from what happened in reality; they were more surrealistic,” Ms. Choi, 33, said in an interview. “But this exhibition was quite different because the relationship between me and the city had changed.”
street art and political posters that lionized protesters as heroes or explicitly poked fun at Hong Kong’s government and its allies in Beijing. Some of that work was produced by people with established careers in fine arts.
a national security law that China’s central government imposed on the territory last summer and the mass arrests of opposition politicians, activists and lawyers that followed.
Artists, writers and filmmakers know that whatever they create could run afoul of the national security law, which criminalizes anything that the Chinese government deems terrorism, secession, subversion or collusion with foreign powers. Institutions like art galleries are wary of taking risks. One curator said privately that talking about art and politics was especially sensitive ahead of Art Basel Hong Kong, a major international fair that opens this week.
Some Hong Kong curators have been quietly asking artists to tone down certain pieces, consulting with lawyers about how to avoid prosecution under the national security law and even calling the police to discuss potentially sensitive works before exhibiting them, said Wong Ka Ying, a member of a union that represents about 400 Hong Kong artists.
“We now act like we’re in Beijing or Shanghai,” she said.
Yet several young Hong Kong artists are daring to produce work about the 2019 protests anyway, albeit with heavy doses of abstraction and ambiguity. A few talk about their artistic process in polemical terms; others, like Ms. Choi, say they are merely responding creatively to the experience of living through a once-in-a-generation trauma.
pro-democracy demonstrations that are now seen as preludes to the giant outpouring of civil disobedience in 2019.
Eight years ago, for example, the artist South Ho walled and unwalled himself with bricks that said, “Made in Xianggang,” the word for Hong Kong in Mandarin, mainland China’s dominant tongue. Photographs of his stunt were exhibited in 2017 by the Asia Society’s Hong Kong gallery, alongside other pieces that conveyed a sense of helplessness toward Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.
Now the space for expression is narrower. A government funding body recently said that it had the power to end grants to artists who promote “overthrowing the government,” and state-owned newspapers have denounced a collection by a local museum that is expected to open soon and owns works by the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
More than a dozen Hong Kong artists and gallerists either declined to be interviewed for this article or did not respond to requests for comment.
traffic scene on wire mesh to depict fences that went up near a cross-harbor tunnel that antigovernment protesters targeted in 2019. He also used yellow tape to frame walls where the authorities had painted over antigovernment graffiti.
Unreasonable Behavior,” a mixed-media solo show by Siu Wai Hang that included photographs of the 2019 protests that the artist had punched, ripped or cut.
Teenage girls with bricks,” an abstract work with collapsing perspectives and vague pastel figures. The gallery’s curatorial statement said the work depicted female protesters who had been discouraged by male comrades from joining the front lines of street clashes.
And this spring, at the Asia Society’s Hong Kong gallery, the artist Isaac Chong Wai installed “Falling Carefully,” a mixed-media piece featuring three life-size mannequins of the artist, each suspended in a different stage of free fall. A nearby wall displayed his sketches of protesters and riot police officers during antigovernment demonstrations in Hong Kong and beyond, including Armenia, Russia and Uganda.
fell, suffering fatal injuries, as police officers clashed with protesters.
Henry Au-yeung, the director ofGrotto Fine Art, the gallery that exhibited the paintings last fall, wrote in an essay that they depicted “social unrest,” but also that “clear images do not mean clarity of event; what is veiled can well be the hidden truth.”
Two transgender women were sentenced to five years in prison in Cameroon this week after they were found guilty of “attempted homosexuality” and public indecency, the latest example of an increasing crackdown on gay and transgender people in the West African nation, human rights groups say.
Shakiro, identified in police documents as Loïc Njeukam, and Patricia, referred to as Roland Mouthe, both identify as transgender and were arrested in February as they were having dinner at a restaurant in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital. On Tuesday, they were also found guilty of failing to show proof of identity and given the maximum fine of 200,000 CFA francs, or $370.
Shakiro, a social media personality who has amassed tens of thousands of followers through her posts calling for more tolerance toward gender minorities in Cameroon, has stopped eating and shared plans to die by suicide since the verdict, according to her mother, Joséphine Marie Njeukam, who visited her in prison on Wednesday.
Ms. Njeukam said her child told her, “‘Mum, I won’t survive here for five years.’” She said her child didn’t kill anyone or steal, and that her sexuality “shouldn’t be a crime.”
according to Human Rights Watch, and several of those arrested were subjected to beatings and other forms of abuse.
“There has long been an anti-L.G.B.T. sentiment in Cameroon,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, a researcher at Human Rights Watch who documents abuses in the country. “Now the judicial system contributes to the perception that homosexual and transgender people are criminals.”
The sentence for Shakiro and Patricia, who both go by a single name, is the maximum punishment under Cameroon’s penal code for engaging in sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex. But the women’s lawyer says they were detained while they were having dinner in a public space, and were not intimate or attempting to be.
Shakiro, 23, and Patricia, 27, were at a restaurant in Douala on Feb. 8 when police officers arrested them on charges of failing to provide identity documents. The two remained in prison for two months awaiting trial, according to their lawyer, Alice Nkom, and were sentenced on Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch.
Prosecutors in Cameroon and several other countries in Africa where homosexuality is criminalized, including Kenya, Tunisia and Uganda, among others, have in recent years commissioned anal examinations to allegedly prove that a person had engaged in homosexual intercourse, even though the outdated practice has been widely discredited by health care professionals and amounts to sexual assault.
attracted a wide following on social media, where she has repeatedly called for more tolerance against homosexual and transgender people in Cameroon.
“My sexual orientation and my sexuality aren’t choices,” she wrote in March. “But your baseless hatred and your homophobia are.”
Linda Noumsi, a makeup artist and friend of Shakiro’s, said her activism had attracted many critics. “She has a strong personality, and she can be quite vocal about her cause, which brought real supporters, fake friends, and enemies,” Ms. Noumsi said.
Ms. Nkom, the lawyer, said the verdict sent a pernicious message to the public in Cameroon: “It says, ‘If you don’t like someone’s appearance because they are different, you can just call the police, and they’ll have them arrested.’”
She chanced upon environmental activism in 2018 after graduating with a business degree from Makerere University. With no job lined up, Ms. Nakate volunteered with the Rotary Club organization, where she was researching the biggest challenges facing local areas and how she could help. That was when she realized that climate change was not some distant threat, but a problem that at that very moment was eating away at communities and destroying livelihoods.
She also found out about Fridays for Future, the movement that Ms. Thunberg started to pressure policymakers to listen to scientists and act.
Though eager to take action herself, Ms. Nakate said she was initially afraid of taking to Kampala’s streets to protest alone. So on a warm Sunday morning in January 2019, she enlisted her two sisters, Clare and Joan, and two brothers, Paul and Trevor, to help make placards and join her.
As passers-by and drivers stared, the siblings protested at various intersections in the capital, holding signs that read “Nature is life,” “Climate Strike Now” and “When you plant a tree, you plant a forest.”
“There was the feeling of ‘I have taken so long without doing this, and yet people are suffering,’” Ms. Nakate said. At that moment, she said, she determined “to add my voice to the climate movement and demand for climate justice.”
When her siblings returned to school several weeks later, she continued alone, organizing climate strikes in schools and standing outside government offices with signs bearing messages like “Are you fracking kidding me?” She urged lawmakers to divest from coal and oil companies and to deal with rising water levels in Lake Victoria and high air pollution levels in cities like Kampala.
By the end of the year, Ms. Nakate’s work was attracting attention worldwide, making her a fixture in global conferences and on television. In December 2019, she was one of a few young activists who were invited to speak at the United Nations climate talks in Spain.
KAMPALA, Uganda — Bobi Wine’s eyes were bloodshot from little sleep. When he spoke, his thoughts trailed off, and his sentences sometimes lacked the precision and eloquence he employed while running for president. At times, he forgot to sip his coffee, even after bringing the mug to his lips.
Mr. Wine, 39, rose from a slum in Kampala, the capital, to become the foremost symbol of national resistance in Uganda, nicknamed the “Ghetto President.” But after an electrifying campaign that drew large crowds nationwide, the musician-turned-politician lost to President Yoweri Museveni in January’s election. He received 34 percent of the vote to the incumbent’s nearly 59 percent, according to Uganda’s electoral commission, despite accusations of vote tampering and rigging.
Now, three months after the end of a violent and bloody campaign season, Mr. Wine appeared nearly broken.
Among other things, Mr. Wine said his mind was on the government crackdown against his campaign, which started even before the election season and intensified in the weeks after the results were announced, when he filed a petition contesting them.
15-year-old nephew was kidnapped by unknown gunmen.
In his home, along a winding and potholed road named Freedom Drive, Mr. Wine was appraising the successes of his anti-government campaign while wondering how to build back an opposition movement that had been systemically assailed by Uganda’s president.
“Everything is worth freedom,” Mr. Wine said.
He was also quick to admit that his increasingly lonely and uphill fight had left him psychologically and physically exhausted. “It drains you when you do the right thing,” he said.
Mr. Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, rose to fame as a dreadlocked artist whose music — a blend of dance hall, reggae and Afrobeat — drew a wide following and was featured in a Disney movie.
filed to run for president, he became the most potent challenger to Mr. Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.
International Criminal Court, accusing the Ugandan government of human rights abuses against protesters, human rights lawyers and political figures, himself included. He also accused Mr. Museveni of trying to kill him.
“What is happening in Uganda seems to be a silent genocide,” Mr. Wine said.
In the streets of Kampala, Mr. Wine’s election posters remain on display, his serious face and raised fist still drawing support from his followers.
Sseguya Mukasa Kenneth, 27, knew Mr. Wine for years and even practiced boxing with him. In January, Mr. Kenneth was kidnapped and beaten by security officers, he said, and was offered money in exchange for spying on Mr. Wine, which he refused. Mr. Wine, he said, has shown that “the current generation is the hope for the future.”
The opposition leader has faced his own share of criticism, specifically his use of a bulletproof car and his decision to withdraw the petition challenging the election results.
Mr. Wine said the armored vehicle was meant to protect his life — he says he has survived three “assassination attempts” — and cited “bias” and “impunity” in the Supreme Court as the reasons for pulling the suit.
At one point during the interview, his 5-year-old daughter, Suubi Shine Nakaayi, approached him. Protectively clinging to him, she said: “I don’t want my father to go back to jail.”
Mr. Wine is also considering a return to the studio, though his longtime collaborator is in detention and his producer was injured in December.
“I have had to learn to proceed even when my friends are held back,” he said. “And the next time I am offered a louder microphone, which is the studio microphone, I will express exactly what’s on my mind.”
Mr. Kasato, the district councilor, said that plainclothes officers picked him up from a church meeting on Feb. 8, threw him, hooded, into a car and clobbered him.
He said the men asked him for the evidence of election rigging he’d collected, and whether he had sent it to Mr. Wine’s party. He said, yes, he had.
Mr. Kasato, a 47-year-old father of 11, said that while he was chained to the ceiling, his feet barely touching the ground, military officers whipped him with a wire and pulled at his skin with pliers.
“It was a big shock,” he said. “I was praying deeply that I really survive that torture.”
In late February, Mr. Kasato was charged with inciting violence during the November protests in which security forces killed dozens of people — accusations he denies. He has been released on bail, but said he was still in intense physical pain, and that his doctors advised he seek medical attention abroad.
Analysts say that Mr. Museveni, 76, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, is trying to avoid history repeating itself. He himself was a charismatic young upstart who accused his predecessor, Mr. Obote, of rigging an election, and led an armed rebellion that after five years managed to take power.
Mr. Wine, 39, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has become the face of this young movement, promising to shake up the country’s stifled politics. As his campaign gained ground last year, he was arrested and beaten and placed under de facto house arrest.
“We are seeing a movement toward full totalitarianism in this country,” said Nicholas Opiyo, a leading human rights lawyer. He was abducted last December and released, charged with money laundering after his legal advocacy group received a grant from American Jewish World Service, a New York-based nonprofit.