My ocean voyage from hell

Kenya Wondering what this year will bring, at dawn this morning I stood in the waves in front of our beach house and watched two Swahili sailing dhows battling through monsoon surf, heading out to the fishing grounds. For 1,500 years mariners off our East African coast have voyaged in these lovely boats and now, just in the past couple of years, fibreglass hulls have started to replace teak planking, and outboard motors instead of lateen sails propel men across the ocean. I was looking at the end of a long history. In my life I’ve enjoyed wonderful sea safaris on dhows, hunting for tuna and ambergris and waves to

What a relief it is to be back among level-headed Kenyans

Kenya I stood under huge skies in the open country of our farm in northern Kenya and, after months of London lockdown, I remembered those Japanese tourists I had once seen, weeping with wonder at the sight of Africa’s savannah after their lives imprisoned in cities. I’ve been savouring every little detail of home since we returned the other day: the taste of water and mangoes, the joys of talking cattle with the stockmen, seeing my 95-year-old mother at last, birdsong and crickets, long treks with our dogs tearing off wildly after baboons and buck. I woke up before dawn when several lions noisily killed a zebra in front of

Why is the WHO so worried about Tanzania?

Dar es Salaam The World Health Organisation has drawn up a shortlist of countries it’s most concerned about during the pandemic. Tanzania is at the top. The government’s lack of transparency during the crisis is a big part of the problem. In recent years the country has imposed increasingly repressive laws to muffle the media — newspapers fined and journalists arrested. Or worse. For the purposes of this piece I am ‘Tom James’; I’m either more circumspect or less courageous than my fellow journos here. When the international media — fed by stringers whose identities are disguised — try to report on the pandemic, they are accused of scaremongering, their