KRWG

Gregory Warner

Gregory Warner is the host of NPR's Rough Translation, a podcast about how things we're talking about in the United States are being talked about in some other part of the world. Whether interviewing a Ukrainian debunker of Russian fake news, a Japanese apology broker navigating different cultural meanings of the word "sorry," or a German dating coach helping a Syrian refugee find love, Warner's storytelling approach takes us out of our echo chambers and leads us to question the way we talk about the world. Rough Translation has received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club and a Scripps Howard Award.

In his role as host, Warner draws on his own overseas experience. As NPR's East Africa correspondent, he covered the diverse issues and voices of a region that experienced unparalleled economic growth as well as a rising threat of global terrorism. Before joining NPR, he reported from conflict zones around the world as a freelancer. He climbed mountains with smugglers in Pakistan for This American Life, descended into illegal mineshafts in the Democratic Republic of Congo for Marketplace's "Working" series, and lugged his accordion across Afghanistan on the trail of the "Afghan Elvis" for Radiolab.

Warner has also worked as senior reporter for American Public Media's Marketplace, endeavoring to explain the economics of American health care. He's used puppets to illustrate the effects of Internet diagnostics on the doctor-patient relationship, and composed a Suessian poem to explain the correlation between health care job growth and national debt. His musical journey into the shadow world of medical coding won a Best News Feature award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Warner has won a Peabody Award and awards from Edward R. Murrow, New York Festivals, AP, and PRNDI. He earned his degree in English from Yale University.

It's a hard life for Tanzanian public officials these days.

No more driving your limousine to villages.

No more flying first class to meetings in Europe.

You can't even send Christmas cards on the taxpayer's dime.

President John Magufuli, elected in October, has banned these things. He canceled the country's Independence Day celebrations, saying it would be shameful to spend millions of dollars on fancy parties and military parades in a country battling cholera. And he even restricted the amount of refreshments allowed at official meetings.

Political violence has engulfed the African nation of Burundi. The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution to try and prevent potential genocide, while refugees have been pouring into neighboring Rwanda. Among them is a group of musicians who fled their homes without any instruments.

It's a recurring question throughout many parts of Africa: How long should a leader stay in power?

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame is the only president the country has had since 2000, and his tenure has been marked by stability and relative prosperity.

Now he's toying with the idea of running for a third term. Such moves by presidents in the neighboring states of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have led to unrest.

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What would you say to someone you hadn't spoken to in years, if you only had three minutes to talk?

Chan Majok, 32, lost track of her eldest brother two years ago when the civil war erupted in South Sudan. Since then she's been unable to talk to him, in part because the government has cut off cellphone service to the northern oil-rich region of Unity State, where forces opposed to the government control territory. Her 12-year-old daughter is living with this brother, and she doesn't even know if her child is alive or dead.

Can you fight terrorists the same way you battle ordinary criminals?

A prominent Kenyan crime fighter, Mohamud Saleh, is betting you can. He's testing his theory in Garissa, a city in northeastern Kenya thrust into the spotlight this April when Islamist militants attacked a campus dorm, killing 147 students.

Long before Garissa had a terrorism problem, it had a problem with bandits, as Daud Yussuf, a Kenyan journalist, remembers.

Taylor Swift may be the world's No. 1-selling artist, but she might have a hard time getting airplay in some countries.

In South Africa, 55 percent of the content on radio stations as well as community and public TV has to be local.

Nigeria has a law that more than 70 percent of the music played on radio must be by local artists.

Africa will mark one year without polio on Tuesday. The last case was in Somalia in 2014.

But last week, a polio vaccination campaign in Kenya faced an unlikely opponent: The country's Conference of Catholic Bishops declared a boycott of the World Health Organization's vaccination campaign, saying they needed to "test" whether ingredients contain a derivative of estrogen. Dr. Wahome Ngare of the Kenyan Catholic Doctor's Association alleged that the presence of the female hormone could sterilize children.

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The billboard that President Obama will see when he exits the airport in Nairobi on Friday says: "Welcome Home, Mr. President."

Obama's Kenyan roots have been a source of pride, but at times a source of discord, too, in the land of his father's birth.

For example, when Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency in 2008, Kenyans were ecstatic. His victory was declared a national holiday.

When Jackline Mumbua decided to go solar, she knew the cost would be steep. The 35-year-old housewife in Machakos, Kenya, can barely cover the expenses of raising three school-age children on the little money her husband earns driving a motorcycle taxi. They have no savings. It took her family nearly two years to pay, in monthly installments, the $55 for a small rooftop solar panel.

A quiet street in Burundi's capital can change in an instant. In recent months, antigovernment protesters in this tiny, east African country have developed a flash mob approach to demonstrations, rapidly convening and dispersing. An hour later, all that's left are shuttered kiosks, tossed bricks and the odor of burned tires in the air.

Activists are taking this approach because they say at least 70 people have been killed in protests in the past two months. Their attackers usually wear police uniforms, but few believe the killers are really police.

Three high school students in Zanzibar have won a prize for a film that tackles a fierce debate in African classrooms: Should the teacher speak in English or the mother tongue? (This piece originally aired June 25, 2015 on Morning Edition.)

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A film focuses on the debate about whether classes should be taught in the colonial language of English or French versus the local languages that students understand and speak with fluency.
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Hundreds of mourners in Burundi spilled out of a funeral service Tuesday at a Catholic church, their hands raised and their palms open in what is now a global meme against police violence.

They were there to mourn an engineering student, Theogene Niyondiko, 28. He was shot last Friday by police during a protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza.

It's a problem in a taxi economy if people don't like getting into cabs that are driven by strangers. A cab driver is a stranger almost by definition. But in the high-crime city of Nairobi, Kenya, people prefer to call up drivers they know or who their friends recommend.

An American named Jason Eisen spent years in Nairobi as a consultant until he had his big idea. He built an app that doesn't just tell you which taxis are close by, like Uber does. It also assigns the driver a trust score, by scouring riders' contacts and social media.

The world's largest refugee camp is also a giant social experiment.

Take hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing a war. Shelter them for 24 years in a camp in Kenya run by the United Nations. And offer different opportunities than they might have had if they'd stayed in Somalia.

The Kenyan government wants the experiment to end — soon. It's pushing the refugees to return to their home in Somalia, though the camp called Dadaab is the only home many have known.

Ignatius Agon practices his greeting: "OK, good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ignatius and I am going to guide you into the dark."

It's Monday, and the first day of training for a new restaurant opening this month in Kenya. Diners will be served in the dark. They'll have to find their food with their forks and eat it in a pitch black room.

And the waiters are blind.

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Traveling with the State Department in Africa, you feel like you're traveling in countries without people. Traffic-clogged roads are cleared in advance by security services. The two-hour drive from downtown Nairobi to the airport takes a beautiful 12 minutes.

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Secretary of State John Kerry has performed a secretarial first - the first secretary of state to set foot in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Kerry's visit comes at a challenging time for that country, as most times seem to be. U.S.-backed African troops have taken back most of the major cities. But the Islamist militant group al-Shabab remains deadly. NPR's Gregory Warner is in Nairobi. He was with Secretary Kerry yesterday and joins us live on the line. And, Gregory, what was that visit like?

In the half darkness of an adobe hut in Gondar, Ethiopia, 20-year-old Gezahegn ("Gezi") Derebe pulls out an acoustic guitar. As on many evenings when the power goes out, he entertains his family by singing. Though his mother, Ayelesh, sways to the tune, she doesn't understand the lyrics, because Gezi sings not in his native Amharic, but in Hebrew.

Behind him, on a wall kept cool with a traditional mixture of cow dung and ash, hangs a laminated map of Israel. Above it are the framed photographs of his relatives who have already managed to emigrate there.

At 16, Liz was beaten and repeatedly raped, then thrown unconscious into a pit latrine in Busia County, in Western Kenya. The local police doled out their own brand of "punishment": They ordered the assailants to cut the grass at the police station.

But after millions of people around the world petitioned for a stronger punishment, a trial began last year. And on Monday, three of her assailants were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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There's something sketchy at this year's Venice Biennale — the international art exhibition sometimes dubbed the Olympics of the contemporary art world.

When you come to the Kenyan pavilion, almost all of the artists will be ... Chinese.

The Biennale, one of the oldest and most important exhibitions of contemporary art in the world, takes place in Venice every two years. Thirty countries, including the U.S., have a permanent slot.

I once met a popular spoken word poet in Ethiopia who was asked by a government official to write a poem about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. (He politely explained that he didn't do poetry about infrastructure.) But it's not surprising that Ethiopia would like to inscribe this dam into the Ethiopian epic.

Let's start with a spice quiz. One is a bean discovered in Mexico. One's a tree native to India. One's the seed of a fruit discovered in Indonesia.

Today vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg can all be found in any spice farm in Zanzibar — the East African archipelago that was used as a spice plantation by the 18th century Omani Empire.

I didn't travel all the way to Ethiopia just to meet a character out of the sitcom Seinfeld.

But when I heard Ethiopians describe a particular popular restaurant called Chane's, I couldn't help recognize a resemblance, in its owner and lead chef, to the famously brusque soup man.

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