Three tales from the Kenyan media

(I) 6th February

There's no internet access in Sipili, no paved roads, no public transport, the electricity goes on and off, and water comes from a wind-powered borehole. But in a tiny bar I can watch Man United vs. Everton on satellite TV beamed from South Africa.

Almost no-one shows any interest in Kenyan football, whose major teams, like Harambee, everyone insists are irrevocably corrupt. Instead, almost all the Kenyans I've met so far are fanatical British football fans (mainly Arsenal and Chelsea, a smattering of Man U supporters, and, bizarrely, an enormous national following for Leeds United). The Premiership seems to be followed in forensic detail in all the daily newspapers, and dissected in every bar and pub. Everyone in Sipili has an opinion about Scolari's replacement at Chelsea. Except me.

(II) 10th February

In the bar next door to where I'm staying, they like to show Africa Magic TV channel, which seems to broadcast mainly Ghanaian TV programmes. The evening feature film yesterday was a kind of African kung-fu genre, with Jackie Chan and Shaolin monks replaced by absurdly orientalist African 'warriors' dressed in feathers and Tupac wife-beaters. It's like the RUF meets Benny Hill. Almost every other feature of the original kung-fu genre is replicated: there's impenetrably sub-titled dialogue, the characters run at all times rather than walking, and all the fighting is accompanied by ridiculous 'kazaam' punch sound-effects. It's the US hip-hop vests that all the 'warriors' wear, though, that brings the whole thing queasily close to glorifying some of the more brutal militias of recent West African bloodbaths. Still, I suppose Rambo did that for Vietnam.

When they're not showing African kung-fu, the next best thing seems to be 1980s wildlife documentaries about African mega-fauna. These go down an absolute storm (people especially like it when the wildebeest get away). I find this a little bizarre when we're sat in the middle of Laikipia District, with one of the biggest concentrations of actual elephants, giraffes and other mega-fauna anywhere in East Africa.

(III) 11th February

There's a stall on Sipili's main street that sells mobile phones and old TVs. They've set up some massive speakers which were playing evangelical gospel music all day on Sunday, at full volume. This afternoon,though, it was playing Kenyan parliamentary questions, live on the radio, at full volume. Not even Prime Minister's questions – this seemed to be Ministry of Transport questions. Lots of people were sitting listening intently to it.

Habermas eat your heart out.

On the other hand, in some respects Kenya (like Northern Ireland?) seems to be a place where politics matters a little too much. And if I lived somewhere with no sealed roads and no public transport, I think I'd have an opinion about Ministry of Transport parliamentary questions too.

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