Eyder Peralta | KERA News

Eyder Peralta

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Close to midnight on Tuesday, attorney Miguna Miguna found himself on the tarmac of Nairobi's international airport. He had been driven there by Kenyan security forces after spending five days in different jail cells, without being able to talk to anyone.

When Okiya Omtatah arrived at the Communications Authority of Kenya Friday morning, he was met by a man in a suit. He stopped the civil rights activist and lawyer before he could get past the front gate.

Kenya is once again in the middle of political turmoil. On Tuesday, opposition leader Raila Odinga, flanked by tens of thousands of supporters, defied government threats and declared himself president.

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All right. We're going to turn now to Kenya, where an opposition candidate is still refusing to give up.

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In East Africa, cities are filled with the sounds of motorcycles, buses and shouts from street vendors. But as NPR's Eyder Peralta reports, in Tanzania's largest city, the soundscape is dominated by something unexpected.

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In Tanzania today, a solemn ceremony.

(SOUNDBITE OF BAND PLAYING)

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Now we turn to East Africa. This is what parts of Kenya sounded like today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in foreign language).

Despite about 10 percent of Kenyans not being able to cast a vote because of violence, Kenya's electoral commission has declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of a re-run of the country's presidential election.

Kenyatta received 98.26 percent of the vote in an election that was boycotted by the opposition and has rekindled the deep tribal divisions that have in the past led to serious outbreaks of violence.

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I spotted Jacque Ooko's mettle as a journalist on my first assignment in Nairobi, Kenya. We were at a rural hospital outside the city, in the middle of a doctors strike. As people writhed in pain, desperate for medical attention, she had somehow talked the only administrator in the place into letting us in and then started talking to all the patients.

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Updated at 7:15 a.m. ET Saturday

Some people walked hours to get to Shyira. They trekked down the steep hills that surround the small town in northern Rwanda last month not only to celebrate Liberation Day, but to get a close view of the country's president, Paul Kagame.

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In Rwanda, a filmmaker who once told stories about genocide is now hoping to make romantic comedies and to build a film industry in the country. NPR's Eyder Peralta met him in the capital, Kigali.

Out here, in West Pokot County, Kenya, the landscape looks like Mars — red clay, rocks, and in the distance, a mountain so bare it looks like a giant boulder.

Stephen Long'uriareng, 80, has walked two hours to bring her two cows and goats to this watering hole. It's really just a dam carved out the earth, where the rain water mixes with mud and turns into a dark brown color.

This is not the place Long'uriareng remembers from her youth.

"This whole place used to be green with a lot of pasture. There was nothing being experienced like drought," she said.

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Shyira is a picture-perfect Rwandan village, surrounded by luscious green mountains. No matter where you look, even at the tip of some of the highest mountains and along the precipice of the most dangerous slopes, there are houses.

On July 4, while Americans celebrate their independence, Rwandans are celebrating Liberation Day — commemorating the day in 1994 when rebel troops marched into the capital Kigali and ended a genocide against the country's Tutsi minority.

There is a certain peace that comes with being surrounded by a bunch of men with big guns.

As much as you want to run or fight or scream, there's not much you can do — except whatever they say.

On a Friday afternoon in April, I was sitting in a restaurant in Juba, South Sudan's capital, trying to persuade two government officials to issue me press credentials so I could report there. I had tried and failed to do this over the phone from my home base in Nairobi, and so my bosses and I made the decision that an in-person appeal would be best.

Here's a classic scene from a telenovela.

It's the funeral of a very rich man whose heirs are battling over his fortune. An indignant woman says to a female guest: "You are disrupting the service. Who else would you be saving this seat for other than Richard Juma's second wife?"

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