Gregory Warner

Gregory Warner is NPR's East Africa Correspondent. His reports cover the diverse issues and voices of a region that is experiencing unparalleled economic growth as well as a rising threat of global terrorism. His coverage can be heard across NPR and NPR.org.

Before joining NPR, Warner was a senior reporter for American Public Media's Marketplace, where he endeavored to make the economics of American health care vivid and engaging. He's used puppets to illustrate the effects of Internet diagnoses on the doctor-patient relationship. He composed a Suessian cartoon to explain why health care job growth policies can increase the national debt. His musical journey into the shadow world of medical coding won the 2012 Best News Feature award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Prior to Marketplace, Warner was a freelance radio producer reporting from conflict zones around the world. 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 NPR's Radiolab.

Warner's radio and multimedia work has won awards from Edward R Murrow, New York Festivals, AP, PRNDI, and a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has twice won Best News Feature from the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2009 and 2012.

Warner earned his degree in English at Yale University. He is conversant in Arabic.

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1:22pm

Tue July 7, 2015
Parallels

Above The Law, A Militia Threatens To Push Burundi To The Brink

Originally published on Tue July 7, 2015 2:45 pm

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza walks with military officials during the country's Independence Day on Wednesday. Despite criticism at home and abroad, the president is defying a two-term limit and running for a third term in an election set for the middle of July.
Berthier Mugiraneza AP

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.

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5:22pm

Sun July 5, 2015
Movies

Out Of Broken English, A Film Crafts A Call For Classroom Repairs

Originally published on Sun July 5, 2015 10:11 pm

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.)

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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5:09am

Thu June 25, 2015
Goats and Soda

Teens Make Film In Broken English To Explain Why They'll Fail English

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 2:14 pm

Screengrab from the film, Present Tense.

Two minutes into Present Tense, a short film made by three high school students in a fishing village in the East African island of Zanzibar, a set of subtitles lay out their mission:

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4:43pm

Tue June 9, 2015
Parallels

The Trouble That's Brewing In Burundi

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 12:35 am

The coffin of Theogene Niyondiko, who was shot dead by police during an opposition demonstration last Friday, is carried in Burundi's capital Bujumbura on Tuesday. Protesters have been demonstrating against President Pierre Nkurunziza, who plans to run for a third term next month.
Gildas Ngingo AP

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.

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3:47am

Wed June 3, 2015
All Tech Considered

A Taxi App Aims To Build Trust Where Crime Is High

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 7:59 am

Traffic stands still in Nairobi. People in Kenya's capital don't like getting into cabs driven by strangers. They prefer to call drivers they know or who their friends recommend.
Goran Tomasevic Reuters/Landov

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.

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3:30am

Thu May 28, 2015
Goats and Soda

How The World's Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

Originally published on Sun May 31, 2015 7:59 am

Somali children dance in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
Fairfax Media Fairfax Media via Getty Images

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.

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4:43pm

Tue May 26, 2015
Goats and Soda

Blind Waiters Give Diners A Taste Of 'Dinner In The Dark' In Kenya

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 2:07 pm

At the "Dinner in the Dark" restaurant that's just opened in Nairobi, a blind waiter leads guests to their table. The photo was taken during a training session — that's why the lights are on.
Courtesy of is Eatout.co.ke

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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2:14pm

Sun May 10, 2015
Middle East

Americans Among The Many Families Escaping Chaos In Yemen

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 4:14 pm

The Amiri Red Sea was one of many boats ferrying refugees, including some Americans, escaping fighting in Yemen to nearby Djibouti, across the Gulf.
Gregory Warner NPR

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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10:22am

Tue May 5, 2015
Africa

Unannounced And Unprecedented: Kerry Makes A Stop In Somalia

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 11:18 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This next story will test the ability of the British to keep calm and carry on.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

London is the home of a new work of art. It is part of a competition.

INSKEEP: It's outdoors.

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4:31pm

Mon May 4, 2015
Africa

Kenya Pushes For Close Of Word's Largest Refugee Camp

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:02 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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4:39pm

Thu April 16, 2015
Parallels

They Speak Hebrew And Keep Kosher: The Left-Behind Ethiopian Jews

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 8:27 pm

Jewish worshippers gather at a makeshift synagogue established by the Jewish Agency for Israel for Ethiopian Jews in Gondar, Ethiopia, in 2012.
Jenny Vaughan AFP/Getty Images

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.

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10:25am

Mon April 13, 2015
Goats and Soda

After Global Protests, Kenyan Court Sentences 3 Men Who Raped Teen

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 7:53 pm

In March, demonstrators in Nairobi demanded tougher punishment for assailants of women and girls.
Anadolu Agency Getty Images

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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8:01am

Sat April 4, 2015
Africa

Kenya's Security Problem With Al-Shabab Doesn't Stop At Borders

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 2:38 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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10:08am

Thu April 2, 2015
Africa

Al-Shabab Militants Cross Border To Storm University In Kenya

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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5:14pm

Mon March 30, 2015
Goats and Soda

Why Are Chinese Artists Representing Kenya At The Venice Biennale?

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 12:57 am

In The Shame In Venice 2, Kenyan artist Michael Soi protests the makeup of his country's pavilion at the Biennale.
Courtesy of Michael Soi

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.

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3:50am

Thu March 26, 2015
Goats and Soda

Don't Torpedo The Dam, Full Speed Ahead For Ethiopia's Nile Project

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 10:06 am

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction near Assosa, Ethiopia. When it's completed, the dam will have be able to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, making it the biggest hydroelectric power station in Africa.
Elias Asmare AP

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.

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4:19am

Wed March 25, 2015
The Salt

Vanilla, Nutmeg Spice And Everything Nice On A Zanzibar Farm

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 7:27 pm

Vanilla is seemingly a prima donna spice because its pods have to be hand-pollinated and then boiled and dried in the direct sun for only one hour.
iStockphoto

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.

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12:43pm

Tue March 17, 2015
The Salt

Meet Chef Chane, Ethiopia's Version Of The Infamous 'Soup Nazi'

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 7:30 pm

Inside Chef Chane's tiny kitchen. Every few months or years, his landlord — taking note of Chane's popularity — will raise the rent, or a conniving official will demand a bribe. Then, instead of bowing to the system, Chane will disappear and set up in a new location.
Gregory Warner/NPR

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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7:53am

Sun March 15, 2015
Goats and Soda

When There's Art On The Bus, You'll Get To Your Stop Sooner

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 11:03 am

A minibus painted with the Rolling Stones' logo.
Gregory Warner/NPR

Picture yourself standing at a bus station in Nairobi, Kenya. The unwritten rule is that none of these minibuses (shared taxis, called matatus) will leave until they have enough passengers. That can be around 20 or more people. So every matatu has a tout shouting at top volume — even banging on the side of the bus — to corral more customers.

All of a sudden, what looks like a discotheque on wheels pulls up.

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5:08am

Tue March 10, 2015
Africa

Ethiopia's Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 12:53 pm

Thousands of Ethiopian opposition activists demonstrate in Addis Ababa on June 2, 2013. The demonstrations were organized by the newly formed Blue Party opposition group.
AFP/Getty Images

Feven Tashome is a study in blue. The 21-year-old's toenails are painted a rich cobalt, her scarf is baby blue and her leather handbag is ultramarine. To ordinary passersby in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, it's a fashion statement; to members of Ethiopia's beleaguered political opposition, it's a secret handshake.

Feven (Ethiopians go by their first names) is showing her allegiance to an opposition party with an odd name, and an even odder theme song.

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9:28am

Tue January 27, 2015
Global Health

It's Been A Hard 12-Step Road For Zanzibar's Heroin Addicts

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 12:40 pm

Frederica Boswell NPR

Could a 12-step program, with its Christian roots, help addicts recover on a conservative Muslim island in the Indian Ocean?

Suleiman Mauly was desperate to find out. He'd been using heroin in his native Zanzibar since age 17. The island nation is a key stop for heroin smuggled from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Europe. An estimated 7 percent of the 1 million inhabitants are heroin addicts.

Mauly had tried to get clean a couple of times. It didn't work. Then he discovered a 12-step program in Mombasa, Kenya.

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5:24pm

Fri January 23, 2015
Africa

A Former Child Soldier Will Stand Trial In The Hague For War Crimes

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 9:00 am

Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan commander in warlord Joseph Kony's feared militia, waits for procedures to start at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on Jan. 26.
Peter Dejong AP

He came to the International Criminal Court in The Hague Monday. He is the first member of Uganda's notorious Lord's Resistance Army who will stand trial for war crimes committed as a rebel commander.

At the ICC pretrial hearing he was asked to verify his identity. His name is Dominic Ongwen. He is 35. And when he was 10 years old, he himself was abducted by LRA on his way home from school.

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3:34am

Thu January 22, 2015
Goats and Soda

Police Fire Tear Gas On Kenyan Kids Protecting A Soccer Field

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 8:15 pm

School kids hold up a sign given to them by activists at a demonstration at Langata Primary Road School.
Brian Inganga AP

Hundreds of elementary schools were protesting the illegal seizure of their playground by a private developer in Nairobi, Kenya, when police fired tear gas into the crowd.

The incident sparked outrage across the city — and on social media, where Kenyans tweeted with the hashtag #OccupyPlayGround.

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4:19pm

Fri January 2, 2015
Goats and Soda

When A Rebel Is Homesick, He Might Be Willing To Surrender

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 5:26 pm

Michael Sharp visits with Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, home to displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A coordinator for the Mennonite Central, he has an unusual approach to peacemaking.
Jana Asenbrennerova Courtesy of MCC

Today marked a U.N. deadline for one of Africa's most notorious rebel groups to surrender.

It didn't.

Instead, the group known as the FDLR is said to be recruiting and re-arming and continuing its 20-year sexual and economic exploitation of villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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6:09pm

Thu January 1, 2015
The Salt

A 40-Day Vegan Fast, Then, At Last, A January Christmas Feast

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 4:48 pm

Abebe, the owner of Abyssinia, a popular Ethiopian eatery in Nairobi, Kenya, shows some of the foods permitted during the pre-Christmas fast. Orthodox Ethiopians typically eat just one vegan meal per day for 40 days before the Christmas feast on Jan. 7.
Gregory Warner NPR

An Ethiopian kitchen can be a place of both succulence and self-denial.

In the kitchen of Abyssinia, a popular Ethiopian eatery in Nairobi, the owner, Abebe, demonstrates how his cook prepares the dish called kitfo. It's raw minced beef whipped together with cardamom and chili and a spicy butter, with a texture and taste closer to delicate cheese than to steak tartar.

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4:17pm

Mon December 29, 2014
Goats and Soda

Don't Bench That Dentist: A Guide To Ugandan English

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 1:15 am

Students in Uganda may use Uglish words, but you can be sure they're not learning them at school.
Courtesy of Will R. Potter/Said&Seen

You want to bench a pretty woman and launch your manifesto. Only you get bounced from her muzigo because she's pursuing a pensioner.

In the end, you were lucky. She's just a detoother who's after a rich guy.

Welcome to Uglish (pronounced "YOU-glish"), the Ugandan variant of English. Bernard Sabiti has written the first Uglish dictionary (not yet available outside of Uganda, but he's working on an e-book version for January).

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7:39am

Sun December 28, 2014
Europe

How To Pitch A Hamburger In A War Zone

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 11:07 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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4:39pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Goats and Soda

We're Down To 5 Northern White Rhinos: Is It Too Late For Babies?

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:07 pm

Najin, a female northern white rhino, gets a pat from keeper Mohamed Doyo. Najin, who lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, is one of only five of its subspecies left in the world.
Ben Curtis AP

A 44-year-old northern white rhino named Angalifu died this week at the San Diego Zoo of old age.

Now only five animals remain in this subspecies, all in captivity. Four are females. The lone male lives in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

So it would seem the northern white rhino is doomed to extinction. Poachers are to blame — they've slain thousands of the rhinos to get their horns, which are hawked in Asia as a health tonic.

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7:16am

Fri November 28, 2014
Africa

Viral Videos Show Kenyan Women Assaulted For Wearing Miniskirts

Originally published on Sat November 29, 2014 9:58 am

Hundreds of Kenyan women and men took to the street on Nov. 17 after a video of an unidentified woman wearing a short skirt being stripped by a group of men emerged and went viral online, sparking the #MyDressMyChoice social media campaign.
Dai Kurokawa EPA/Landov

Earlier this month, a woman selling hard-boiled eggs at a bus station in Nairobi got into an argument with a customer over 70 cents she said he owed her.

The man mocked the mother of two — who was wearing a short skirt — for being "indecently dressed," then rallied dozens of nearby men to strip her naked while others filmed the mob attack with their cellphones.

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3:31am

Tue November 18, 2014
Planet Money

Guarding The Ebola Border

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 10:22 am

Thieu Patrice, Tan Benjamin and village chief Gueu Denis of Gahapleu, Ivory Coast, stand on the path to Liberia.
Gregory Warner NPR

On a map, a border is a solid black line. On the ground, it can feel like a fiction. I'm standing on the edge of a shallow stream through the forest that separates two West African countries: Ivory Coast and Liberia. Here there is no fence. No sign. No border guard to prevent my crossing.

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