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.

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.

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.

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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.

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

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.

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.

Tina Amissi grew up in a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo with 26 brothers and sisters. When her mother insisted she drop out of school and help out around the house, it was her polygamous father — and his iron authority — who saved her.

Amissi's father supported her dream to go to medical school in the city of Bukavu. Even now, she gets so excited recounting the story that she can't stop from clapping.

"My father said, 'You'll leave your mother?' " Amissi recalls. "I said, 'Yes, yes, yes, yes, I'm going.' "

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.

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.

There are all kinds of theories why Ebola hasn't arrived in Ivory Coast, despite the fact that it shares a long and very porous border with two Ebola-afflicted countries, Liberia and Guinea.

Some Ivoirians credit a beefed-up border patrol. The citizens in this country thank God. But Mumadou Traore, who works as a field coordinator for CARE International, has a third theory. He credits the legendarily infuriating Ivorian bureacracy.

Jack Scoville was buying himself a chocolate bar a few weeks ago — Hershey's, milk — at a corner store in Chicago. And he noticed the price was just a bit higher than he's used to paying: 5 or 10 cents more. His first thought was not to blame a greedy store owner or the executives in Hershey, Pa.

He blamed Ebola.

Most African nations have responded to their Ebola-affected neighbors by canceling flights and closing borders. The logic driving this isolationism has little to do with advice from the World Health Organization. WHO pleads that travel bans slow the delivery of medical supplies to fight the virus while doing nothing to stop its spread, and that properly screening airline passengers when they disembark is enough of a precaution.

Some blame witchcraft. Others think it's a bad batch of moonshine.

But Esther Okaya, who lives in Korogocho, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, says even teetotalers are falling victim. One minute quarreling with a neighbor; the next minute, dead.

And it's happened to her.

Okaya's husband left her. He took the money for her children's school fees. A few mornings later, her 9-year-old son shuffled home after being turned away by the teacher.

And then she felt it. It was as if her heart seized up. She could not breathe.

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

Kenya's international airport is on high alert, since the Kenya Medical Association has called on the national airline to suspend flights due to concerns over the Ebola outbreak. The airline has responded by pledging faith in its new screening procedures. The World Health Organization has labeled Kenya a "high risk" country for the spread of Ebola.

Africa rarely gets a break — in the news headlines, anyway. But as the spread of the deadly Ebola virus continues to dominate the news cycle, there's a very different story about Africa that threatens to be forgotten.

One way to start that story is with the nearly $1 billion worth of deals to be announced this week between the United States and Africa, at a historic U.S. summit that will bring President Obama together with the leaders of more than 40 African nations.

Even in an undeveloped country like South Sudan, Ganyliel can feel like the middle of nowhere: a bunch of tiny islands surrounded by a gigantic swampy floodplain fed by the River Nile during rainy season. To get here, I took a helicopter from the capital, then ditched my sneakers for gumboots. I've waded out into water that's too deep for an SUV and too shallow for a speedboat.

I board a canoe made from a hollowed-out palm tree.

The commander of the rebel movement in South Sudan has agreed to talk peace — if he can make it out of his secret war bunker.

Riek Machar told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by phone on Tuesday that he would "try his best" to make it to Friday's scheduled sit-down in Ethiopia, but that he was "now in a very remote area."

There might be some truth to it: South Sudan is one of the least developed countries in the world, with almost no paved roads outside of the capital. The current rainy season can make travel virtually impossible.

Mohammed Ali Isaac's hands shook as he showed his Kenyan ID to the police officers. They let him pass, but his cousins weren't so lucky. The two women had forgotten their IDs at home, and the police were threatening to load them into one of three large trucks they'd brought for the purpose.

Olive Mukankusi lives in a two-room house with mud walls and a dirt floor in a village called Igati, in eastern Rwanda's Rwamagana province. To get there, you have to drive about 30 minutes down a dirt road.

It's there, in her home, on a warm and sunny afternoon, that she tells a story that she's only told three times in 20 years: first to a local judge, then to an American genocide researcher — and now.

After a minute of silence at noon, Monday's remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide began with testimony from a survivor.

The screaming started soon after.

In the crowd of 30,000 gathered in Amahoro stadium in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, first this person then that began to wail and thrash. Men in yellow vests took them to a special room of mattresses in the stadium basement.

In general, Rwandan culture discourages such outward displays of grief. But not during this time of year, when traumatic flashbacks are common.

Morning Mass began with a hymn on a recent Sunday at the Infant Jesus Catholic Church in the Central African Republic town of Bouar. The Rev. Dominic Mbarta fretted about his sermon. The previous Sunday, when a Polish priest at the church simply asked the congregation to refrain from killing their Muslim neighbors or looting abandoned Muslim houses, the priest was threatened.

"They were so angry," Mbarta says. "They went back grumbling that the priest is not impartial. He is for the Muslims. He's not for the Christians."

It is almost impossible to buy soap anymore in most small towns in the Central African Republic. Same with sugar, powdered milk, batteries, baby formula. Up until January, these kinds of imported goods — in the stratified society of this country — almost always would have been sold to you by a Muslim.

But for the past few weeks, bands of Christian militia groups called anti-Balaka have waged war on Muslims and their property.

The unmarked, unpaved streets of Juba, the capital of South Sudan, can be tough for an outsider to navigate.

By the time I found the house of Peter Adwok Nyaba, the country's former minister of higher education, science and technology, it was already 5 p.m. The sun was dangerously low on the horizon. I had less than an hour to interview Adwok and get back to my hotel before the citywide curfew — imposed when the violence began three weeks before — took effect. After 6, there would be no one on the streets except myself and soldiers.

In 2010, well-traveled freelance photographer Kristie McLean arrived in Ethiopia, her first trip to the country. She was there to photograph women with an injury that can happen when a baby gets stuck during childbirth: obstetric fistula. It's a condition common in rural Africa and Asia, where women give birth far from hospitals and C-sections aren't readily available.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Our colleague Gregory Warner was reporting in South Sudan recently and he described something ominous. As he put it, people are starting to ask who their neighbors are. It suggested that a violent political struggle in Africa's youngest country could erupt into a civil war fueled by tribal differences. Today, South Sudan's warring factions will meet for the first time in neighboring Ethiopia. This comes as fighting still rages. Here again, NPR's Gregory Warner.

A senior official in South Sudan said Saturday that government troops will attack the main rebel stronghold if rebels turn down a proposed cease-fire.

The government had offered the truce on Friday to end two weeks of ethnic violence that has killed more than a thousand people.

Those rebel forces are loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, accused by supporters of President Salva Kiir of leading a coup attempt two weekends ago that sparked violence across the country.

Pages