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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Goats and Soda
1:30 am
Thu May 28, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 8:32 am

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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Goats and Soda
3:27 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 9:21 am

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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Africa
2:53 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Army General Overthrows President Of Burundi In Apparent Coup

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 4:56 pm

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

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Middle East
5:37 am
Sat May 9, 2015

Americans Among The Many Families Escaping Chaos In Yemen

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

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 2:14 pm

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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Africa
4:19 am
Fri May 8, 2015

In Hard-To-Flee Yemen, Those Escaping Are Not Typical Refugees

Hassan Farid, 23, was a medical resident at a big hospital in Yemen and is the son of a judge. It can be difficult and expensive to flee Yemen, and educated professionals are among the refugees who have reached the nearby African nation of Djibouti.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 12:59 pm

The conflict in Yemen has escalated rapidly and it has become a difficult place to flee. The land route to Saudi Arabia is blocked by Houthi rebels. Some have tried to cross the Gulf of Aden to the east coast of Africa, but for that you need a boat.

Those who have reached the tiny African state of Djibouti are not your stereotypical refugees. Some were fishermen — they had boats — and others came from Yemen's small professional class, and therefore had the money to buy a seat on the boats.

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Africa
8:22 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Unannounced And Unprecedented: Kerry Makes A Stop In Somalia

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 9:18 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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Africa
3:07 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Kenya Pushes For Close Of Word's Largest Refugee Camp

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 12:02 am

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

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Parallels
2:21 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 6:27 pm

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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Goats and Soda
8:25 am
Mon April 13, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 5:53 pm

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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Food
5:25 am
Sun April 12, 2015

The Winds Of Zanzibar Blow Just Right For Spices

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 9:01 am

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

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Africa
2:36 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Kenya Bombs Two Al-Shabab Camps In Somalia

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 4:37 am

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

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Africa
6:01 am
Sat April 4, 2015

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

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 12:38 pm

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

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Africa
3:14 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Al-Shabab Attack In Kenya Is Deadliest Since 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombing

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 1:27 pm

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in Kenya today, the sounds of mourning pierced in the air.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MOURNERS: (Singing in foreign language).

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Africa
2:37 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Al-Shabab Militants Attack University In Kenya

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 5:27 pm

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Ahead, we'll be taking a closer look at the framework agreement reached today to limit Iran's nuclear program.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Africa
8:08 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Al-Shabab Militants Cross Border To Storm University In Kenya

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

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Goats and Soda
2:46 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Why Are Chinese Artists Representing Kenya At The Venice Biennale?

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

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 10:57 pm

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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Goats and Soda
1:50 am
Thu March 26, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 8:06 am

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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The Salt
2:19 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Vanilla, Nutmeg Spice And Everything Nice On A Zanzibar Farm

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

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 1:39 pm

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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The Salt
10:43 am
Tue March 17, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 1:38 pm

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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Goats and Soda
5:53 am
Sun March 15, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 9:03 am

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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Africa
3:08 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Ethiopia's Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

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

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 10:53 am

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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Global Health
7:28 am
Tue January 27, 2015

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

Frederica Boswell NPR

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 10:40 am

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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Africa
3:06 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 7:00 am

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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Goats and Soda
1:34 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Police Fire Tear Gas On Kenyan Kids Protecting A Soccer Field

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

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:15 pm

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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Goats and Soda
2:23 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

In The World's Rape Capital, Doctors Fight Violence With Science

Dr Dieudonne Masemo Bihehe and Dr. Tina Amissi are physicians at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, now doing research through ICART, a new research center to support Congolese scholarship.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 6:17 pm

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.' "

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Goats and Soda
2:51 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 3:26 pm

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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The Salt
3:43 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 2:48 pm

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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Goats and Soda
3:03 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:15 pm

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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Europe
5:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

How To Pitch A Hamburger In A War Zone

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 9:07 am

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

Transcript

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Goats and Soda
2:28 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:07 pm

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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