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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On Sunday, Crimea was part of Ukraine. Yesterday, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Crimea was an independent country. And today Putin and Crimean officials signed a treaty to make the peninsula part of Russia. We're going to hear a Russian view of these events coming up.

Host David Greene speaks with NPR's Gregory Warner about Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval of a draft treaty to annex Crimea.

Now that Crimea has voted to separate from Ukraine and join Russia, Ukrainian troops still stationed on the peninsula have become even less secure.

Varenyky are Ukrainian dumplings stuffed with fruit or potatoes and topped with sour cream. Today, they became a symbol of political protest.

Residents of the Crimea region vote Sunday on whether to join Russia. The region is controlled by pro-Russian forces, and the Ukrainian government in Kiev has declared the referendum illegal.

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."

Rescue efforts have been underway at an illegal gold mine near Johannesburg, where a group of miners were trapped by boulders they say were placed there by a gang of rivals. Some of the men refused rescue because those let out were being arrested by local police for their unauthorized excavations. Renee Montagne talks to David Smith, a reporter for Britain's Guardian newspaper in Johannesburg.

Tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing what the U.N. calls a campaign of "ethno-religious cleansing" in the Central African Republic. On Sunday, African forces provided a military escort to hundreds of people on a slow convoy toward the Western border with Cameroon.

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.

In June last year, soon after Secretary of State John Kerry named his old Senate colleague Russ Feingold as the first American special envoy to the Great Lakes, one of Feingold's former constituents approached him with a welcome smile, and a puzzled look. Feingold had, after all, spent 19 years as a senator in the American Great Lakes.

"The is terrific," the man said to Feingold, the former senator recently recalled. "What are you going to be doing, checking water levels?"

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In Nairobi, four men are on trial for helping the terrorists who stormed Westgate Mall in September. More than 70 people were killed in that attack. Today, the judge and lawyers on both sides left the confines of their courtroom and took a field trip to the mall.

As NPR's Gregory Warner reports, they went looking for the truth of what happened that day. But they also went looking for closure.

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.

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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.

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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.

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We have been following the harrowing news coming out of South Sudan in recent days.

MONTAGNE: It is the world's newest country and it came into being with high hopes after a two-decade-long civil war with Sudan. Now South Sudan has plunged into what's beginning to look its own civil war.

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.

The president of South Sudan spent Friday in a peace summit with regional heads of state, discussing the crisis that erupted last weekend after an alleged coup attempt. At the same time, the government warned of a shadowy rebel army, covered with white ash, marching through the jungle to re-attack the northern city of Bor.

It was a somber Christmas day in South Sudan. Despite an appeal for a Christmas cease-fire from the African Union, government soldiers and rebels clashed in an oil-rich part of the country.

At a church in the capital of Juba, President Salva Kiir called for peace and unity. Even the leader's choice of clothing — traditional robes instead of army fatigues — seemed to signal that he wants to move past the violence.

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The military conflict in South Sudan in Africa appears to be easing. The government says its army has retaken the city of Bor, which had been in rebel hands for more than a week. And a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the capital Juba has been lifted, allowing people to attend Christmas Eve services. But there is also more grim news to report.

Uganda's Parliament ignored Western criticism and passed a bill on Friday that punishes acts of homosexuality with prison terms that can include life in prison.

The bill has been a source of controversy for years. Western governments and leaders, including President Obama, have criticized the measure, which President Yoweri Museveni must sign for it to take effect.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, it's actual name, also makes it a crime to "promote" homosexuality, which could mean simply offering HIV counseling.

Daniel and Benta Odeny married late by African standards: Both were in their 30s. And they'd only just hit their third anniversary when Benta started coughing blood.

The cough lasted a couple of weeks. So Benta went to the doctor. She had HIV. But Daniel was still HIV negative.

"She thought it was the end of the world," Daniel says.

Benta thought that Daniel would leave her and she would die alone. She had seen it happen many times to other women in her situation.

Some African leaders have lavished resources on their home villages, building palaces and outsize monuments to themselves that look entirely out of place in the poor and remote spots they came from.

Nelson Mandela adamantly rejected such extravagance, and the world will see for itself when he's buried Sunday in Qunu, a simple village set amid the lush green hills in the southeastern corner of the country. It's little changed from the days when Mandela ran barefoot in the fields and herded sheep and calves as a boy nearly a century ago.

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Tens of thousands of South Africans and dozens of world leaders and dignitaries came to a rainy soccer stadium in Soweto, South Africa today to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. President Obama took the stand to laud him as the last great liberator of the 20th century. People danced, sang and cheered to mark this occasion. NPR's Gregory Warner was in the bleachers and sent this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING)

The day of prayer and reflection for Nelson Mandela began Sunday morning at the African Gospel Church in Orlando, an area of Soweto, Mandela's hometown.

The anti-apartheid icon died Thursday night of complications from a lung infection. He was 95 years old.

Fleur Nomthandazo has been coming to this church, her great-grandfather's church, every Sunday for the past six months to pray for Nelson Mandela's recovery. Today, she's here to pray for his family.

"We never cry when somebody dies," Nomthandazo says. "We celebrate the life that they lived."

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Ever since the great anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela died last night, crowds have been gathering outside his former home in Soweto township. This is the house where Mandela lived before he was arrested, before he was imprisoned for 27 years, before he became an icon.

SIEGEL: The mood among the hundreds of people outside the house and throughout the neighborhood was anything but somber.

This story is part of the Planet Money T-shirt project.

Jeff Steinberg had a maroon and white lacrosse jersey that he wore for years. It said "Denver Lacrosse" on the front and had his number, 5, on the back.

Editor's Note: One out of three Africans paid a bribe in the past year to obtain a government document, get medical care, place kids in school or settle an issue with police, according to a recent survey. Police consistently attracted the highest ratings of corruption, including those in Kenya. NPR's Gregory Warner looks at the impact it has on the country.

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We turn now to Kenya for an update on the gunmen who attacked a popular Nairobi mall in September, killing dozens. Authorities now believe there were only four attackers. They say they know the identity of two of them. And they're zeroing in on their activities in the weeks leading up to the attack, where they plotted the assault, what weapons they used.

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