Atlas of Kenya: Ethnic Distributions slideshow

Way back in 1990 I went on sabbatical leave to St Mary’s College, Durham University, and produced an Atlas of Kenya.  I specifically wanted to map where ethnic groups lived at independence (1963) and where they lived in 1979 at the end of President Kenyatta’s government.

I used the 1962 and 1979 population censuses to do this. Dai Morgan of Durham University, and formerly Head of Geography at the University of Nairobi, was an invaluable help with the 1962 census data and maps from that date.  I had managed to collect similar maps and census information for the 1979 census when lecturing at Kenyatta University in the early 1980s.  South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) funded me as I managed to persuade them that it would be interesting to see what happened in post-colonial Kenya with a view to thinking similar trends would happen here in South Africa.  Lastly Joan Kenworthy kindly hosted us at St Mary’s and we had a memorable six months there.

I’ve been able to put the maps into a slideshow – something that was impossible in 1990-1 when we worked on the Atlas.  Then we used very early Geographic Information Systems technology to digitise the maps, manually adding in all of the data and plotting the 80 maps (using pens) on an A0 sized HP plotter. The maps and final report produced for the HSRC can be downloaded from the links below.  What’s more interesting is to let the slideshow load and then see the patchwork of different ethnic groups (Kenyans would say Tribes) and how they spread after independence.

The slideshow is large (75mb) so needs quite a lot of time to load if you are on a slow internet connection but you can also download it.  It’s best viewed full screen at High Definition.

Ethnic Kenya 1962-1979 Vol-1 Report

Ethnic Kenya 1962-1979 Vol-2 Atlas

Post-Apartheid Apartheid: Canon Collins Scholars Conference Presentation by Luveshni Odayar

Luveshni Odayar is one of my Masters students. Her work is provocatively entitled Post-Apartheid Apartheid and she presented some of her preliminary findings at the Canon Collins Scholars Conference held in Cape Town recently.

CCELAT 2015 Scholars' Conference Invitation_Theories of Change

Here she is, front row left, pictured with some of the scholars attending the event.

Canon Collins Pic

Her work asks whether the patterns of extreme segregation in Port Elizabeth have changed over the 20 years of the democratic era.  She’s found that there has been a slow and continuous decrease but the city is still highly segregated.  The African and White populations are the most segregated from each other as they lie at opposite ends of income, employment and education levels.  Here’s her presentation.

Title Slide

Time Geography Days 2015

Things don’t usually work out this like this but for once my teaching and research schedules have fitted together really neatly. This past week I’ve been busy with the IPPE 2015 students at University West introducing them to research principles and practices through recording their Time Geographical activities using Google Drive applications. Then on Thursday and Friday last week Per and I presented a paper on this collaboration to 2015’s Time Geography Days conference which was held at Gothenburg University.  We examined the Time Geography work that our Rhodes University students have done to develop their understanding of Space and Place.

I haven’t seen the students since they began their studies last September and it was nice to be met by smiles and greetings: especially as I was there to give them some work to do!  The conference participants were nearly all new acquaintances to me but they were easy to interact with and very interested in what we were doing.  So it’s been a good week.  Here’s the presentation we gave.

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Tomorrow will be my last day in the classroom on this trip to Scandinavia.  I’ll be showing the students how to map their Time Geography activities in Google Maps so that Per and I can examine whether their activities are more, or less, segregated than our South African students.  This should be interesting and will provide a nice comparison for our paper at the December SANORD symposium in Windhoek.

SISU-EDU workshop in Turku

We had our latest meeting for the SANORD funded SISU-EDU project at the University of Turku this week.

The aim of the Sustainability Education in Southern Africa project is to build an open access education simulation.  We met our colleagues from Finland Futures Research Centre this week to workshop how to adapt their getalife simulation to suit the purposes of sustainable development. We also needed to: review the results of our questionnaires about sustainability education; develop the motivation for a workshop at the SANORD conference to be held in Namibia; write an abstract of a paper for presentation at the same conference and; strategise the way forward in terms of funding opportunities.  In other words there was a lot to do in a short space of time!

The weather was helpfully bleak – wet, cold, cloudy and windy – so workshopping indoors was easy. Johanna Ollila, Johanna Kärki  and Maria Hoysaa sat down with Kate and I to tackle the agenda we’d set ourselves and we made lots of good progress.  We’re intending to get funding to travel to the SANORD conference in Windhoek this December where we will be presenting our results so far.  Hope to see you there!


World Water Week comes early to TEMA Environmental Change

On Wednesday this week we held our World Water Week seminar. It was the culminating activity in a three week course on water resource management in Africa: part of the Masters programme in Science for Sustainable Development at Linköping University.  We are teaching on the course as part of our Linnaeus-Palme exchange programme between the Geography Department at Rhodes University and Linköping University.

Prof Kate Rowntree outside Temahuset

Prof Kate Rowntree outside Temahuset

We used the four themes of World Water Week: the Global to Local Perspective, Political Economy of Growth and Development perspective, the Human and Social Perspective, the Ecosystem and Pollution Perspective as the foci of the final presentations by our students.


Water management issues in eight African countries were investigated. The papers, which covered a range of issues, clearly showed how the four perspectives intersect. Water issues in urban slums provides a good example. Studies from Nairobi, Accra, and Dar es Salaam all showed an inability to provide effective water infrastructure in informal settlements that arise from high rates of migration to urban areas, itself the result of population growth, economic drivers, conflict and climate change.

The lack of effective formal governance in these areas opens up opportunities for private entrepreneurs who fill an essential but costly niche, giving rise to increased inequities of access to water-related services. Finally the downstream delivery of polluted water impacts aquatic ecosystems and can negatively affect the health and livelihoods of downstream communities, as illustrated by the Nairobi River.



African Water Futures Workshop: Linköping University 29 April

Our time at Linköping University is unfortunately drawing to a close.  We have just had a long weekend to celebrate Valborg but before then Kate and I held a Futures Studies session with our Sustainable Resources Masters students in Temahuset.

Kate at Tema

It ended with the students workshopping Future Scenarios for Water Use in Africa.

The four scenarios they came up with were provocatively titled:

  • The Garden of Eden
  • Noah’s Ark
  • The Tower of Babel
  • Dante’s Inferno

This lively set of pictures were taken when they were drawing up short descriptive narratives to go with each scenario.