As part of the project A Nation Engaged, NPR and member stations are exploring America's role in the world heading into the presidential election.

Everyone knew President Obama would say something about gay rights when he visited Kenya last summer. Many American activists were pressing him to publicly condemn Kenya's colonial-era law making homosexuality a crime.

A small monkey brought Kenya's electrical infrastructure to its knees for more than three hours on Tuesday with a nationwide blackout.

How My Bookworm Sister Left Our Refugee Camp

Feb 18, 2016
A woman named Kamin and her six children lived in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where Faisa Muse, the producer of this story, also lived before moving to Seattle. The woman had been separated from her husband during the conflict in Somalia.
Flickr Photo/European Commission

My sister Nasteha Muse fought hard to get an education.

We grew up in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Our parents migrated there because of the conflict in Somalia, where they are from. Nasteha remembers the camp as "very harsh, dusty and hot." 

In the middle of the desert in Kenya, there's a place with a population the size of Minneapolis, called Dadaab.

It's no ordinary city. This is the largest refugee camp in the world, home to nearly half a million people. Most came from Somalia, escaping the civil war that began in the early 1990s.

Ben Rawlence spent years working in the camp — first with Human Rights Watch, then as a journalist. He just published a book called City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp.

 REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

In a show of solidarity, a group of Kenyan Muslims came to the defense of a group of Kenyan Christians when the bus they were riding in was hijacked by members of an Islamic militant group, al-Shabab.  

The passengers were traveling from Nairobi to the northeastern town of Mandera, near the border with Somalia, when the militants started shooting at the bus.   

The attackers were trying to separate the Muslims from the Christians, intending to kill the non-Muslims. 

Courtesy Shana Greene

Jeannie Yandel talks with Village Volunteers founder Shana Greene about creating biodegradable sanitary pads out of water hyacinth for women who don't have reliable access to menstrual supplies.

Kenya saw another deadly attack when armed militants stormed a small coastal town Sunday night, leaving at least 48 people dead.

Kenya's Standard Digital reports that police warned the death toll could climb higher. The Standard adds:

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.

Kenya had a lot of press coverage during the attack on the Westgate mall last month. The stories revealed deep class divisions in East Africa. Some entrepreneurs from Nairobi's thriving startup economy are using technology to bridge that divide between rich and poor.

AP Photo/Jonathan Kalan

Last week, militant group al-Shabab attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing over 60 people. On Sunday, dozens of students were murdered when a group, widely believed to be Boko Haram, rampaged an agricultural college in northeast Nigeria. David Hyde talks with Peter Lewis, director of Johns Hopkins' African studies program in their School of Advanced International Studies, about extremist violence in Africa and the different groups operating there.

Update at 12:55 p.m. ET:

Telling his nation that security forces have "ashamed" those who attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday declared "we have defeated the monster of terrorism."

As night fell in Kenya and after four days that captured attention around the world, it appeared the crisis was over.

Kenyatta said, as the BBC reports, that the death toll from Saturday's attack by Somalia-based terrorists and the siege that followed was:

-- 61 civilians.

-- 6 security officers.

AP Photo/Jonathan Kalan

The deadly terrorist attack in a Kenyan shopping mall has so far left over 60 dead and many wounded. The Somali-based terrorist organization Al-Shabab claimed responsibility. While the attack came as a shock to many of us, law professor Makau Mutua says Kenya has known for a long time that an attack was coming.

Makau Mutua is the dean of University of Buffalo's Law School and member of the independent, nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations. Ross Reynolds talks with Makau about the context behind this act of terrorism.



Now, the strike on Nairobi was noteworthy in part because of the group claiming responsibility. As David and Gregory mentioned, al-Shabab is a militant organization from nearby Somalia. Analyst Bronwyn Bruton of the Atlantic Council says a few years ago it would've had little reason to strike outside Somalia's borders. More recently, al-Shabab has been evolving, turned to new purposes by the influence of al-Qaida.

BRONWYN BRUTON: It emerged in 2005 in the wake of international efforts to create a government in Somalia.