December 20, 2014 06:39 UTC

As It Is

Kenyan Communities Worry About New Mineral Finds

Leaders of the Mijikenda ethnic group in Kenya are concerned about mining, such as this extraction in Tibet.
Leaders of the Mijikenda ethnic group in Kenya are concerned about mining, such as this extraction in Tibet.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story

Hi again. Welcome back to As It Is. I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Today, we are talking about women’s soccer. One player in Lebanon has a surprising fan.
 
“I was really skilled and he was like ‘give her special training session. I want her to get better and better.’”
 
But first, we are discussing a topic that we have visited before on this program: improving the economy across Africa. Kenya might have good news on that subject. Oil and rare earth minerals were recently discovered there. Those resources could help improve East Africa’s largest economy. 

But VOA’s Mohammed Yusuf also found that some citizens in Kenya worry that new building projects will hurt local communities. Christopher Cruise has his report. 
 
Mining companies in Kenya recently announced they have discovered new mineral deposits near the coast. The companies have also reported the possibility of large amounts of oil in the northern part of the country.
 
Mining companies say some of these finds could be worth billions of dollars. And, local communities are hoping to gain from some of those profits.  
 
But the government has warned companies about making such announcements before they are sure about the finds.
 
Najib Balala is Kenya’s Secretary for Mining. He spoke to reporters in Nairobi this week. He said the government will ask mining companies for details about their findings before announcing them to the public.
 
“Any public announcement by a mining company, we as a government need to have that notification 21 days before the announcement so we can know what is happening (and) we can go and testify (whether) those finds are genuine or people are playing with stock exchanges overseas to raise funds.”
 
There may be another problem, too. If the discoveries are real, big mining projects might harm the communities where the resources are found.
 
For example, rare minerals were recently found in an area called Mirima Hills, near Kenya’s coast.
 
The mining company Cortec reported a deposit of more than 600 million kilograms of niobium. Niobium is used to make steel and other valuable substances.  The company says the deposit could be worth 50 billion dollars.
 
But the discovery has already started a disagreement among the mining company, the government, and the community.
 
Leaders of the Mijikenda ethnic groups, which live along Kenya’s coast, say the Mirima Hills area is their place of worship. They say they hold religious ceremonies there.
 
Joseph Mwarandu is the secretary general of Kaya elders.  He says they cannot permit mining to take place in their holy forests.
 
“We are opposed to the mining of minerals from Mirima Kaya forest or any other forest in the Mijikenda Kaya as a whole.  So our stand is that we appeal to the authorities to be able to save our heritage, because when this forest goes, then we will have nothing to lay our hands on as far as the heritage is concerned.”
 
The area is important not only to the Kaya elders. It has also been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.
 
Secretary Balala is expected to present a bill in the next government cabinet meeting. The bill will likely suggest that the central government take 70 percent of any mining profits. The local government would get 25 percent. And communities where the mining is happening would get five percent.
 
But Kaya leader Mwarandu says no amount of money will make them open the forests for mineral exploration.
 
“Heritage is something that is valueless.  You know, we cannot count heritage in terms of money.”
 
The Kenyan government is also hoping that mining industry reforms will help make the mining industry tell more about what they do. Currently, the industry does a lot of its business in secret.
  
I’m Christopher Cruise.
 
Women's Soccer Is on the Rise in Africa and the Middle East

Women’s soccer is becoming more popular around the world. But in most places, women still have less training and financial support than male players.
 
A program held every summer in Berlin aims to improve opportunities for women. It is called Discover Football. It brings soccer clubs from Africa and the Middle East to Germany for a week of games and discussions.

Soccer player Aya El Ammour, from Lebanon, won a scholarship to Discover Football. She has played the game for nine years. Who is one of her biggest supporters? She says it is her father.
 
“He always encouraged me. He actually paid a professional coach in Lebanon. I was really skilled and he was like ‘give her special training sessions. I want her to get better and better.'”
 
But when Aya grew older, her father had second thoughts.
 
"He was like 'you've had enough of football, and now you have to look forward to your education. You have to get married.'"
 
But Aya did not stop. Eventually her father gave in.
 
Today, Aya El Ammouri is one of her country’s top women players.
 
She and her teammates attended the Discover Football program this year. It brings together about 100 women every summer. The women play soccer and talk about how to improve football and women’s rights. It is also an opportunity for the next generation of leaders to meet each other.
 
Nadia Assaf is one of the founders of another soccer organization, called Girls Football Academy. It is Lebanon’s first women’s soccer school. She says before she started the school five years ago, women’s soccer was not taken seriously in Lebanon.
 
"It's like a side thing, just to say that they have a women's quote-unquote 'team.' Actually, they never took us seriously. Women were never the priority. We never really got equipment. We never got fields, proper coaches, etc. etc."
 
Nadia says she and her co-founder decided to start a school just for female soccer players. That way, young women could really have the resources they deserved.
 
And that’s As It Is. I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

If you would like to reach us, send an email to learningenglish@voanews.com. Or go to our website at learningenglish.voanews.com and click on “Contact Us.”
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ousmane Ibrah Waziri from: Magaria, Zinder
08/11/2013 12:08 PM
It is very important for us to verify how the natural resources wealth are manage in Africa. Many African citizens do not get better life from these resources. Unfortunately, these resources have served only the interests for the few. I think, that's why the Kenyan don't agree with their government on this subject.

Learn with The News

  • US Cuba

    Audio Obama Moves to Normalize Relations with Cuba

    President Barack Obama announced a major change in United States’ policy toward Cuba this week. He said he wants Congress to ease more than 50 years of U.S. sanctions against the island nation. And he said the two nations should once again formally recognize one another. More

  • Santa Claus waves at the crowd during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Nov. 27, 2014.

    Video A Los Angeles Christmas

    The end of December is a time when many Americans are thinking about snow and cold weather. Yet the city of Los Angeles, California is almost always warm and sunny, even during the winter holiday season. Many people like all the holiday decorations and lights seen in and around Los Angeles. More

  • FILE - A man casts a fishing net on the Mekong riverbank in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

    Audio Disagreement Over Mekong River Dam Project

    A two-day meeting in Laos has left government officials and environmental activists deeply divided. The meeting was called to examine plans for a 260 megawatt dam on the Lower Mekong River. The Lao government is prepared to start work on the project. More

  • Mideast Islamic State US

    Audio Top Islamic State Leaders Killed in Airstrikes

    Three top Islamic State leaders were killed in a series of targeted airstrikes in Iraq. U.S. not ruling out White House visit by Cuban President Raul Castro. Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap over 100 women, children. Putin says Russia’s economy will improve in two years. More

  • the interview

    Video Sony Criticized for Cancelling 'The Interview'

    The company acted after a group of computer hackers attacked the company and threatened to attack movie theaters that show the film. Most people have criticized Sony’s decision to cancel the release. The US says North Korea was behind the cyber attack. North Korea denies the accusation. More

Featured Stories

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

  • The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement in Las Vegas

    Audio Mob Museum Tells About the Mafia in America

    The U.S. government has long used public money to fight organized crime. Now, public money is also paying for a museum in Las Vegas to tell about "The Mob,” and not everyone is happy about that. But some say it helps the local economy by bringing people to a part of Las Vegas that few visit. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs