January 30, 2015 04:49 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

  • People from the al-Kaseasbeh tribe and other tribes take part in a demonstration outside of Jordan's cabinet in Amman calling for the release of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by Islamic State group militants, Jan. 27, 2015.

    Audio Deadline Passes in Jordan-Islamic State Prisoner Exchange Deal

    Jordan wants proof that pilot is still alive. Also in the news, a gas explosion near a maternity hospital in Mexico kills at least seven; Benjamin Netanyahu blames Iran for fighting along Israel-Lebanon border; and the World Health Organization's focus on fighting Ebola shifts to ending outbreak. More

  • Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

    Can animals be artistic? Some experts think so. Painting and music are part of efforts to keep animals happy at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Zookeepers there believe that animals need enrichment just like people do. Their unique pieces of art are popular items. More

  • Audio After Elections, Greece May Renegotiate Loans

    The Syriza party has won elections in Greece and formed a ruling coalition. Now, Greece may seek to renegotiate loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund worth $268 billion. However, expert says the cost of Greece leaving the euro zone may be too high. More

  • Burning vehicles are seen near the village of Ghajar on Israel's border with Lebanon, Jan. 28, 2015.

    Audio Israeli Soldiers Killed in Exchange of Gunfire with Hezbollah

    Two Israeli soldiers and a UN peacekeeping soldier were killed Wednesday along the border between Israel and Lebanon. Jordan to trade jailed suspected terrorist for hostage with IS. Afghan cabinet nominees rejected. New Greek government holds first meeting. Democratic ideals are under threat More

  • Audio Lebanese Women Make Peace One Meal at a Time

    War in Lebanon continues. Women from the opposing sides are coming together to cook – thanks to a non-profit called Ruwwad al Tanmeya-Lebanon. Experienced chefs helped the women complete training. Now they are selling their food to organizations such as the Red Cross. More

Featured Stories

  • AFC Championship Football

    Superbowl Sunday: The Patriots, the Seahawks and Katy Perry, Too

    The National Football League championship game is hugely popular with sports fans and television advertisers. Tens of millions of people watch the game for the competitive play and for the funny commercials broadcast throughout. Many also enjoy the halftime show. This year Katy Perry will entertain. More

  • NYC subway art

    Video New York's 'Underground Museum' Pleases Passersby

    For the past thirty years, artists have been asked to create works of art for New York’s huge subway and train system. The works often relate to city life or to the neighborhood of a station. Some people call it New York’s “underground art museum," with over 250 pieces of original artwork. More

  • agridrone

    Video French Farmers Are Using Drones to Examine Their Crops

    It used to be mostly the military that used small, unpiloted aircraft, called “drones.” The little planes were very costly. But as they have dropped in price more people have begun to use them. Rescue workers and farmers are among the new users. The drones save money and time. More

  • Video Is There a Better Way to Track Passenger Planes?

    New technology could help to more closely follow passenger airplanes, and find them when they crash; international group to meet next month to discuss changes. Airline industry leaders and regulators want to improve airplane safety. They want better, more dependable tracking devices. More

  • Obama

    Audio Has Obama Set the Message for the 2016 Campaign?

    “I have no more campaigns to run … I know because I won both of them.” Mr. Obama cannot run for president again – U.S. presidents may serve only two terms. But some observers say his most recent State of the Union message on the middle class sounded like a campaign speech. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs