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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Movies
5:22 pm
Sun July 5, 2015

Out Of Broken English, A Film Crafts A Call For Classroom Repairs

Originally published on Sun July 5, 2015 10:11 pm

Three high school students in Zanzibar have won a prize for a film that tackles a fierce debate in African classrooms: Should the teacher speak in English or the mother tongue? (This piece originally aired June 25, 2015 on Morning Edition.)

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Goats and Soda
5:09 am
Thu June 25, 2015

Teens Make Film In Broken English To Explain Why They'll Fail English

Screengrab from the film, Present Tense.

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 2:14 pm

Two minutes into Present Tense, a short film made by three high school students in a fishing village in the East African island of Zanzibar, a set of subtitles lay out their mission:

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Parallels
4:43 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

The Trouble That's Brewing In Burundi

The coffin of Theogene Niyondiko, who was shot dead by police during an opposition demonstration last Friday, is carried in Burundi's capital Bujumbura on Tuesday. Protesters have been demonstrating against President Pierre Nkurunziza, who plans to run for a third term next month.
Gildas Ngingo AP

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 12:35 am

Hundreds of mourners in Burundi spilled out of a funeral service Tuesday at a Catholic church, their hands raised and their palms open in what is now a global meme against police violence.

They were there to mourn an engineering student, Theogene Niyondiko, 28. He was shot last Friday by police during a protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza.

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All Tech Considered
3:47 am
Wed June 3, 2015

A Taxi App Aims To Build Trust Where Crime Is High

Traffic stands still in Nairobi. People in Kenya's capital don't like getting into cabs driven by strangers. They prefer to call drivers they know or who their friends recommend.
Goran Tomasevic Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 7:59 am

It's a problem in a taxi economy if people don't like getting into cabs that are driven by strangers. A cab driver is a stranger almost by definition. But in the high-crime city of Nairobi, Kenya, people prefer to call up drivers they know or who their friends recommend.

An American named Jason Eisen spent years in Nairobi as a consultant until he had his big idea. He built an app that doesn't just tell you which taxis are close by, like Uber does. It also assigns the driver a trust score, by scouring riders' contacts and social media.

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Goats and Soda
3:30 am
Thu May 28, 2015

How The World's Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

Somali children dance in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
Fairfax Media Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 31, 2015 7:59 am

The world's largest refugee camp is also a giant social experiment.

Take hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing a war. Shelter them for 24 years in a camp in Kenya run by the United Nations. And offer different opportunities than they might have had if they'd stayed in Somalia.

The Kenyan government wants the experiment to end — soon. It's pushing the refugees to return to their home in Somalia, though the camp called Dadaab is the only home many have known.

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Goats and Soda
4:33 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

Blind Waiters Give Diners A Taste Of 'Dinner In The Dark' In Kenya

At the "Dinner in the Dark" restaurant that's just opened in Nairobi, a blind waiter leads guests to their table. The photo was taken during a training session — that's why the lights are on.
Courtesy of is Eatout.co.ke

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 2:07 pm

Ignatius Agon practices his greeting: "OK, good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ignatius and I am going to guide you into the dark."

It's Monday, and the first day of training for a new restaurant opening this month in Kenya. Diners will be served in the dark. They'll have to find their food with their forks and eat it in a pitch black room.

And the waiters are blind.

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Middle East
2:14 pm
Sun May 10, 2015

Americans Among The Many Families Escaping Chaos In Yemen

The Amiri Red Sea was one of many boats ferrying refugees, including some Americans, escaping fighting in Yemen to nearby Djibouti, across the Gulf.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 4:14 pm

Traveling with the State Department in Africa, you feel like you're traveling in countries without people. Traffic-clogged roads are cleared in advance by security services. The two-hour drive from downtown Nairobi to the airport takes a beautiful 12 minutes.

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Africa
10:22 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Unannounced And Unprecedented: Kerry Makes A Stop In Somalia

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 11:18 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This next story will test the ability of the British to keep calm and carry on.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

London is the home of a new work of art. It is part of a competition.

INSKEEP: It's outdoors.

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Africa
4:31 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Kenya Pushes For Close Of Word's Largest Refugee Camp

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:02 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Parallels
4:39 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

They Speak Hebrew And Keep Kosher: The Left-Behind Ethiopian Jews

Jewish worshippers gather at a makeshift synagogue established by the Jewish Agency for Israel for Ethiopian Jews in Gondar, Ethiopia, in 2012.
Jenny Vaughan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 8:27 pm

In the half darkness of an adobe hut in Gondar, Ethiopia, 20-year-old Gezahegn ("Gezi") Derebe pulls out an acoustic guitar. As on many evenings when the power goes out, he entertains his family by singing. Though his mother, Ayelesh, sways to the tune, she doesn't understand the lyrics, because Gezi sings not in his native Amharic, but in Hebrew.

Behind him, on a wall kept cool with a traditional mixture of cow dung and ash, hangs a laminated map of Israel. Above it are the framed photographs of his relatives who have already managed to emigrate there.

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Goats and Soda
10:25 am
Mon April 13, 2015

After Global Protests, Kenyan Court Sentences 3 Men Who Raped Teen

In March, demonstrators in Nairobi demanded tougher punishment for assailants of women and girls.
Anadolu Agency Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 7:53 pm

At 16, Liz was beaten and repeatedly raped, then thrown unconscious into a pit latrine in Busia County, in Western Kenya. The local police doled out their own brand of "punishment": They ordered the assailants to cut the grass at the police station.

But after millions of people around the world petitioned for a stronger punishment, a trial began last year. And on Monday, three of her assailants were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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Africa
8:01 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Kenya's Security Problem With Al-Shabab Doesn't Stop At Borders

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 2:38 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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Africa
10:08 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Al-Shabab Militants Cross Border To Storm University In Kenya

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
5:14 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Why Are Chinese Artists Representing Kenya At The Venice Biennale?

In The Shame In Venice 2, Kenyan artist Michael Soi protests the makeup of his country's pavilion at the Biennale.
Courtesy of Michael Soi

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 12:57 am

There's something sketchy at this year's Venice Biennale — the international art exhibition sometimes dubbed the Olympics of the contemporary art world.

When you come to the Kenyan pavilion, almost all of the artists will be ... Chinese.

The Biennale, one of the oldest and most important exhibitions of contemporary art in the world, takes place in Venice every two years. Thirty countries, including the U.S., have a permanent slot.

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Goats and Soda
3:50 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Don't Torpedo The Dam, Full Speed Ahead For Ethiopia's Nile Project

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction near Assosa, Ethiopia. When it's completed, the dam will have be able to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, making it the biggest hydroelectric power station in Africa.
Elias Asmare AP

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 10:06 am

I once met a popular spoken word poet in Ethiopia who was asked by a government official to write a poem about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. (He politely explained that he didn't do poetry about infrastructure.) But it's not surprising that Ethiopia would like to inscribe this dam into the Ethiopian epic.

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The Salt
4:19 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Vanilla, Nutmeg Spice And Everything Nice On A Zanzibar Farm

Vanilla is seemingly a prima donna spice because its pods have to be hand-pollinated and then boiled and dried in the direct sun for only one hour.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 7:27 pm

Let's start with a spice quiz. One is a bean discovered in Mexico. One's a tree native to India. One's the seed of a fruit discovered in Indonesia.

Today vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg can all be found in any spice farm in Zanzibar — the East African archipelago that was used as a spice plantation by the 18th century Omani Empire.

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The Salt
12:43 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Meet Chef Chane, Ethiopia's Version Of The Infamous 'Soup Nazi'

Inside Chef Chane's tiny kitchen. Every few months or years, his landlord — taking note of Chane's popularity — will raise the rent, or a conniving official will demand a bribe. Then, instead of bowing to the system, Chane will disappear and set up in a new location.
Gregory Warner/NPR

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 7:30 pm

I didn't travel all the way to Ethiopia just to meet a character out of the sitcom Seinfeld.

But when I heard Ethiopians describe a particular popular restaurant called Chane's, I couldn't help recognize a resemblance, in its owner and lead chef, to the famously brusque soup man.

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Goats and Soda
7:53 am
Sun March 15, 2015

When There's Art On The Bus, You'll Get To Your Stop Sooner

A minibus painted with the Rolling Stones' logo.
Gregory Warner/NPR

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 11:03 am

Picture yourself standing at a bus station in Nairobi, Kenya. The unwritten rule is that none of these minibuses (shared taxis, called matatus) will leave until they have enough passengers. That can be around 20 or more people. So every matatu has a tout shouting at top volume — even banging on the side of the bus — to corral more customers.

All of a sudden, what looks like a discotheque on wheels pulls up.

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Africa
5:08 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Ethiopia's Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

Thousands of Ethiopian opposition activists demonstrate in Addis Ababa on June 2, 2013. The demonstrations were organized by the newly formed Blue Party opposition group.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 12:53 pm

Feven Tashome is a study in blue. The 21-year-old's toenails are painted a rich cobalt, her scarf is baby blue and her leather handbag is ultramarine. To ordinary passersby in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, it's a fashion statement; to members of Ethiopia's beleaguered political opposition, it's a secret handshake.

Feven (Ethiopians go by their first names) is showing her allegiance to an opposition party with an odd name, and an even odder theme song.

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Global Health
9:28 am
Tue January 27, 2015

It's Been A Hard 12-Step Road For Zanzibar's Heroin Addicts

Frederica Boswell NPR

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 12:40 pm

Could a 12-step program, with its Christian roots, help addicts recover on a conservative Muslim island in the Indian Ocean?

Suleiman Mauly was desperate to find out. He'd been using heroin in his native Zanzibar since age 17. The island nation is a key stop for heroin smuggled from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Europe. An estimated 7 percent of the 1 million inhabitants are heroin addicts.

Mauly had tried to get clean a couple of times. It didn't work. Then he discovered a 12-step program in Mombasa, Kenya.

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