Reporters on the Job

PARTING SENTIMENTS: During her more than two years in Kenya as the Monitor's Africa correspondent, Danna Harman got to know a number of young Kenyans who had studied abroad. Most of them, she says, were from well-established families and had grown up amid much privilege. By the time Danna met them, they were back home, working as lawyers, politicians, or business people - and mostly living the same lives of privilege, with little thought of, or effect on, others' welfare.

That sparked Danna's curiosity. "As I got to know Kenya, and Africa - and began to understand the need for good leadership - I wondered why these people were not, for the most part, working to better their country. The majority seemed to go off, learn about democracy and professionalism and good governance, and then return to join the faulty system."

Eventually, Danna talked to some of those who were trying to make a difference, and to understand what the obstacles were that kept others from trying. "What people everywhere want are things like a good job, enough money, a family, respect, and freedom of movement and speech. Those who care about seeing Africa change need to focus not only on identifying and training future leaders but also on building the institutions in Africa that will allow those leaders to be able to become leaders," she says.

Danna was sorry she couldn't include in this project all the people she met in her travels for her final opus from Africa. "I met so very many impressive young people - a soft-spoken Ethiopian running one of the largest food-aid drives; an up-and-coming aide to the president of Botswana who juggles schedules, soccer matches, and policy planning with style; and a politician in Rwanda who took himself out of the No. 1 party slot to prove that politics is about ideas, not personalities. Meeting all these, and others, was extremely interesting and heartening. Maybe there's room for a sequel?"

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

Cultural snapshot

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