Andreas Peschke toured round Kenya more than 20 years ago while still a student. Since September 2013, he has been the German Ambassador in Nairobi with responsibilities for a wide range of tasks such as supporting refugees from South Sudan or cultivating contacts with Kenyan artists. One big advantage is his knowledge of local languages: as well as English and Swahili, he speaks a few words of Maa, the language of the Masai.
Dust, hot wind, 45 degrees centigrade: Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya’s northern semi-desert, near the border with South Sudan, is an inhospitable place. Some 300 new refugees fleeing the civil war in the neighbouring country come to Kenya every day. There are already 120,000 people living in this camp. That has prompted UNHCR to raise the alarm and declare that Kakuma is overcrowded. I visited the camp in my capacity as German Ambassador in Kenya to gain a first-hand impression of the situation there, as well as to talk to refugees and humanitarian aid workers from all over the world. Germany will continue to provide support for the refugees and the relief organisations.
Germany is well represented in Kenya
Around 1000 Germans live in Kenya and 70,000 tourists visit the picturesque coast or the world-famous national parks every year. Moreover, there are a Goethe-Institut, a branch of the German Academic Exchange Service, around 100 German companies, more than 200 development workers and a German school. So Germany is well represented in Kenya, East Africa’s economic and cultural hub. The entire team at the Embassy, and I too, are kept busy doing whatever we can to help our fellow Germans during their stay in Kenya.
The terrorist threat from neighbouring Somalia is causing problems for the country and for all of us. I recently welcomed a German ship taking part in the EU Atalanta mission in the port of Mombasa which was to be deployed combating piracy in the waters off the coast of Kenya.
Embassy helps supply drinking water
As representatives of the German Embassy, we not only work here with the Kenyan Government but are also in contact with journalists, business people, human rights activists and artists.
Furthermore, the German Embassy is implementing projects in the sphere of development cooperation: for example, Germany is helping to provide people in rural areas and in urban slums with safe drinking water.
Together with Environment Minister Judi Wakhungu, I inaugurated ecological toilets in a Masai village school. I first of all welcomed the warriors, elders and women present in English, Swahili and then in their native language Maa. The atmosphere got better and better. Anyone who speaks the language and shows an interest in their culture is always appreciated by Kenyans.
Anyone who has had a taste will want to return
I toured Kenya in 1993 as a student. I am here again – this time as the German Ambassador in Nairobi. The Kikuyu, another Kenyan people, have a saying: Anyone who has tasted honey will return to the honey pot. That is what happened to me.