Eyder Peralta

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Uganda has implemented one of the harshest lockdowns in Africa in response to the coronavirus. But now the government is also using it to silence its critics. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

The picture is stunning. It shows One Africa Place, a bullet-shaped glass high-rise in Nairobi, framed by the jagged, snowcapped peaks of Mount Kenya.

All of the COVID-19 social distancing measures have reduced pollution so much that suddenly, the second-highest mountain in Africa, with an altitude of 17,057 feet, is visible from Kenya's capital city, about 85 miles away.

Njube Mpofu normally runs a beer garden in Zimbabwe's capital city Harare. Zimbabwe is not an easy place to run a business. Water and electricity are rationed and the dollars are hard to come by.

Almost two weeks ago, and with just eight reported cases at the time, Zimbabwe announced a three-week nationwide lockdown to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Mpofu had to close his beer garden and, he says, the situation in the country has gotten worse.

"To tell you the truth, I really don't understand how we are doing it, but somehow we seem to be surviving," he said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has made it a habit these days to get on television every evening, guiding his country through the coronavirus pandemic.

Last night, the 75-year-old held a marathon session. He chastised his security forces for using excessive force to enforce the lockdown. People should be encouraged to go back to their homes and if they refuse, arrest them, he counseled, as one of his security chiefs looked on.

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Authorities around the world have issued their own guidelines and rules designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. And as they've sought to enforce these rules, some efforts have sparked backlash and concerns about privacy.

I met "Sir" Lucky Samuel Man'gera just days after the Kenyan government had begun shutting down flights and schools and asking people to stay at home. Kenya has reported 31 cases of COVID-19 and over the past two weeks, the government has been rolling out a more and more stringent lockdown, which now includes a curfew.

Dozens of people have been injured in Kenya, as paramilitary police tear gassed and beat passengers trying to board a ferry in order to make a curfew imposed by authorities to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

According to witnesses, passengers were trying to get on the ferry on Friday in Mombasa before the 7 p.m. curfew. Because the ferry was closing early and was running at a lower capacity to encourage social distancing, a huge crowd built up at the dock. As passengers crowded toward the ferry, security forces dispersed them with tear gas and force.

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In Kenya today, some men are boycotting Valentine's Day and going instead to men's empowerment conferences. NPR's Eyder Peralta joined me earlier from Nairobi with some of the attendees.

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Daniel arap Moi, who ruled Kenya for nearly a quarter century marked by repression and widespread corruption before he eventually yielded to multiparty democracy and allowed a peaceful transfer of power, has died at age 95.

His death was announced by current President Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the country's founding father and first president, Jomo Kenyatta, whose death in office in 1978 paved the way for Moi's rise.

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In many parts of this country, we are deep into cold, wet, snowy winter. In Kenya, it's mango season. And NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta is going to brag about that. Here he is.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: There is this old song I just can't stop playing.

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South Sudan fought one of the bloodiest civil wars on the African continent, but there was hope. The country was supposed to have formed a unity government by tomorrow. Now, not for the first time, the deadline is delayed. Here's NPR's Eyder Peralta.

Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe says his story starts in 1973. He had just gotten his Ph.D. at the Rega Institute in Belgium. He could have stayed in Europe, but he decided to return to Congo, or what was then known as Zaire, which had only recently attained independence from Belgium.

If he had stayed in Belgium, he says, he would have been doing routine lab work. But in Congo, he would be responsible for the "health of my people."

Less than two weeks after Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize and earned plaudits across the world, the Ethiopian prime minister has found himself embroiled in an escalating standoff with a prominent activist back at home.

Every morning, just as the sun rises in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, men, women and children walk miles to collect water.

They walk gingerly into Lake Kivu — its blue waters lapping against the hills surrounding it.

Pascal Bitasimwa, 12, is a boy with a big smile and a small frame. He carries a yellow jerrycan that is half his size and when he walks into the lake, he has to use all his weight to wrestle the jerrycan underwater.

"This takes me much of my time," he says. "Instead of going to study, I come first to take water."

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Marie Gorette piled the broken glass carefully in a corner behind her house.

She had put it on top of a white curtain that was so soaked with blood, it had turned red.

Overnight, armed men had ransacked through her house. They took the TV; they broke the windows and they shot two of Gorette's sons, both of whom are recovering in the hospital.

She picks through the glass. She looks exasperated.

Even at Sunday Mass, you cannot miss the signs of Ebola.

Parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Goma line up behind buckets to douse their hands with a solution of bleach and water. Then they get in another line where a team of health care workers check their temperature with an infrared thermometer.

The bells from the church tower toll. Girls run around in formal dresses. They flit around posters warning of Ebola symptoms, as the health workers look out at them from behind protective goggles.

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As you walk into Ibiza, a dance club in the middle of Goma, the bouncer takes your temperature, and you have to wash your hands with a bleach and water solution. Then you walk past a little gazebo and into the strobe lights, and you're welcomed by a black-and-white portrait of the late, great rumba musician Papa Wemba. The band, its members dressed in matching silk shirts, is already setting up.

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