Atlas of Kenya: Ethnic Distributions slideshow

Way back in 1990 I went on sabbatical leave to St Mary’s College, Durham University, and produced an Atlas of Kenya.  I specifically wanted to map where ethnic groups lived at independence (1963) and where they lived in 1979 at the end of President Kenyatta’s government.

I used the 1962 and 1979 population censuses to do this. Dai Morgan of Durham University, and formerly Head of Geography at the University of Nairobi, was an invaluable help with the 1962 census data and maps from that date.  I had managed to collect similar maps and census information for the 1979 census when lecturing at Kenyatta University in the early 1980s.  South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) funded me as I managed to persuade them that it would be interesting to see what happened in post-colonial Kenya with a view to thinking similar trends would happen here in South Africa.  Lastly Joan Kenworthy kindly hosted us at St Mary’s and we had a memorable six months there.

I’ve been able to put the maps into a slideshow – something that was impossible in 1990-1 when we worked on the Atlas.  Then we used very early Geographic Information Systems technology to digitise the maps, manually adding in all of the data and plotting the 80 maps (using pens) on an A0 sized HP plotter. The maps and final report produced for the HSRC can be downloaded from the links below.  What’s more interesting is to let the slideshow load and then see the patchwork of different ethnic groups (Kenyans would say Tribes) and how they spread after independence.

The slideshow is large (75mb) so needs quite a lot of time to load if you are on a slow internet connection but you can also download it.  It’s best viewed full screen at High Definition.

Ethnic Kenya 1962-1979 Vol-1 Report

Ethnic Kenya 1962-1979 Vol-2 Atlas

Cover Concept for ‘The Cull’

I’ve been working on some cover concepts for Harry Owen’s upcoming collection ‘The Cull: new and resurrected poems’.  It’s taken a while to get to the finished product but now both Harry and Amitabh Mitra, who’s publishing it through the Poets Printery, are very enthusiastic about this one.

The Cull: full cover

The basis for the cover is a picture of Harry taken in front of the fig tree in his Grahamstown garden.

Harry Owen

I wanted to show him literally embedded in nature – that reflects the subject of this collection of poems – and experimented with Adobe Photoshop Mix on my iPad. I selected a couple of pictures from earlier this year when I went to the Maasai Mara and superimposed them over him so that the textures mixed together. Amitabh had suggested that I used some red in the cover so I added a garish sunset as the final layer.

I mirrored the final image so that it could act as both the front and back covers and then added borders and text.

Covers front and back

Covers front and back

We had worked earlier with the same idea but using a landscape image for the front cover – that’s what’s shown in the slideshow here – but rejected that as the book will be in the standard portrait style with dimensions of 3 x 4.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I really like the way the elephant’s trunk and tusk merge with Harry’s face in this one.  There’s plenty more animals too – giraffes, vultures and a hyena!