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Kenya, November 13, 2008

A Kenyan Equatorial Monument Moment

Crossing the equator in style

the equator in Kenya
Looking equatorially good
If you ever find yourself on the road from Kisumu to Busia in western Kenya, be sure to make plans to stop by the side of the road about an hour outside of town. Why? Because you are going to cross the equator and this geographic event deserves a little respect.

Thanks to the Lions Club of Kisumu for the equator monument and thanks to the lenient taxi driver for indulging me on a sweltering hot afternoon.

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Kenya, November 11, 2008

A Taxing Music Copyright Society of Kenya

Kenyan musical taxation
Back in the day, I chose my Kenyan matatu by its paint job and musical selection - the more wild and African the better. But today the matatus of Nairobi are quiet, their proud African voices silenced by a music tax.

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya had put a pox on the sounds of Africa by requiring that matatus pay Sh2,000 ($27) or more to MCSK in royalties to play music in their share-ride vans. Now that may not sound like much money, but it’s the concept that strikes me (and a few matatu drivers) as crooked.

Matatus, taxis, and other commercial passenger vehicles usually play the radio or CD's. With the radio, it's the broadcasters that should have already paid royalties. With CD's and tapes, how can the MCSK make such a blanket tax without knowing if the music was legally bought or even made by the musicians they represent? Its not like MCSK is passing on the royalties to Bob Marley or any other Western artist. Its not even paying it own members all that much.

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