Eyder Peralta

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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No matter where you go in Kenya — from the vast expanses of the Great Rift Valley to the white-sand beaches off the Indian Ocean — one thing is a constant: plastic bags.

They hang off trees and collect along curbs. And in Kibera, a sprawling slum in Nairobi, there are so many of them that they form hills.

Updated at 7:15 a.m. ET Saturday

Some people walked hours to get to Shyira. They trekked down the steep hills that surround the small town in northern Rwanda last month not only to celebrate Liberation Day, but to get a close view of the country's president, Paul Kagame.

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In Rwanda, a filmmaker who once told stories about genocide is now hoping to make romantic comedies and to build a film industry in the country. NPR's Eyder Peralta met him in the capital, Kigali.

Out here, in West Pokot County, Kenya, the landscape looks like Mars — red clay, rocks, and in the distance, a mountain so bare it looks like a giant boulder.

Stephen Long'uriareng, 80, has walked two hours to bring her two cows and goats to this watering hole. It's really just a dam carved out the earth, where the rain water mixes with mud and turns into a dark brown color.

This is not the place Long'uriareng remembers from her youth.

"This whole place used to be green with a lot of pasture. There was nothing being experienced like drought," she said.

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Shyira is a picture-perfect Rwandan village, surrounded by luscious green mountains. No matter where you look, even at the tip of some of the highest mountains and along the precipice of the most dangerous slopes, there are houses.

On July 4, while Americans celebrate their independence, Rwandans are celebrating Liberation Day — commemorating the day in 1994 when rebel troops marched into the capital Kigali and ended a genocide against the country's Tutsi minority.

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