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Eyder Peralta

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

He is responsible for covering the region's people, politics, and culture. In a region that vast, that means Peralta has hung out with nomadic herders in northern Kenya, witnessed a historic transfer of power in Angola, ended up in a South Sudanese prison, and covered the twists and turns of Kenya's 2017 presidential elections.

Previously, he covered breaking news for NPR, where he covered everything from natural disasters to the national debates on policing and immigration.

Peralta joined NPR in 2008 as an associate producer. Previously, he worked as a features reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a pop music critic for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, FL.

Through his journalism career, he has reported from more than a dozen countries and he was part of the NPR teams awarded the George Foster Peabody in 2009 and 2014. His 2016 investigative feature on the death of Philando Castile was honored by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society for News Design.

Peralta was born amid a civil war in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. His parents fled when he was a kid, and the family settled in Miami. He's a graduate of Florida International University.

The Standard Gauge Railway station in Nairobi is easily the most impressive public building in Kenya.

While a lot of Kenyan government buildings are drab and functional and date back to colonial days, this station is adventurous. It's all gray and modern. Geometric shapes form an abstract locomotive, and red neon announces the "Nairobi Terminus."

Even in the middle of the day, in middle of the week, the theater was completely packed.

Hundreds had come to watch Rafiki, a movie about two young Kenyan women who are full of life, joy and wonder. Kena is a great student; she plays football and hangs out with the guys. And Ziki is the free spirit — cotton candy dreads and a smile full of mischief.

The stands at Zimbabwe's national stadium in Harare were filled with tens of thousands of people celebrating the victory of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Many of the women wore wraps printed with Mnangagwa's smiling face. The men wore his signature scarf: Red, green, yellow, white and black, like the colors of the country's flag.

Mnangagwa sat alongside the presidents of South Africa, Rwanda, Democratic Republic Congo and Zambia on Sunday, smiling, seemingly relieved that this tense, historic process was at least legally over.

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Let's take you now to Zimbabwe, where tomorrow the country will hold its first elections since Robert Mugabe was deposed from power. This is the story of the rise and the fall of a pop song that marked Mugabe's demise. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

Robert Mugabe sat on a green office chair. He wore sunglasses, and he looked small placed at the center of a gazebo in the middle of his huge estate in one of Harare's wealthiest suburbs.

Behind him, there was a pond, and down a sloping hill, his mansion — a sprawling multistory house flanked by granite lions and topped with blue, Chinese-inspired tiles that give it its name — "the Blue Roof."

For 37 years, Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist. But the mansion is where he spends most of his time now, since the military pressured him to resign in November.

At home in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Frehiwot Negash was watching history unfold on television.

She watched Sunday as Abiy Ahmed, the young reformist prime minister of Ethiopia, stepped off a plane and hugged the longtime ruler of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, waiting on the tarmac in Eritrea's capital.

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Sixty thousand people a year die of rabies, mostly in Asia and Africa. NPR's Eyder Peralta traveled to Tanzania to learn about a large-scale scientific experiment trying to keep humans and wildlife safe from the disease.

Preparing for a controversial referendum, the central African country of Burundi is on edge.

The Thursday referendum would not only extend the rule of President Pierre Nkurunziza until 2034, but it would also roll back some key aspects of the Arusha Agreement, which paved the way for ending the country's long and bloody civil war in 2005. The fear is that the referendum could spark more violence in the country.

Editor's note: This post contains some strong language.

Stella Nyanzi walks into court with a broad smile. She is familiar with this place, so she is the first in the door and casually takes a seat on a wooden bench right in front of the judge.

Little Girma had charmed the entire hotel lobby in Addis Ababa. Brad and Niki Huelsman looked at the 3-year-old boy with awe and warmth as he played with one of the waitresses.

"He wins people over with the beautiful eyes and the little cheeks that I just want to kiss," Niki says.

The couple had flown from Morrow, Ohio, to Ethiopia to finish adopting Girma in January. As they describe it, the process was complicated and at times, heart-wrenching — five years of fits and starts.

Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhinoceros, died in Kenya on Monday, leaving his species one step closer to extinction, even as a group of scientists undertake an unprecedented effort to try to keep this animal from vanishing entirely.

The stands shake as fans break into song. Hundreds jump up and down, setting a much faster tempo than the play on the field.

This soccer stadium is in the heart of political opposition territory in Ethiopia. On a recent Sunday, thousands of supporters are sitting shoulder to shoulder. And surrounding the pitch, dozens of paramilitary police look out at the crowd, some with their guns in hand, others at the ready with tear gas canisters.

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Close to midnight on Tuesday, attorney Miguna Miguna found himself on the tarmac of Nairobi's international airport. He had been driven there by Kenyan security forces after spending five days in different jail cells, without being able to talk to anyone.

When Okiya Omtatah arrived at the Communications Authority of Kenya Friday morning, he was met by a man in a suit. He stopped the civil rights activist and lawyer before he could get past the front gate.

Kenya is once again in the middle of political turmoil. On Tuesday, opposition leader Raila Odinga, flanked by tens of thousands of supporters, defied government threats and declared himself president.

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In East Africa, cities are filled with the sounds of motorcycles, buses and shouts from street vendors. But as NPR's Eyder Peralta reports, in Tanzania's largest city, the soundscape is dominated by something unexpected.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now we turn to East Africa. This is what parts of Kenya sounded like today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in foreign language).

Historical footage shows a jubilant crowd watching the Union Jack being lowered and the red, black, green and yellow flag of the newly independent nation of Zimbabwe being hoisted.

Despite about 10 percent of Kenyans not being able to cast a vote because of violence, Kenya's electoral commission has declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of a re-run of the country's presidential election.

Kenyatta received 98.26 percent of the vote in an election that was boycotted by the opposition and has rekindled the deep tribal divisions that have in the past led to serious outbreaks of violence.

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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.

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.

There is a certain peace that comes with being surrounded by a bunch of men with big guns.

As much as you want to run or fight or scream, there's not much you can do — except whatever they say.

On a Friday afternoon in April, I was sitting in a restaurant in Juba, South Sudan's capital, trying to persuade two government officials to issue me press credentials so I could report there. I had tried and failed to do this over the phone from my home base in Nairobi, and so my bosses and I made the decision that an in-person appeal would be best.

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