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Thursday
Apr142016

The Elephant Chief


Tik Root | Harper's Magazine | Photos: Juan Herrero

As we approached the shore of Lake Ihema, Eugene Mutangana slowed the Land Cruiser to a stop. Our boat would be arriving soon, he said. Mutangana, the head of law enforcement at Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, had agreed to help me search for Mutware, an infamous ten-foot-tall African elephant who had lived in the area for decades. These days he spends much of his time camouflaged in the brush surrounding the lake. “I wish it would shine,” said Mutangana, looking up in vain for the sun amidst a thick wall of clouds. “When it shines, it leaves bush and comes to water.”

CONTINUE READING AT HARPER'S...

Saturday
Apr092016

Your Genocide Guide

Producer: Tik Root | National Geographic | Film by: Juan Herrero 

As the head guide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, Serge Rwigamba leads heads of state and VIPs such as Angelina Jolie through his country’s deeply painful past. The task is also very personal: He lost his father and countless other family members in the 1994 genocide. The role, he says, is therapeutic, a way of understanding his trauma. Like any job though, it comes with its quirks, characters, and challenges.

Wednesday
Jan202016

Seeking An Edge

Tik Root | The Washington Post | Photos: Amanda Swinhart

BOSTON –  Kelly Cooke has played professional hockey for three years, though this season there’s one big difference:  she’s drawing her first paycheck from the sport. Just because the players in the upstart National Women’s Hockey League are now being paid, however, that doesn’t mean they’re getting rich.

For Cooke, hockey is still a part-time job. Twice a week practices are often bookended by 10-hour days as a paralegal at a local law office. That’s not to mention the refereeing gigs on the side. “It’s definitely a busy life,” she said.

With salaries, though, the NWHL is certainly taking women’s hockey in a new direction. And while the pay is modest — ranging from a $10,000 minimum to $25,000 — it has helped the league contend with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for world-class talent.

CONTINUE READING AT WASHINGTON POST...   

Thursday
Aug272015

New generation of Rwandan entrepreneurs offer tech solutions to farmers’ dilemmas

Tik Root, Producer | PBS Newshour

Twenty years since a genocide devastated the country, Rwanda has made a remarkable recovery and a new generation sees entrepreneurship, empowered by technology, as its patriotic duty. The NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia reports in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

SEE PBS NEWSHOUR WEBSITE FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT...

Thursday
Jun252015

Luke Somers's mother on kidnapping: I blame the US more than I do al-Qaida

Tik Root | The Guardian | Photo: Hani Mohammed/AP

In late September 2013, Paula Somers learned that her son Luke had been kidnapped in Yemen. The next day, four FBI agents showed up at her doorstep in Washington state.

The group – including a hostage negotiator and a victim specialist – came with a slew of questions for Somers and her son, Jordan. Eager to help, they detailed their last communications with Luke, and other information they thought might be useful. At the end of the meeting, the agents left printouts with suggestions on what to do if the kidnapper made contact, along with a cassette player to record a potential call.

The proposed scripts were formulaic at best. The cassette player was broken. It was an ominous start to a more than yearlong engagement with the US government that only went downhill, and ended in Luke’s death.

CONTINUE READING AT THE GUARDIAN...