CAROLINA ABROAD: NAIROBI
At Home in the World
Jim Huskey was only supposed to spend the summer in Europe. But he just kept gOing-and wandered into a career with the Foreign Service. Huskey, a native of Alabama, had graduated with his master's degree from the
University of Wisconsin in 1971 when he decided to do some exploring before
returning to begin Wisconsin's doctoral program that fall. Traveling through Spain,
he caught a ride to Morocco, then hitched across the northern Sahara, mostly in
oil trucks (and one camel caravan). He lived out of a backpack, continuing across
the Middle East, Afghanistan and India, then on to Southeast Asia.
Somewhere along the way, he wrote the university to tell them he wouldn't
be coming back anytime soon.
After several years trekking through the Himalayas-where he bought a horse
and lived for a time in Kashmir-and the islands of the East Indies, he caught a
freighter to Hong Kong, then went on to Taiwan.
"Ifound myself broke, and thus became a Chinese specialist [Sinologist)," he laughs.
He had spent childhood summers on the North Carolina coast, so when he
was ready to return stateside, he landed at UNC and began working toward his
doctorate in U.S. diplomatic relations.
Michael Hunt, director of graduate studies in history and Huskey's doctoral adviser,
says serendipity played a part in Huskey's wanderings, but that doesn't tell the
whole story. "Jim is extraordinarily empathetic and curious about people," says
Hunt. "His personality drew him into
history, which is about getting into the
skin of another time, another culture."
Huskey follows Kenya's governmental
development, encouraging the country to
continue making strides toward democracy.
"Kenya has so much economic poten-
tial, but it is being squandered by massive
corruption throughout official and com-
mercial sectors," Huskey said. "This is a
cancer eating at the heart of Kenya, like
so many developing countries."
He knows that he was lucky that all
of his family survived the Nairobi bombing,
which killed 213 people- including 12
Americans-and injured more than
5,000. A simultaneous blast in Dar-es-
In this 1997 Christmas card, Huskey, with his
and his fellow officers, though, leaving Kenya would mean a victory for those
wife, Joanne, and children, Caroline and
Christopher, sent greetings from Kenya.
Salaam, Tanzania, killed I I people. Previous page: The U.S. embassy, at left, shares
Cooperative Bank of Kenya building, back right.
responsible for the attack, and a defeat for the welfare of the world.
As Huskey explains: "We work so very hard to push the envelope on democra-
tization, on respect for human rights, on economic development. When things are not
right, we stand up and speak, and because we represent the U.S., our voice ipso facto
carries far and loud. When the government disrupts opposition meetings, we go
public with our condemnation. We work with other like-minded nations to put the
squeeze on corruption.... Isuppose the ultimate reason I stay on after two searing
experiences is that Iam convinced that what I do matters. My colleagues and I
around the world make a difference, a very big difference."
- Carol Douglas
him in the evenings and walk around the
university, watching the democracy gather-
ings and reading the democracy posters,
since BU was one of the starting points
of the whole democracy movement in
Beijing that spring.
As it happened, r was the only American
official to witness the massacre itself on
the night of June 3-4. The other officers
left Tiananmen Square around 10 p.m.,
assuming the demonstrations were over
for the evening. They had happened
every day for several weeks; Joanne and 1
went out every night to observe.
r hung around the massive 1 million-
plus-person square watching the students
and people celebrate their joy at what
many thought was the imminent opening
up and democratization of China. Then
at around midnight carne the sound of
shooting on Changan R oad, the vast
boulevard going due west out of the
It was clearly military gunfire, and the
masses of people ran, not away from but
directly toward the gunfire. Changan was
lit bright orange high into the sky as the
throngs of people built bonfires trying to
block the long line of tanks snaking down
the street toward the square. People were
shocked when they found the bullets and
shells to be real, not rubber.
We began to retreat east toward the
Square before the tanks. At one point a
man next to me shouted kua i di an -
"faster." 1 looked over at him, and a
bright red circle popped on his forehead
as he fell to the ground dead.