Gwen Thompkins is an NPR foreign correspondent covering East Africa.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Thompkins reports on the countries, people and happenings from the Horn to the heart of Africa.
Since arriving in Africa in 2006, Thompkins has reported on the toppling of the Islamic Courts Union government in Somalia, ethnic violence in Kenya, insecurity in Darfur and Sudan's first nationwide elections in a generation. She has also written a series on the Nile River, traveling from the shores of Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea. Heading south, she has reported stories from South Africa and Antarctica.
Thompkins is currently at Harvard University as a 2010-2011 Nieman Fellow.
From 1996 to 2006, Thompkins was senior editor of Weekend Edition Saturday. Working with Scott Simon she learned—among other things—that when a horse walks into a bar, the bartender HAS to say, "So, why the long face?"
While at Weekend Edition, Thompkins also reported from her hometown of New Orleans. In the months following Hurricane Katrina, she and senior producer Sarah Beyer Kelly filed stories on the aftermath of the storm and the rebuilding efforts.
Before coming to NPR, Thompkins worked as a reporter and editor at The Times-Picayune newspaper.
A graduate of Newcomb College at Tulane University, Thompkins majored in history and Soviet studies. While on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, she was in Eastern Europe when the Berlin Wall fell. Fortunately, she says, she was not injured.
Thompkins, a native of New Orleans, counts her Louis Armstrong records among her closest companions. She says she misses oyster po-boys, huckabucks and buttermilk drops. And if you were from New Orleans, you would too.