The importance of the state of your well being – By Peter Mutuku.


Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental, physical, and social health are vital and inter-woven strands of life. As our understanding of this relationship grows, it becomes ever more apparent that mental health is crucial to the overall well-being of individuals, societies, and countries. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, mental health and mental disorders are not accorded anywhere near the same degree of importance as physical health. Rather, they have been largely ignored or neglected.

According to WHO as many as 450 million people suffer from a mental or behavioral disorder. In 2019, common mental disorders around the globe include depression, which affects about 264 million, bipolar disorder, which affects about 45 million, dementia, which affects about 50 million, and schizophrenia and other psychoses, which affect about 20 million people. Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders which usually arise in infancy or childhood. Stigma and discrimination can add to the suffering and disability associated with mental disorders, leading to various social movements attempting to increase understanding and challenge social exclusion.


Causes of mental health disorders

In the current generation, we have a lot of mental health cases and it is with both adults and young people. Different things are leading to mental health issues nowadays. Some things include the high standard of living. Most people around the globe are struggling to put a meal on the table and this is affecting their mental health. When one does not have mental health, it will affect the person’s contribution to society. This includes both what that person can offer physically and socially.


The issue of unemployment, someone loses a job or he/she has gone through the education system and still he/she has no job. This person can be depressed. Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known simply as depression, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of pervasive low mood. Low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, low energy, and pain without a clear cause are common symptoms. Those affected may also occasionally have delusions or hallucinations. Some people have periods of depression separated by years, while others nearly always have symptoms present. Major depression is more severe and lasts longer than sadness, which is a normal part of life.


There is the issue of relationships. Many people in relationships have a possibility of having mental health issues for example if that person has undergone a breakup or divorce. You find a person crying all day and not working deeply depressed because of a breakup or divorce case. This will affect the person’s contribution to society.


The effects of mental health issues include the following;

Economic effects

The productivity will reduce for persons affected by mental health issues like depression cannot work properly and offer their best hence affecting the productivity level.

According to WHO, nearly 1 million people commit suicide every year, how much can these people offer to society terms economically if mental health care is dealt with?

Social effects

According to WHO, one in four families has at least one member with a mental disorder. These families usually have a lot to deal with, with some members being discriminated against and stigmatized by others. These people will not interact with others normally and thus already have affected social lives. These people are victims of human rights and it will also affect their level of productivity and what they can offer in terms of social life.

Ways to deal with mental health

  • Nowadays we have counselors and Psychiatrists who can help victims on how to be mentally healthy.
  • Talk about your feelings. Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Sharing what you are feeling with your friends will help a lot with dealing with mental health.
  • Keep active. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
  • Eat well. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
  • Ask for help. It is good to always ask for help where one needs help to avoid overloading your mind with something which you cannot control.


Image from the journalism fund website to celebrate world press freedom day

Freedom Of The Press – by Mercy Chepkemoi.

Freedom of The Press: An Estranged Concept?

Media refers to the means of mass communication, especially the press, radio, and television, but also including film and recorded music, as well as a number of distributions by way of cable, satellite, discs, and tapes. Media freedom in Kenya has always been tied to responsibilities which journalists are expected to carry for the realization of the societal common good. The emergence of new forms of journalism as a consequence of technological development and appropriations has engendered serious debate about media freedom and the practice of journalism around the world.

Good governance, an essential component of any thriving democratic state, is premised on a system of openness, trust, and government accountability. This can only be achieved if the public is involved in the process of governance. If the general public knows the functions, policies, and decisions made, they can question the government on the basis of the information obtained, and, most importantly, the reasons for the government’s actions. It is thus necessary that the government develops a clear policy on the freedom of information in a bid to ensuring that subsequent legislation ñ freedom of information laws – are implemented effectively and based on accepted international principles and best practices.

The right to information is enshrined in Article 35 of the constitution, which provides for access to information with Article 34 providing for freedom of the media. The right to information underpins all other human rights; it is the cornerstone of all other rights. The right is encapsulated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) under Article 19. It is similarly enshrined in the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Kenya is a party.

Royal Media Services ran an expose the other day on national television in a segment ‘Guns Galore ‘where the Citizen Tv journalist did an undercover episode on Police Officers allegedly renting Police Officers’ uniforms and firearms to civilians. In a press statement, DCI Director George Kinoti, discredited the expose alleging that the segment attempted to tarnish the entire National Police Service and undermine the efforts made by police officers. He further summoned the RMS editorial management team to make a statement on the allegations.

In recent months, there have been a number of accusations that the government has been cracking down on press freedom in Kenya which saw eight independent columnists resign from the Nation Newspaper citing lack of editorial independence. Journalists have reportedly been physically assaulted in their line of duty with some losing their lives while at it. In 2018, three of Kenya’s biggest TV stations were temporarily shut down after they confirmed plans to cover the mock presidential inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga. A move that was widely condemned internationally by the United Nations, United States, and human rights watchdogs.

The media is an important tool in the dissemination of information in Kenya. Without free media, the government could easily spread propaganda in the name of the truth. This tends to feed the masses, and in doing so, creates a utopian world where the government, in the eyes of its people blinded by the propaganda, can do no wrong to the country. The lack of care towards protecting journalists and media houses, through the passing or even the creation of laws limiting the free press, is worrying may lead to further restrictions on freedom of the media.

Almost everyone relies on the media for information, education, and entertainment among other needs. The media, therefore, has a central role to play in the freedom of information and freedom of expression. Thus interference nubs its role on its knees.


Article by Chepkemoi Mercy who is a lawyer and a human rights activist.
Twitter @masiememo

Open up the country – By Ben Katibi

The country is battling the third and most deadly Covid-19 wave since its first case was confirmed on 13th March 2020. The Ministry of Health is reporting new strains of the virus: the South African and Uk strains which appear to be highly contagious and virulent. There is a surge in the number of cases requiring hospitalization. Health facilities are on the verge of being overwhelmed and whispers from the wards tell of a situation so dire, a volcano ready to erupt. Media reports telling of a scramble for ICU beds fully occupied, with many in the waiting queue having made advanced bookings for the beds. The country is also reporting daily double-digit fatalities.

In the wake of prevailing circumstances, the government through a presidential directive of March 26, 2021, imposed a lockdown on the 5 counties of Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Machakos, and Kajiado. Zoned as one area, movement into and out the five counties was suspended and curfew hours extended from 8 pm – 4 am. Social, political, and religious gatherings were also suspended. The five counties had been singled out as hotspots for the virus hence the tougher restriction measures.

Just when the wheels of economic recovery had begun to slowly gain momentum, the directives brought them to a screeching halt. The year 2021, had been touted by the president as the year of revival, a time when the country was expected to shake off the negative effects Covid-19 had brought on the economy. The economy was projected to grow between 5% – 7% following a slowdown in 2020 occasioned by the effects of Covid-19. The new directives are a big stab on the back of an already ailing and frail economy. More so spelling doom and dark days ahead for the millions of Kenyans whose jobs were already at stake.

Close to 1.7 million jobs were lost during the first lockdown as a result of many businesses closing down and some cutting down on their workforce to remain afloat. The onset of the second lockdown hit many of those that had survived the first lockdown onslaught. Another wave of job losses striking home. The worst-hit being the hospitality, tourism, transport, and entertainment industries. With millions directly and indirectly employed in these sectors, a bleak future is staring into their eyes.

There was a public outcry on the new measures. Many questioned the timing and intent of the directives as not being Pro-mwananchi. Directives are seen by many as being discriminative to millions of Wanjiku who live from hand to mouth. A people that felt overburdened by the high taxes and the rising cost of living. Was the president misadvised to lock down the country again? Was a second lockdown necessary? Is the president unaware of the suffering and rising cost of living in the country? These are some of the hard questions in the minds of Kenyans who feel let down by a president whose government is associated with unfulfilled promises, heavy borrowing, high taxation, and untamed corruption.

In as much as the new directives in place are meant to curb the spread of the virus, the plight of Wanjiku brought about by the rising cost of living cannot be ignored. Many risks slipping into poverty if sound and timely economic recovery policies are not put in place to cushion Mwananchi. World over, it is the business of the government to take care of its citizenry. Countries like Germany have taken steps to help businesses avoid layoffs. The US Congress on the other hand passed a mega stimulus bill that avails billions of dollars to expand the unemployment insurance as well as providing cash handouts to low and middle-income earners to help them make ends meet. The bill also allocates 350 billion dollars in loans for businesses with less than 500 employees.

The government should also follow suit. The much-hyped 3-year Post-covid socio-economic recovery strategy launched by the President funded to a tune of 132 billion shillings is yet to be felt by Wanjiku. The recovery plan was initiated to spur growth by pumping funds into critical sectors like agriculture, tourism, SMEs’, housing, infrastructure, and manufacturing. SMEs are a major target because of the role they play in creating millions of informal jobs. It is whispered in hushed tones of the good policies in the paper that are non-existent on the ground. Good policy papers that become cash cows for a few bureaucrats.

Mwananchi is suffering and it’s time the government reassesses some of the directives in place. Either provide for the mwananchi or open up the country and let Wanjiku work. There is no logic in locking down the country and not carrying out mass testing or mass vaccinations to achieve herd immunity. If the government decides to settle on the latter of opening up the country, then Wanjiku should strictly adhere to the laid down regulations by MOH of washing hands regularly with soap and water, social distancing, and proper wearing of face masks. It is our health and lives on the line. Stay safe.



Do you know that there are speculations that ODM leader Raila Odinga’s confidants and Deputy President William Ruto are working on a possible coalition in the next general election? Well, as the 2022 general polls draw nearer day by day political alliances are shaping up. National Super Alliance (NASA) co-principals have been piling pressure on ODM leader Raila Odinga to back one of them but Odinga has consistently remained adamant about endorsing another candidate for the coming elections. Consequently, other NASA leaders led by Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi have ganged up to form One Kenya Alliance to compete with either the Ruto or Odinga candidature separately or as one entity. On the other hand, allies of DP Ruto and the former premier have recently indicated a possible formation of a political vehicle in the run-up to the 2022 race to Statehouse.


The two political heavyweights have also been seen to be gravitating towards each other after separating for a decade now. Even though Ruto and Odinga worked together during the 2007 general elections and being alive to the fact that there are no permanent friends and enemies in the game of politics, a coalition between the two will only depend on the passing of the coming referendum to amend the constitution as spearheaded by the Building Bridges Initiative report (BBI). And this is why.


First and foremost by virtue of being the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya who has so far served for two terms, William Ruto cannot deputize Raila Odinga because the constitution will not allow that. Meaning Ruto can only hope Odinga will do the honors of supporting him as the flag bearer in the Coalition. On other hand, this time around Odinga can not play second fiddle to not just Ruto but any other candidate owing to the age factor. Odinga is gearing up for his last stub at the presidency, this being his last bullet. So the two will have to push harder for a constitutional change to encompass the position of Prime Minister so that they can negotiate who to be the president and who to take the PM position.

Secondly, as a political analyst and TV pundit, Martin Andati said, a Ruto-Raila alliance may look so appealing on paper but may not marshall the requisite numbers. It’s argued that the two would struggle to get 5 million votes and so there is a need to bring on board other tribe kingpins like Mwangi Kiunjuri, Alfred Mutua, Wycliffe Oparanya and give them positions created under BBI to get the required numbers that can give One Kenya a run for their money.

Then we have these second-term governors who are now aiming at the top job since they have no place to turn to as their time in office has lapsed. Even though these governors are non-starters when it comes to national politics, they command a section of votes especially in their counties since they managed to serve as governors for two consecutive terms. So they will add a lot of value to the Ruto-Odinga alliance. This will only be achieved if the constitution is altered to do away or extend the term limit of governors to allow them to go for another term.


Last but not least, BBI also proposes the introduction of a parliamentary system of government as opposed to the existing presidential one. Having a parliamentary system in place will re-energize members of parliament to fight for the coalition to form the next government knowing very well that they will be considered for ministerial positions or be appointed assistant ministers should the coalition ascend to power.

So if it’s true that there are efforts in the background as perceived in the political arena, it will force the Tangatanga wing led by Deputy President William Ruto to embrace the BBI report even though it’s clear that nobody can stop reggae. For now, though it’s a wait-and-see situation to ascertain whether Ruto will change tune regarding BBI or not.


Written by Victor Wanaswa a journalism graduate of Multimedia University who is creative, enthusiastic and has a great passion for writing about politics.

Access to Information at County Levels – by Faith Ogega

It is no secret that access to the right information is paramount, and nothing can undermine the power it holds. When a government, a politician, a representative, a chief, or a leader in any capacity tries to withhold vital information from their immediate community – that’s where the society begins to drift.

For years now, access to the right information in Kenya has been the biggest drawback that has not been fully addressed. And if it has been highlighted, implementation of the right channels for the flow of information has not been executed. When a leader withholds important information from the people who are intended to receive the message, corruption, inequality, and violence begin thrusting in such a society. It all begins from the top; the government. If public information is not properly disseminated to the public, there will be no public participation.  If only a few chosen individuals, communities, or groups receive the information, inequality across counties or communities begins to thrust. How can the youths (the said future leaders) contribute to the economic development and foundation of a better economic state when they are not allowed to access the right places where the information flows from? Hiding information from your county, community, or the public members when it is meant to be distributed to them is acting shallow. 

Dishonesty, miscommunication, and spreading half-truths trigger violence against each other. Access to the correct information is essential in the promotion of peace and order. When a leader in charge of disseminating information decides to distribute half-baked information, it ends up triggering an uproar. How can a nation thrive in violence? You answered that right (it can never); it is even clear how access and restriction to the correct information can help build or destroy a nation. Information is power. Refusal to access the right information makes it challenging for any member of the public to know what exists and what doesn’t exist.  When a society is well- informed, cases of corruption will cease to increase as they will act as watchdogs against fraud within and outside the government. 

But selfishness among many leaders is killing our nation. Instead of planning on tactics on how to distribute such information, most leaders prefer to withhold it to benefit their close associates and families. Corruption is a deadly killer of any nation. It begins the moment a leader chooses who needs to access certain public information and who remains in the dark. The act is contrary to the fundamental right of access to information under Article 35 of the constitution of Kenya. How can one choose who has access to information when it’s meant to be public? It is ignorant of any representative to do so; in such a time of modern technology when access to information is broad, and differentiating between the right, and incorrect information is strenuous. Access to the right information (meant for the public) should be straightforward, available, and convenient to everyone looking for it. How can the youths grow when opportunities meant for them don’t reach them? And when they try to access the information from the right offices, they are denied access?

Recently Kenya Fight Inequality Alliance (Kenya FIA), organized Usawa Barazas in 10 counties across Kenya. Their two main demands were; transparency & accountability, and Services (Mental health, water, universal health and education). The ten counties that took part in their 2020 – Usawa Baraza under the theme of the year, Gender Justice, were Isiolo, Kakamega, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kisumu, Laikipia, Lamu, Mombasa, Nairobi and Vihiga. A report from all the counties indicated how access to the right information and places is still a major challenge to both the youths and the public at large. Isiolo, one of the participating counties in the fight against inequality at their county level, highlighted how tough it is in their county to access correct information from authorities.

Such restrictions are hindering the youths who are not aware of the opportunities available to them. Kenya FIA is a combination of over 200 groups across Kenya. Kenya FIA has been part of the global Fight Inequality Alliance since 2017, and they are all together working towards bringing change at the county and national level whilst uniting groups locally and internationally for support, solidarity, and training. But when their members have no access to the correct information, they cannot support the rest of the community members who depend on them, the elderly, the disabled, and the children and youths who are the future of the nation. Yes, the government has the right to classify certain information as classified but not all the information can be classified; therefore, government leaders and representatives need to plan on ways in which counties can access information without barriers. Not forgetting who is responsible, to disseminate certain information is vital to ensure accountability and transparency. Most of the time, those with information decide what to say and what to withhold. Setting criteria that will guide those seeking information is necessary for every county.

Poor Decisions No More – by Muthoni

What will we tell the next generation?

When we vote in leaders not on the merit of works done and not on the merit of the capacity they hold to improve our lives, then what we have are cahoots of greedy individuals who are simply in power for self-gratification. What will we tell the next generation?

Will we be man enough to face them and tell them that we let our forefathers’ struggle for independence go to waste? How will we answer when they ask how we made such poor decisions, over and over again, electing leaders not on merit but on flimsy reasons such as tribe, ‘mtu wetu’ disease and based on the handouts that big wigs gave to us in dark alleys, some do so even in broad daylight. 

How it was a surreal moment in 2002 when we unanimously spoke up in one voice, to do away with a regime that ruled as a monopoly. We all know the harm that comes with monopolies, need I go there?

An opportunity always presents itself after 5 years in Kenya, to correct an error where we made one, but do we do? At times it is as if we go to the ballot blindfolded and do guesswork when it comes down to us and the tick mark. Rather, I do not understand what happens, some witchcraft there at the ballot, no. It can’t be, that must be some strong stuff for the whole country to be swept away in that wave.

Maybe it is the term ‘vote that has been misconstrued to confuse us Kenyans. Let me shed some light in that dark corner then. Vote stems from Latin votum “a vow, wish, promise to a god, solemn pledge, dedication.’’ Voting is quite literally a solemn pledge, I would equate it to a prayer for good tidings, oh you religious friends, hear! The same way you are devoted to the faith calling onto the higher deities and offering days on end in service, then come forth and vote wisely. Do take time to understand the governance space, look at the crop of leaders in place, and identify with their strengths and weaknesses. Just as we offer wholehearted prayers, then should we not offer ourselves to making wholehearted promises to forthcoming generations, on the ballot?

That leaves those who are not religious then, dare I say that I find these ones to be quite reasonable people. Individuals who make decisions based on the feel and see of the now. Correct me if I am wrong, might be hanging with the wrong crew. It is these reasonable minds that hold the key to unlocking the ‘mtu wetu’ stalemate. It is they who are our Messiahs from the troubling decisions we have made time and time again. Why I dare say so is because these individuals have unlimited capacity to make informed decisions. These individuals could go to the ground and sniff for pro and against reasons before making decisions. This is the lot who can ask questions that make you doubt your stand in matters of which you have strong convictions. In these dire times, I believe making a decision despite the view that the candidates’ popularity does not guarantee them winning is the right wave to be swept in. By making the right decisions, I am referring to feeding fodder to individuals with their hearts and minds in the interests of the citizens, individuals with a clean bill of political health, a track record to show a positive impact on society. It is our responsibility to the forthcoming generations to make the right decisions at the ballot. Let us remember that voting is a solemn promise that we are making. Let us not promise to choke our children’s futures. Let us make wise decisions and elect individuals who are set to propagate the counties and the country in the right direction without the baggage that takes us all a thousand steps backward.

Two Cents on Political Involvement – By Philomena Irungu

Do you know that even if you do not vote, the elected leaders do rule over you with their decisions entrenching themselves onto the very details of your precious life? Yeah, check how much VAT you pay on your next supermarket run, or the power token taxes imposed. Let us not even get to COVID, the KQ plane that came in from China after cases were confirmed and the COVID millionaires who are still living free and large with a government in place to take action.

Funny how we all long and yearn to turn 18 and thump our chests that we are adults. Sometimes I wonder why it never sunk in that I am being given a passcode to decide my future and my children’s future, in terms of whom I want to oversee our community resources. Funny how all I could see is that I just ceased to be a minor. Oh, I hope it is not too late to start over. I hope it is not too late to make my voice count, to speak out on issues that are of concern and importance to me and my people. 

I have come to agree that bad leaders are outrightly elected by the people who do not vote; those like me who have had a huge disinterest in politics. It was for understandable reasons you know, don’t judge. Tuko wengi, I am sure. For instance, saying political engagements are messy and dirty, oh what do we gain, yet they will rig the votes, ninahustle or I will be resting without using my leave days! Let us not get into the lingering question of queueing under the unforgiving Machakos sun without Githeri man for some bitings and entertainment. Clearly, I have a plethora of inexcusable excuses that simply display politics and governance as too adversarial to meddle into.

The Awakening

Have you heard John F. Kennedy’s wise words, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all” 

Now you know. You see that person who is already swearing that they will not and cannot vote, they are already exercising their power over you.

The disaster is that the elite who have figured that out, hardly take time to reach out to fellow citizens to pour out their brains and ideologies. What do they do instead, they bury their heads in the sand and pore over books to gain more educational qualifications, advance in careers, take their kids overseas, and simply divorce the whole political situations. After all, does it not make sense to exert more efforts in areas that produce tangible material gain? Maybe just to calm the inner conscience, an occasional tweet or a half-hearted comment on Facebook will do. Most of the time, without even verifying the validity of the statements reposted. Maybe over drinks with friends, the issue of who will be voted in next comes up and it is all banter about people and not policy or progress made by the leaders, a little whining on how times are rough follows.

I do not mean to put somebody in the spotlight, this is the plain truth of vitu kwa ground. What we fail to see is that, once bad governance is in place, we will all face the consequences. We will all pay heftier taxes, use the bad roads and watch our leaders pocket the change, painfully lose a loved one due to a broken healthcare system, watch the education system crumble even with our big ideas in our minds, watch as insecurity increases due to desperate times that push our youth to the brink of survival, get tired of corruption scandals but most of all, continue feeling disgruntled of the status quo.

The good thing about democracy is that every vote counts. Even the uncast ones. Voting is not your right only, it is your power, it is your power to decide. It is your ticket to a better future, to your children’s future. Yes, it is time for new prospects and optimism. It is a time for a paradigm shift in how we view voting engagements and politics. We need to get out of that cocoon where we lie to ourselves that politics has nothing to do with me as an individual. Voting is a right but also a responsibility, do not be a deadbeat who does not meddle in the murky political world. It is about that time that we realize we hire government officials to work for us, sio serikali saidia.

Somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world.” – Roald Dahl.

Implement the two-third gender rule now, it is long overdue – By Kibet Brian

Of the innovations of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 the gender parity provision that not more than two-thirds of positions in all state offices shall be occupied by persons of the same gender, has proved to be the most problematic to implement. A decade after the promulgation of a constitution that has been described as transformative and revolutionary, processes aimed at attaining this particular aspiration have remained reactionary with the trading of barbs and blames being a norm.

Gagged and barred from decision making for many years, the voice of women has been heard at the periphery and muffled to mean nothing even where it matters. On August 4th, 2010, in a plebiscite, Kenyan’s spoke in one voice and decided it was time their women who form a majority of the population deserved more than they were getting. It was time for women’s voices to be heard.

It is said that this is yet to be. It is disturbing to note that the gender rule is still a mirage even in instances where it can be achieved vide presidential fiat; appointive positions. It will be utter tomfoolery to suggest that there are no women who can be appointed to these positions given the strides made by women in education and the participation they have shown in civic society and in other spheres of leadership. To this end, there is a need to see that more women are appointed to the cabinet and as directors of government agencies and departments.

As to how this noble cause will be attained in elective positions, particularly in the National Assembly remains a Gordian knot. Gender parity has been attained in the county assemblies at the face of it, this is laudable. However, critics have been quick to point out that men have been hell bent to influence and actually control how these nominations are done. As such, a majority of women who are nominated to these positions are stooges who are only keen to assuage the interests of men who nominated them and do little to articulate the issues of women who they supposedly represent. 

The good news is that although women are yet to be accorded the opportunities the constitution grants them, a few strides have been made. In the recent past, women have been appointed to serve in cabinet positions that are considered “powerful”. In this regard, Monica Juma and Rachel Omamo continue to serve the nation as defense and foreign affairs cabinet secretaries. Our very own Amina Mohamed went very close, with the support of the government, to serve as the African Union Secretary-General. This demonstrates a bit of commitment from the government to actualize the gender parity dream.

Women in leadership positions continue to demonstrate that they can equal and even surpass their male counterparts in terms of service delivery and in meeting the development demands of their electorates. Kitui governor, Charity Ngilu best exemplifies this. Her administration is a benchmark for what devolution means to the people. The county has made great strides in the attainment of food security and continues to be a trailblazer in the provision of quality and affordable healthcare. Her brainchild Kicotec, a textile factory based in Kitui, is proving to be a game-changer in the fight against the ravaging coronavirus as it continues to churn out thousands of facemasks every day. 

It is therefore oxymoronic that society continues to place hurdles to the ascension of women to leadership yet they have shown they are capable of delivering and they possess the willpower to go for global positions when given the necessary support.

The zeitgeist of our times is the full liberation of women from the shackles of oppression they have been bound in for a long time. Let us accord them the opportunity to serve in state positions. They form the majority of the population and therefore deserve more than they are currently getting. The achievement of this is dependent on the full implementation of the two-third gender rule. This is long overdue and should happen now. 


Do hashtags that push for social justice really connect us? – By Billy Osogo


SARS is an acronym for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad formed in 1992 to combat armed robbery and other serious crimes.


#ENDSARS was created in 2017 by Nigerian human rights defenders and activists. This was in response to the brutality and torture perpetrated against innocent Nigerian citizens. It gained even more traction in early October 2020 when a video surfaced online of a man being shot allegedly by members of SARS. The situation careened on October 20th. It is reported that CCTV cameras and lighting were deliberately disabled prior to the shooting of protestors. Amnesty International confirmed that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protestors. 

#ENDSARS has continued receiving global attention with citizens from all walks of life asking the Nigerian government to put an end to the violence. 


Reports of the use of excessive force, extrajudicial killings, and other forms of human rights violations by the police are not new. Despite enormous strides in democratization, there remains an uneasy relationship between law enforcement and citizens in many parts of the world. The unjustified use of excessive force on Wycliff Cox and the gruesome killing of Breonna Taylor are stark reminders of its pervasiveness. Not even the most advanced democracies in the world are inoculated.  

Africa faces an inevitably uphill task in arresting police brutality. The obsession with excessive force by law enforcement was inherited from the colonialists. The brutal force was the glue that held the colonial state together. Land, taxes, resources, and even loyalty, were all taken by sheer force. Native Africans were either beaten to submission or death. Post-independent elites, despite their erstwhile promises of reform, merely inherited the colonial infrastructure. State-sanctioned violence (via the military or the police), has remained a constant weapon in governments’ arsenal. 


The life-force of police brutality is the unholy trinity of power, corruption, and control. This nexus is designed strategically to scare citizens into fear and disillusionment. It works to shield the powers-that-be from accountability. Which ipso facto defeats the very purpose of elections. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writing from his Birmingham jail aptly said:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #Iamwillie and #EndSARS are testament to this. Technology has made it possible for us to connect with each other’s pain and suffering. The global coalescing behind these campaigns has revealed that we all aspire for the same things – dignity, respect and love. The outpouring of support from people continents away shows that we understand what’s important. That there’s more that unites us than divides us. That our common humanity is far greater than our differences. 

Moreover, the youth are leading these protests world-over. It corroborates what we have known all along. The youth remain the joker in the pack. They collectively hold more power to catalyze change than any other force on earth. 


A lesson from Kofi Annan’s memoirs, Interventions.

“What is needed are, on the one hand, a set of governing institutions and rules, which have to be built up over time, that protect the results of elections and so the rights of people; and, on the other hand, responsible and accountable leadership that serves the people.”

Written by Billy Osogo – BA Political Studies. Researcher on Governance, Elections and Human rights.  |   Facebook: Billy Osogo

Public Participation; Histrionic yada yada or real? – By Kibet Brian

Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 recognizes public participation amongst others as one of the national values and principles of governance. The end game of public participation is to put the citizen at the core of decision making. Tacitly it gives effect to the constitutional provision in Article 1, that the people may exercise their sovereign power directly.  Therefore persons who may be affected by a government process or activity are accorded an opportunity to influence the substance of the decisions made. Consequently the elevation of a citizen from a mere bystander in governance to a person that actually influences the decisions and actions taken occurs.

By consulting persons on decisions that affect them, the quality of the decisions made is enhanced and is more likely to be acceptable since they conform to what that community considers ethical and moral. This consultation also makes people feel dignified since they are involved in their own governance structure. It also provides the opportunity for the interests and wants of the community to be heard directly from the horse’s mouth.

Whereas public participation seeks to give citizens the power to interrogate and actively engage with decision-makers, it remains a foreign concept amongst many Kenyans. It is commonplace to walk into the forums convened for this purpose only to find the halls technically empty. It seems to me then that people are yet to fully embrace their right to participate. Why then is it so?

While human lives may have equal value, inequality in literacy and au courant levels is inevitable. That the ability to speak the ‘right language’ in these forums remains a big problem to many is not rocket science. As a result, many people feel intimidated to give views. Access to information is a major obstacle to persons making insightful contributions. Hence the contribution of many is considered ‘bland’ and takes the form of general views that are not considered critical to usurp the status quo.

This partly explains why many still refrain from making their views known. Further, Kenyans are brutalized, people. Perhaps the torture that marked the second liberation is still fresh in people’s minds and so many are not keen to speak about issues even where they are remotely connected to politics for the fear of being politically incorrect. An even more important question arises in the form of the level of consideration that decision-makers give to the views submitted by the public.

To this end, methinks decision-makers need to picture themselves as a cog in the wheel. They must never, even in an instance think of the power they exercise as innate. Rather they should view their power as a ‘public trust’ as ensconced in Article 73 of the Constitution. Thus the views of the ‘small man’ must be considered in accordance with this ‘trust’.

The Kenyan person also needs to see themselves as an important part of the Kenyan hegemony. The country does not belong to a selected few but all. Everyone must therefore arise and make their voices heard when it is sought. Cowering and giving a wide berth to forums meant for raising voices on pertinent issues only makes the views of a selected few to be considered the common view. No wonder, many go challenge some laws and development projects in court later on yet they themselves participated in formulating the nitty-gritty of the impugned matter.

The refrain is that public participation is only real when views made actually influence the decisions made thus the citizen is actually able to pinpoint the impact of their views on important decisions. It is histrionic when citizens do not avail themselves and even when they do, the views are not taken to account when decisions are made. Public participation is an excellent concept that needs to be ingrained deeply in the fabricof governance and public policymaking.

The next time public participation on a matter is convened near you, do avail yourself and add your voice to the matter at hand. It matters.

Kenya’s Youth: G.O.A.T or Scapegoats? – By Billy Osogo

The death of the two young people in Kenol, Murang’a, should disturb us. I watched poignantly as their families spoke to news reporters. The anguish in their voices was palpable and their tears should drown the people responsible. 

Reports that scores of young people were ferried to the venue, their raison d’être being to cause violence, are damning. This is a testament to the malignant equipoise that bedevils the youth in this country. The diabolical paradox of being a youth in Kenya – under-qualified to direct the script (read as duty bearers), supremely qualified to be cast as victims of rabble-rousers (read as goons). 

These events are reminiscent of the days leading up to the 2007/2008 post-election violence and the Rwandan Genocide. Both were characterized by a smattering of small, ominous incidents that should have set alarm bells ringing. This anomaly should have captured the attention of our security agencies. People don’t suddenly develop a craving for farming tools. 

Both our Constitution and National Anthem acknowledge the supremacy of the Almighty. All our Commanders-in-Chief since independence have sworn the Oath of Office, on the Bible. The police, whom they command, lobbied teargas into a church is blatant betrayal. It is incontrovertible proof of the malaise that plagues us. Nothing is sacrosanct anymore. Parliament is dishonorable. The Executive is remiss. 

Remember the Kiambaa church tragedy? With everything and everyone in it incinerated to ashes? That fire was lit by young people in the name of supporting their preferred candidate. 

Thirteen years and a new Constitution later, we are staring down the barrel of the same gun. In the words of George Bernard Shaw;

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience?”

 In many ways, COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise. The cessation of movement order and a ban on gatherings tacitly cooled down political temperatures. Albeit tentatively. Over the last few weeks, the premiere of ‘Impunity’, guest-starring our politicians, has graced our homes. We have witnessed the very people who banned gatherings address mammoth crowds. Our leaders are preaching water and drinking wine. Billions meant to alleviate the suffering of Kenyans have disappeared in astonishing acts that would baffle Houdini. 

The youth are used as scapegoats. Loans are taken in our names only to disappear as soon as they hit the Exchequer. Administrations are formed on our backs only for octogenarians to be rewarded with government appointments. Constitutional dispensations are mooted for our futures only for us to be relegated to the periphery. Funds are constitutionally allocated for our empowerment only for them to be swallowed by the black hole of government bureaucracy.  

As 2022 nears, there are only going to be more of these overtures. The youth form 75% of Kenya’s population. Numbers don’t lie. We mustn’t be used as pawns. He mustn’t be used to further anyone’s agenda at the expense of our own. We mustn’t be used as the matchstick to light the powder keg of violence. We must break that cycle. 

In lieu, we must be the change we wish to see. In the words of President Obama:

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Concerned, Aware, Active Youth.

Written By Billy Osogo

International Tax Justice Academy 2020 – by Faith Ogega

Illicit Financial Flows are a significant threat to Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals. The International Tax Justice Academy (ITJA) is a capacity-building program launched in 2014 under the umbrella of the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA). The academy was started as a pan – African initiative to bridge an existing knowledge gap on tax justice in Africa. And since then they have been on course to achieve the goal.

International Tax Justice Academy’s main objective is to encourage the participation of tax justice campaigners at national, regional, and global levels. The capacity building program is to intensify the capability of Civil Society Organizations (CSO), academia, trade unions, researchers, journalists to enlighten and engage citizens on tax justice issues.

ITJA training strengthens evidence-based advocacy, awareness, and distribution of relevant information to increase knowledge-base, influence policy reform, and monitor progress. The methodology of training ensures learners grasp the knowledge and meet TJNA’s aim of increasing participation of CSOs and journalists. 

Since the United Nations member state adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 as a global call to action for zero poverty, hunger, and protecting the planet by ensuring peace and prosperity. African countries have a long way to go, and the 17 SDGs are all integrated; one effect on an area will affect the outcome of the rest and SDGs can only be achieved by initiating a balance between social, economic and environmental sustainability.

ITJA offers skills for sustained advocacy, dialogue and discussion through courses on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), tax governance and Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) in Africa, supported by research and participation of key players. Illicit Financial Flows are a significant threat to Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals. It has slowed and destroyed the progress of African countries’ economies and contributed to the increase of insecurity and inadequacy to raise tax revenues.

On the contrary, most developing African countries are not maximizing the use of domestic resources not because they lack them, but due to the significant levels of Illicit Financial Flows that have reduced the ability to raise the required tax revenues.

Hence, the Sustainable Development Goals in African developing countries are at risk. IFFs have posed multiple threats to SDGs’ agenda by consuming the much-needed tax base for public investment and social spending.

Instead of working towards achieving SDGs in Africa; reduce the continent’s $31 billion infrastructure financing gap, youth unemployment and tackle climate change, governments are continually using domestic savings that could help replenish our infrastructure systems. All we see is African countries struggling in poverty, governments fighting against each other, and an increase in inequality and rent-seeking rather than maximizing the use of domestic resources for productivity.

Illicit Financial Flows is destroying our African nations as this practice threatens not only banks and financial intelligence units but also legal mechanisms for detecting and prosecuting perpetrators of illicit financial flows. These trends leave us desperate for external aid, putting our continent in the light for exploitation, and yet we have the resources to build Africa and even supply to the rest of the continents.

IFFs have continually made us helpless and economically dependent on other continents for aid. Such a scenario is reflected by the proportion of official development assistance in the budgets of African Governments.  In some countries, official development assistance accounts for 70 percent of total government revenue. If it were not for Illicit Financial Flows, our African countries would not be so dependent on foreign aid. And yet we could use our domestic resources, grow our economies, and still employ millions of African youths.

It is time for our African governments to establish working policies and stop the flow of illicit finances, apply their ‘political will’ in achieving SDGs and most importantly, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive organizations at all levels. While those in the private sector expect fair, clear and transparent tax and trade policies, they must do their part by ensuring their tax and trade practices comply with local laws.

If our governments work closely with the private sector, civil society organizations, trade unionists, and the media, to stop the circulation of incentives to engage in illegal behaviors, we could give the people their rights, security, and opportunities to develop our economies.

Written By Faith Ogega  |  Email:

Siasa Place is an NGO formed 2015 that aims to create an enabling environment for women and youth mainstreaming into our body politics.

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