With the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world and changing peoples’ lives in many ways, the education sector is arguably the most hit. In conforming with the new normal, most schools have adopted online learning as a way to continue engaging their learners.
Whereas the adoption of online learning was adopted with noble intentions, the opposite has been the reality for many learners across the nation. For many, it has been a nightmare to attend lessons convened online leading to a feeling of alienation and disenfranchisement from the institutions they had put their trust and faith in. Many of them have been left to their own devices with very little done to mitigate their suffering.
Think with me, is it probable that with the high costs of data bundles and versatile devices required to access the lessons coupled with the cognizance necessary to navigate the platforms on which classes are held, that a young person in an impoverished neighborhood can possess
all of the above in these hardest of times when livelihoods and lives have been lost?
I think not.
For those in rural areas, the network signal is poor and in some cases zilch. Electricity connectivity in most of these areas remains low and thus many learners do not have a reliable power supply for the devices they are to use in their classes. This is no bloviation but a reflection of as-is on the ground.
By technical learners who have no access to the aforementioned, compulsory online classes and examinations are discriminatory. The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 though Article 27(4) outlaws discrimination of persons on several grounds including social origins. Further, it is only right that quality and affordable education is availed to all regardless of social standing if education is to be the equalizer of the conditions of men.
However, this is not to imply that learners should completely stop their educational discourses. Those with access to the online learning resources should continue doing so but the institutions running them should not make them compulsory for all and if they must, then they should lay down measures to ameliorate and enable those who cannot access them easily and seamlessly access them.
Kibet Brian is a student at the University of Nairobi, School of Law in Parklands. He comments on topical issues with a bias for Tax, Social, and Administrative Justice.
Twitter – @Kibett_Brian
Facebook- Ki-Bett Brian
The discussion about unemployment and underemployment in Kenya could be considered by some as tiring or stale but still remains as relevant as schooling and seeking means of survival are.
Youth are the most affected cohort of the population. Recent statistical data published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that out of about 1.8 million unemployed Kenyans, slightly more than 1.4 million are aged between 15 and 34 years. Further, 651,491 youth aged between 15 and 34 years are underemployed out of almost 1.2 million underemployed Kenyans.
Of course, the above data was based on sampling implying that the unemployment/underemployment situation could be worse in real terms.
Considering that the situation is gloomier on the ground than the figures otherwise presented by KNBS, then who shoulders the blame of an economy that’s typically a jobless growth model? The buck stops with the government, and by the government I mean its three arms; Parliament, Executive, and Judiciary.
Collectively, these three entities have failed especially in taming runaway corruption, and secondly, by allowing warped economic policies to flourish.
Kenya loses approximately one-third of its annual budget due to corruption. Based on this, then we have cumulatively lost at least Kshs.7 trillion since the Jubilee administration assumed office. This amount dwarfs the country’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and trails the nominal GDP which the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) estimates to be Kshs.5 trillion & 9 trillion respectively.
Even though GDP does not accurately measure an economy’s state, the truth of the matter is that more decent jobs would have been created in the public and private sectors if the government was fully committed to stamp out corruption.
The Jubilee administration has failed to deliver the annual 1 million and 1.3 million jobs it promised in 2013 and 2017 respectively, largely due to corruption and indecent borrowing to finance high-cost infrastructural projects.
According to the 2020 Economic Survey report, from 2015 to 2019, about 502,000 and 3.7 million jobs were created in the formal and informal sectors respectively. From 2017 to 2019, there has been a consistent decline in the number of jobs created in the formal sector which can be attributed to most business enterprises closing shop.
Warped economic policies have contributed to slow growth in the number of employment opportunities created. For instance, borrowing to invest in high-cost projects like the standard gauge railway line instead of investing in sectors where the majority eke out their living such as smallholder farming, eventually crowds them out and suppresses their productivity.
Although prioritized as one of the four pillars of the farcical Big Four Agenda, the manufacturing sector is still struggling and yet, with effective political goodwill, could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly.
A harsh business environment that has forced some enterprises to relocate from Kenya and local ones to collapse is an indicator of unfavorable economic policies. Taxation, in particular, is cited as one of the main causes of relocation and folding up.
The government has embarked on short-term solutions such as the government internship programs and the Kazi Mtaani initiative to address unemployment. Economically, this is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to fix the challenge of unemployment.
In 2019, the national government hatched a plan to export one million jobs yearly as a measure to address unemployment. Recently, Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, revealed that Kenya was finalizing bilateral labor agreements with some Gulf countries to formally export labor. This could appear economically and socially viable in the short-run but may actually perpetuate brain drain in the long-run.
Therefore, addressing unemployment and underemployment in Kenya starts with electing competent politicians. That’s how we can get an effective government, and on matters of unemployment/underemployment, the buck stops with the government. Accordingly, the only path to economic prosperity is political prosperity.
Kenya describes itself as a Democratic Nation but that Democracy is largely on paper. I say so because the wielders of power are the minority few. A certain clique of leaders has addressed themselves as the owners of Kenya. This sets a very terrible terrain for the leadership of the country. Among the mature Democracies, that we purport to admire, no individual wields any excess powers to an extent of capturing the state. For example in the USA, of which we’ve borrowed a huge chunk of constitutionalism from having the best illustration of what a Democracy should look like. The power is vested in the people and through political parties. Separation of powers has also been inclined so well, that the Executive, Judiciary, Congress, and the Federal units know what is expected of them.
For Kenya to be like these countries, then the people must come out and claim what belongs to them. This power belongs to them. They are the true owners of the system. The constitution gives us the freedom and the chance to exercise our mandate and power through the ballot. Politicians however have mastered the art of dividing the local man. They know that in case the local man is given the platform to exercise his will without any interference, the likelihood of change is high. This is why instead of just asking for your vote, they go to the extreme to a point of bribing you to make a decision. Voter bribery is not uncommon and this has led even to the phrase, the ‘biggest briefcase’ takes it all. Where this cannot apply effectively, they marshal their community against the other on divide and rule tactics leading to deep ethnic divides. And when this fails they employ violence.
It is such practices that have made the Kenyan people unable to partake in good governance as it is enshrined in the constitution. However, as Kenyans, we must let go of the notion that power only belongs to a few lucky people. This makes Kenya sound rather like a monarch than a democratic state.
We must guard our conscience and take responsibility for our leaders through the ballot. We must come out as the lot that refuses to be suppressed into submission. We must take back our power. But for that to happen, then we have to let go of ethnicity and stop accepting bribes from politicians. We must also fight violent attacks and hold the electoral commission accountable for the election results.
Through this, we will achieve complete people’s power and we will always partake in nation-building.
- Lincoln Oyugi – Law Student at MKU
Member of Africa’s Formula For Development
- Facebook@ Linc Oyugi Twitter @ lincoyugi Instagram@lincoyugi
“On or about 1910,” writes Virginia Woolf, “human character changed.”
The truth behind this statement – despite the writer’s conviction- is sketchy at best, fallacious at worst, and frankly portrays a sort of wishful thinking that I, and the irony is not lost on me, am about to espouse today.
“On or about 2020, Kenyan character needs to change.”
Now, there are so many ways that Kenya could benefit from a character change. However, today I am only interested in one: a simple, extremely simple, character shift that many, elites and otherwise, might consider, as undoable. However, all I ask is that you suspend your judgment for a few minutes to hear me out.
Without any further explanation, your mind has probably conjured up some dreadful statistic or fact about the virus. You may have also reflected on its effects upon your life and felt a sense of hopelessness and dread about what comes next. The word ‘next’ here does not strictly imply ‘what follows after’ as experts have speculated that the virus might never go away. Even more importantly, we are all feeling the economic sting of the halt that the disease has brought our country to right now.
Following a record number of employment losses that left many Kenyans impoverished, people have turned to businesses, more specifically hawking. Everywhere you turn, you see a former teacher – and I use the word ‘former’ loosely – hawking foodstuff, former students selling clothes, former journalists selling tomatoes from the boots of their vehicles, and so on. It is increasingly seeming that there are more businesses than there are customers. This throws us into a quagmire, where everyone is selling, yet no one is actually buying; We all remain broke.
With many of us down on our luck, and looking for ways to re-strategize, we need to turn our eyes to and heed the advice of Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, who after the 2007-2008 economic crisis urged his countrymen to increase their spending. And with China also has set the groundwork for this strategy, Kenya should not be far behind. It is a simple enough strategy which, I admit, seems too simple to be true, yet has the potential to restore our economy, and grants the added benefit of boosting local industries.
Splurge. Comma. Kenya Splurge. It is essentially a simple strategy that plays on the principle of the circulation of money: A Ksh 1000 note is valueless inside your pocket but achieves its pecuniary value when taken out and exchanged for a good and/or service. As a people, we should splurge to increase money circulation and boost businesses that are already threatening to close their doors for good.
Kenyans as financially conservative people is a foregone conclusion. We bargain incessantly whenever we shop, and we tend to keep money in our pocket (and mattresses?) for longer than we should, and we look for the lowest prices when buying, and we resort to buying faux goods just to save. Hence, we need to change ourselves at the atom level to accommodate such a strategy.
Some will interpret this as a utopian view of the world – that if everyone spent more, then there would be more money for everyone. However, there is both a sound rationale behind it -with evidence backing it – and a charitable aspect to it. Whenever you stop to buy a cup, you help the vendor fill another with tea the next morning.
Splurge. Comma. Kenya Splurge. I am no financial expert. Yet it is a commonly known fact that the higher the demand of a product, the higher the supply tends to get. Essentially, as Kenyans spend more, then producers will have to produce more, and employ more people, with higher pay, to assist in the production. This completes the chain quite neatly: As spending increases, then revenue for the government increases, and, hopefully, our national debt decreases, and, even more hopefully, our inflation rate decreases.
The government and financial sectors will also need to take an active role to facilitate such a movement. Long term, low-interest credit should be made available to the people to boost their businesses; Short term tax bailouts offered to allow some breathing room for Kenyans on the onset; Major discounts are given, and social protection programs extended to cover more people.
Splurge. Comma. Kenya Splurge.
The writer, Melchizedek Asuma, is a Journalism student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
On a daily basis a number of youth support groups and various individuals across the country rally for youth inclusion and empowerment. Fortunately, this song appeals to most youths if not all, and we all dance along enjoying the tune and the beats. “What exactly is the meaning of that song?” That’s the million-dollar question we all seem to be concerned about.
The youths have to be involved in major development programs and also in policymaking. This has been the song no one seems to be able to clearly break down. Masses have continued to move in the wrong direction in solidarity with our “youth leaders” chanting slogans that only they understand in all perspectives. A sample of the youths has been brought on board to positions set aside for youth and this has been embraced as a great step towards youth inclusion. The government and other stakeholders have formulated policies and other strategies through the Ministry of State and Youth Affairs just to ensure matters affecting the youth have been looked into.
On the other hand, non-governmental organizations have come up to help roll out programs aimed at containing the youth bulge. These programs have been embraced in various sectors and they include entrepreneurship programs, scholarly programs (tertiary and higher learning), counseling, talent search, and cultivation among other programs. These have helped a great deal and the narrative is changing by the day.
Youth inclusion entails more than we are already doing and it needs some things done right for it to have meaning. Youth inclusion involves the youth being empowered to identify challenges facing youths across the country, find solutions that are sustainable, and independently formulate informed policies and strategies. The legal procedure should be youth-oriented not forgetting other civic duties. Most importantly, the youths have to be properly educated and create an enabling environment to foster their ascension to key positions in government and the society at large.
Youth inclusion in Kenya is a paramount aspect necessary in the process of brightening our future as a nation. Youth account for a greater percentage of the population and their inclusion in the government is the most important step towards realizing the Vision 2030 Agenda and containing the numerous problems that are almost weighing us down and having us wallow in unending debt. Give meaning to youth inclusion, save the nation.
The recent debate on the allocation of revenue elicited mixed reactions, offering a glimpse into challenges and opportunities in the counties that, for decades, have been classified as either underdeveloped or “non-starters”. The Senate has been unable to arrive at a consensus, this shows how complicated and difficult the process is. But we must not forget that the heart of this conversation is about devolution and it’s the high time to allow counties to have their share.
The fact that they are fighting to have their funding increased indicates that many of them are struggling to undertake development. This has affected not just the salary payments but also the development mandate of devolution. While many counties are struggling, it’s the historically marginalized that bear the brunt.
Unfortunately for the arid and semi-arid land counties, the revenue is not the only struggle but rather a lack of transformational leadership, continued conflicts, many cultural practices, and associations that have made it impossible for them to prosper. While the stalemate on release and sharing of revenue is part of the problem facing the marginalized, it’s prudent that they seek to overcome these historical challenges.
Since Independence, there has been a negative association with many of these counties which range between tribal clashes, banditry, and divisive politics often based on clannism. For decades the regions were marginalized, viewed as unproductive with negative media publicity.
Of the 47 devolved governments, ASAL comprises of 29 counties, making it difficult to ignore them in national conversations. Leaders have in the past promised to unlock the potential that these regions hold for its citizens. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to set off and largely due to myriads of challenges including scarce resources which have been worsened by delay in the release of funds by the treasury.
While most of the area consists of arid lands, where rainfall is low, temperatures are high throughout the year, and where people’s access to and control over critical livelihood resources such as land is insecure, the local leadership must concentrate its annual plan to uplift the region.
Sadly, while some communities have made strides in overcoming issues regarding natural resources, there has been the politicization of conflicts and conflicting policies in seeking to make the North an oasis of peace and prosperity. This has made it almost impossible for counties to raise standard revenue. As we hope for breakthroughs on revenue sharing, it’s up to the leaders across the spectrum to arise and face their own challenges and seek to create conducive environments that can stimulate change and stability for the northern frontier.
Some of the conflicts pit governors against the county assembly and this adversely affects operations. We need to get a mechanism to resolve these issues to properly utilize the revenue for social transformation.
In pursuit of an inclusive economy and shared prosperity, we must not leave ASAL regions behind. But to make them prosperous, let us focus on the prudent use of resources, including the revenue allocated by the national government and other donors.
There seemed a clear correlation between the scarcity of natural resources resulting from the drought and violent conflict in the ASAL areas. It has been proved that stability can be achieved within fragile states and it’s up to the affected areas to seek alternative ways to end these cycles of conflicts that often derail much-needed development. But with good leadership and the right people at its helm, societies have the ability to overcome myriad challenges. While good leadership is a critical ingredient of the developing world, those entrusted must be men and women of integrity, accountability, and foresight for the furthest we can go is intertwined with the vision of the leadership we do have.
There is a need to elect leaders of integrity and good morals to accelerate the huge promise that ASALs hold for national development. We can’t just sit back and wait for the national revenue share. So no matter the outcome of the stalemate, we must consider the marginalized regions and bring them at par with the rest of the country in matters of development.
Written By Saruni Lemargeroi, Political/governance analyst and Mandela Washington fellow
We are the people guided and guarded by the constitution, we are the same people exploited and used in the face of the constitution. After casting our votes we are left to trek on our muddy roads, we die of hunger while they gamble to measure their powers, we keep yelling every day in the media of how unemployed we are while they keep talking of succession and just like ever before they come to devour us with few notes then we end up pushing them to higher levels of leadership.
There is a difference between a leader and a politician, a leader is one who stands firm for the people and in the interest of the people, a leader is one who values his followers and makes them a priority, a leader is born not made even though most people will defer with this opinion. On the other hand, a politician is one who trades the money game, politicians are not worth it, they are made not born. This a person who climbs the ladder while looking at his or her subjects down on the ground. As much as we have a distinction between leaders and politicians, we also have political leaders. Who is a political leader? A political leader possesses the characteristics of a leader but politically exercises them. Now, contrast the three people and categorize who you voted for.
Being considerate while voting simply means questioning the integrity of the contestant. Is he worthy to be given a political seat? Has she ever been involved in a scandal before? Is he/she trustworthy enough to deliver the promises he/ she sings about during campaigns? Is he/ she eligible for the position? Being considerate is being free from bias when casting a vote, forgetting about tribal links associated with the contestant, and focusing on electing the perfect leader and not the perfect politician to suit your personal needs through corruption. It is time we elect based on good performance since 2020 has taught us a lot, politicians exercising corruption even as we struggle with the pandemic.
Written By Felix Odhiambo – Journalist, Blogger, and Writer.
Facebook: Poetic Felix | Instagram: Felix Odhiambo | Twitter: @felixOdhiambo
“We the people are the rightful masters of both parliament and courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow men who pervert the constitution” Abraham Lincoln.
Just as Lincoln said more than 200 years ago, we remain the greatest part of the constitution. It is designed for and by the people. And in our supreme law as Kenya, the preamble states, “We the People “. However, while celebrating ten years of existence of the Kenyan Constitution of 2010, a lot lingers in the mind. The main question remains, does the constitution stand for the direct benefit of the people of Kenya, as it is written in the preamble? And the simple answer is a big fat NO. Even though the main aim of the constitution was people-focused, it was hijacked by the politicians immediately after the inauguration.
On the 27, August of 2010, I was barely 10 years old, yet just like the rest of Kenyans, I was full of hope that the New Constitution was dawning the new beginning of Kenya. However, how wrong I was! The narrative has remained just as it was decades ago, just like the tale of some monkeys but different forests. So just how has this document that was intended to serve the interest of the people not lived to expectations?
Runaway corruption: Chapter six of the constitution places weight on integrity and leadership. The constitution also established independent offices to deal ruthlessly with runaway corruption. However, a few people have hijacked the process making it difficult, or rather impossible to pin down any corruption suspect. In fact for the lifetime of the constitution, corruption has gone too far too extreme levels. The bodies tasked like EACC, ODPP, DCI, and even the judiciary has been weakened to an extent that despite the overwhelming evidence on grand corruption, no convictions have been made.
Devolution: When the constitution was enacted, devolution was a major clause. It was applauded as the new dawn towards achieving the elusive equity in Kenya. The central governments of the previous years had sidelined parts perceived to be in opposition. However, devolution was to bring power close to the people. The Governor was to be the president of and serve the interest of the particular counties. However, ten years on there is nothing much to write home about. On matters of development, the counties are just the same as they were pre-devolution. In fact, the ASAL Region of Kenya which was basically ignored by the previous regimes has not improved 10 years with their local governments under devolution.
Calls for a change in the constitution. A good constitution is often argued as that which cannot be changed easily. However, currently, the political class is already in a rush to change it. This has been brought by the excitement behind “The Handshake”. Yes, the Handshake is good considering the times we were going through, which I am an ardent supporter of, however, its end game being a change in the constitution is completely puzzling. While the 2010 constitution is yet to be implemented, a clamor to change has already begun. This makes Kenya a weak democracy, with weak institutions and laws which are changed by politicians to suit their will. This makes Kenya equal to any banana republic, only now that it involves democratic dictatorship.
In conclusion, I believe that the implementation of the Kenya 2010 Constitution has been done in the worst way possible, and no matter how many times we change the laws, without great implementers, then the constitution is doomed to remain pieces of paper forever.
Written by Lincoln Oyugi – A Law Student at Mount Kenya University and a member of Africa’s Formula For Development
Facebook @Linc Oyugi | Twitter @lincoyugi | Instagram @lincoyugi
Talk of youth as future leaders may sound so novel. This is despite the fact that it has always been the case all along- it has, for the longest time, been said that the youth are the future, or leaders of tomorrow if you may. The current crop of leaders, together with the government of the day, has time and again peddled this narrative through the various platforms and channels available to them. However, there has been very little, if any, development over the years to promote the realization of youth leadership. This, therefore, begs the question: Is this merely a simple, empty, and overused cliché?
The youth form the bulk of not only our country’s population but also the electorate. A lot of young people are enthusiastic and eager to be involved politically and to shape their destiny and society(ies) in which they live. The youth are, thanks to their visibility, exposure, and progressive ideas, better placed to assume higher, more effective political and leadership roles. Despite their qualitative and quantitative visibility, the sorry state of their inclusion/ involvement in the management and development affairs of the country is deeply troubling. There are numerous factors that have stood and continue to stand between young people and their quest for leadership. Among the notable obstacles and challenges that make it difficult (or nearly impossible) for young people to lead include; suppressive government structures, corruption, poverty, lack of education, and unemployment. These factors significantly muffle and/or even extinguish their voices, thereby making it imperative that they seek and adopt strategies targeted at making the much-needed change.
Current leaders have also gone to great lengths to cast the youth in a bad light and to portray them as immature and having negative idealistic attitudes that taint their reputation. This should not necessarily be a bad thing. Why? Rather than trends, youth are largely moved by ideas, which they have the potential of staying true to and not giving up on despite the cost, challenges, and obstacles they’ll come across. While this idealistic attitude could earn them a bad reputation in the eyes of veteran leaders, it is precisely what will see them as being good leaders. The veteran leaders have also argued that this digital age has reduced the youth into a mere generation of followers only moved by trivial pursuits, not leadership. In this regard, the youth should remember that social media has been used the world over by other young people to bring about change, lead, and hold the government to account. Through social media, youth have been able to organize unprecedented change in, for example, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and so on. Youth have also used social media to get their messages across and to drive various causes- such as human rights, unfair or discriminatory policies, injustices, and climate change- which have been responsible for various historical developments in the world.
It is, thus, all too clear that the youth are the ones best suited to drive positive change and pave the way for the future. Without youth empowerment, the country cannot thrive. While the country is led by veterans, its future is highly dependent on the youth and young leaders who remain highly disenfranchised and excluded despite their having the skills, ideas, motivation, and power to lead. The youth should, therefore, rally together, remind their leaders of their duties and responsibilities, take it upon themselves to demand good leadership and accountability, and take ownership of their future by pushing for the change they’d like to see.
Written by Levin Banns Ouma
Profile: I am a Kenyan youth who is interested in and closely follows politics and governance issues in the country. Facebook: Levin Leweezy Ouma
“Will we succumb to chaos, division, and inequality? Or will we right the wrongs of the past and move forward together?” the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres posed to global leaders in the 18th edition of the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture. The lecture was given as part of the celebrations of Nelson Mandela International Day which is celebrated on the 18th of July every year to honor the legacy of a global icon whose values continue to inspire many seven years after his death.
The question above resonates well in the Kenyan context we find ourselves in today. Many Kenyans feel the supplication in our national anthem, “O God of all creation bless this our land and nation”, has gone unanswered or the blessings have been few, with the rest praying for more blessings upon the few. It is worth noting that we are in the middle of a global pandemic whose effects on the economy have caused untold suffering to countless Kenyans. Declining income, closure of businesses, and the loss of jobs only reflect the tip of the iceberg. The political climate in the country, however, seems to suggest otherwise. One would be forgiven for thinking we are months to a general election with the novel coronavirus already contained.
The political doldrums in the midst of a pandemic make one wonder whether it is a blessing or a curse to be born in this country. It seems this quagmire is what made a netizen to hilariously assert that this country should be closed for repairs.
However, all is not lost. Amidst all these, we are given a chance to correct mistakes and build a future while appreciating our not so memorable past. It is while we are down that we scratch our heads for the way up. It is no longer tenable to remain in the trenches and complain about poor governance and corruption in government. It is time to advance against the ills that bedevil our societies and stand to be counted. After all human history is replete with circumstances where the unfathomable has been achieved by the unexpected.
In this sense, rising up means fighting the undoing that fan negativity and embrace those that bind us in unity and form the hegemony that Kenya should be. This means extending our arms to the less fortunate in our communities and demanding action from authorities where we feel there are issues. It also means the citizenry making an effort to become more informed on how they are and how they should be governed. Above all, it is all about raising the political cautiousness of the people to enable them to make decisions that benefit them in post-COVID 19 elections.
Finally, it is also about our leaders owning up to the great responsibility bestowed on them by leading from the front. It is a great dereliction of their ordained duties to be the ones leading in subverting laws which are meant for the good of the people to oppress and deny citizens their right. Politicking on succession politics in these extraordinary times is at best pharisaical of them.
The good for all is a prosperous country where unemployment is eradicated, healthcare accessible by all, housing no longer a preserve of a few, food security attained, and where the rule of law reigns. Now is the time to begin the actualization of this, because this is what we signed up for.
Written by Kibet Brian who is a Student at the University of Nairobi – School of Law in Parklands. He comments on topical issues with a bias for Tax, Social, and Administrative Justice.
Twitter – @Kibett_Brian
Facebook- Ki-Bett Brian
Considering the fact that the youths are the future and the representation of any nation, Kenya is not exempted from such a fact due to the high number of youth in the country. This is because these are the people who are mainly engaged in any nation-building process or any destructive process due to the high levels of energy that they have and the capability of them adapting to new environments. In recent years, we have seen youth being engaged in certain reforms of our nation. The latest has been witnessed during the Kazi Mtaani Project that has seen the cleaning and rehabilitation of our environment. This was a great boost to the youth since to some extent; the levels of unemployment and poverty were reduced. However, there is much that needs to be done to counter the unemployment notwithstanding the fact that most of them have attended institutions of higher learning. Though most of them are now being encouraged to attend technical institutions so as to create self-employment, the government should feel the urge of providing sufficient capital to them after successful completion of whatever course one has engaged in. Also, there is a need to engage the youth in administrative processes such as governance and policy implementation. As stated earlier, the youth are the future of any nation and in regards to this, a generation of responsible youth will be raised and this will create a stable transition of them from junior to some of the senior positions in governance. This will help our nation avoid going into a governance crisis.
In Kenya, the executive, legislature, and any other administrative bodies have been given the power to come up with legislation and policies. However, any undertaking that these institutions do engage in should be in the best interest of the citizens and through their involvement.
According to Article 1 of the constitution, the Sovereign power belongs to the citizens and hence the need for the citizens to be engaged in public participation as guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya in Articles 10 (2) a, 69(1)d, 174(c), 184(1), 196(1)b and 232(1)d. The government usually uses the Kenya Gazette to present any issue that needs public participation. The question that arises is: how many Kenyans are able to access the Kenyan gazette and fully air out their views? How many Kenyans are able to read and fully comprehend whatever information has been placed before them in the gazette? Are the timelines provided for public participation regarded as sufficient? Despite the fact that public participation is guaranteed in law, the government of Kenya has not yet reached the threshold that is required for sufficient public participation to be stated to have taken place. This is clearly seen in instances whereby the public is not involved and if they are involved they are not given enough time to participate. Recently, it was witnessed when there was a transfer of functions from the county government of Nairobi to the national government.
The deed of transfer of functions was rendered illegal by J. Hellen Wasilwa in Petition 52 of 2020. This is because the county assembly was not involved in the process which was a clear violation of the constitution. In such a case, public participation would have been conducted by the members of the county assembly who are the representatives of the citizens of Nairobi County. In conclusion, public participation remains not to have been fully implemented and hence the need for the government to institute measures to ensure the same will be conducted fully in the coming instances.
Written by Stephen Gathaga Mihang’o, a student at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa
Facebook: Stephen Gathaga
There are always two sides to a story. A story is never complete if you don’t listen to both sides. This is especially where there are controversies or disputes but especially when it involves the death of a person. In case of an accident, if the victim survives and lives to tell their tale then that’s okay and great as well. At least the family of the victim will know what really happened and if there are things that can be avoided as well as lessons learned from the accident. But what happens to the victims that die instantly…who lives to tell their story? Who can attest to what really happened that led to the death of the victims? Their story will always be forgotten tales. No one will ever know what really happened that led to their demise.
When one loses a loved one, there are more questions than answers. Questions that only the dead can answer. Questions we carry for a lifetime. Questions that do us more harm than good. These questions hurt so deeply, pierces the heart like a knife. The questions lead us to a place that no one wishes to be in. One is left in limbo. It is hard to move away from such thoughts and only God can give you peace of mind, serenity, and tranquility that you so badly need.
COVID 19 for instance came with a bang. Like the uninvited guest, the virus came unnoticed, settled among us, and set the pace and tune which everyone dances to at the moment. The tunes may not be melodious as we all wish it should be but we forcefully have to listen to it and settle with the rhythm however boring. Every nation worldwide has been affected by the virus, so many have died and Kenya has not been spared either. There are those who have died as a result of the virus. There are those who suffered from mild headaches and died from it. There are those who have died from childbirth. At the same time, there are those who have suffered from major and minor accidents and died at the hospital, there are those who have had heart failure and died as a result. Some of these cases have been reported as COVID 19 cases thus creating stigma on the bereaved families.
Unfortunately, the dead cannot speak for themselves. The living is the one left to defend the dead. It is only the victims that can truly tell their tales but it is unlikely that anyone would listen because they cannot speak nor can their voices be heard. The stories of their struggle, suffering, and the feeling of loneliness and abandonment by their loved ones will remain untold. Only the ones who have survived the ordeal can narrate their survival journey. Sadly, the dead will always keep the pain and agony they went through when they were sick when they suffered when their heart failed. They cannot tell the world they are not COVID 19 victims as it is claimed by others. Theirs will always remain to be so only to be forgotten by others with time.
Forgotten tales are stories worth listening to and sharing the pain of the victims, but mostly it is never the case. The owners travel with them to an unknown destination and no one will ever know what truly happened. Their stories are in a safe haven but forgotten by many.
Written by Barbra Ouma from Kisumu county
Facebook: Barbara Ouma
What matters? Welfarism? Free markets? Democracy or just efficient governance systems? Individualism or communalism? The essentialism of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be underestimated.
The COVID-19 crisis has raptured globalization, disheveled economies, disarrayed polities and reorganized societies on massive scale. Pristinely, a global economic recession is looming.
Economic recessions or crises have always led to fundamental change in politics and thence a revision of the social and economic policies adopted to transition to the next chapter. The COVID-19 pandemic manifests itself as a social, political and economic crisis.
Socially, norms and routines have been altered. People are forced to adjust to unfamiliar lives: working from home; no more feeling of camaraderie from social gatherings; for others, it’s doomsday with their jobs wiped out by the monstrous virus; for some, readjusting to realities of life in the countryside is the new normal; and certainly, worries about the fate of tomorrow dominate our lives than ever before.
Politically, the frivolous nature of greedy politicians has been exposed. Politicians are now familiar with policies and terminologies of a functional healthcare system. State capture by big business is in plain view; financial bailout programmes are mainly targeting large corporations and not small and medium-scale enterprises. Democracy and authoritarian classifications no longer matter. It is how efficiently governments around the world respond to the crisis.
Economically, it’s evident that people should matter more than profits and this ought to be the primacy of policy. Global supply chains are disrupted. Organizations are scaling down their operations and unemployment is set to rise. Living standards are bound to fall and manacles of poverty are primed to handcuff more people. Developing countries are set to rack up more debts. In short, the COVID-19 pandemic has orchestrated a reversal of economic gains.
A Reflection of the Past
History matters, and it matters a great deal! In modern world history, economic crises or pandemics of human nature have often led to political, economic and social reforms. For instance, the deadly Spanish flu that ravaged parts of the world between 1918 and 1920 occasioned public healthcare reforms.
According to Laura Spinney, the aftermath of the Spanish flu prompted governments to adopt policies seeking to provide healthcare for all. Spinney notes that the post-Spanish flu period saw Russia become the first country to establish a centralized public healthcare system, a policy imperative adopted by some Western European countries. Such a healthcare system was fully financed by a state-run insurance scheme. Creation of Sweden’s modern welfare state is significantly credited to the depredations of the Spanish flu.
Across the Atlantic, the federal government of the United States of America opted for employer-based insurance schemes as part of the post-Spanish flu healthcare reforms. In Canada, the topsy-turvydom created by the Spanish flu pandemic led to the establishment of the federal Department of Health in 1919 with the state playing a primary role in advancing public healthcare.
Although information about the origin of the Spanish flu is still unclear, the first official cases were recorded at USA Army’s Camp Funston in Kansas. Large-scale mobilization of troops during World War I is thought to have catalyzed the spread of the flu.
A report published by the Federal Bank of St. Louis in 2007 documents about the economic effects of the 1918 Spanish influenza such as closure of grocery stores, an increase in drug store activities, a rise in demand for beds and mattresses, long hours of work for physicians, and closure of mines among others.
Despite the fact that the report entirely focuses on the American state, its praxis on the significance of the nexus of the 1918 Spanish flu and a modern-day pandemic is engrossing.
Africa also bore the brunt of the Spanish flu with a research study highlighting that in the coastal region of Kenya the virus paralyzed administrative operations, created food shortage, occasioned commercial losses and overstretched the healthcare sector. In South Africa, the flu led to the death of 300,000 South Africans representing 6% of the total population.
In an article published by Reuters Magazine in 2013, Begley warns of how a flu pandemic could trigger a global recession. The news feature is based on a 2008 World Bank report highlighting that the SARS pandemic of 2009 shredded global GDP by $33 billion.
Major economic crises always spark calls for reforms. Notably, the Great Depression resulted in the formulation of the New Deal which largely aimed at addressing the plight of the common Americans. In Western Europe, the economic crisis occasioned by World War II actuated the European Recovery Programme (the Marshall Plan). These two reforms laid the foundation for the Golden Age of Capitalism although Robert Reich in his book, Supercapitalism, refers to it as “Not Quite the Golden Age” since political and economic inequality was evident among women and minority groups.
The economic recession of 1973 changed the global political economy in fundamental ways. Economist and historian Marc Levinson writes that the early 1970s marked the end of the Golden Age of Capitalism with politics moving to the Right. The decline of the Golden Age resulted from stagnated productivity growth. The shift of politics to the Right resulted in a loss in social benefits such as health insurance mostly provided by governments across Western Europe among others. As such, the implications on public healthcare were significant.
The fundamental shift in the global political systems was also embraced by the Bretton Woods institutions which embarked on missions to spread the Washington Consensus gospel in Africa through the infamous Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs).
Failure of SAPs is evident especially in public healthcare and education systems leading to revision of the Washington Consensus with focus directed to a number of policy issues including provision of social safety nets and poverty reduction.
Financial crisis that precipitated the Great Recession in 2008/2009 led to advocacy for more government intervention in the economy with calls for provision of healthcare for all especially in developed economies. The austerity measures adopted by governments following the recession were germs for emergence of radicalized political movements across the global north.
William Davies contends that the financial crisis of 2008 failed to provoke a fundamental shift in capitalism but the COVID-19 crisis is set to bring about a sea change in the systems of global political economy based on high levels of international connectedness and the spatial nature of the pandemic. Retooling of social and economic life is certain with the pandemic serving as an inflection point “for new economic and intellectual beginnings.”
A Vision for the Future
Economic and political movements will emerge after the pandemic to vouch for reformation of healthcare systems all over the world. Governments and multi-lateral institutions will have to change their priorities and increase spending on public healthcare. Therefore, universal healthcare will emerge as a policy priority for state and non-state actors.
Governments and multi-lateral institutions reluctant to embrace healthcare for all will encounter opposition from social justice movements and disgruntled members of the public.
A paradigm shift in the systems of political economy is also bound to happen. Neoliberalism is set to reform or undergo decapitation. Political and economic ideologies that fashion people over profits will dominate public discourse. Could there be a re-emergence of democratic capitalism or will social democracy be the norm? Will the Chinese political economy model inspire states?
What is the future of big business in the global economy and national politics? Reformation of the healthcare system will most likely be derailed by the Big Pharma. Big Pharma may take hostage global politics and economics. The intricacies of the medical-industrial complex could go a notch higher.
Globalization will still be fashioned by state and non-state actors as a crucial step towards economic recovery and prosperity.
Immigration to the most affected countries especially the developed ones is set to take place. The Western world may review its immigration policies and make them friendly. But this will depend on the pace of economic recovery.
Is a new world order in the offing? Too close to call but possibilities are within the horizons; evolution and dominance of the world by the medical-industrial complex and not the military-industrial complex; the dawn of a multi-polar world; dissipation of democratic ideals and enchantment of political pragmatism; and establishment of welfare states.
Sitati Wasilwa is a political economist and consultant on governance, geopolitics and public policy at Savic Consultants and a youth leader at YMCA Kenya. Twitter: @SitatiWasilwa
Getting a job in Kenya is hard. One goes through a lot of monkey business, it ends up as a job in itself, a job for looking for jobs.
I am shocked at just the sheer volumes of young people struggling to get employment. For the record, I am not unemployed. Sometimes though, I wonder what is the point of saying you are employed if your struggles are just the same as those unemployed?
I mean, this country in the beginning of this year introduced new taxes. Talk of turnover taxes for small business. This is over and above the taxes this government levies on businesses and Kenyans. The net effect is it leaves you with little monies that actually being employed sometimes, does feel like being unemployed.
I know of a single parent who takes home 4000 thousand Kenya shillings per month net salary. With it she is expected to feed, clothe and protect her 2 year old. The current state of economy forces Kenyans to do and be everything so as to make ends meet.
I always wonder, what if this single parent taking home Ksh. 4000 monthly quits her job, how will she survive?
Come to think of it, this is the mentality that we are forced to have. We have been conditioned to think that ‘little is better than nothing’. We are encouraged to stick with it because uncertainty of unemployment is too great.
Employers, meanwhile have learned to take advantage of this dire state of affairs. They know Kenyans will take what is being offered. Economy is bad, they tell us and something is better than nothing. So for those people who think are lucky being employed, including myself, news flash, we actually are not. I am not saying that you should quit your jobs. No. I’m only saying we live in a selfish society where the state and our laws have utterly failed to protect its citizens. We the people, have found ways of going round the problem, we have several sources of income to sustain our families
The frustrations for young people don’t end here, welcome to the home of contradictions where you study for field A but get work in field Z. I mean, each year Kenya produces thousands of graduates whose majority end up tarmacking for years and years. By the time they get a job that they studied for its seems too late as companies want higher degree or more skills. If you decide to go back to school and get this higher degree, you again seem to be too overqualified. Now this is a monkey business that needs to stop.
Recently, I went to a government building to run some errands. To my surprise, all the desks that I went to for assistance were being manned by old folks. May the good Lord forgive me but these are our grandparents who are meant to be enjoying their retirement. I enjoyed the slow service, a process that could have taken 30 minutes took 3hrs.
Most of our institutions are run by people who maybe had a certificate and as time went by, they did not see the need to go back to school. So if one goes to seek employment with the hope that their degree will be a plus, they will get a rude shock because, people at these places feel threatened by ones qualifications. They think their jobs will be taken away from them. That is why old people keep dominating while the youth keep tarmacking.
So let us face it, the economy is bad. The government is worsening the situation by taking more loans. I do not know about you but at this rate, where we are heading as this current state scares me.
Written by Sharon Laura O.
The National Youth Council Act of 2009 establishes the National Youth Council (NYC) in law. The Council comprises several members from the Ministry in charge of youth affairs, and eight youths elected by the youth in a formal set-up. The purpose of the National Youth Council is to give a voice to the youth of Kenya in a bid to have an inclusive body in the political, social and economic matters affecting the country.
A Bill, the National Youth Council Amendment Bill (2019) was introduced to Parliament to amend some provisions of the NYC, Act. Among other proposals, the Bill proposes changing the format of membership of the Council. NYC comprises 8 youths elected by the youth. The Bill proposes to change this set-up to 9 youths nominated by the Cabinet Secretary. This proposal, if passed, will undermine democracy within the Council, limiting the voice and participation of the Youth in governmental affairs.
The proposed composition of membership of NYC will curtail the very essence of the Council. The Council as is, promotes independent participation of the youth in the Council. Having the members nominated by the Executive, rather than elected by the public, undermines the independence of the youth members and that of the Council as a whole.
In a number of the most democratic countries, the members of youth councils or the equivalent entity, are elected by other youth democratically and voluntarily. The Norwegian Children and Youth Council for example, has its members elected by members of other youth organizations. The Commonwealth Youth Council also has its executive members elected by other youth.
Why then, would the Kenyan Parliament propose nomination of youth members into the Council by the Executive? Is there foul play? Do they have malicious intentions? The most probable answer would be that Parliament, through the Executive, wants to have a hand in the affairs of NYC. They intend to suppress the democratic factor of the Council, thus limiting the functions of the Council.
Should the proposed amendment go through, then the Youth of the country may no longer count on the Council to carry their concerns independently. Further, the Youth will not have confidence in the affairs of the Council and will generally doubt their integrity.
There is a general feeling of loss of confidence on the government’s focus on youth affairs in the country. Allowing the government further control on youth affairs will be therefore undesirable and will extinguish the youth’s hope on making a difference in the country’s affairs. It is therefore imminent and important that Parliament does not consider the controversial clause on changing the NYC, but rather leave it as it is.
By Anita Otieno
Article 55(b) of the Constitution mandates the state to take measures for the youth have opportunities to be represented and participate in political, social, economic spaces. Further on, in preparation for Africa’s youth bulge and succession planning, cognizant of best practices of the Commonwealth Youth Council, East Africa Youth Commission and Africa Youth Commission, article 55(b) necessitates an urgent move to harness the youth demographic dividend for economic prosperity of the nation.
The National Youth Council’s mandate in fulfilling the above was structurally watered down by the amended bill of 2019 which shrinks further the democratic space of young people. Therefore, the YSO Consortium consisting of 50 national and grassroots organizations reviewed the provisions of the National Youth Council Bill 2019 and harmonized it into a memorandum with the following key provisions informing the 5-point agenda;
- Professionalization of Youth Work. Kenya is one of the commonwelath countries without a national-level policy that regulates, protects and promotes youth work as a distinct profession despite its significant youth bulge. To resolve this, we propose that the NYC will define the youth work profession model and work the MoPSYGA and other relevant stakeholders to establish locally relevant policies, procedures and mechanisms to accredit youth workers.
- Youth mainstreaming. The NYC will nominate youths into decision making bodies such as boards, agencies and other public institutions and organizations. They will also coordinate the youth agenda into national policy processes including youth mainstreaming, youth data and evidence based policy making , youth volunteerism and other relevant national development policy processes by public institutions and organizations.
- Structure and functions. The structure of the Council envisaged in the Bill transforms the Council into a national outfit that does not have any county presence. To address this, we propose the establishment of the County Youth Council, provide for its functions and powers. Secondly, the functions of the Council in the 2019 amendment bill are watered down and do not capture the spirit of a youth representative body and therefore we recommend the incorporation of functions in the 2009 Act with a few amendments.
- Corporate membership and resource mobilization. NYC funded from public coffers is hindered by lack of resources. We recommend having corporate membership as a mechanism to mobilize resources as such, Youth Serving Organization will be accredited as corporate members and will pay a subscription fee to remain in membership (provides resources and sustainability, representation) for a designate period.
- Capacity building. For the National Youth Council to transform, there must be a change in ways of engaging, therefore deliberate attempts must be mad to build capacity of council leaders to understand their role and repercussions of not executing their duties effectively.
In the interest of young people of the republic of Kenya, the memorandum proposes solutions to the loopholes in the 2019 Amendment Bill and seeks to gain the support of members of parliament, the initiator of the bill and citizens of good will.
By:Youth Agenda, ActionAid, PAWA254, Africa Youth Trust, Governance Pillar, Siasa Place, Nairobi County Network, AYLF, Global Platform, Young Democrats, My Leader Kenya, UJANA Africa, Red Cross, YOBBA, Activista, Nairobits Trust, Go Green, Y-Act, Emerging Leaders Foundation, World Healers Foundation, Nairobi County Youth Network, INUUA, ODBS Foundation, Youth Alive Kenya, Youth & Success Association, Akili Dada, Dada Power and Youth Senate-Kenya.
For access to the National Youth Council (Amendment) Bill 2019, check the following link:
The feminist tech exchange safety reboot modules podcasts
The month is August, the year is 2018, am in Nepal for the feminist tech exchange (FTX) convening. My first time in Asia and I must say it was an amazing experience. The meeting was a four-day exchange with feminist trainers and facilitators working on digital security and engaged in building stronger and more resilient movements in a digital age. After the convening the Association for progressive communication (APC) who were the conveners of this meeting floated a grant. The participants were given an opportunity to apply for this grant. And come up with creative ideas around feminist digital security. I applied for the grant and my idea was to localize the feminist tech exchange (FTX) safety reboot modules through podcasts! Yes podcasts. Why podcasts one may ask? Well before I answer that let me give a brief introduction about the FTX training modules, their purpose and who their for. FTX safety Reboot is a training curriculum made up of several modules for trainers who work with women’s rights and sexual rights activists to use the internet safely, creatively and strategically. It is a feminist contribution to the global response to digital security capacity building and enables trainers to work with communities to engage technology with pleasure, creativity and curiosity. It is for trainers working with women’s rights and sexual rights activists on digital safety. Trainers should be familiar with the obstacles and challenges faced where misogyny, censorship and surveillance are restricting activists’ freedom of expression and ability to share information, create alternative economies, build communities of solidarity and express desires. Safety Reboot explores how the online spaces are occupied, how women are represented, how discourses and norms that contribute to discrimination and violence can be countered.
Back to the question of why I choose podcasting, to localize the modules. Well first and foremost podcasting is just one of the most engaging forms of content delivery. Podcasts is basically storytelling in the digital age, and who doesn’t love a good story? I know I do. It’s so important in this technology integrated era that we are living in today, to take advantage of the digital platforms to tell stories, our stories because if we don’t tell our stories who will?. Storytelling is about transporting your listeners to a world they had no idea existed, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t lose them along the way. Actually storytelling has been in existed for centuries. From the Bible being the greatest story ever written to Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet. (Thank me later for jogging your mind). And what better way than podcasts to localize the feminists’ tech exchange safety reboot modules. I was very excited when my idea went through and it was now time to implement the idea. Have you heard of the saying easier said than done? Or in this case easier proposed than implemented? That was the space I was in. Actually I was the poster child for that statement, with this idea. But they say until you are out of your comfort zone, you will never know what you are capable of.
I started with the process of familiarizing myself with the process of creating a podcast, by listening to different podcasts and different tutorials on how to go about it. I then booked my first session in the studio. Let me just say I had assumed since am in the broadcasting industry it was going to be a walk in the park. I mean I work for a media house and we are in the business of broadcasting. So why would the production of podcast be rocket science to me? Let’s just say I was a bit wrong, underline the word a bit. I must admit my first session was challenging. You see with podcasts you assume just because it’s audio it’s just a matter of going in the studio and recording and getting out. On the contrary a lot is involved. Your listeners can pick up on your intonation, the emotion in your voice hence apart from you have to be prepared both mentally and psychologically. For someone who has not done podcasting, it’s good to know that it’s not easy, however it gets better with every episode. Let me replace the word better with interesting.
My first module was on online gender based violence, a topic that is very close to my heart. This module is about guiding participants through the issues relating to online gender-based violence – its root causes, how violence plays out on the internet, the continuum of violence that women, women-identified and queer identities experience online and offline, and its impact. The magic of FTX safety reboot modules is that a lot of group activities is incorporated in all their modules. This makes them more exciting and intriguing to the participants. And that’s the thing about incorporating activities in a training it keeps the participants more alert, and it also arouses their curiosity. After the first episode of the podcast was edited and ready to be aired I uploaded it to my Sound Cloud account and I also uploaded it on YouTube. The reason I choose two different platforms is to cater for the preferences of different audiences. The feedback I got after the first one went on air was very positive. It just fueled my desire and passion to keep going (not that I was going to stop anyway). That’s the thing about positive comments they keep you going and make you want to do better.
My second module was on creating space spaces online. This module is all about making the online space safe for the most vulnerable groups, facilitating learning and building capacity on creating safe online spaces, specifically for at-risk groups and individuals like women and sexual rights activists. I must say this was way much easier than the first one. Let’s say i was getting the hang of it!
The third module was about the “mobile safety”. In this module we work with participants to share strategies and tactics for using their mobile phones more safely in situations and contexts where they live in. How can we keep our phones safe knowing that our phones nowadays are basically our mini laptops.
Last but not least was self- care. Self-care is not a module. However the reason why included it was because it was really discussed during the FTX convening in Nepal. And thought I it was such an important issue that needed to be discussed. And just in a blink of an eye I was done, and I had to wrap up the project. The podcasts offered a comprehensive picture of different views and opinions on each module. And that’s the magic of podcasting. I must say it was a very interesting journey and truly an eye opener. This project would not have been possible without the generous funding of the Association for Progressive communication (APC). Below are the links to the podcasts.
Both on sound cloud and YouTube. Kindly listen to them, share and give me your feedback.
Cecilia Maundu is a Specialist in gender digital security training and consultant with a focus on training women on how to stay safe online. She is also a broadcast journalist, as well as a User experience trainer, (UX). Collecting user information feedback and sharing it with developers all in the quest of making technology usable for digital security trainers and human rights activists. She is also the current elected secretary general of the International association of Women in radio and television.
Twitter: @ceciliamaundu | LinkedIn: cecilia maundu
Writing is not simple, frankly a difficult task to regularly be able to story tell. Any writer would like to have a concise, complete, up to date and reliable record. In order to get that record they have to do proper research, read and re-read before they get a first draft.
African liberation, the realization of African nationalists’ dreams seem farfetched. Africa has never been the continent that Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Frantz Fanon wished it to be.
In the preamble of the promulgated 2010 constitution of the Republic of Kenya, it commits to nurture and protect the well-being of the individuals, the family, communities and the nation at large. Therefore, the states through elected and nominated representatives are mandated to ensure that Kenya is a better place to be –a safe haven. However, this has not been the case. More…
As we settle back to our work flow, in this new year. I can’t help but think of the circus that occurred during my transit to the village for the holidays.
- Drivers on phone or operating vehicle radio most of the time
One day as I was traveling from the village back to the city and was privileged to seat next to the driver of transline shuttle. For the first 4 hours, the driver was on phone more than all the passengers combined. He was either making a call, receiving a call, texting or reading a text message. While off his phone, the focus shifted to either changing radio channels, trying to search music from his phone and back to phone calls. It was a concern for me and decided to post it on Facebook and reactions received was that this was not something unique to that particular driver but a problem with shuttle drivers. A week later, I decided to use Guardian shuttle to Kisumu and it was the same trend. Distraction is a major cause of accidents on our roads.
- Drivers hitting the target
As Christmas drew close, demand on transport increased and drivers got trapped into making money without considering the regulations. For instance, one driver making unprecedented 900k within 24 hours with most of them making those trips from 19th to 24th December and the same will be expected in January as the same people will be rushing back to report to work. How? A driver would start the trip by 6am in Nairobi to Kisii (300km) and leave Kisii by 2pm for Nairobi and finally have the last trip back to Kisii. That same driver will leave Kisii very early even with five passengers because filling a shuttle then was not possible if they had to make the trips and there was no waiting in Nairobi as passengers were already waiting, as one driver that I spoke to mentioned. Fatigue is among the causes of accidents regularly mentioned by the police. SACCOs can regulate just how many trips a driver can make.
- Police mounting roadblocks
Do they even serve their purpose? Driver’s comradeship demanded that they informed their colleagues if there were roadblocks mounted and therefore some would change route or reduce speed for those who were over speeding. More inspiring was the fact that motorists have devised an online application updated by drivers on roadblocks to inform the road users and therefore they are able to plan accordingly whether to reduce speed or change route. Therefore, police must now embrace use of technology, invest on working their relationship with the public and invest in intelligent policing. Additionally, these very roadblocks are cash cows for the police. For instance, from Kisii to Oyugis is a distance of 25k with 5 roadblocks. All 14 seater public transport vehicles (matatus) carried more than twenty passengers with introduction of a temporary board joining right and left seats to accommodate additional passengers, locally known as ‘sambaza’ while others hanging on the door. All of them are stopped by the police and left to proceed after hefty greetings between police and the conductor or a simple salute as conductor drops Ksh 50 shillings note. According to one conductor, the police will demand for money whether you have 14 or 30 passengers and their portion is Ksh 50. So you better carry more to take care of their cost otherwise the vehicle will make nothing. If you don’t give then you will forever battle cases in court which is unnecessary.
- Not reaching the destination one paid for
Oversea bus made it a routine to drop people destined to Katito in Oyugis until one day local rights activist aka boda boda teamed up and forced them to complete the journey. Passengers were returned back into the bus and the bus forced to complete the journey or face the music, they complied. Passengers from the village to Nairobi were not spared either, people with luggage which could have easily been carried by bus freely were being charged or forced to send them as a parcel hence introducing another inconvenience of collecting them a day after. What if items were perishable and could easily go bad?
What did you notice on the roads during the holiday season?
Written by Ken Ogembo – Program Manager at Siasa Place
A lot of us grew up being told to either be quiet or leave the room when the grownups were speaking. And it is no surprise that our modern day politicians adopted the same lingo. They consistently tell Kenyans, who pay taxes and vote them in to either be quiet or leave the room. In most cases, they have been kicked out of the room or denied access to the building where important decisions about their lives are made.
We know we are not in that room when we see pictures of Kenyan athletes sleeping on the floor in foreign airports; see the ever increasing unemployment rates and decreasing standard of living. Mind you, they never fail to prepare us for these unbearable shifts by constantly telling us to brace ourselves for tough times.
So, what does being in the room look like? What would Kenya look like if it worked for Kenyans? Who are Kenyans without the constant gas lighting from its government, threats to comply with government orders and directives, chaos on our roads, fear of carcinogenic substances in our food?
Who are we when we are not struggling to survive, to breathe? What does Kenyan freedom look like, what is the Kenyan dream? I refuse to believe in the “resilience that produces maturity gospel” preached by our politicians. I am not a zebu cow and neither is Kenya. I reject the resilient rhetoric that makes us comfortable in our misery. I reject headlines that sentence us to: “Brace yourselves for higher fuel prices, higher price of bread, higher electricity bills,” higher this, higher that… I reject it in all of its silencing, its manipulative finality and its hopelessness. I reject resilience because we cannot dream and be resilient in the face of misery at the same time. Nothing better comes when we collectively agree to be resilient, just more things to be resilient about. It feels like people sit in a room, in our absence of course, and come up with things that demand our resilience that will eventually kill us because we cannot hold our breath any longer.
Kenyans are record breakers, inventors of M-pesa among many other things. We are the funniest people alive, see how Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) shut down the internet whenever we need to. Our artists are a constant reminder of what Kenyan beauty is and can be. When you think about the beauty of this country, think about what we could be if our government conspired with its citizens to help them prosper. We have a government that cares too deeply about how Kenya looks like to investors and tourists but does not seem to care about how Kenyans feel about being Kenyan.
Article 1(1) of Our Constitution states that all sovereign power belongs to the people. That means that we have every right to be in the room. Kenya should and must work for the Kenyan people. How do we take back this power? We must interrogate individuals who run for office and vote in leaders we know mean well for us. We must imagine leadership beyond dynasties and familiar personalities. We must take the time to study government structures and actively engage in government processes and hold them accountable to the people and the Constitution.
When we meet the Kenyans who have dedicated their lives to rejecting resilience, let us not ask them to fight on our behalf or speak for us. The work of imagining and working towards a Kenya that works for all of us cannot be delegated. It is not enough for us to become admirers of their words, their courage, and their convictions. We must all be willing and ready to ask the question, “I see what you are doing, how can I help? What can I do for this win? Then put in the work. A Kenya that works for all of us must be worked on
by every Kenyan.
I wish you a year and a decade that doesn’t give you reasons to be resilient. I wish you courage that consistently denounces survival.
Written by Wanjiru Nguhi
Co-Founder of Mwafrika Mwenzangu | Lawyer | Political Strategist | Writer | Feminist
The Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) has quashed the appointment of Ms. Mary Munene Wambui on Friday, 17th January 2019 as the Chair of the National Employment Authority (NEA) on grounds the gazette notice was illegal and unconstitutional and therefore null and void.
Delivering the ruling Justice Onesmus Makau directed the appointing authority to adhere to the Constitution and other laws including NEA act if they’ll be making fresh appointments to the office.
Below is our press statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 17, 2020. Siasa Place and PAWA 254 has today welcomed the decision by the Employment and Labor Relations Court (ELRC) in Nairobi to quash the appointment of former Othaya MP, Ms. Mary Wambui’s as the Chairperson of the National Employment
While delivering the ruling on the petitions that were filed challenging her appointment in October, 2019, Justice Onesimus Makau noted that Ms. Wambui was unqualified and that the gazettement of her appointment was irregular, unprocedural and thus unconstitutional.
He further directed that the appointing authority who is the Cabinet Secretary for Labor should follow the set out procedures and guidelines in the Constitution and the National Employment Authority (NEA) Act on the appointment of a person to the position of the chairperson of the board. He also issued a permanent injunction barring Ms. Wambui from being appointed to the post.
“The decision is a victory for the young people of Kenya given that the spirit behind the legislation was to create a platform to address the youth unemployment in the country.” says Siasa Place Executive Director, Ms Nerima Wako-Ojiwa.
Ms Wako has further called upon the Executive to take the issues facing young people seriously noting that unemployment coupled with increasing cost of living is impacting the youth negatively. She also noted that the win is big victory for the rule of law.
“I welcome the judgement by Justice Makau J for upholding the rule of law. Young people’s voice has been heard today and it has set precedence for all public appointments. Youth issues must be taken seriously.” Mbuki Mburu , PAWA 254
In October 2019, Youth serving organizations, Siasa Place and PAWA 254 were enjoined with Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association who had petitioned against the appointment of Ms. Mary Wambui Munene.
– Ends –
For more information, contact Communication Officer, Siasa Place | Tel. 0757840552 | Email: support @siasaplace.com
Also find a link to view the Judgement Petition No. 190 of 2019 – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NB8KcT-yYwtbtwQzzsaDboG190ADL0bn/view?usp=sharing
We live in a country where we anticipate, entertain and pay homage to corruption without guilt nor second thoughts. The integrity as well as the system’s sense of duty has been compromised and is vulnerable to attacks from people entrusted with responsibility. It is very unfortunate and clear that the political class is whining and fussing about the fight against corruption in a bid to secure their egotistic future ambitions. The war on corruption has been nothing but a witch hunt, an expose expedition where figures are quoted and the case will eventually be blown away by a magic wand. Surely, the burden is for us the people to carry, no aid or remedy is coming anytime soon.
When adamant, persistent people convene towards a common cause, the success rate is significantly substantial. A classic scenario is when issues went haywire for Algerians in terms of governance. They came out relentlessly in unison from all walks of life to call for the successful resignation of their former head of state Abdul Aziz Bouteflika. Across our boarder in a historical twist of events against all odds Omar AL Bashir was toppled through protest after weeks of demonstrations. The most intriguing part in the midst of all these is that the youth took the frontline in shunning despicable acts as well as being actively involved in the uprising. Corruption is ripping our society apart, it’s upon us the youth to rise up as one and take the most appropriate action as enshrined in our constitution.
Time has clearly stated that as Kenyans we are very forgetful, ignorant and don’t hold leaders accountable for their actions instead we mold an excellent audience that entertains mediocrity. The above conditions provide a lucrative environment for underhand ideas to take precedence as well as illegal businesses. For instance, today you part away with millions of public funds and you are branded an enemy of the people. Ironically, tomorrow you come with the millions for campaigns, sane citizens overwhelmingly hail your claim and elect you into office to loot billions while the same electorate languish in poverty. I challenge the youth in each and every county to ask questions, demand progress and keep their respective leaders on the watch list.
Finally, corruption goes far and beyond the political class to other fields of specialization. The perpetrators and architects of these heinous acts of corruption thrive and live among us; from distinguished public institutions, private entities to day to day activities of the Kenyan population at large. It is mandatory to embrace professionalism as well as observe ethical codes of conduct when exercising your expertise. In order to kick corruption out of our line of duty, young enthusiastic Kenyan practitioners should think differently, beyond greed for ill earned riches and wealth. We have an incredible future to orchestrate and a disgusting present to restructure, our reputation as a country is at stake
Written by Burns Noah an undergraduate at Kenyatta University pursuing BSc Petroleum Engineering
One will agree with me in one way or the other that, the drought and hunger situation being experienced in our nation currently is not a calamity or an emergency as being treated and mentioned by our so called leaders. It is something that we see almost annually.
Turkana county is one of the most affected counties with drought and food insecurity. Many a times, Turkana has suffered starvation frequently, not because they are lazy, not because during voting they are busy taking alcohol until they are not sober to elect, but because the leaders have a major reason behind vying for positions to serve the people but with a motive to sit over their rights and loot in the name of implementing non-existent development .
A hard fact that prevails up to date is that Turkana would be a rich county if the people would be left to extract their oils and sell as a right of ownership, but the so called leaders have sought to rule over them by making them to be beggars just to offer their resources in exchange of basic needs that their leaders have denied them. In the first place, the starvation in Turkana should be termed as a crime against humanity because it is orchestrated by the leaders who have deprived them energy and voice of unity to call for justice.
Many of the leaders who are calling for help, have subjected their people to, dams that were to be constructed and have taken over a decade and were fully paid for. These same dams have instances of requesting for more funding due to unforeseen circumstances, most qualified engineers for such projects should always give such estimations from the start. This makes it very clear who the tender winners always are.
Leaders have always been in this menace for years and even allocated funds for such emergencies, but funny enough, the county officials could not identify the national crisis. They instead responded by still organizing for cultural events. This puts it clear the kind of people we give responsibility to manage our funds and development plans.
I feel that as Kenyans, we have got too many lessons and events to learn from to make us not wait and see us suffer in the name of who we elected. We need to take precaution to be in the forefront correcting them even if the person in power is your close relative, remember that power is left here on earth you never know who will lead your children after you leave. Every county has their priorities and leaders too have theirs, these leaders will always want to support the needy to get attention on social media and the general public, in fact I encourage the public to device a way to generate support for themselves without leaving a space for such greedy leaders to take advantage of the situations.
Written by Victor Sijenyi. Victor is the Chair at Kasarani Youth Empowerment Centre and a volunteer at OAYOUTH Kenya
Last year, I was contesting for Miss Riara (my current institute of study) and all went well. In every pageant competition, the question and answer segment depending on your answers…will determine your chances of winning as either raised or lowered. What I mean is that they require brainy models. On this particular day, my question was, ‘What are the Big Four agenda?’ I knew I did not know the answer so there was literally no need of brainstorming. “Thank you for your question, I however don’t know the answer but I will go and research more on it” was how I probably framed my response.
I will skip the part where I consulted a friend afterwards who gave me answers from the tip of her tongue, very confidently. Thinking about it now, it is something funny that we would both laugh together about now, because she was not entirely right. After research, the following day I got to know the answer to the question posed. With all confidence, allow me to rephrase the answer to the question posed, “Thank you for your question, my name is Mercy Kaponda and I am currently pursuing Business Administration. These are the big four agenda; Universal healthcare, manufacturing, affordable housing and food security”
Then it got me thinking, what is Food Security? The state of having reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable nutritious food. How do we attain Food security? Is it by producing more food or ensuring nearly zero waste of food or both? I’m here however, to talk on zero waste of food or rather minimal wastage of food. This in my opinion may lead to food security if the world’s population remains the same which might not be the case. Analysis has shown that 815 million people out of the 7.6 billion people in the world are malnourished with is about 1/10 of the world. Another study carried out by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology shows that 1/3 of the food produced goes to waste. Let us look at some of the statistics available, consumers in North America and Europe lose about 209-253 pounds of food annually per person and the average consumption is 4.7 pounds per person/day. I’ll be working out with the lower figure 209 pounds lost divide by 4.7 consumed daily is equivalent to 44 days which when multiplied by the total population of both N. America and Europe (1,043,067,530) is 46,383,215,695 days which is 127,077,303 years. Do I need to go on with the calculations?
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the population is 1,066,283,427. Statistics have shown that 1 out of 4 people in Sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished, which is approximately 299 million people. From my own analysis, the consumption rate of an African is 1.3 kilograms per person/day while the amount of food lost annually by the above is 6-11 kilograms. Working with the lower value 6 kilograms divide by 1.3 kilograms is equivalent to 4 days which when multiplied by the 767,283,427 non-malnourished people is 3,0691,133,708 days.
Here are a few tips to ensure minimum waste of food. Cook less and only what you need. I am a victim of cooking excessive food and putting it into the refrigerator and eventually throwing it away to the hens. Share food. Instead of throwing food away, share the food with your neighbor. I know this is awkward in these times, so why not share with a person on the street. Also, changing consumption behaviors such as discarding unappealing food which I am a huge victim. Food is meant to be eaten at the end of the day not to be perfect. To add to that, restaurants can opt for natural preservatives other than artificial ones as they are more effective and healthy. Using fresh ingredients also helps food last longer.
Lastly, I attended an event recently at a certain hotel. After everyone served and headed for their homes, the amount of food left was a lot which would all be thrown away. The hospitality industry should come up with ways for their customers to carry the food. Such hotels can give guidelines on how one can preserve the food and sign disclaimers with their customers in case the food goes bad in their hands. I believe we can all try one of these tips as the little steps is what matters; as the Chinese proverbs says, “One step at a time is good walking”
Written by Mercy Kaponda
Never has there been a need for digital security as the present time. When I embarked on a journey to become a digital security trainer, my mail goal was to help keep women and young girls safe online.
Four months since Railways bus terminus became my drop off here in the CBD. One noticeable aspect was the dents on public transport vehicles at the stage, which can only be associated to either inadequate transport policy or failure in the implementation.
With the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Kenyans foresaw a new nation. We did hope that it was just a matter of time for Kenya to progress from a developing to a developed nation. A new Kenya was indeed dawning.
In the preamble of the promulgated 2010 constitution of the Republic of Kenya, it commits to nurture and protect the well-being of the individuals, the family, communities and the nation at large. Therefore, the states through elected and nominated representatives are mandated to ensure that Kenya is a better place to be –a safe haven. However, this has not been the case. More…