So. As it stands it seems most of the country does not want to go to NASA’s Canaan. At least more than 8 million of them. On the other hand, another 6 million probably want to. So what to do? As we await SCOK’s decision on the presidential elections outcome, let’s ponder a few questions. How does the country move forward in a way that ensures everybody is happy especially after Kisumu, Mathare and Kibera experienced post election violence meted out by state operatives in the form of quelling ‘looting’ and other ‘criminal’ activities ensuing after Ouru and SuperPanga were declared duly re-elected by Chivuitu and Shakhalaga? How does Joshua save face and face Canaanites? How does he prepare for his exit from Kenya’s political stage? How does his constituency prepare for a post-Odinga dispensation?

Lets close our eyes for a minute and savour Canaan in our mouths like a good wine. What is Canaan? What does it mean to be in Canaan? What is in Canaan? What is this proverbial milk and honey deciphered in our present?  I am imagining it could be accountable leadership, active citizenry, decent housing, decent wages, good and affordable healthcare and education, clean water, adequate security and food security, proper living standards, a good road and railway network, a clean and healthy environment, a functioning public transport system, recreational parks and the odd city cycling circuits. You know, the kind of stuff that only a very privileged few enjoy. This is what Canaan would taste like to me before I opened my eyes.

Now it may sound crazy that a majority of Kenyans would not want that, for whatever reason. So, for those that would want such a thing as Canaan, how would they still attain it? Well, thank goodness for devolution.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you Canaan. Which I stumbled upon quite by accident as I was researching Siaya and Kisumu counties’ contribution to Kenya’s GDP. As contained in this report done with the support of  the good fellows over Deloitte and Ford Foundation and with the participation of the Council of Governors secretariat (I think). Aptly named The Lake Region Economic Blueprint: A Better Life.  Per it, this Economic Blueprint “is designed to guide development efforts by leveraging existing assets, addressing constraints and defining key steps that leaders and 10 million citizens of the region can take to transform the shared vision of prosperity into reality.” The counties that constitute the Lake Region in this blueprint are Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya and Vihiga. This means these counties must invest in establishing a climate that promotes good governance, public participation, business and investment, housing and healthcare. This can be done through bilateral investment partnerships with other corporations, cities, counties and countries (there is still a lot of debate about the impact of such partnerships on development). But more importantly, through multi-lateral partnerships with other like-minded counties which share common geographical, socio-economic and even cultural assets and aspirations.  In other words, each other. It is said Kericho, Bomet and Trans Nzoia wouldn’t mind being part of it, but given the recent elections shenanigans, I doubt there will be political will.

I imagine Joshua can still make a Canaan out of the region. First, I want to say it’s a good thing Nyong’o is Kisumu Governor despite the questionable primaries. Ranguma was largely ineffectual and superficial. I mean, what was up with that etiquette and fine dining thing costing hundreds of millions? I have gone on record and said severally that Rasanga, the Siaya county boss is easily the silliest public service official alive, and so might be a threat to this grandiose Canaan makeover. So even before this makeover begins, a couple of things must happen. Firstly and most importantly, Joshua should step away from the national stage and focus on this new Canaan (assuming SCOK rules in Ouru’s favor). He must realize that he has severally led the cow to the river and the cow has simply refused to quench its thirst. Secondly, Rasanga must stop being silly and realize the stakes are high and people no longer want to spend 58 million bob to celebrate Obama’s homecoming. And no more carcinogenic wheelbarrows. And website commissioning.  Thirdly, the counties’ legislative agenda must reflect this new reality – meaning MCAs no longer have to prioritize gawking at oranges growing in the Israeli desert or waste recycling technology in Berlin.

Joshua should bring his political influence to bear on the lake region county governments and work with them to attract the best talent, develop strategies that dovetail into the Vision 2030 agenda as well as the Lake Region Economic Blueprint. We must embrace the CBA between KMPDU and make it the cornerstone of revamping healthcare provision in the lake region. Joshua should apply his standing to leverage investment from Africa and beyond, to build low income housing and investment in tourism infrastructure. We have an opportunity to look at youth development, agriculture, fishing, sports and tourism anew, from the perspective of countless opportunities presented by this blueprint.

And once this hard work is done, 15 years from now, when the rest of Kenya is still straddled with corruption and lethargy, electing thieves of public resources into public office; when women are still dying of childbirth and babies die blue because there is no oxygen in government hospital theatres and ‘mobile’ ‘clinics’ still lie moribund in Government yards; when the mighty and wealthy still have their brand of justice different from Wanjiku’s; when government sports officials still travel first class with harems to international events and our hero athletes beg and scrape for air fare and a decent hotel room; when the price of a liter of milk is that of oil, and a kilo of sugar that of ivory; when the government says maize from Kenyan farmers is too expensive and buys the Mexicans’ and South Africans’ at triple cost; when citizens rights are still being trampled on at will, their police guns and truncheons set on them, ferociously doing its master’s bidding, Kenyans will look yonder and see Canaan.

But, does Joshua see it too?


Inside Kenya: Chapter Six

Where to begin. Sigh. History is a granary. On stilts. With only an unholy alliance of a piece of plastic or metal sheeting, mud, dung and wattle stopping evil rodents from consuming its precious cargo. It is a triumph of hope and resilience. A symbol of faith in humanity. History is a treatise on faith in humanity. History is locked up in our bellies, nourishing our hungry minds with lessons of what not to do. Or become. Kenya is no granary. There is no history in its belly. Or mind.

From the misty forests harboring MauMau freedom fighters in Kenya’s hinterlands to the gray and sterile Lancaster Conference tables to the cold Nyayo torture chambers. From the haze and fumes of tear-gas laden Saba Saba rallies and the crunching of riot police truncheons on hopes and bones of protesters. From the repeal of section 2A to the murder and mayhem of 2007 and the promulgation of the new constitution, Kenya’s history has hungered for better. In 2012, armed with what has been touted as one of the more progressive constitutional frameworks, Kenya was on the brink of making history once again. Making a break with the past and rising up to assume our meaningful place in the world. At least in Africa. The newly appointed Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga was considered the most important person in Kenya. And rightly so. For it was his province to ensure that the brand new constitution, especially its Chapter 6, the troublesome one on Integrity and Leadership, passed the test when the time for it do so came. And it did. Pretty rapidly. His courts were to make a ruling on the suitability of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to run for the two highest offices in the land. You see, these 2 chaps had already been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on horrendous charges associated with the 2007 murder and mayhem. Well, that ended pretty well, no?.

Kenya exercised its sovereignty and Kenyans their right to choose their leaders. The consequences aside, this single act undermined Chapter 6 and all the hopes that come with it. You see, the rest of the constitution is really useless if the leadership and integrity threshold has been significantly lowered. In a sense, when the executive is perceived not to have moral authority to talk about leadership and integrity or when they do people fall about in derisive laughter (I mean, what is the reaction every time the DP waxes lyrical about government’s commitment to fight corruption?), it becomes a serious governance issue. Why? Because it percolates downwards and before you know it, we have Treasury mandarins who can’t tell a cash balance from revenue and think a missing 140B bob is not a big deal, Cabinet Secretaries who purchase pianos and condoms and 8,000 bob biros for their offices and get sweet nothings whispered in their ears in return.

Guess what happens next?  Governors spending 2 million bob on curtains, renovating 8 million bob hospital gates, buying 100,000 bob wheelbarrows, installing 600,000 bob plus Adobe software, opening Facebook accounts for 2 million bob, buying speedboats to “fight” terror in landlocked counties….ad nauseum. With reckless abandon. And when nothing happens to these 47 feudal lords, guess what happens? MPigs and Senators waddle into the fray and engage in food and mileage wars. And launch footbridges and electricity poles! A record 29 out of 67 members of the Senate have joined the catering committee! Some even went on a benchmarking trip abroad to gain more insight on the quality of food to be served in Parliament and Senate!! Meanwhile, the cases of falsified mileage claims from MPs abound as is the scandal surrounding MPs who continue to draw salaries years after leaving Parliament.

Not to be outdone and in excellent synchronised cue, the 1,450 Members of County Assemblies (read over-glorified councillors) go on wild junkets in Germany, Israel, Japan and the Far East to learn how to shell groundnuts, graze cows, breastfeed, bake cookies, thread eyebrows and pee on sticks, and bushes. A couple of European and African nations actually banned the poor sods from contaminating their environments. Meanwhile Number 1 was racking up frequent flyer miles of his own (much to the envy of the MCAs) and issuing title deeds and warnings of dire action against corrupt public officials as Number 2 was busy traversing the Kenyan hinterlands, clutching brown bags full of cash to distribute at harambees for constructing churches (in direct contravention of the constitution). Incidentally, how many churches must Kenyans build? Is there such a huge shortage of churches that the national spiritual indicator falls short of the global ones? Is spirituality one of the SDGs?

Billions of our bobs  have gone to waste as a direct failure to meet the leadership and integrity threshold. Kenyans are dying of cancer and childbirth because there is no money to purchase radiotherapy machines and build theatres. You now see the import of that ruling? Willy, other than digitizing court records, modernizing Milimani Law Courts and e-enhancing court processes, history will still judge you harshly as the guy whose hands got tied (some of us did not see the rope) when Kenya needed him the most, akin to Pontius Pilate who dealt Barabas the get out of jail card and condemned Jesus to the cross. Your courts felled the Chapter 6 tree. And failed Kenya. Happy New Year.

Dedan Kimathi photo courtesy of


The Inside Out Land: Part 2

Many dreamy years ago, when I and many of you were still naive and uncorrupted by grown up stuff, a near-extinct animal called public service existed, and thrived. Agricultural extension officers traversed the land and interacted with small scale farmers. We taught the Singaporean civil service the strings, back when Kenya and Singapore GDPs were almost at par. Our national intelligence service was reputably one of the best in Africa if not the world. There were drugs in pharmacies of dispensaries and hospitals. National ID cards and passports were there for the taking. Pensions and retirement benefits for career civil servants who had given their all for a better Kenya were readily available. The civil service was this hallowed calling, where only the best went to and contributed immensely towards development of the nation. Wikipedia tells me that public service is that which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing provision of services. Wikipedia also says civil service can refer to either a branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed (hired) on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations; or the body of employees in any government agency apart from the military, which is a separate extension of any national government. There is nothing which screams public service louder than the police, nurses and doctors, lecturers, teachers, firefighters, game rangers, prison warders, immigration, water, roads, housing and transport. Security however is the loudest screamer.

Kenya Police Force. Kenya Police Reserve. National Police Service. IPOA. National Police Service Commission. Johnston Kavuludi. It’s been a quite a journey from the days of the Colonial Police, as depicted below, of a parade of “askaris” in front of the police headquarters in Mombasa (ca 1900) (photo courtesy of Hans- Martin Sommer, M.A, Research Scientist for a research paper on The History of the Police in Kenya commissioned by the National Museums of Kenya in 2007). The colonial police has acquired many different shapes and forms as has its mother department. Internal Security and Provincial Administration had a colonial tint to it. Ministry of the Interior painted a picture of a savage territory overrun with heathen savages who needed to be put down (secretly, I think this is the unofficial security government posture judging by the way they execute (no pun intended) their mandate as happily captured in the photo below from an unnamed source). Enter Homeland security. Kinda has a nice ring to it and evokes images of supercool government security agents with supercool security gizmos battling all forms of evil to keep citizens safe from harm. Unfortunately, these 2 photos, 115 years apart tell a different story. A tragic one.

Askari CGWl-OSXEAASYEh Above: A parade of “askaris” in front of the police headquarters in Mombasa (ca 1900) (photo courtesy of Hans- Martin Sommer)

Below: Flogging of suspects in Yumbis, Garissa, Kenya, May 2015

In 2015, in Kenya, almost everything that can kill you will and does. Open gaping manholes on the streets, buildings jackknifing midway through construction, getting knifed down unlit streets for a purse or a cap, giving birth, traffic accidents, floods and famine, malaria, HIV, cancer, politics and very lately the new king of death on the block, terrorism. 2015 has been a particularly gory year and hundreds have lost their lives to terror. So, why is Kenya who only a few years back was being referred to as the “island of peace” whose neighbours were falling apart, falling apart? A very simplistic reason could be that there is no more public service ethos. As PLO Lumumba aptly describes it, Kenya has adopted a new ethos, “Sonkonization”, the worship of money or wealth. Regardless of how it is made or where it comes from. Especially irregardless. Everyone wants more at whatever cost, and public service is the fastest avenue to RichesLand.

There have been several reports of folk quitting high paying jobs in other sectors to join the civil service, with its low pay and unlikely career progression potential. And then there is the police recruitment exercise which has become a national obsession. It seems everybody wants to join the police in Kenya, with its low pay, hazard, appalling living and work conditions. In fact millions of shillings exchange pockets during this exercise in bribes for a chance to make the cut. It’s a no brainer why. Gravy train. And so they look away and line their pockets and buy 0.8 acre plots and build hideous concrete structures with concrete walls and buy second hand Japanese vehicles. My problem in this context isn’t the mindless avarice. It is how, 115 years later, we still recruit security officers to offer perhaps the most critical and sensitive public service. Security. We make it obvious that the best are not needed, and only the most desperate unemployed not-so-academically-inclined athletic youth with a perfect dentition have a chance. Double that chance if your sponsors can put together a bribe for the selecting officers. Then we expect to hopefully turn this lot into supercool security agents securing the homeland from harm.

Police Recruitment Teeth inspection during police recruitment, 2015

So, how has the role of police evolved in 52 years since independence to respond to global threats of terrorism, cyber security, evolution of human rights & democracy and illegal wildlife trade? Can our police respond adequately to these emerging trends in development of civil societies? Shouldn’t there be a more efficient and smart way of recruiting police officers capable of responding to these new threats other than counting their teeth, measuring their height and timing how long and fast they run? What about entry exams? Why can’t we recruit officers from an already existing and highly effective facility like the National Youth Service whose reason for joining public service was actually that? What about a professional program to recruit the best programmers, engineers, lawyers, forensic experts into the public security service? The public security posture should radically change from that of colonial askaris tasked with the responsibility of providing guard services and beating natives into compliance to a public security organization professionally run, staffed and equipped. That also means it’s time to de-politicize and by a large extension de-ethnicize security management. No more horse trading – a Maasai for a Maasai CS for Internal Security. For example. It also means more resources for the cops. How can we say we are serious about fighting terror when we have a measly 13 aircraft for the police, half of which are grounded for lack of spares? How tragically moronic must we collectively be? It also means we have to be able to integrate bio-data into a national mainframe database for fingerprints, photos and names, and embrace the use of digital technology like internet, CCTVs and drones to help cut down the cost of intel and 10,000 cadets. Having the IG on twitter isn’t enough. Surely Kenya can be able to do this. The president recently launched the command and control center of a new police surveillance system and this is indicative of the potential to transform public security service. We definitely have the resources, judging by the billions of public shillings regularly featuring on headlines as having been stolen, lost or misappropriated. Oh, and it means treating our security personnel humanely. How can we expect a police officer who lives in a hovel and survives on a monthly pittance and zero hazard pay to uphold the rights of a suspect or citizens when all he understands is being treated like an animal? Or not to engage in sleaze to make ends meet? Probably engaged in sleaze in order to get into the police service in the first place! Lastly, it means we have to do away with police stations, tucked away from the eyes of the prying public, dens of iniquity where all manner of evil reigns supreme. Huruma police station comes to mind. Why can’t police stations be part and parcel of the communities they serve? Saw a very interesting model in Awasi, Kisumu where a police station or post was located in a new commercial building smack in the center of the town! The next step would be to equip such stations and link them with the new police command and control center.

Remember. Security begins with you. Amen

Word of the Week: Term Limits – this could be Africa’s saving grace and should apply to all elective posts. Imagine a world where you can only suffer elected fools for a given amount of time. Might give this country the turn-around it needs by dismantling old boy networks, cronyism, apathy, lethargy, sameness.

The Inside Out Land: Part 1

@sunnysunwords, an interesting read which has quoted you!

SISI Simpletons

It is the year of our lord 2015. Bloggers blog. Poachers poach. Preachers preach. Politicians politic. Masses massacred. Media mediocrity. Beaches bereft. Corpulent commissions. Sorry senators. Compliant citizenry. Grabbers grab. Drum barrels. Roundabouts. Floods. Streetlights. Red light. Green light. Yellow light.Traffic jam. In the city. Kenya special.

As Sunny Bindra (@sunnysunwords) eloquently portends on Twitter, in this part of the world, people die when there is no rain, and probably more people die when there is rain. Drought and floods take turns and draw bets on who between them is going to kill more Kenyans. 52 years later, with fairly predictable weather patterns, and advances in science including irrigation, livestock husbandry, seed technology, farming techniques and other innovation and technological advances,not to mention the human resource available, Kenya still launches(!!!) hunger campaigns like Kenyans for Kenyans, fundraise millions of shillings and foodstuff donations, then flag (!!!) off the food…

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The Inside Out Land: Part 1

It is the year of our lord 2015. Bloggers blog. Poachers poach. Preachers preach. Politicians politic. Masses massacred. Media mediocrity. Beaches bereft. Corpulent commissions. Sorry senators. Compliant citizenry. Grabbers grab. Drum barrels. Roundabouts. Floods. Streetlights. Red light. Green light. Yellow light.Traffic jam. In the city. Kenya special.

As Sunny Bindra (@sunnysunwords) eloquently portends on Twitter, in this part of the world, people die when there is no rain, and probably more people die when there is rain. Drought and floods take turns and draw bets on who between them is going to kill more Kenyans. 52 years later, with fairly predictable weather patterns, and advances in science including irrigation, livestock husbandry, seed technology, farming techniques and other innovation and technological advances,not to mention the human resource available, Kenya still launches(!!!) hunger campaigns like Kenyans for Kenyans, fundraise millions of shillings and foodstuff donations, then flag (!!!) off the food truck convoys, in full glare of unquestioning media cameras to the hungry receptive mouths of Northern Kenya. Unsurprisingly, there are cases of the food donations and money raised not reaching the intended targets. The World Food Program (WFP) also has a full time food distribution program serving the Northern corridor, an indictment of the inability of Kenya to feed its Northern subjects. Can we really not? Is it deliberate? Or are Government policies, priorities and actions inside out?

Then along come the rains. And predictable chaos. Streets in major towns flood either because some idiot of a roads contractor did not factor in the drainage system or blatantly bribed an official to look the other way and not demand it. This also puts professional organizations like The Engineers Registration Board of Kenya and The Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) into question. Do they not have professional standards to uphold? Over 5 people reportedly died in Bondo. Another 15 died in Narok. Perennial floods in Kisumu’s Kano plains are infamous. Thank goodness the Budalangi dykes seem to be holding. A bus was washed away in Mandera, claiming lives. Sections of Imara Daima Estate in Nairobi were marooned off, and thousands of Nairobians had to devise ingenious ways to get to work. All because city officials did not unblock the drainage on the roads. Meanwhile it is criminal to harvest rain water in Nairobi and many other towns. But it isn’t for negligent officers who collude with shoddy contractors to design roads without drainage and approve buildings in wetlands that cause the same rain water to kill Kenyans. The sad thing is even with all the flood water raging about, the faucets inside houses are dry. Too little water means death and too much water means more death and destruction. So, what really is the connection? Why are we as a people hopelessly unable to anticipate and plan adequately for basic everyday things like what to do when there is too little or too much water? Why is there not enough water in the taps of houses in Mombasa and Kisumu despite the fact they sit astride colossal water masses? Especially when the world is awash (pardon the pun) with working models which we can easily access with the click of a button?

If there ever was a thing that epitomises Kenya’s potential and the bureaucratic buffoonery standing in its way to greatness, it is our archaic driving licence. A horrible colonial relic which is a stark reminder of 52 years of public innovation inertia. There has been remarkable progress in the field of digital innovation, and there is an outbreak of cheap and accessible digital innovation applications. Indeed there is an M for everything, starting with Pesa, Shwari, Kopo, Soko, Biashara,name it. Not to mention the several electronic payment systems. There is a wide application of these digital innovations, which provide Kenyans more convenience for transactions but which primarily also significantly benefit institutions more than their clients. Take the E-Pay platform for paying parking fees in Nairobi, or Kiambu County Government’s e-platform for collecting revenue or the multiple pay-bill numbers. Both are brilliant ideas no doubt. The counter-narrative is that it enhances only one-way efficiency, that of the ability of the masses/subjects to pay or buy without providing avenues for feedback and accountability. How are the levies collected through such a platform utilized? How much was collected? What is the quality of the service? This is the problem with many of the so-called digital innovations. They rarely serve public interest but are sold as so. Recently, most banks and financial institutions in the country rolled out a massive bank card biometrics upgrade to enhance card security by introducing BVN with electronic chips technology. Meanwhile Kenyans walk about with the following odds and ends in their wallets and handbags – IDs, driving licences, voters cards, NHIF cards and NSSF cards. This begs the question, when will some bright Government chap figure out that with BVN chip technology, it will be possible to issue Kenyans one such card which has all these details? When will biometrics serve Kenyans? Other than money transfers, pay-bills and hash tags, how else is digital innovation improving quality of Kenyan lives? Will digital innovation liberate us from the antiquated Kenya driving licence? Somali and Tanzania have a biometric one for God’s sake!!

We are an inside out society, where what should be isn’t and what is shouldn’t be.

Word of the Week: I discovered a new term this week “contronym”, which is a word with 2 opposite meanings. For example “seeding” can mean planting or removing. Seeding the lawn would imply planting grass on the lawn, whereas seeding tomatoes means removing the seeds from the tomato when cooking. Many more examples exist like “oversight” and “sanction”. I am voting to have “public service” declared a contronym, in the Kenyan context.

#IAmKenya Essay Series – UNITY by Poeta Dennis

This is the third essay on this ongoing #IAmKenya Essay Series which highlights some of the outstanding pieces submitted by young people from Mathare, Kisauni and Changamwe on Cohesion, Diversity and Reconciliation. Why are they doing this? Well, they want to be considered to be volunteers in #IAmKenya, which aims to train 45 youth from these locations on film, photography and citizen journalism and use these new skills to promote cohesion among youth from different ethnic and political backgrounds in Kenya.

Poeta Dennis, from Mathare’s Huruma Area has the following to say….


“I strongly believe that to have peace, there must be war- you might be surprised right now but let me explain.

It may sound cliché, but we go verbal when we are angry and so we might utter what might hurt the receiver on the other end. This means that the truth comes out after the action of speaking while (sic) you are angry. The same with friendship, most of friends will tell you that they locked horns, hated each other in their first encounters before sealing the cake.

Before 2007-8 post election violence, most communities co-existed in harmony (that’s what they thought) until the violence erupted the real monsters in them that saw long time neighbors, friends, ethnic groups fight amongst each other. I was a victim of this as I faced my encounter with friends who wanted to circumcise me or dump me in Nairobi River because I refused to reveal my ethnic background. I always knew I belonged to one tribe – Kenya, but I was wrong.

Later on, I came to observe that after all the chaos and resettlement took its course, and now Mathare community wore a new face; boundaries were broken and the dominance of one tribe around that place as it was earlier was now changed to an all-ethnic settlement. This showed that there was pain and anger that was camouflaged in inside people’s hearts and it was only a matter of time before it erupted. Bloodshed and loss of lives, property and mistrust clouded people’s hearts with regrets for their actions, but they forgave the perpetrators but never forgot the incidences. This was a lesson well learnt and now we would look at our neighbour as a Kenyan and not a Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya etc. I am not championing for war in terms of bloodshed and killings, but war to act, lead, inspire, empower people to be the best they cannot just with words, but through creation of opportunities for employment.

Poverty is not the cause of societal vices but it is a major facilitator. I realized that tribalism doesn’t exist. The only tribe that exists in Kenya is that of the rich and the poor. Low income community members fought amongst themselves and upcountry residents too. But in the suburbs and posh areas of Kenya, they heard about the war on their TVs and radios.

Poeta has been selected to be a participant in #IAmKenya and we hope, will inspire many more young people to speak out for their communities. Visit!/projects/sisikamakenya for more information on this project or to donate to support it.

#IAmKenya Essay Series – Unity is Power by Abigael Mwanyiro

As promised, the essay series by young Kenyans who want to be volunteers in Community Media Trust’s #IAmKenya project continues. This is a media project that will train 45 young people in Mathare, Kisauni and Changamwe on film, photography and community journalism, and who will in turn utilise these acquired skills to promote cohesion, diversity and reconciliation among fellow young people in their communities. Incredulous sounding. Ambitious even. True. But what #IAmKenya hopes to do is be that tiny spark that is needed to open up people’s minds and hearts to a new way of thinking and being. By redefining the space for youth participation and expressionism.

This essay is written by 23 year old Abigael Mwanyiro from Kisauni, a Bachelor in Psychology graduate from Egerton University who is currently a volunteer at Family Health Options Kenya.

“Unity is Power”

“…… the living spirit embodied in our national motto , Harambee and perpetuated in the Nyayo philosophy of peace, love and unity”. Familiar words that our teachers ensured we stood in attention to and recited with strong emotions of devotion. Like we really even understood what we were actually saying at that tender age. Not forgetting the three stanzas in the National Anthem that was a must crammed essay come Mondays and Fridays. How we innocently vowed to dwell in unity, peace and liberty and to stand in one accord and build this nation together.

Funny enough however, how we easily forget these words of peace we used to recite back in the days. How easy we are nowadays to judge people in terms of their ethnic tribes and not due to their potentials or capabilities. For instance, an Omondi is expected to live in Kileleshwa and drive a limo and nothing less than that. OK, it is true that the 2007-2008 post-election violence scared the hell out of us. We saw the many years we had lived together as good neighbours and friends be easily thrown down the drain, but truth be told, we need each other to build this nation to our vision 2030.

I want a world where we co-exist in peace and harmony, whereby, the only time we argue is when I am trying to remind you of how my football team is and will always be better than yours. A world where we join hands and mobilize the local resources available to build a safe and healthy environment for us and the future generations to come. I want when I sit down to watch my television, I see united citizens come together to Bring Zack Home, donate food to feed the hungry or donate funds to build a hospital in a remote rural area. I want to see a society where youth come together to learn how to be entrepreneurs and not how to handle guns and pangas. I want to see our girls being empowered on how to grow to be better women and not how to empower themselves with karate or self-defense skills.

We need the media to help preach this gospel of peace seasoned with the spirit of cohesion and reconciliation. Our leaders need to ensure that the information distributed by all types of media promotes peace. We need the media to air songs, dramas and plays that promote peace and cohesion. Counties to organize cultural festivals and use the media to advertise them so that all citizens can participate, learn more and appreciate every existing culture. We need to see news of how different communities are coming together to settle disputes of cattle rustling and land grabbing. We need the media to create forums (sic) via debates or discussions to educate our youth on the negative effects of violence. Remember, media is not just the television and radios, so, let’s all log in and Facebook or Tweet peace!”

Abigael has been selected to be a participant in #IAmKenya and we hope her voice will inspire many more young girls to speak out for their communities. Visit!/projects/sisikamakenya for more information on this project or to donate to support it.