Community Media

#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….

“UNITY”

“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 https://www.onepercentclub.com/en/#!/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”

“……..in 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 https://www.onepercentclub.com/en/#!/projects/sisikamakenya for more information on this project or to donate to support it.