November 30, 2012
On 29th November 2012 political representatives and aspirants for the constituency and ward, NGOs / CBOs representatives, religious leaders, elders, youths, people with disability women representatives and provincial administration gathered at Mathare Valley Polytechnic to be addressed by the local IEBC representatives.
IEBC had their agenda while most people had questions, which they wanted addressed. IEBC wanted to sensitize public about voter registration in Mathare constituency, perception on the public on BVR kit, public, violence, role model and morality. When it came to questions, public were more concerned about accessing identity cards, extension of voter registration, transportation of voters into Mathare, voter education and the process which was used to recruit educators, what are the current numbers of registered voters and target for each ward? From the meeting it was clear that the public agenda and that of IEBC was different.
The IEBC official(s) present informed the public on the progress as from 19/11/2012 a follows but these figures were given as estimates (only for the 1st week of registration)
||1st wk registered voters
During the meeting, an aspirant brought a public address system to the meeting, which the public rejected. The IEBC officials should have rejected this move. By accepting ‘resources’ to facilitate an IEBC meeting from an aspirant amounts to being compromised.
The meeting was on a short notice. It was clear that supporters of certain politicians were more than others. IEBC needs to ensure that all aspirants are invited on time and their apologies acknowledged otherwise the public will view IEBC as collaborating with certain sections of the community. The public seems to be unclear on the new boundaries since it causing confusion among the potential voters. In Hospital ward for example, the Kenya Gazette had indicated that Gitathuru and Mathare 4B are still in Mabatini Ward. IEBC ward educators are expected to sensitize the public on the boundaries and other voter’s related issues. The Mathare area District Officer was very categorical that all residents have a duty to ensure that the elections are peaceful both at the party nomination and national elections. Public expect a credible election and IEBC officials should act in ways that will boost public confidence in the process.- Simon
November 23, 2012
Walking around most vote registration centers, one notices low voter turnout. There is urgent need for IEBC to undertake a vigorous voter registration mobilization campaign otherwise we might not meet the target. In all the six wards, there is very little activity going on compared with the interest generated during acquisition process of BVR kits. One would have expected people flock the centres.
In the community people are going around doing their own business and hoping that as usual the deadline will be extended to accommodate their time schedule. The aspirants are busy marketing themselves.- Simon
November 20, 2012
On 18th November 2012 there was a blast in Eastleigh near Juja road area bordering Mathare which has been attributed to terror action. Several people died but the aftermath of the incident later turned into urgly scenes where people of Somali origin were targeted by criminals. People were beaten, robbed and it is said that women were raped too. It is unbelieveable to that we are witnessing these kind of scenes as we register and approach elections.
Attacking people based on their religious or ethnic affliation is totally unacceptable. The Universal Declaration on Human Right is very clear on how human beings should treat each other especially the following two articles
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such intereference or attacks.
1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state
2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Actions of a few bad elements within us should not be blamed on the entire community. The question then is, who is a terrorist? Any people who organized or cordinated the blast together with those criminals who retaliated by stealing, injuring and raping women are all one and the same as TERRORIST. In the bible John 10:10 “….the thief come to steal, kill and destroy…”. Any act of terrorism is meant to destroy and kill people. The government should use its might and intelligence in crushing the few bad elements in our midist. If Kenyans are to enjoy their democratic right then peaceful coexistence is important. – Simon
November 20, 2012
When President and Prime Minister signed the National Accord Reconciliation Agreement after the disputed election and violence that followed, one of the issue that the accord seek to address was among others was poverty, inequality and youth unemployment.
The government has managed to come up with both women and youth fund which according some youth and women is hard to access because of the bureaucracies. However the USAID, through the Yes Youth Can Fund also managed to establish a fund and Nairobi, Coast, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Western became the target of the project focus being the youth. These were some of the regions that were hardest hit by the post election violence.
It is in these target regions that we have started witnessing emergence of deadly gangs and violence. At the Coast we have MRC and infiltration by Al Shabaab elements, Nyanza Marine and Chinese groups, in Central there is re-grouping of Mugiku while in Nairobi there has been frequent skirmishes report along Juja Road and the recent trigger after the blast. If the Yes Youth Can fund was establish to empower the Kenyan youth, then there is a problem may be with how the targeting of youth was carried and implementation of activities geared towards empowerment.
As we approach election, the Yes Youth Can Fund can help the Kenyan youth establish meaningful livelihood structures that will foster socio-economic growth not structures that will destroy our democracy and respect for human rights.
Kenya now is at a stage where the politicians and tribal kingpins will start mobilizing their people for votes. If we have not worked together with our youth to establish viable source of livelihoods then we should expect security nightmare for 2013.
Democracy can only be protected by the ‘shareholders’ (people) who feel protected by the law, have access to generate resources to sustain themselves and community they live in, and tolerate each other devoid of religious, gender, sexual orientation and ethnic bias. Otherwise our youth will be easily influenced by corrupt and blood thirsty politicians and terrorist elements- Simon
October 21, 2012
Time for voting
Finally Mathare people have their own constituency; Mathare. This will mean that people will elect a new Member of Parliament along with six ward assembly representatives. The two new wards that have createted are Hospital and Ngei wards. The other wards are Mlango Kubwa, Mabatini, Huruma and Kiamaiko
There is alot of political movements on the ground. People who so far come forward seeking parliamentary seat are the current councillor for Kiamaiko ward Mr. George Wanjohi, former Mathare aspirant during KANU era Mr. David Irungu, a Huruma resident Mr. Francis Mbai and the son of the current MP for Starehe Kariuki popularly known as K1.
In 2013 the people will make their choice. for now it is for the aspirant both for county assembly representatives and members of parliament to convince the electorates why they are suitable. – simon
June 7, 2012
Walking around the community (Mathare) one will notice the high numbers of young with mobile phones. The most preferred handset among the youth are those with access to internet while old people want handset through which they can access Mpesa. People do not care much whether it is a Chinese or European make.
The days of using mobile phones for calling and talking purposes are long gone. This is just like when people used to work with computers for typing alone. When have reached a stage that access to mobile phone is slowly becoming ‘right’ for all.
The use of computers is quite rampant but not as high as use of mobile phones. There is need to investigate how use of mobile phones can be used to enhance service delivery to the people in informal settlement. The identification of services and needs will help software developers to come up with mobile phone applications to enhance efficiency in service delivery.
Having programmes to facilitate access to cheap phones and computers in the informal settlement can help stimulate meaningful dialogue for development. – Simon
June 6, 2012
As in other places in Kenya, Mathare residents are eagerly awaiting the date for the next elections with alot of anxiety. This is because Mathare constituency has been created and it has six wards. People will be expected to elect an MP and also six county assembly representatives. Possible aspirants have started emerging with promises. One notable thing about aspirants is very few women have emerged to contest in Mathare as a whole. The current atmosphere does not favour women. There is need to support and encourage possible women aspirants.
My worry is that issues related to internally displaced persons (IDPs) has not been fully resolved. Urban IDPs from Mathare area feels that they have been a forgotten lot. Families that were displaced from Kijiji cha Chewa during the height of post election violence feel neglected by the administration. Frequent transfer of chiefs and their assistants has hampered efforts to resolve their issues.
As we approach elections, these families will elect new leadership which might not be sensitive to their needs. There is need to assist these families as new challenges might emerge in coming elections and these might be a forgotten lot. But what will be the result? During the 1992 land clashes in the Rift Valley and forceful evictions of families at Muoroto in Nairobi the end result was increase in the number of street children and beggars in major urban centres. This is a situation that noboday would want to see again. – Simon
June 5, 2012
US Senator Coons on the front row and behind him is US Ambassador Gration both seated next to their spouses
When a United States Senator visits a community mainly in Africa it has to attract attention. This is a country where most young people would like to end if offered an opportunity. We all know how difficult it is to acquire a US Visa. On Wednesday 30th May 2012 was a very special day for Mathare residents as they played host to Senator Christopher Coons of Delware, United States of America. In Kenya we have memories of President Obama visits as a senator. Accompanying the Senator Coons was US Ambassador to Kenya to Ambassador Gration and both were with their wives. It was a special occasion since the residents had the opportunity to interact but at low level because of the tight security. As usual they were surrounded my mean looking guys. I had wanted to be taken a photo with Senator and Ambassador but it was impossible. The entourage was entertained by Jua Kali Drummers from Amref-Children in Need Project among others.
The main event was not even the short speeches but the peoples aspirations and the poured them out. It is not everyday that one has the opportunity to meet such persons as US Senator and Ambassadors. These are people with direct access to the most powerful president in the world.
So the community members shared their desire to see a peaceful election in Kenya. Peaceful election is vital to the youth and women in the slums. It is very difficult for a poor person to live in an insecure places and in an environment surrounded by corruption. A presenter requested to the US Senator and Ambassador to lobby funding to be channeled directly to grassroot groups as opposed to big established NGOSs.
A representative from refugee community living in Mathare requested for more protection and security for those fleeing prosecution and getting it difficult to access assistance. What can US government do?
“Poverty amongst youthful population has greatly contributed to insecurity and vulnerability to youth being recruited to the Al Shabaab and Al Queida. Youth needs to be addressed urgently”- Youth representative shared. In Nairobi young people are now turning to Middle East countries as a source for employment a situation which needs to be keenly watched since nobody knows what happens and cultural influence this might have when they return from duty.
At the end of the tour, Senator Coons was presented with sandals made from Korogocho and requested to give them to the Obamas. I hope they will be warmly received.
When I was offered the opportunity to introduce the groups that were present to welcome US Senator and Ambassador, I reminded the delegation about my previous blog when Ambassador Gration was posted to Kenya. I wrote him a letter requesting him to visit not only Kibera but Mathare too. I hope this will not be his last visit to Mathare.- Simon