Posts tagged ‘Social Justice’

October 3, 2014

Service and Youth

Is the National Youth Service (NYS) the way to go in bringing up a citizen who is service oriented to his country? The NYS act of 1964, envisaged Kenya creating a platform of reintegrating militant youths then to reorient, assimilate and create a pool of employable disciplined youths who can support the army or police force while pursuing national cohesion agenda. Forty nine years later, Kenya is at cross roads seeking betters ways of involving and motivating over 60% of its populations in nation building through the NYS.

Over the years, Kenya government and private sector have made huge investments in education which has seen high enrolment from Early Childhood Education to University level. On the other hand we have yearly police and armed forces recruitment drives absorbing many young people. However the rate of unemployment, deterioration of public service is quite evident in urban centers where provision of basic services such as garbage collection and poor roads and housing is in dire need. Above all these, Kenya is still a fragile state as witnessed in 2008 post election violence.

How then can the youth be involved in a constructive way without exploitation? Participation in nation building should be an obligation which a good citizen must carry out with pride. People have rights and the state has responsibility to do whatever is necessary to fulfill these rights. One such right is to ensure that we all live in safe and clean environment. Institutions such as education, military, police and work place should assist in fostering a sense of cohesion among the citizens.

The Ministry of Devolution recently launched a programme of recruiting young people through NYS and youth are equipped with skills to offer various services to the vulnerable communities. In Nairobi, the entry point has been participating in garbage collection in the informal settlements starting with Kibera. All over the world, governments have always strived either to control or involve youth in development. It is easy to control people who have passed through forces training since there is respect attached to chain of command. However the danger lies when it comes to demilitarizing the youths and reintegrating them back into civilian life. Conflicts in the region and ‘cheap’ labour might make Kenya a fertile ground for recruitment. The rate of unemployment is quite high all over Kenya which sometimes back, the World Bank had warned us that this is bomb’ waiting to explode.

In general, youth are very innovative and creative and Kenya government should think beyond controlling and militarizing the youth. Uwezo Fund must be ready to accommodate fresh ideas in this modern time. At the local level the youth should also take part in the real management of political parties, government to establish real funds for entrepreneurship ventures like implementing some of the ideas generated by students at the annual science congress while making access to information technology platform a priority especially in the informal settlements to bridge the disparity when it comes to access to information.

February 7, 2014

Maps and Slums

mathareNairobi is home to more than 100 informal settlements with little basic social amenities of low standards. The most ‘famous’ slum in Nairobi is Kibera. This is a place with many NGOs activities than schools.

There is high presence of NGOs in Kebera plus the place being put on the world map courtesy of OpenStreet Map However the residents continue to live in usual conditions found in slums. However there is hope for Kibera unlike Mathare. If the Kibera slum upgrading is completed and the houses distributed fairly without corruption then we headed to good times. Slum Upgrading projects are better off if the development process is monitored by various stakeholders.


Looking at the informal settlement in , in Nairobi section one notice that some of the informal settlements mapped are, Mukuru, Kibera, Mathare, Baba Dogo, Korogocho among others. Amazingly, the most mapped slum in Nairobi is Mathare! Almost all schools, health facilities, disaster prone areas have been mapped in details and shared in the OpenStreetMap platform. But has this visibility translated into Mathare being a popular destination with donors compared with Kibera? And what could be impeding factors? (Next week Mathare and Kibera)- Simon

November 30, 2012

Mathare Constituency Map

Mathare Constituency has been created out of Starehe. Below are the six wards.


Mathare Ward Population IEBC Target
Hospital 20,463 10,000
Mabatini 28,260 14,000
Huruma 36,247 17,000
Ngei 36,248 15,000
Mlango Kubwa 38,374 18,000
Kiamaiko 33,824 16,000
Total 193,416 90,000
November 28, 2012

Discrimination in Mosques


Why do people go to worship places and does God discriminate against any human being based on colour, hair, complexion, height, weight, socio-economic status? Two friends have been subjected to discrimination inside a Mosque and by fellow Muslim brothers. Why?

The first incidence happened during the Friday prayers. He was behind three Muslim brothers and when my friend bends to remove his sandals, the fellow worshipers before him looked at him suspiciously. Reason? he does look like a person of Borana, Burji or Somali origin. Then all of a sudden they say he is a thief who has been stealing sandals at the Mosque. He is tied under a tree at Huruma Mosque along Outering Road until prayers are over. Later he is beaten and released but with injuries.

On the second incidence, a friend goes to Eastleigh and buys expensive sandals; Ksh. 2000/-. While walking in the neighbourhood of Kiamaiko he is confronted by fellow Muslim brothers that the sandals he is putting on were stolen a short while ago at one of the Mosque. Reason again? He does not belong to the ethnic group that is widely associated with Islam in the area but is a frequent visitor to one of the Mosque. He is also dragged and called unprintable names.  An argument ensues and the person claiming the sandals are his is asked by another Muslim brother ‘what was the size of your stolen sandals?’ The claimant says his sandals are no. 43. The sandals are checked and it turns out that the claimant is wrong. He apologises but the damage is already done.

Stealing of shoes and sandals at the Mosques is a common and has been used by some rogue unfaithful to discriminate based on ethnicity who is responsible for the vice at the mosque.

A new Mosque which has been constructed in the neighborhood of Kiamaiko along Valley Bridge is becoming difficult for people of other ethnic community to enter for prayers.

Currently it is common to find worshipper carrying their sandals in black paper bags while praying.

Discrimination in any house of worship based on ethnicity is an act of religious primitivity. Its is only decent human being who believes on promoting spiritual goodness and belief in Supreme Being cannot practice religious discrimination in the current age.- Simon

January 26, 2012

Urban IDPs, Forgotten Lot

Mabatini, Huruma Corner and Kiamaiko were some of the hot spots of 2008 post election violence in Mathare which resulted to setting up of a camp for internally displaced persons at Mathare chief’s camp. The IDPs were from Mathare 3c, Mabatini and Mashimoni areas.

Today former IDPs held a demonstration to protest what they term as a case of them being forgotten or neglected by the government and NGOs. One of the leader of IDPs from Mathare lamented that while in other areas (Rift Valley) IDPs had been resettled or their -plight addressed unlike those from urban areas like Mathare had been forgotten.

Most IDPs I interviewed expressed concern that ‘the IDPs from Rift Vallye are being favoured while those from Mathare have been forgotten’.

After the confirmation of ICC case, IDPs from Mathare felt that nobody was addressing their plight or compensation package. A woman who was part of the demonstration said ‘the ICC case has become more to do with Ruto and Uhuru than victims of post of election violence like us. The government has rushed to form a team to look into Uhuru and Muthaura’s case but not about the IDPs’. This motivated IDPs today to match to Marthare District Offices to seek audience over the matter of compensation. The previous space which was occupied by IDPS had now been turned into urban farming demonstration centre for the community to address food insecurity in Mathare. – Simon

February 19, 2011

Eviction: Life Goes On

Children playing with water, broken pipe

Jane Waithera has been a resident of Njagwani for the last five years and now his life about to end. She will be attending court hearing together with other residents to pursue justice against an eviction notice issued by the National Youth Service. When I visited Jane together with her two daughters it was quite allover an indication of both sadness and abandonment. A place that had 5000 residents now has about 1000 people who live in fear of possible being bulldozed at night. Small children are the most affected as they are lonely.

Water is the biggest problem in the area. The broken pipes run close to the open drainage thus exposing residents to possibility of disease outbreak. There are no shops operating for fear of being attacked and minimal customer. Tomorrow I will visit the area at night so that I can see for myself how people are coping.

Jane believes that having Prof. Yash on their side, they stand a chance of winning the case. Where do 5000 people go? That was her last words to me before disappearing to fetch water for her family. – Simon

February 19, 2011

Life on the Edge of Justice

Hezron outside his house at Njagwani, NYS

Hezron Akinga Agwanda, 32 a father of four has been on the trail of eviction one after the other. He first came face to face with the reality of being evicted in 2002 after the death of his grandfather. The grandfather entrusted him with three rooms in Mathare North, Quarry slums. The slums are located off Outer Ring Road.

Today I joined him for a walk through the Mathare North so that I can understand his predicament. Our journey started at Ruaraka Police Post and Mathare North’s Chief’s Offices where has been reporting his cases. The first time he reported a case involving him and the tenant who had refused to pay the rent. In process, his tenants conspired with the village elders and the ownership of his structures changed hands. This happened after the village elders decided to register all the houses so that they can pursue legal ownership of the land. It is in the process of registration that Hezron lost his house to an outsider since he could not afford to pay Kshs. 30,000/-. Those who paid the fee, managed to be issued by allotment letters by the village elders.

The ‘Outsider’ land then started demanding rent from Hezron who refused to paid rent. Hezron has been more report to the police more than 10 times about the harassment including physical injuries he has been subjected to by goons hired by the new owner. Hezron has also previously reported the matter after a death threat delivered through phone and the matter is still under investigation.

The case became hot and finally the security chairman of Quarry slum decided that all tenant vacate the houses while they seek a permanent solution. Unfortunately the houses were later demolished and Hezron was threatened with arrest by the chief. The new ‘owner’ of his houses is claimed to be working in the office of the vice president wants to erect stone building.

With nowhere to go, Hezron decided to move to move to Jangwani as it is one of the cheapest place to live within Mathare. House rent is between 300/- to 700/-. Currently he is faced with possibility of being evicted again. The residents through the assistance of Kituo cha Sheria and Prof. Yash Pal Ghai have lodged a petition in court challenging the eviction notice. The case is slated for Monday 27/2/2011.

Hezron is fighting for justice to have a shelter not caring if it is in the slums or not. But he is fighting a tough battle and today I joined him in trying to establish the facts on the ground.  Hezron sometimes feels like he is fighting a loosing battle as the new owner is ‘powerful’ working in the office of the vice president.

At this time I turn to Kofi Annan for inspiration and direction on why I have to fight for justice: “….lack of respect for human rights and dignity is the fundamental reason why the peace of the world is so precarious, and why prosperity is so unequally shared”: On June 19, 2006, Kofi Annan the then UN Secretary General during a Human Rights Council in Geneva said. Simon

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