We have been working with the Kuweni Serious team to put together a series of videos and blogs featuring Kenyan voters talking about the performance of their MPs. This is part of that series.
Starehe constituency is home to the street-smart and the hustlers. A constituency with one of
the highest levels of poverty, as seen in the largely unreached Mathare slum. Whereas Kibera
is overflowing with NGOs to the point where a conversation with a primary school child will be
peppered with NGO-speak like ‘capacity building’ and ‘resource mobilization’ from their end,
Mathare (as is the case with most other slums in the city) has been left to fend for itself. With
the notable exceptions of the Mathare Youth Sports Association, which has been responsible
for the nurturing and exposure of much of Kenya’s footballers; and Sarakasi Trust, which has
trained acrobats, dancers and radio practitioners, there is comparatively little NGO work going
on in Starehe. This is an issue that is of concern, as Mathare is home to some of the most drug
addicts in the city, not to mention some of the worst living conditions.
Starehe is also home to a controversial political battle between Hon Bishop Dr Margaret
Wanjiru and the previous (and possibly returning) MP, Maina Kamanda. This is something
that translates itself into the various observations about what is/isn’t happening in Starehe,
sometimes with curious effect. On one side of Starehe, those who support the Hon Bishop
Dr will eagerly show you the CDF projects that have been implemented since she took office
in 2008, pointing out the toilets and bridge that have been constructed under her leadership.
Those opposed to her, on the other hand, will be quick to clarify that the land on which the
toilets stand was meant to be a public playing field, that they are shoddily built, that they’d rather
have jobs than toilets, and will point out the huge field that Maina Kamanda’s CDF project had
fenced for their benefit.
It is difficult to assess which story is more valid. It is worth noting, however, that this is the one constituency in which more positive than negative sentiments were given. It would appear that Kenyans’ default setting, when asked about what their MPs and CDF are doing for them, is a standard ‘’nothing’’. The overwhelming number of respondents across the various constituencies were very clear about their perception of the inactivity of their leadership.
In Starehe, however, whether people were praising Hon Bishop Dr Wanjiru or asking for the return of Maina Kamanda, most people had a distinct opinion on actual work done, by either one or the other, which is not something that was seen on this scale in the rest of the constituencies.