Will the Legislature Stand to be counted?

Posted by on 4th September 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

The government has three arms namely: Executive, Judiciary and Legislature. Each independent and guided by the Constitution. However, the independence of the two arms from the Executive has been mostly a mirage.

In our over 50years of self-rule, the Executive always appeared to strong arm both the Judiciary and the Legislature; at least until the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution when the President’s powers were trimmed.

The Supreme Court’s nullification of the August 8th presidential results therefore is important because it affirms; if at all there was doubt, that the Judiciary is independent and free of Executive influence.

Indeed even after the new Constitution – never mind it has been seven years – the two arms of government struggled to show their independence.

The 11th Parliament which was the first House to come under the new Constitution acted for the better part of its term as a rubberstamp for the Executive completely showing lack of independence.

Legislature is by Wanjiku’s lens a most important arm of government because it is the voice of Wanjiku and its independence should be as clear as day is from night, yet remains the most prone to abuse by Executive.

The MPs elected owe their loyalty to the party more than the people. Sadly, these parties are owned by the politicians and MPs therefore do their bidding. Take the election of Speaker Muturi and Lusaka for instance.

President Uhuru called to Statehouse the MPs and Senators-elect before they took oath of office and impressed upon them the need to elect Muturi and Lusaka respectively. Legislature did what the Executive wanted without thinking what it would mean for Wanjiku-the real people who put them there.

The President owed the former Bungoma governor for the votes he got in Western Kenya and this was how to reward him seeing as he had failed to retain his position. There was no political damage in dumping former Speaker Ekwee Ethuro.

Parliament endorsed him despite the corruption allegations involving the slightly over one million wheelbarrows saga when he was governor. They conveniently hid under IEBC’s clearance certificate that gave the former him bill of clean health.

Parliament’s independence is further complicated by the fact that even nominated members are first nominated by the same party owners heading the Executive and must therefore toe the party line.

The ability to dangle carrots and sticks by the Executive has turned previously sharp and independent law makers into sycophants rendering them completely useless to Wanjiku.

Parliament becomes lame and dull especially because the people nominated, hardly deserve to be in Parliament. These are friends and cronies of party owners whose job is nothing but to ask how high when the Executive says, Jump!

Already President Uhuru boasts majority in both Houses and is confident his agenda will sail because of the infamous tyranny of numbers.

And should the elections coming in 60-days declare Raila winner he will find a most hostile Parliament courtesy of numbers. Which is funny because Parliament appears independent only when the President has few members in the House.

As the people who make laws that both the Executive and the Judiciary abides by the independence of the Legislature has never been more important.

The historic Supreme Court ruling was a first in Africa. Every pundit thought it would be impossible to overturn the election of an incumbent, yet it did thereby stamping its foot as an independent institution.

Will Parliament borrow a leaf and give us laws that reflect their independence and the will of Wanjiku? We are tired of the bickering from political parties and endless showdowns about party dominance.

We can only hope the lawmakers in the 12th Parliament will close ranks and remember their duty, first is to the people as representatives and not political party loyalty. We are watching keenly.


Let’s exercise our Constitutional power and remind MPs who is boss

Posted by on 26th August 2017

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On Sunday Kenyans celebrate the 7th Anniversary since the promulgation of the new Constitution. People celebrate anniversaries for many varied reasons depending on the occasion; but by far the common and most important is remembering the commitment made on that day.

On Sunday therefore we shall remember the commitment we made when we chose to articulate our issues in one document we call the Constitution.

The years prior to the promulgation of the new Constitution saw the country plundered and looted to astronomical levels. Corruption was the modus operandi and elected leaders were a law unto themselves.

Among the many things we set to correct with the new Constitution was having servant leaders who respected the office they were taking up and indeed the people who put them there. Chapter Six remains the proof of that commitment.

Indeed we knew there could be some wolf in sheep’s clothing so we made a commitment to winnow them out by recalling them before their term ends. Chapter 8 on the Legislature confirms this in Article 104.

Why then do we still appear helpless seven years after making such a radical commitment? Why has the corruption dragon become so difficult to slay? Why are we still having leaders who are more interested in themselves than the people they represent? Who is to blame?

Today we find ourselves in very familiar waters following MPs-elect provocative tone on pay cuts. It’s déjà vu all over again but some of us would rather we bury our heads in the sand and pretend surprise.

Homabay Women Rep is leading the gang of those who will be taking the battle to SRC door steps. She blasted Salaries and Remuneration Commission SRC in the full glory of cameras that she and others will not stand and watch the commission reduce them to beggars.

Majority Kenyans struggle to get by not the very least people from Homabay, but their Woman Rep, Gladys Wanga thinks Sh.621000 that the SRC pegged the MPs salaries at is not good enough for her.

She is not alone. Millie Odhiambo the newly elected Mbita MP also said in a local TV show that they spend a lot of money during campaigns in her attempt at justifying her colleague’s intent to fight SRC.

Needless to mention it is for this reason that the Constitution mandated IEBC to set campaign spending limits.

When politicians blatantly ignored the gazette notice by IEBC on capping campaign funds what were they saying about their commitment to the Constitution?

If we are to stop re-living this nightmare every five years we must understand why the Constitution begins with, “We the People…” Power belongs to the people and we must demonstrate it now.

Thankfully, not all is lost in this case. Thanks to Katiba Institute the conundrum MPs had put to in the law to make it near impossible to re-call them was defeated after a three-judge bench nullified that law that gave MPs powers to determine who had the right to petition for their recall.

In addition, the court in a petition lodged in 2013 ruled that: “Parliamentarians are expected to operate within the letter and the spirit of the Constitution.  Parliament, like all other state organs, is not above the law.  Members of the National Assembly, like all other state officers, and the National Assembly, like all other state organs are compelled by the Constitution to adhere to the national values and principles of governance found in Article 10 of the Constitution.  We therefore agree with the petitioners that the resolution by the National Assembly to nullify the Gazette Notices published by the SRC was unconstitutional.”

As we plan on celebrating the 7th Anniversary of the new Constitution, let the electorate take a cue from the great people of Kiambu County who have set the tone by quickly creating woke groups on telegram WhatsApp and digital spaces to get signatures to recall their Woman Rep, Gathoni Wa Mushomba after her careless remarks on the MPs pay cut.

The former Journalist has since apologized and promised to accept whatever SRC offers. That’s people power. Through the Constitution, Kenyans captured their best hopes and dream for the nation and our best days lie ahead if we all – the public and the arms of government – commit to obey the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

Can we count on the youthful MPs-elect to heal our country?

Posted by on 17th August 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

The just concluded August 8th General election has left part of the country limping. The ugly underbelly of our collective mistrust of other communities was once again exposed as has been the case every election year.

Raila Odinga disputed IEBC’s announcement that Uhuru Kenyatta was the winner and has since promised to challenge the results at the Supreme Court thereby quelling what possibly would have been a showdown between the police and his supporters; the call to avoid work having set the stage.

Nonetheless, the country remains fractured and not even the Supreme Court ruling will mend that; whichever way the ruling goes.

Presidential elections in Kenya have long been established as the signal to begin one’s turn to eat. This is perhaps why it’s very easily a tribal affair.

Considering other levels of elective positions do not draw such bile; is there something those elected-particularly to the National Assembly can do to address these deep seated issues? Can we look to the youth for healing where the older MPs have failed?

Babu Owino

If the youth and youthful MPs are to help bring sobriety in our country then those elected in this 12th Parliament are best suited for this job.

Take Babu Owino for instance. The MP elect for Embakasi East despite being a diehard NASA supporter can very easily help in healing the country. Regardless of your biases, this young man gets his peers and the younger generation quite excited with his unnecessary vocabulary.

Babu is credited for having coined the word, Tibim which has gained significant traction country-wide although he insists it’s a Greek word. His theatrics have endeared him to his peers.

In his student leadership days he fought for the student’s rights regardless of their ancestral home. He should therefore continue speaking for the youth across the country and not just NASA.

Will he realize this as he heads to Parliament and change his radical stand?


Celebrated Musician Charles Njagua Kanyi alias, Jaguar will also be representing Starehe Constituency in the 12th Parliament. After singing about vigeugeu we can hope as an MP he will set an example and not betray the confidence the great people of Starehe have in him.

Jaguar’s song are an anthem. Both NASA and Jubilee fans sing to his songs like their lives depend on it. His appeal to the youth is without a question and perhaps that’s why in future we might need more celebrities in the August House if only to have people with a wider appeal outside of their immediate ethnic circles.

Will Jaguar stand to be counted when the youth seek his voice or will he tow the party line?


The youthful John Kiarie better known ask KJ will be representing the great people of Dagoretti South. KJ was one of the first few voices to openly expose the ills of the government of the day through their satirical show Redykyulass that won the hearts of Kenyans of all ages.

Whether Redykyulass achieved its goal beyond making Kenyans laugh is a different story but no one can doubt the show united all Kenyans-including the villain who was being exposed.

Will KJ demonstrate this brilliance in the 12th Parliament and champion youth issues without thinking too much about voting along party lines?

Ndindi Nyoro

Also worth noting is majority of young people making their maiden entry into Parliament are very wealthy business people.

Employment being one of the biggest thorns on the flesh of our youth perhaps it’s about time they help draft laws that can help government create better environment for startups seeing as they can leverage on their experiences as entrepreneurs.

Incoming Kiharu MP Ndidi Nyoro at 32 years, is already a billionaire with interests in Telecoms, constructions among other businesses.

Paul Mwirigi

The idea that the youth are a violent group at the disposal of tribal chiefs is first coming to an end even as the youth fight for their space in leadership.

Perhaps nothing asserts that statement more than the Mount Kenya University student who won the parliamentary seat for Igembe South without relying on any political party.

John Paul Mwirigi at 23, makes history as possibly the youngest MP ever to be elected in Kenyan history.

With these number of promising youthful MP-elects we can remain hopeful that the 12th Parliament will have youthful people the youth can depend on to make better laws on their behalf.


Here is your guide to voting and the power in a pinch: Kura edition

Posted by on 4th August 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

By Paul Nyawanda

A ‘pinch of salt’ is just enough salt to fill the space between the thumb and the index finger-hence the term pinch. In addition, that pinch of salt can make a huge difference on how the food tastes, yet we hardly ever realize just how small a quantity this is. I explore what there is in a pinch of salt. Grab a spoonful; but first let me help the first time voter get his way around on elections day. Here is a simple guide for a first time voter.

If you are a first time voter, you are probably anxious; we all are. Before you make your way to your polling station remember, to check if you have carried your National Identity Card or Passport-whichever you used to register. Also, they have to be original unless you want to create a scuffle. Once you get there queue like everyone else, nothing could be more patriotic. As a rule of thumb, do not have any other engagements on the voting day. And remember to give way for the pregnant women, the disabled, the elderly and breast feeding mothers, it’s common sense. However, if you’re a stickler for the law it is one of the rules as dictated by IEBC.

At the polling station verification desk, you will present your ID or Passport for verification by the polling clerks. Your fingerprints will also be taken to confirm your identity after which you’ll be issued with the ballot papers. Here’s where things get tricky, so hear me well. You’ll be given six ballot papers, in different colours and directed to the booth where you shall vote for your preferred candidates. Once you’ve marked on the ballot papers as instructed you will then proceed to cast your ballot on the ballot boxes.

The ballot boxes have different colors symbolizing different elective offices. White ballot boxes are for presidential votes; Blue for Governors; Yellow for Senators; Green for MPs; Pink for Women Reps and Beige for MCAs. Once you cast your ballot, one of the polling clerks will paint your little finger with navy blue paint to mark you as having voted. So do not try mischief-usually the paint takes a while to come off. Give it a week. And just like that you’ll have crossed the Rubicon of a first time voter.

Having guided you meticulously through that process it’s only fair that I warn you about getting cold feet. First time voters fail to vote despite having registered for many reasons ranging from unknown fear to don’t-care-attitude; but by far the major reason is that their vote doesn’t hold much weight anyway. And that brings me back to the salt analogy and just what a pinch of salt can do.

A Powerful Presence

Take a pinch of salt from the spoonful and place it on your tongue. Be generous and make it a sizeable pinch. Even without the subsidy price tag, salt is inexpensive and readily available. You have no scapegoat. In a few minutes, a reaction will have been triggered. You either swallow the salt or spit it out. Its ‘powerful’ taste doesn’t allow you to sit pretty and ignore its presence on your tongue. The powerful presence forces you into action.

Power in Numbers

Every pinch consists of hundreds (maybe thousands) of individual salt granules. As the number of granules varies, so does the flavor of food. Eventually, this variation dictates the difference between food that’s well-salted and that which lacks such culinary courtesy. On its own, a single granule that forms part of this ‘pinch’ won’t do much for flavor in your food. The ‘pinch of salt’ relies on power in numbers for its sensational effect.

Power to Transform

A pinch of salt has the power to transform food into a meal. In the case of a meal, the transformation easily gives rise to a delicacy.

Such a small quantity is able to effect a transformation of this magnitude for one reason. Every granule of salt has several unique elements responsible for tasty or salted food. No other compound combines these elements in the manner that salt does. Consequently, no other compound (spice or combination of spices) can have the same effect on food that a pinch of salt can have.

In this election, the youth population is this powerful “pinch”. It would be suicidal for Jubilee, NASA and the rest to ignore the immense power that we wield as young voters. Power legitimized by our position as the majority of the voting population.

This power is reaffirmed by our ability to power Kenya’s economy through homegrown innovations that are creative, intellectual, and zealously ambitious. This ability being more abundant in us than it is in any other section of the population.

We have a pinch of salt that’s triple-packed with power. A powerful presence: Power in numbers, and the power to transform. Unity of purpose is the only solvent needed to make a powerful solution for this country.

You owe it to yourself to exercise this power on 8th August.

Thereafter, we owe it to our country to continue to exercise this power by holding elected leaders to account. Manifestos in tow.

This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa

Open letter to candidates in the forthcoming general election

Posted by on 28th July 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

By Kodalo Tombo

Dear politician,

I have never gone to any political rally. In all honesty, I don’t think I ever will. Here’s my reason why, others may have their own.

Firstly, no good communication happens there – in the rallies, it’s just politicians shouting in microphones and fanatics yelling back whatever. Yet this remains your favourite way of ‘selling yourself’. But what do I know, I don’t study political science. I’m not sure how many of my age mates do.

Secondly, because of the said deficiency; I had to attentively read through either manifestos of NASA and Jubilee, to understand what politicians are saying they are going to do and the feasibility of those plans or if they’re just election bait. And I promise you it was very ambitious of me; I am not sure majority of the youth really poured themselves into those manifestos but I am certain a number of us did. It’s the only way to make sense of the noise.

I think it was time well spent now that I think about it. It should be easier to fall for the many promises in the youth section of either manifestos because they seem to be speaking right to my problems. I have also never voted before 8th August.

Maybe you don’t know what my problems are. I’ll help you figure.

My biggest worry right now is HELB; how I am going to repay it. In a year’s time when I’m done with college I am afraid the Higher Education Loans Board will need me to repay the hundreds of thousands I have borrowed. I expect to pay back don’t get it wrong, I just worry that I will be bullied to repay immediately I finish college – when I likely won’t earn any salary and will need every next shilling I find to simply survive.

Getting a job is difficult – as you probably know. No; of course not for you but for young people like myself, even with a degree graduates struggle to find secure employment. But like I said, both NASA and Jubilee manifestos have got me covered, shouldn’t I just wait for the eighth and check either boxes?

NASA have promised to push HELB repayments to eighteen months after graduation which seemingly is sufficient time to have found work.

If you’ve had time to look into that manifesto you’ll see how they propose to create so many jobs for young people. People will be employed to as much as plant trees. They will introduce paid internships. They will expand the Youth Enterprise Fund to ward level.

Eureka, right?  No.

Here is why I remain sceptical. You people have had it easy for ages, saying lovely things to people in exchange for votes and it worked – to your credit. Then come election you realize some of the promises were unworkable or you just lazily forget.

I don’t know if you’ve sensed it, but this ground is swelling. Time will come when people will demand accountability.

The Jubilee election manifesto of 2013 wasn’t all rubbish. Where young people are concerned they did develop truly innovative programmes. You remember how everybody was singing praises of the NYS, the Uwezo fund and Huduma centres? I’m not saying you should seek praise for your work but more importantly, needy people were actually benefitting from these programmes. Then they blew it.

So when they made new promises like: to start a full year internship programme for all college graduates.  To expand the National Youth Service. Establish a programme they call Ajira platform that will supposedly map out every jobless young person. To make job creation the bigger concern for their next administration. I am like, won’t they just steal from these new programmes, like they did the last.

So Mr. Politician if you’ve not learned your expectations from our country’s political history, I hope this letter has been of help to you.

Be honest when making promises to young people, our guard is up.

With love,

Young person.

This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa

Dear UhuRuto, to him who much is given, much is expected!

Posted by on 20th July 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

By Loise Wanjiku

“…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,” Luke 12:48. 

I was excited during my graduation last year; I mean who doesn’t? But my celebratory mood was short lived after it dawned on most of my classmates and I that we face a Sh. 5000 penalty for every month we fail to make a repayment of the HELB loans we acquired. So, we have a one-year grace period to start paying ASAP! Never mind graduates can take up to three-four years to land a job; and these are the lucky ones. Meaning if I am among the lucky ones I will start working with at least Sh.180, 000 fine from HELB that I need to offset before I begin paying my loan.

The Jubilee government is on the campaign trail asking for my votes and those of the other youth, yet my President failed to stand by us when he didn’t sign the Bill that would have protected us from these punitive HELB fines. This is a key issue for us youth, and we expected it to be important to anyone who claims to have our interests at heart. Worse still is some jobs require us to present a HELB clearance forms as if the three years’ experience requirement is not inconveniencing us enough.

Add the student loan debts to the national debt accrued by the government as a result of the much touted projects, and most of us end up looking like we’re 40 plus, when we’re barely even 30 years old. Every presidential aspirant right now is talking about creating jobs but are not telling us what Jubilee failed to do and how they’ll make it better. And while we’re on Jubilee, as the party sponsoring the incumbent; where are the one million jobs promised?

I know people who have their browsers bookmarking job websites and are exhausting their little savings by making trips to fake consultancy firms promising to work on their CVs to get them a job-any job worthwhile. Besides there’s easily available information confirming that the 30% of government procurement was set aside for the youth actually never got to the youth. Thanks to corruption and nepotism even opportunities that were earmarked for the (unfortunate) women ended up gobbled by otherwise, well networked and successful business women, some with relations to those in power. Yet poor women and youth in my backyard apply for these opportunities unsuccessfully.

Unto the Uhuruto duo, the youth gave their trust and support-I know I did, and consequently required much from them. The ‘Digital’ duo convinced us that their youthfulness meant they were better placed to deliver the youth mandate in 2013. The Jubilee team preyed on the young voters’ emotions. They knew how gullible and desperate the youth were for a change and so whenever they spoke, they said exactly what the young people wanted to hear. A million jobs, growth in the ICT sector, youth development fund and a piece of the government procurement pie just to mention a few. In retrospect, I feel the government gave the youth a lip service on nearly every grand promise they had for the youth.

Take the infamous NYS saga for instance; it was supposed to give young people a chance to help them maneuver this thing called life, but instead well connected folks outside the youth bracket leapt on the idea and looted it so much that every good story that should have come of it remains a mirage. Just like that, near billions of taxpayers’ money found their way into the pocket of corrupt tenderprenures working with the government-a government that claimed to have zero tolerance on corruption. Thanks to our appetite for politics the whole affair became politicized and perpetrators are just gallivanting scot-free. No one has been jailed!

We haven’t been shortchanged on employment issues only. A good chunk of the youth in Kenya make a living playing professional sports. It was therefore exciting when the government promised to build five Stadia to help not only nurture youth talent and therefore gainful employment but also strengthen sports in the country. Four and half years later what we have is a sorry statement from the government. “Plans are underway…priorities…blah..blah”, it’s the usual spin. We didn’t get the five Stadia promised, in its place we saw people old enough to have youthful children benefiting from corruption proceeds following the Kenya Olympics saga in 2016. It wasn’t enough stealing sporting kits; some athletes ended up stranded without Air tickets but people with no business were already on vacation mood in Rio at the expense of our athletes.

I can’t close my lamentations about the short end of the stick that the youth got the last five years without revisiting the Garissa attacks nearly two years ago. Those were my age mates who perished. The 2015 Easter holiday is an unforgettable one. Jesus wasn’t the only one who died that weekend. 147 other souls from the Garissa University did too, and unluckily for them, they didn’t rise from the dead after three days. Young promising lives were cut short by the Al-Shabaab militia. Whether it was part of their manifesto or not all 2013 candidates running for office knew we had boots in Somalia and there would be repercussions; and while we can’t blame them entirely, we have to point out that it revealed serious gaps in our security.

This time round as Jubilee and NASA comb every corner of this country making this promise and that promise to woo the youth; they must first tell us how they plan to fix security both internal and external. It’s pointless to promise the youth anything if Al-Shabaab or a Cattle rustler will cut short their life. Finally the youth will consider Jubilee or NASA promises based on not only their feasibility but also how binding these promises are in terms of the severity of the consequences should they fail.

This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa

The #NaneNaneChallenge

Posted by on 13th July 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

(Guest Blog)

By Paul Nyawanda

The feeling that makes you curse at an overlapping ‘matatu’and term it a ‘menace’ when stuck in traffic because ‘your’ driver decides to play by the rules. Same feeling that makes you whisper a prayer asking that there be no cops ahead, when you happen to be in the overlapping ‘matatu’. Simplest definition of corruption yet.

Coupled with tribalism, the two social evils enjoy a love-hate relationship similar to that which many Kenyans have with their elected representatives. The love relationship is based on a common destruction-oriented agenda, while the hate relationship is based on differing views on the best means to this end. So that as corrupt leaders advocate for discrimination based on ‘technical know-who’, tribal leaders advocate for the same based on ‘linguistic know-how’.

We often ponder when the rain started beating us with respect to the two evils. But rain is synonymous with blooming flowers, lush landscapes that make for picturesque scenes, and bumper harvests.  Hence, we ought to ponder when it was that the drought caught up with us.

We decided to have leaders who’ll send a team to our rescue once the drought has kicked in, rather than those who would have built our capacity to keep the drought at bay. We decided to have leaders whose academic background isn’t nearly as impressive as the ‘percentages’ often presented to us as their popularity ratings, rather than those who would have increased the ‘percentage’ of students transitioning from one academic level to the next. We decided to settle for dogmatic political parties over pragmatic political leaders.

Parties have a significant role in the socialization process. A mandate which they’ve failed (and continue to fail) to execute. Thus, we settled (and continue to settle) for the wrong party. That’s when and where the drought caught up with us.

All this while, the right political party remains buried in the 6th Chapter of our constitution. A sneak peak of its manifesto indicates that leaders will not disrespect the electorate they serve in whichever way. That their conduct will not dishonor the dignity associated with the offices held, and that they’ll promote your confidence in the integrity of these offices.

The manifesto further asserts that competence and personal integrity will be the basis for determining suitability for state office(s). Decisions will be made objectively and in an impartial manner free of favoritism in all its various forms. Lastly, service delivery and public interest will go hand in hand and that the two principles will guide the actions taken/decisions made by all leaders associated with the party.

Here’s my #NaneNaneChallenge:  On the eighth of the eighth, excavate the Chapter 6 party from where it’s buried and let’s ride on the crest of its wave into the next five years.

This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa

I was 13 in 2007; there is no winner in war!

Posted by on 7th July 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

(Guest Blog)

By Loise Wanjiku

On one of my regular strolls on the internet streets, I stumbled upon a job website for Africans. Several clicks later, I found one I was eligible for. Only problem was, I was from one of the countries categorized as a high risk state: Kenya. The patriot in me got mad. In my head, I went, like, “How dare they say that about a country that’s full of kind, hospitable people!” Then it dawned on me that we are in an election year, and our not so perfect history is probably responsible for the ‘high risk’ tag.

The 2007/08 post-election violence was a watershed moment in our country. It’s a horrific past we all want to never remember but have to grapple with every electioneering year. It was a moment of madness never witnessed before. I was only 13years old, about to finish my primary school. I wasn’t able to go to my dream school outside my county because my last name could suddenly determine my security and by extension where I could go and not go.

Violence is stupid however way you want to look at it. I can’t find anything that describes what I feel better than gospel singer, Holy Dave’s UshaiNotice song. Like the chorus goes: saa zingine mimi huskia kuleft! But kuna hope left! (Sometimes I feel like leaving but there’s hope left).It’s foolish of me to turn against my Kisii friend who has been through the most trying and happy times with me just because I’m Wanjiku. This is the person who fought with me over the number of pieces of meat on my plate to hogging the blanket when we had sleepovers during our campus years. Did I mention the times when we turned everything upside down in the house looking for coins to buy mandazi and have them with strungi (black tea) for dinner? I shouldn’t forget the times we cried whenever we had boy trouble, and then laughed about it later.

Again, it’s foolish of me to turn against my next door neighbor, Nafula, because our names suggest we belong to opposite sides of the political divide. Truth be told, I may need salt while I’m preparing my dinner late in the night like I always do and the famous Kenyan saying ‘salimia jirani chumvi huisha’ will literally come to life but what happens when you’ve burnt that bridge already?

Violence is stupid because no one wins. You don’t have much to celebrate when your local shop gets burned down and you have to trek miles to find ‘unga’ for your dinner. You realize it’s stupid when your university is shut down and you can forget about graduation for a year and, more importantly, the job you were promised because you don’t have the right papers. It’s stupid when the country is so torn that you can’t secure employment opportunities in some regions because, well, you’re the “enemy”.

But, we the young people have the chance to change the narrative.

The youth were used to perpetrate violence when I was just a teenager. I am now a youth and we have learnt a lot over the years. I choose to remain woke! I choose to seek alternatives to violence. For once let’s be selfish; let’s think of ourselves. Let’s choose ourselves. Let’s choose the peace and unity that will facilitate the success of our startups. Let’s choose to set an example for those who’ll come after us: our children. Let’s choose to thrive and we can only do that if we have an understanding and calm approach in all our undertakings.

The youth are the hope of this country and we can’t let politicians divide us. Again, borrowing from a campaign from the same song by Holy Dave: you’ve lived happily with your neighbor the past so many years, don’t forget after elections. In the words of Neville Chamberlain, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.”

Ushainotice tumekuwa majirani? Tarehe 8 isitutenganishe!

This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa

Opening the doors for women in politics

Posted by on 5th July 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

(Guest Blog)

By Nyambura Mutanyi

When we young people think about politics, it can sometimes feel like the barriers to entry are insurmountable. The route to political power – party politics, student politics for example – can feel especially inaccessible for young women. I suggest that we re-imagine politics, and what it means to be involved in politics as a first step to jumping into the fray.

It’s easy to think it impossible for women to engage in successful politics at the national level but come to think of it, women have long been ready for politics as is evident in the daily activities they engage in. But first things first.

If we think of politics as it’s presented in the Merriam Webster dictionary – the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy – then some of us have half the work done. How, you ask? Well, in all the ways young people are guiding and influencing policy, and more importantly, other people.

Are you in a chama? Are you its chair, its secretary? You are already exercising the skills you’d need in politics. Leadership is a key part of the political process; one needs to be a leader to get the work done, to influence people towards a certain way of doing things. That chama is key to you flexing that muscle, so stay active in it.

Youth is a pretty large category (18-35 years), but this next one is for those young enough to be in youth groups in their neighbourhoods or in religious institutions. Those of us in youth groups know they are an exercise in managing personalities and resources and this is exactly what politics is. Think about it: an elected person has to manage the expectations of people of different ages, social status and so on. If you’re already in a leadership position in your youth group, you’ve probably been elected to your post. You have the skills you’ll need in a political race.

If you’re a young woman in a women’s group or a self-help group, you’ll be familiar with not just dealing with each other, but also with interacting with people outside the group who influence its activities – banks, conferences, grant-making organisations and so on. Politics is more than just managing resources and people within your organisation – it also requires reaching out to those outside your party or your country.

But none of these places have the violence or antagonism that politics present for us as young women. These places may be argumentative, but our lives and reputations are not threatened; you know this is not an uncommon occurrence in Kenyan politics.

I’ll admit that it’s a jungle out there for women seeking political office but I offer this: young women have the tools they need to take part in politics. They know how to negotiate, to manage resources, to navigate myriad relationships, to round up support for various causes. Take these tools to the electorate in the years ahead; sharpen the saw actively.

It may feel like too little too late; the election is almost here, right? However, politics is the election and all the processes that get the work done between elections. Public participation processes, calls to comment on bills, policy-making events. The skills you’re acquiring will serve you well in these settings and put you in the rooms where power is negotiated. Hopefully, the next election sees more young people taking part in elective races.

Remember, you are already in organisations that give you leadership skills. Stay active in those groups, or join one if you haven’t yet.

This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa


Posted by on 30th June 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

(Guest Blog)

By Paul Nyawanda

In the frenzy that is Kenya’s electoral process, we easily forget about certain individuals that get nominated to parliament to represent groups of special interest.

As a young person wanting to ensure my views are represented, here is a guide for the political parties nominating youth representatives to Parliament. Indeed this is the criteria I’ll use to assess youthful aspirants hunting for my vote come the 8th of August:

Young: The question as to whether we are our own best representatives continues to be asked. It often stems from the documented lacklustre performance of youth representatives nominated to the outgoing parliament. But there’s no ‘youth’ without the ‘you’. The ‘youth’ have to be represented by one of ‘you’. I appreciate the vast experience that the older generation might have in matters of representation. But only a personality of the ‘you’ bracket has the drive and physical energy that it takes to push the youth agenda.

Outspoken: A ‘blunt’ or ‘frank’ person. Has a valid opinion. Ready and willing to articulate this opinion. Prepared to defend its validity and to pursue its possible outcome(s) to a logical conclusion. Leadership becomes unresponsive when representatives would rather buy into the opinions of their peers rather than formulate their own, in response to your specific needs or demands. At this point, the oomph associated with youthful leadership becomes hogwash.  You see, ‘spectator’ become irrelevant the moment you’re halfway out of the chemistry lab.

Unblemished: No one is perfect. Sure. Leaders must be held to a higher standard. Double sure. But what’s their history with public office? What history do first-time nominees have with their non-public engagements before they appeared on the nomination list? A scandalous history is a precursor to a scandalous future.

Trained: This does not necessarily equate to a degree from a recognized university. Some of the best tradespeople (mechanics, electricians, carpenters) owe their prowess to apprenticeship and not textbook learning. Training is evidence of one’s ability to learn and of the potential to make something meaningful out of that which is learnt. Only on the basis of training are we justified to expect professionalism from our leaders.

Humble: Humble politician.  Could you put a face to this phrase? How about a name? Most of our leaders would rather embrace the so-called “big man syndrome”, which detaches them from those they represent before the actual oath of office. Humility will keep representatives away from the afflictions that plague the represented.

Young, Outspoken, Unblemished, Trained and Humble. Two possible scores: zero or five.

If this criteria is anything to go by, the performance of majority of the youth representatives in the 11th Parliament has been zero.

This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa