Thursday, December 5, 2013

Making Our Votes Accountable

Participants at the Elected Leaders Forum
Every time after every election year in Kenya, citizens have always had a growing desire for public participation on social, economic and political development for their areas of residence. For a long time it has been argued that for any genuine and sustainable development to be realized, people’s involvement especially at the local level is an important aspect that cannot be ignored. In Kibera's case, this fundamental theory and practice has not been the case. Therefore until today, Kibera is one of the poorest and most unstable societies. This is evidenced by the lack of enough infrastructural and economic development witnessed in the slums. Poverty, inequality and social exclusion are deeply-rooted structural and historical issues in Kibera.

However, members of Kibera, mostly youth, have come to the realisation that even though democracy dictates that the people are sovereign, through elections, people elect representatives to take forward their concerns, but in doing so they do not, in theory, relinquish any sovereignty. This therefore means that political power and decision-making are still vested with the citizens of a country. Therefore, in electing politicians, residents enable others to make decisions on their behalf, but in so doing do not relinquish any of their power. The elected individuals are therefore needed to consult and work closely with the electorate to find ways of working together for sustainable development.
ODM Party Kibra and Langata Constituencies  Chairman Ochieng Jera, President of Yes Youth Can, Dalton Wycliffe and Sarangombe Member of County Assembly Owino Kotieno at the Forum

The Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation project identifies and respects the needs of the residents of Kibera who elected their leaders in the March 2013 elections. Before the elections, the Kibera residents were offered a platform with the Action to first vet the aspiring Members of the County Assemblies in a public debate for aspiring candidates. This was then followed by a debate for the nominated candidates where each candidate did offer his blue print for the elections with inputs and questions from the residents. After the elections, the Kibera populace still demanded the possibility of engaging the leaders so as to determine the development priorities for the residents.

In the event that was scheduled on 30th November 2013 at the Hotel Harlequins, the Kibera residents had the opportunity to reach out again to the leaders and re-examine the leaders’ contract with the people.  In the event, the leaders and the residents agreed that there were numerous promises made during the campaign that cannot be achieved immediately. However, there was a general agreement that the communities living in Kibera can still work towards desirable unity and peacefully co-exist in a bid to realise meaningful development. The Kibera individual is more interested in accessing their leaders, getting their children in school and getting meaningful engagement for the youth.
Chief Mutai of Sarangombe with members of The Action

Several alternatives available for the youth were explored. The youth can access the Youth Enterprise Development Fund as well as the Uwezo Fund that is yet to be rolled down. However, for these funds to be managed well by the youth, they need entrepreneurial skills that the many civic organisations working in Kibera can be engaged to offer. The youth also need to be creative and more development oriented. Youth also agreed that it is time they use their leaders as linkages towards development initiatives. This also called for more forums where the residents and the leaders can be taken to account on the use of devolved funds and development initiatives that can be started together to help the youth and the society at large.

Story written by:
Ramogi Osewe
PMC Member

This Project is supported by The European Union

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Celebrating culture as an instrument of reconciliation in Kibera

When Mr Kitavi entered the Laini Saba grounds, drawn by a dancer the crown erupted with cheers and laughter. It is not every day that you get to have such a rowdy reception of a leader in Kibera after the elections have been done. But this particular day was exceptional.

The action Inter ethnic youth dialogue and peaceful reconciliation project organised a cultural extravaganza that took place in Kibera Laini Saba with an aim of celebrating the peoples culture as one of the ways that it can unite people despite their differences.

There were colorful displays of ornaments, mats, traditional medicine, decorated guards, traditional drums and traditional food from different tribes from the maasai, kikuyu, kisii, luo, Kamba and Nubian communities.
Mr. Kitavi shakes his shoulders as it is done with the Kamba dance
The highlight of the day was when the communities represented treated the audience with traditional dances. The audience went up in a frenzy as they cheered, clapped and twisted their waists to the melodies of the guitar, traditional drums and voices singing to old songs sang way back before modern music took over the music scene in Kenya. Mr. Kitavi the Laini Saba Ward Representative also treated the audince to his dancing skills as he was drawn to the dancing floor by a group of women performing a Kamba dance. Even our very own Josiah Omotto, the CEO of Umande was not left behind by the break a leg session.
Mr. Josiah Omotto dances to the tune of a Luo dance alongside one of the dancers

It was indeed a fun day both for the organisers and the audience who consisted of adults and young children who were lured by the voices of the MCs, the colorful displays and the dances.

The nubian dance

 The Kibra residents were reminded that despite coming from different tribes they need each other in their daily lives. The present Chiefs, sub-chiefs and Ward representatives were each given a chance to speak to the people. They urged the residents of Kibera to live together as good neigbours and develop of a culture of talking to each other to solve their disputes. "Our fore fathers such as Koitailel fought for peace. Be among those that can be counted among them. Let us not discriminate each other based on tribe, race and how much money one has, " urged Mr Kitavi.

The Luo dance
The Kibra residents were also urged to appreciate each others tribes instead of only pointing out perceived negative aspects of one another tribe. " A garden does not look appealing if it only has one type of flower. Try to imagine Kenya with only one tribe, how would it be? Our enemy is poverty here in Kibra and not our tribal background," said Pius Otieno, the Sarangombe Ward representative.

At the moment, allocation of land in Kibra has brought up a lot of unrest among the residents. Mr. Otieno stated that everyone has a right to stay in Kibera and no one has the right to say that watu wengine ni wa kucome (other people just came but we are the rightful owners). The audience was urged not to allow anyone yo divide them on the basis of land.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Mbona Tusibonge?" in Denmark

An Action member giving a presentation to Danish Students
For one and a half weeks now, four of the Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project have been in Denmark for an exchange visit that included an exchange programme with the Danish Agents for Change, present the concept “Leadership Without Positions” to the Danish schools and exchange ideas on the possibility of coming up with an international youth volunteer programme under SustainableEnergy. The visit, which was organized by SustainableEnergy, has been one of the major stories of change witnessed in the peace initiative started in Kibera in the last two years.

The Action members, upon landing in Denmark, attended a two day seminar where both the Action members and the Danish Agents for Change were taken through steps of making a joined presentation for the benefit of their audiences. In the process of learning, the session further buttressed the role of change agents, basically out of the work the two are doing in the community. While the Danish Agents for Change work on the effects of climate change in which they advise people to produce only what is important for consumption,  the Kenyan team has been involved with a successful campaign communities co-existing peacefully in Kibera using dialogue as a tool and creating awareness in the importance of voter education.

Several schools were visited in Denmark between these times. The Kenyan Delegation took it upon them to carry out elaborate stories of change, addressing the situation as it is in the Kenyan state. The little that the peace ambassadors have pulled together in their work was evaluated as a means of consolidating changes in the society. At one time, the teachers audience in Denmark was impressed that the world has come to the realization of what it can do to itself; a fact manifested by the two different cultures and backgrounds fusing into one to form a working partnership in Denmark. The major message being that people can do something within their means to effect changes wherever they are.

Story By:
Ramogi Osewe
PMC Member
This project is funded by The European union

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A New Tool for Peace Ambassadors

The Action Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project Peace Ambassadors have managed to create and use meaningful dialogue as a tool for peace building and reconciliation in Kibera. The concept is such that there is a realization that members of the society have always had a feeling that they can offer possible solutions to their problems if given a chance. In most dialogue forums that The Action has attended, the feedback has been that the society members feel relieved and pour out their fears, aspirations and needs more freely when there is a free for all dialogue platforms. The sessions are normally structured in a way that problems are highlighted, discussed and possible solutions and points of actions drawn.

Ole giving practical training to the PMC
 In the month of July, The Action team received a boost from Hand the Ball Foundation on how handball can be used as a tool to enhance dialogue in the society. In a training of trainers organised by the Danish organisation (Hand the Ball) members of the Action were introduced to a concept so unique and fun to apply. The process emphasizes on the unique strength found in the power of group play. In a society where people find it hard to create time for play, Hand the Ball introduces activities build on insights into the positive of mental and social effects of physical group activities. The residents of Kibera sometimes get themselves warped in isolation of the mind and spirit. The practice shall see them move out of such entrapments and reach out to the other for meaningful engagement and dialogue.

Furthermore, the idea of competition for everything in the Kibera society is not new. To people living and
Hand the Ball in Practice
working in Kibera, there is always a sense of competition on whatever an individual does. Schools are no longer centres of academic enlightenment but a place to score high grades and beat the other opponent in exams. Churches operate with a sense of outdoing each other than avenues for spiritual growth. There is a massive scramble for the little resources available and people are constantly scheming against one another, a fact that has seen the rise of violence and mistrust. The peace ambassadors shall adopt the concept of non competition that is employed in Hand the Ball activities to diffuse the tension arising from the extensive competition in the society.

The most important tool to learn while using Hand the Ball activities as a tool for dialogue is that communication becomes an inherent part of interacting and the main focus is cast on fun, team dynamics and collective play.  The peace ambassadors therefore shall be called to provide an avenue of constructive play and meaningful dialogue, by first offering the community members in any forum, school, churches, seminars, with a ball to show that ownership is open to every individual in the society. The said balls will be used to initiate dialogue and preferably also be used  to offer a platform for fun and play, thereby giving a chance to learn, act and have fun.

Story By:
Ramogi Osewe
PMC Member

This project is supported by The European Union

Consolidating the Gains...

The Action members arriving for a community forum
Kibera is a place of many complexities. In the late 1990's running to the early 2000, the major issue that used to create crisis now and then was the landlord-tenant issue. A problem that was caused by misunderstanding from both parties, it at one time brought a major violence that it took the government and elders intervention to see it end. Then there was the political party youth wingers who were a law to themselves. the issue was such a big threat that some residents decided to leave Kibera and seek settlement somewhere. this was followed by the political cashes whose major impact was seen in 2008 post election violence. in the post election violence, the politically instigated violence took a shape of ethnic communities fighting one another. while peace initiatives in Kibera, The Action included, did a major work in restoring peace during the just concluded elections, Stellamaris Ndunge, a resident of Mashimoni believes there is another emerging potential threat to peace.

Here is the story:     

“I first attended the project activities during the Opinion Shapers Forum held at Anglican Church of Kenya Church in Makina. It was such an amazing thing to see groupings that have always been fighting each other sit at the table and talk to one another. I personally know the people who were invited for the occasion and could not believe that such hard-liners were really listening to one another. The event challenged me a lot. In Kibera, I can say that ethnic communities are now metamorphosing to class and territorial groupings. These groupings pose real danger to the community than the ethnic divides that were earlier experienced.

As such, in the past two months, and even earlier before that, I have embarked on a journey to reach out to these youth groupings and make them see that they need each other, other than creating territories that are out of bounds to those who do not belong. I see this as a significant realisation because not so many people have seen the dangers lying in these groupings. It shall be very hard in the future for Kibera to work together if people are already grouping and regrouping along class, territories, peer and villages circle.

The project activities made me realise a potential threat to community harmony. It made me realise that the emerging situation in Kibera might be harder to manage the already than existing problem of people divided along ethnic lines. Whereas people from same ethnic communities may share very little apart from the language and culture, people from the same class or religion share same beliefs, ideologies, way of life and have unseen common bond. It will be very hard to contain a situation of ideological and philosophical differences.”

The story has a silver lining though. The Kibera populace has acquired major awareness in peace building and reconciliation as tools for peaceful co-existence. the lady believes something can be done. The Kibera society would not sit back and watch as gains made are watered down by few individuals. there are ways and there is a willingness too.

Story Compiled By:
Ramogi Osewe
PMC Member

This project is supported by the European Union

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On Youth and Governance

The Peace and Voter Ambassadors from the Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation took a progressive effort when they met the community youth members in Nakuru and Kisumu over the past week in round table youth to youth discussions.  The well conceived idea was an inter-county youth sharing with regards to milestones made so far in the peace and reconciliation initiatives.  The choice of the county to be visited relied most on the statistics of the year 2008, where the violence witnessed in Kibera (Nairobi County) could only be equated by the one witnessed in Ronda Slums (Nakuru County) and Kondele (Kisumu County). As a matter of fact, and at one particular time in 2008, the government had to issue a curfew in Nakuru because of the wanton destruction of property and the very senseless killings witnessed there.

In the discussions that followed, the Action members shared what can be termed as some of the best practices used to reach out to the community members in the appeal to build and maintain peace. It was very encouraging to note that some practices were widely used by the Nakuru and Kisumu youth too. For instance, members of the Action found it hard during the very beginning to make inroads in Kibera due to the presence of community “gate keepers.” These are a group of individuals who have the belief that they have the final say on what activity should happen in a certain territory of the informal settlements. The Action realized that the Nakuru and Kisumu youth too found it hard in the initial stages to maneuver around these individuals. However, it was realized that constant dialogue and forging useful partnership with the individuals is an effective way of bringing them on board and engaging them in peaceful activities.
The writer (right) and one of the frequent contributors to this blog, Caroline Chencha.

 Another big challenge that the youth across the counties experienced during their noble quest was the division of Kenyan people along ethnic communities. The rivalry between tribes is such that even in community forums, ethnic identities tend to form from the sitting arrangements to the contributions on subjects discussed. Youth living in these three counties all agreed that it was actually the most significant challenge that if were to be overcame then the peace initiatives could have been easily achieved. The Action employed a strategy of making sure that key ethnic communities living within Kibera and has always been in rivalry; either politically, socially or because of resources, were always invited in forums and be reminded in the beauty of unity in diversity. The Kisumu youth even had an inter-ethnic community theatre show, to showcase the beauty of the coming together as members of the same nation.

The climax of the exchange programme, however, was the discussions on the opportunities available for the youth in the new dispensation. Pursuant to the current constitutional dispensation process, the youth believe that devolution of power has opened a lot of potential opportunities that they can use to their advantage. Since devolution, as envisioned in the constitution, is a people’s owned process with the national objectives towards effective grass root leadership and service delivery to the people, the youth feel that it is now their time to get involved in county government structures through policy formulation and implementation. And while at it, the youth want to enhance the sense of accountability, transparency, maximum participation of the public, self-governance, fair distribution of resources and acquisition of more economic engagement activities.

The youth believe that to take the task ahead, they need the necessary skills for mobilization and advocacy. Currently, a good number of youth are still affected by poverty, unemployment, inadequacy of knowledge and drug and substance abuse, factors which in their final output result to a calibre of youth who are insensitive to the surrounding environment and may so often are committed to engage in disastrous, unlawful and meaningless activities. To this end, the youth need to be reminded to believe that they are energetic hence may be in a position to offer better positive services to their respective communities rather than engage in such vices. The youth need to take education as a serious tool for sustainable development. Information imparted on the youth should be relevant so as to promote their capabilities to be geared towards a more improved approach in giving attention to concerted and coordinated economic, social and political activities.

Story By
Ramogi Osewe
PMC Member

This project is funded by the European Union

Monday, May 27, 2013

Democracy and the Emerging Culture

There we were, and now here we are thinking that things have changed to better if not the best! Leadership, which some people refer to as governance, is a crucial issue. A Kibera society where people have got different versions to its meaning is regularly occupied with lots of activities as pertains, and is majorly political. It is then, and from the background, that we should ask ourselves the significance of major leadership decisions. Some tag it the epicentre of Kenya’s political development, but it’s so challenging to summarily report whether this perception is consummate with the people’s level of empowerment on political reforms.

In the past regimes, there was very minimal tolerance of citizen’s freedom or any mode of expression in whichever manner and direction; the more you tried championing an agenda focused on the public’s interest the faster you risked your life. In this time where Kenya is celebrating the year of Jubilee, it is paramount to note that this has been accompanied with the opportunity of the Kenya’s Supreme document-“the constitution”- which is protective to all.  I have a strong belief that we, the people, may champion the reform courses from the lowest level so far to the top most. This is because a number of progressive steps have been made right from the struggle for multi party to the current spirit of devolution of power using individual commitment and contribution.

However, some of these gains have been reversed because of emerging factors in every Kenyan election year. While the factors vary, money has constantly played a crucial role in our decision making. While I believe that money is a valuable and convenient material it is also a mysterious disaster if prioritized for auxiliary purposes. In leadership, the citizenry should consider more the people’s integrity and competence to manage our resources and enhance effective service delivery aimed at a sustainable development momentum, contrary to salivating for short term handouts then start unnecessary complains just a while after elections. This is a primary concern which, if not addressed, may stop achieving sustainable peace. The electorates’ thirst for immediate gains rather than well structured enduring systems is a perfect recipe for chaos.

Yes, we all understand that planning for leadership positions to a greater extent requires some resources. My worry, however, is that  if money is the in thing,  should it be the  same resource one has to use in facilitating the planning or bribing the electorates’ sober mind of clear decision making? Again, if all who pocket much are always perceived as winners even before elections, then why can’t the electorates do advise the election governing body to pre-declare them earlier instead of letting others waste the little resources into the process? Voters still value pennies instead of the holistic understanding of what better leadership and governance mean for their lives. Can the real and natural Kibera youth stand up?

Written by:
Mr. Sigar James Agumba
PMC Member                   

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This Was My Feeling....

There is a story which was collected in March by the project members that shows that a small incidence in elections, that saw a candidate lose, can wash away all the good work done by the PMC. It also showed that celebrations of election victory can make people forget the need for good neighbourliness. However, the flipside of the story also shows that there is an awareness of people taking a responsibility to desist from violence and engage in relative calm. From this stand point it is encouraging that individuals in Kibera had come to believe in the country systems which should provide dispute resolution mechanisms as witnessed with the acceptance of the Kenyan Supreme Court ruling on elections. It shows also that celebrations of election victory can make people forget the need for good neighbourliness.

The question it left begging for answers is whether there is a better platform where these issues can be addressed so as to unite people of different feelings living in Kibera. Below is the account as collected by Erick Owuor, a member of PMC, and told by John Kavoi, A Kambi Muru resident in Kibera people’s settlement:

“I have been having very positive thoughts about other ethnic communities especially after attending voter seminars organised by the “Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project.”  I first got involved as a participant in this voter education seminar at Kambi Muru where the main issues revolved around voting processes and peaceful co-existence. The most striking thing I had come to cultivate in this process is that I was developing very positive impression about other ethnic communities other than mine. I was convinced that Kenyan people had come to age especially when I saw an assembly of youth from different entities preaching one Kenya and united for a common cause.

Members of the Project Management Committee in a function
All these hopes came to change after the general election. After the elections I felt that my effort towards inter-ethnic tolerance was wasted since immediately after the announcement of the presidential results, most of those I reached out to were the one who were bragging on how that some ethnic communities in Kenya will never lead. The said people even went a step further and confirmed that even if the supreme court favour my favourite party, they will go on and fight it in the name of ethnicity! Sincerely, for the first time in my contact with the project, I vowed and took a commitment not to vote in a Kenyan election; Never!

My bitterness with certain ethnic communities is not likely to change any time soon. I wanted to restore it until others felt just too superior. I thought people would engage others in meaningful discussions after the elections but now it is about our ethnic community winning and you loosing. My only hope now is that the court ruling address the real issues of what happened during the election because as much as we try to work towards tolerance and peace building, tribalism and the feeling of “this is ours” is a burden we have not accepted to offload. My fear is that the same manifests every five years and the worse of it all is that some communities are more than certain that it is only them who can lead; only because of ethnicity.

As much as I appreciate the work of the project team, the Kenyan situation needs to go much more than elections made in boardrooms. Political players still call upon their tribes to destroy any change in elections. My fear is that people are resorting back to the old order. This may in essence end up destroying the spirit of people like us on democracy and fair elections. So many people will not vote in the next elections; this I can confirm to you if you want.”

The story has shown that the calmness experienced in Kibera after the elections cannot be equated to peace. Sustainable peace can only come when people feel justice has been achieved. The Kibera people have been given awareness and they believed that the Kenyan electoral system would work this time round. However, the failure of the electronic voter register which saw people revert back to the black book saw members of the society lose interest and believed their voting rights has been violated once again.

On the other side, those perceived to be winners celebrated and even asked rhetorical questions on why the other side could not steal votes. The essence is that there are two divides living together in Kibera and so many underlying issues left untouched. Kibera needs to be cohesive enough for meaningful development. This means that a platform of dialogue should be encouraged and meaningful reconciliation instituted.

Edited by Ramogi Osewe-PMC Member

Project is Funded by The European Union

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is Tolerance Enough?

“What do you do when someone steals your dream?” This was question posed by one Moses from Soweto West during the Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project held at Mashimoni Environmental Centre. To most Kenyans who supported the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy in the just concluded elections, the feeling is that their dreams were stolen. Another participant in the same forum added: “It is easy to see people resorting to violence because there is a gap that cannot be filled by anyone. True reconciliation only starts by solving the main problem.  There can never be peace if the bitter seed that was planted still exists”

It is now evident that the Kenyan election period passed but there are people who still hold grudges while others feel hurt, robbed and victimized. If you consider the way people express themselves on social media insulting and degrading each other, the truth is that we are yet to accept in full the outcome of the elections. People have even gone to the extent of not buying goods from shops of business owners belonging to specific tribes. Whereas it is normal to have feelings when one has lost or won, how one expresses these feelings is very important.

For starters, a dream that is broken can be likened to a river that meets an obstacle on its course. In the circumstances, the river never stops but circumvents the obstacle. This takes time, resilience and tact. For the people thinking their dream was stolen, it doesn't mean the end of life. Progress, in many a case, may only be delayed but not stopped. One may be angry at the person who has broken their dream and when that person is not there, this anger is likely to be taken out on another person. It is therefore important to be careful not to eliminate the person who has in no way been involved. One should maneuver the obstacles and find new opportunities along the way.

The end result is that in life you have to tolerate others. Give people a chance to air their opinion. It is a fact 
hat Kenya cannot move on without the people appointed in power, however, everyone should ensure that peace prevails. People should not shy off from saying which candidates they voted for. That does not mean that we all have to agree with each other’s choices but we should respect each other’s choice and opinion. This is summed up very aptly by one participant who added: “I think we should stop pointing our fingers on everybody else apart from ourselves. We can change right from the daily relations we have with people. For example, when we were asked to mingle here, this lady told me that I should not seat next to her if I support Uhuru. Though she said it jokingly it shows the extent to which tribalism has taken root in our lives.” That is the work on the hands of all residents in Kibera.

Story by: Ramogi Osewe

This project is sponsored by The European Union

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kibera plays volley ball to relieve tension

Life returns to normal in Kibera with most businesses opened and people walking on the streets. This is good news to the residents of kibera as well as kenya. There was a lot of tension when the verdict on the election petition was announced. Many expected that supporters of Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta would fight and destroy each others properties. However, we have experienced relative peace. 

In addition to individuals and groups coming out to urge kibera residents to maintain peace, sports has been used to relieve the tension that came along with waiting for the verdict and coping with the defeat of ones candidate. 

Amos Onyango one of our peace ambassadors came across youth in Kamkunji playing volley ball. 

sports is know to encourage  peace and tolerance, bringing together people from vastly different national, ethnic and social backgrounds in a spirit of mutual understanding, acceptance and respect. 

sports enforces values such as teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game are understood all over the world and can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.

Shouts, cheers and happy faces were the rewarding result of the volleyball game yesterday. 
I believe Kibera is on the right track to embracing each other regardless of tribe. Let us keep on encouraging such initiatives that bring smiles amid prevailing tension and challenges in the community 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kibera- a community hell bent on maintaining peace

Yesterday evening 15 minutes to five pm, the Supreme court led by Justice Willy Mutunga made the much awaited announcement. in summary, the court found that elections were conducted in compliance with constitution and the law, the president elect and the deputy president elect were validly elected. Furthermore,  rejected votes ought not to have been counted in the presidential elections. This meant that Uhuru Kenyatta still remains the president elect. Kenya will have him as the fourth president come April 9th when he will be sworn in. 

There was quiet in Kibera for about 30 minutes after the verdict was read out. However, a few women came out on the streets screaming and wailing that Raila had lost. hopelessness and despair could be read on people's faces as they hurriedly went back to their homes expecting trouble to brew. A few youth at olympic stage dared the GSU officers to fight but they were dispersed very quickly. By 7am all was quiet but again a few youth looted 2 wine shops at bombolulu at about 10pm. The GSU officers were once again very swift in dispersing them. 

I am loving the atmosphere in Kibera right now. Everybody is going on with their businesses. Early in the morning church goers were seen hurrying off to church with their children this being an Easter Sunday. I give credit to the residents of Kibera for the peace that it is enjoying. Despite Kibera being regarded as Raila's stronghold, relative peace has prevailed despite people's expectations that violence will erupt. Though disappointed with the verdict, the youth are calm. 

Some people have even come out strongly to urge others to maintain peace while others have simply exressed their commitment to peace. Solo7 who is an artist in Kibera, took to the streets writing peace messages on the road and walls. 

A group of youth opposite DC on kibera drive put up the kenyan flag and a Jamaican colored flag with peace message as an expression of their commitment to maintaining peace and loyalty to their country. 

Kibera news network and Langata youth network yesterday organised a forum with the youth in preparation of the announcement of the Supreme Court's verdict hoping to cool down tension that was brewing on the ground. This is in addition to our very own Dorothy Anyango, Joshua Ochieng, Steve Kennedy, Caroline Chencha, Amos Onyango, Rehema Maluki, Sigar James and Erick Owuor who are peace ambassadors going round in Kibera identifying the threats to peace and doing all they can to ensure that peace prevails in Kibera. not forgetting Pamoja fm which has been bringing peace messages from time to time. Sincere appreciation goes out to every man woman and children who has taken an individual responsibility to spread a message of peace.

In life there has to be winners and losers, and we can never always get what we want all the time. For those celebrating Kenyatta's win, do so responsibly without insulting the other party and for those that lost, be consoled, let go of the bitterness and continue with your lives and building the nation. I leave you with a quote from Dalai Lama, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” 

Raila's statement after the Supreme Court's verdict

Fellow Kenyans,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon,
You will recall that on 9th March 2013, I issued a statement on the conduct of the elections which had just been concluded. 
I expressed my deep gratitude to all Kenyans who had turned out massively to exercise their democratic rights to vote and elect their leaders.
I however expressed my dismay that contrary to the expectations of Kenyans, we witnessed the failure of virtually every instrument the IEBC had deployed to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
I outlined such failures, with concrete examples of the anomalies that all of us witnessed. It was clear that the constitutionally sanctioned process of electing new leaders had been thwarted again by another tainted election. Democracy was on trial in Kenya.
But that has not dented my commitment to constitutionalism and the rule of law.
Enforcing the spirit and letter of the constitution remains the only sure way to peace and prosperity for our young democracy.
My decision to file a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the validity of the election was a testament of my faith in the independence of our judiciary.
We did so for the sake of our democracy and for the sake of all Kenyans who wanted to exercise their constitutional right to elect their leaders through free and fair election.
We were joined in this endeavour by Africog, which separately filed a petition seeking to nullify the fourth of March Presidential election.
This proves that my petition had nothing to do with personal grudge as contended by the IEBC, Hon Uhuru Kenyatta and Hon William Ruto.
In the petition, I expressed our belief that the court would uphold the letter and spirit of our constitution. I pledged to abide by the court decision.
We prosecuted the case to the best of our ability.
Our legal team, led by Senior Counsel George Oraro compiled formidable and logical evidence showing that massive malpractices occurred during the elections.
We unearthed evidence of technology failure that required a full audit, inappropriate conduct on the part of IEBC staff, irregular and unethical arrangements such as the sharing of servers by IEBC with a competitor and unmarked registers.
We regret that the court disallowed evidence on the grounds that it was either filed late or the court did not have time to inquire into these discrepancies. In the end, Kenyans lost their right to know what indeed happened.
Ladies and gentlemen, 
The court has now spoken. Article 140 of our constitution states that “the Supreme Court shall hear and determine the petition and its decision is final.”
Although we may not agree with some of its findings, and despite all the anomalies we have pointed out, our belief in constitutionalism remains supreme. 
Casting doubt on the judgment of the court could lead to higher political and economic uncertainty, and make it more difficult for our country to move forward.
We must soldier on in our resolve to reform our politics and institutions. Respect for the supremacy of the constitution in resolving disputes between fellow citizens is the surest foundation of our democratic society.
And the courts should always act within the evolving constitutional culture.
I and my brother and running mate Hon Kalonzo have no regrets for taking our case to court.
Indeed, it is our view that this court process is yet another milestone in our long road towards democracy for which we have fought so long.
Truth, justice and the faithful implementation of the constitution is our best guarantee to peace and security.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my hope that the incoming government will have fidelity to our constitution, and implement it to the letter for the betterment of our people. I wish president –elect Uhuru Kenyatta and deputy President elect William Ruto best of luck in this endeavour.
I also wish all the Senators, Members of Parliament, Women Representatives, Governors and others who were elected in the last election success in discharging the expectations of our people.
I want to thank Senior Counsel George Oraro and the members of his legal team for their hard work and devotion in the quest for justice. I would also like to pay special tribute to the Africog legal team led by Kethi Kilonzo for their immense contribution to the rule of law and democracy.
To the Kenyans who supported us and our petition, I want to assure you that I will continue to work for you and with you to build our county, Kenya, and to help you achieve your dreams.
My actions have always been guided by my desire to bring about a better life for all Kenyans, particularly those who are less privileged. The future of Kenya is bright. Let us not allow the elections to divide us. Let us re-unite as a Nation.
Finally, I call on all Kenyans– our supporters and opponents alike – to remember the sacred words of our National Anthem: Justice be our shield and defender;
Thank You and God Bless Kenya.

Uhuru speech after the Supreme Court's verdict

My fellow Kenyans,
As you are aware, the Supreme Court earlier this evening delivered its verdict on the matter of the petition challenging my election as the Fourth President of the Republic of Kenya.
As the Jubilee Coalition, we welcome and respect the verdict of the Judges.
Following the upholding of the electoral outcome as announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, I wish to assure all Kenyans that the ruling of the Supreme Court is not a victory of the Jubilee Coalition and its partners.
Rather, the ruling is a victory for all Kenyans who turned up on the 4th of March this year to undertake a civic duty by participating in a democratic process that is crucial to the continued good governance of our country.
I want to assure all Kenyans, including those who did not vote for the Jubilee Coalition, and indeed even those who challenged the validity of my election, that my Government will work with, and serve all Kenyans without any discrimination whatsoever.
I assure Kenyans that our government will be as inclusive as possible and will reflect the face of our great country.
Personally, I sincerely thank my brother Hon. Raila Odinga for wishing us well and reach out to him and our other worthy competitors to join us so that we can work together in the interest of the wellbeing of our people.
I call upon all Kenyans from across the entire political divide to now rise above the partisanship of the recent electoral contest and join hands in building our country.
Let us all renew our sense of nationhood and let us all rededicate ourselves to building a united country at peace with itself.
I call upon religious and civil society leaders to continue playing their role in the process of national healing that is needed after a heated electoral contest.
To all wananchi, I urge you all to accept that the elections are over and we must now continue living together as members of one family.
Let us rise above the differences of the electoral period and continue coexisting peacefully as brothers and sisters.
Above all, let us all continue to pray for peace in our country.
Finally, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Judges of the Supreme Court for delivering a verdict under extremely constrained timelines.
I also congratulate all counsels for the able representation of all parties involved in the petition.
Thank you and God bless Kenya, our people and our institutions.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kibera awaits the Supreme Court's Verdict on the election petition

Today is the day that the Supreme court will announce its final verdict on the election petition that seeks to bar Uhuru Kenyatta from being declared the fourth president of Kenya. I am in an office in Kibera Olympic and I can smell the tension right from where I am sited.  My colleagues have updated me that there is relative calm in the villages in Kibera. However, Calmness should never be mistaken for peace” as put by a Kibera resident in Kianda.

Women and men are seen conversing in low tones on the streets while businessmen hope to serve a few more customers before closing once the announcements start. A few youth sit around the stages on Kibera drive and the General Service Unit heavily armed with guns and tear gas make rounds within Kibera. Those who do not have television sets have gathered in hotels and bars not wanting to be left out when the announcement is made. There is human traffic and businesses are open in Kibera but business is not as usual.

The elections in 2007 were marred by violence which was triggered by ethnic based interests. Lives were lost, people were maimed, displaced and properties destroyed. Consequently, Kenyans undertook the general elections this year with a lot of fear and caution. As a result of lessons learnt and many peaceful initiatives, the elections were carried out peacefully with Kenyans waiting for the results albeit longer than expected. Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the President elect by the IEBC chairman Isaac Hassan. This was followed by allegations that the voter identification kit and tallying exercise were flawed. Raila Odinga who was second to Uhuru Kenyatta according to the official results, filed a petition at the supreme court pointing out errors in tallying of the votes. The verdict of the court would have significant bearing on Kenya considering the fragile peace that it is currently experiencing.

And so here we are, waiting for the Supreme Court to announce its verdict on the matter any time now. It’s actually raining. Am thinking maybe that will deter some rogue youth from taking out to the street in case the decision does not favour them. I know of many men and women who have taken a vow to do all they can o maintain peace in Kibera. But then again there are people that are hell bent to cause trouble, loot peoples businesses for the heck of it even if the ruling meets their expectation. The action Inter ethnic youth dialogue and peaceful reconciliation project youth ambassadors have been on the ground since morning looking out for any warning signs of impending violence in Kibera. We shall further update you tomorrow on the status of the fragile peace we are currently protecting. Hopefully, the verdict will have been announced. Wish Kibera and Kenya the very best of luck.

Written by Caroline Chencha
This project has been funded by the European Union. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Girl, and A Voter's Card

Stories coming out of the project are quite encouraging. The Kenyan situation has improved tremendously from the just concluded March elections. For a fact, some stories collected from residents of Kibera in December points to the positive outcome. there is need to re-visit and share this story to the entire world of the change of perception noted. Have a read:

 The Action Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project is in its sixth month. This period has seen a tremendous endeavour being put together by the Project Management Committee, the major stakeholders and partners to ensure that there is a high level of involvement of the youth in political and leadership processes. Currently, the project offers forum for voter education seminars and neighbourhood village dialogues that has gone a long way in helping the residents change their perception on how elections procedures, constitutional-ism and political party participation for the youth can be approached. According to one Habida Adam from Makina, the project activities has helped her change her view of the nature of Kibera and Kenya’s politics.

Habida first participated in the project activities when she attended a neighbourhood dialogue organized by Young Women Initiative at Lindi for three villages of Lindi, Kambi Muru and Makina. She has also attended one voter seminar at Makina. According to her, she never knew that receiving handouts from politicians who solicits votes is actually taking a bribe. When I talked to her this is what she had to say: “I had this funny belief that for me to vote for a politician she or he has to give me money. This perception changed when I attended the dialogue forum. I remember one of the panellists saying that if you let a politician buy your vote with fifty shillings that said politician shall have paid you ten shillings every year to keep quiet as he or she mismanages the little resources that should be benefiting all people.”

Habida says that from the forum she developed a resolve that she would never sell her vote to any single individual. This resolve was actually buttressed when Habida attended a voter education seminar held at Makina. From the seminar she came to learn the importance of an individual’s right to vote. According to Habida, she now knows that selling your vote is a crime punishable by law. However, she says that this is not the only reason why she won’t sell her vote. The reason is that the voter card holds and offers her a chance to make the correct choices came the general election for it will help her choose a leader who can effect change. “I came to realize, with amazement, how I hold an important tool in my hands! The prospect that I can actually change the course of our politics and have a say on who leads is just a wonder!” Habida asserts.

Habida at the same time attributes this change to the organizers of these events. According to her, the coordinators and facilitators of the events have been of great help to her change of perception. She says that originally she could have differed even with close family members and friends on matters of political affiliation, a thing that has changed for she could not believe a team of youth working together for one common course. “When I saw the coordinators working as a team regardless of their different organizations, I came to learn that I too need to embrace my friends from the other political parties. I saw it as a big opportunity of learning when they invited me to the event. The team has taught us some of the most important things in elections. I am convinced I should go out and implement the same” Habida concludes.

Do you share in Habida's story? Do you think it is one of the reasons that made Kenya had a violence free election? Personally I do. 

Story compiled by
Ramogi Osewe

This project is funded by The European Union

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reaching for New Horizons

There may have been many reasons why the Kenyan elections was violent free as witnessed by both the citizens and those with special interests in the Kenyan situation. A myriad of peace initiatives were rolled out in Kenya before these elections and perhaps this contributed to the success. At the same time, people also argue that the Kenyan citizen decided it was time to move away from political immaturity to something worthwhile. In our daily encounter with the Kibera youth, interesting life changing stories have been collected that partly shows why the youth changed tune and sang the peace gospel above all else. Can this be the beginning of good things to come? I have an obligation of sharing one of the stories below, which was collected by one of the project members in December 2012:

For an average youth living in Kibera, matters of good governance and servant leadership are clich├ęs that are always heard only about but never actually seen. These words are so repeated that they no longer hold any meaning to even those who utter them. Horrific events that are results to poor leadership have been witnessed in the slum that youth have even actually started living with a defeatist attitude. It is not unusual to find youth bowing to fate and reducing themselves to mere survivors who are very reluctant to take action that can result to positive transformation. However, with the introduction of the “Action Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project,” considerable steps have been noticed on the way the youth now respond to leadership, constitution and political parties matters in relation to the Kibera area. The trend shows that the youth are now coming out to exercise their civil rights, liberties and responsibilities.

Of particular interest is a young man I met at Gatwekera. Gatwekera is one of the Kibera villages that have circles of political violence and much heightened political activity because it is home to Kamkunji Grounds, the community’s political field. However, I came to learn from the young man that most youth were getting tired to even vote because they see politics as the major problem. In his own words he says: “My attitude towards elections and politics has been very negative. I had been convinced that we do not have leadership that is capable of changing anything. Personally, I had decided not to even vote because I have never registered as a voter in my entire life.” The young man asserted that this view was held by many other youth in Gatwekera. Though he adds:” But I think all these have changed because of this peace project”

This Gatwekera young man first heard of the Project through a radio mention by Pamoja FM. He then decided to attend the event that was advertised. The event was a youth dialogue forum for the youth in Gatwekera, Soweto West and Kianda. Later he got a chance to attend a voter education seminar and has been keenly monitoring the other activities in the project. According to him, he has come to the realization of the immense opportunities that the new constitution has offered and the call to youth to take up leadership positions at a personal level. For a person who has suffered from cycles of violence in the past, he had resolved not to ever register as a voter but after realizing the sacred duty of voting, he is now convinced that he shall register as a voter for the first time and practice his civic duty.

The young man believes that it is a show of taking lead by just doing the simple act of registering as a voter. “Personally, after these cycles of violence, I gave up on voting. I am among the many who suffered the looting of property during the violence. However, now I know better than to fail to register. Now I know that I can inspire change among my friends and I have to register as a voter to be able to elect leaders of my choice. People who I believe can deliver better services to the entire populace,” he says. The young man attributes this change to the intensity at which the coordination team organizes the events. Most of the programmes for the events are packaged to dwell in the importance of leadership and its relation to peace building and the provision of the new constitution in conflict management and electoral laws. The conviction in Gatwekera, as epitomizes by the young man, is that more youth are taking charge and reaching for new horizons in their quest for peaceful co-existence and a safe Kibera.

Youth taking lead and realising their true potential is one way of political maturity. The average Kenyan has decided that he perfectly knows what he wants to determine with his vote and future. The peace messages being outlined by the Kibera youth is a very interesting discourse that can be taken a step further to give the leadership a challenge to take into considerations the aspirations and wants of the people. Kibera is talking ans so Who is Listening?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Constitution and Us

The world over constitution and constitution making has always been a process celebrated by many, accepted or rejected by the majority according to the prevailing political situation, analysed with the educated, shunned by the illiterate and embraced by the very few who can actually derive an understanding between the many legalese letters surrounding the document itself. When Kenya gave itself the constitution we have now, a process that saw total sacrifice from the people and involved a more inclusive practice that had never been seen before in any African state, the major undoing was in what most people would term ‘the devil is in the details.’ The writing was perfect, yes, but more legalistic than the common comprehension.

It was from this background that “The Action Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project” embarked on a journey to promote the basic essence of constitution as it should be appreciated by the people it is made for. Virginia Njeri is one of those young persons in the larger Kibera area who had not thought much of the constitution as a way of life. When she first came into contact with the project through a voter seminar at Makina, she believed that this was just one of the many endeavours happening in Kibera which are  without proper programming of actually reaching and realizing the real meaning of transformation of the very common man at the heart of the sprawling slums.

Over the time now, Njeri believes that the process of constitutional-ism is more than the thick pages of a book that is always flouted in the faces of many a citizen. Njeri asserts that most of the issues surrounding the election and peace building has been explicitly explained under the constitution and has been further propounded by the projects coordination members in voter education seminars to such a basic unit that anybody can easily draw a line of association and understand them to an extent of owning the constitution. Njeri says: “For me, the most basic thing I have learned from the project is the easy way on how the constitution has been explained. Being made to realize that it is my democratic right to vote and be voted for has changed my perspective as regards to elections…that the constitution provides for non-discrimination under Article 27 is a just but a major change.”

What offers this change of thought is that Njeri believed that tribe came first before individual astuteness or performance. When I talked to her she had this to say about her recent past beliefs: “Honestly, I have been very particular and critical of people’s backgrounds and tribe. I associated every political party with a tribe on the basis of who heads the said political parties. But I tried to look at the reality of formation and maintenance of political parties under the new law and came to the realization that Kenya is a multi-ethnic state that can only be governed through such more a realization. People need to move out from the mentality of ethnic and class comfortability. The constitution now talks of inclusion in the government; whichever party wins the elections.” For Njeri, the zeal at which this information is reaching people gives her a rare comfort that it is time the Kibera youth shall change. This also attests to the reasons why Kenyans had a very peaceful elections. 

Story Collected by Charles Omanga
Edited by Ramogi Osewe
This project is funded by the European Union.

Monday, March 11, 2013

kudos for maintaining peace through social media

Last week came along with its fair share of ups and downs. However, Kenyans celebrate the fact that there has been peace contrary to the previous elections which were marked by violence. The residents of Kibra particularly have maintained peace.

I however feel that i must strongly commend the people who came out on social media to encourage Kenyans to endure the hot sun and wait until they vote, wait patiently for the IEBC to complete the tallying process and urged Kenyans to maintain peace during the lctions and afterwards. As a Kenyan i am encouraged by some of the posts on social media. I believe Kenyan's have come to love their country and have truly committed to protecting it. 

'Let anyone with an objection to election of Uhuru Kenyatta not go to the streets. Please go to the courts'

'Good morning Kenya..irrespective of who wins the election, Kenya must go on. Protect our peace'

'It is juvenile to mock and insult the losing candidates. There has to be a winner and a loser. Let's be mature'
' Gotta love Kenya. 2007 left 1000s disenfranchised, disappointed, displaced, dead. Still we rise b4 dawn2vot'

These are just a few of the posts i came across on twitter showing how much Kenyans took personal responsibility in ensuring that the country does not experience a repeat of the 2008 post election violence.  Using social media is one of fast and easiest ways of spreading peace messages. Go on be a peace ambassador and tweet, Facebook or blog a peace message today.