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 clichés 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.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Has Kibera Come of Age?

 Kibera, one of the hotspots of 2008 post-election violence, is currently experiencing delicate peace. Anxiety and restlessness among the residents of Kibera is evident owing to the delayed presidential poll results. The community is awash with rumours of the vote tallying irregularities at the national tallying centre based at Bomas of Kenya.  The reality on the ground however, is that the calm situation can only be maintained a little longer. As late as yesterday, there were anomalies with the electronic tallying of votes and the commission chair declared that they shall resort to manual tallying of votes. This made the anxiety among the youth to increase. Someone might not easily notice tension but it is easy to see that the youth might just be waiting for a trigger to call them to action.

Meanwhile, the living condition in Kibera is also becoming unbearable. There is unavailability of basic commodities like food and fuel. The shopkeepers have decided to be cautious and are rarely opening their shops.  The few shops which are open are selling the foodstuff at high prices, perhaps caused by the increasing demand for goods which are scarce. The verandas of most shops have been turned into places of social chatter where different youth groups sit down and discuss the results as they are tallied at the National Tallying Centre.

There are also some youth groupings who insist that if the election results won't be favourable to any of the coalition then the best alternative to solve the dispute should be the law courts. These youth are convinced that Kenya has matured enough to avoid violence because of political competition. However, the most important thing noticed is that the residents of Kibera and the Kenyans at large hope for a violence free elections. Even though the vote tallying is slow and Kenyans and Kibera residents are slowly losing patience with the electoral body, the sense of maturity and tolerance being experienced in Kibera has never been witnessed before in any Kenyan election history. To this end, could Kibera residents and Kenyans generally be coming of age?  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This is what can be done

There is a time in everybody's life when things do not happen the way they should. This is a fact of life. Winners will tell you that at some point they lost, during the real event or during practice. Kenyans are right now glued to their television and radio stations as well as social sites, taking in the election results as they are being relayed by IEBC from the national tallying centre, Bomas of Kenya. Though the exercise is far from complete, there are emerging leaders. So far the candidates that have received majority of the votes are Raila Odinga of CORD and Uhuru Kenyatta from Jubilee. Kenyans are taking the results with mixed feelings; others are in celebratory mood as others remain expectant of the votes that are yet to be counted. It is however a fact that at the end of the day, there will be a winner and a loser despite anybody's preference. 

Keeping calm and reasonable is the first step that you as Kenyan should take. Remember that everybody has the right to elect a leader of their choice and this right is protected by the constitution. It is very reasonable  to shout for joy when your preferred candidate has won. it is even interesting to cap it all with a jig! However, be careful not to act in a manner liable to demoralize people that support the opposing candidate. This can simply be achieved if you refrain from sentiments bordering on insults or singing songs with derogatory words. Do not in any way imply that the winners tribe is more superior than the candidates that have lost. Conduct yourself with utmost decorum. 

There post election violence of 2007/8 is still fresh in peoples mind. It takes peoples minds back to the real scene when there is a presence of groups of young men on the streets conversing in low tones. the fact can even be aggravated if the conversations are held in mother-tongues. Do not engage in contentious group chitchat about the elections. More so, stay away from groups that talk about refusing the outcome of the elections or claiming that the IEBC is biased. As a responsible Kenyan commit to keeping peace by not engaging in propaganda or hate speech. Report plans of attacks against certain groups based on their tribe or choice of leader.

There might be technical hitches either from the tallying stations, the national tallying center or even from the media houses. Use hotlines that have been provided by the IEBC, email or post comments on their social sites. You can as well use the police hotlines in case there is violence.  The IEBC hotline is  0800 720002 the police Hotline is 0736350100 (central police station). 

Most importantly, talk to women, mothers, business men and ordinary citizens who seems to be the most vulnerable in the society and yearns for a caring person. People want the elections to run smoothly, get  responsible leaders so that their life can continue. Be part of the people that make this happen by remaining peaceful and urging friends and neighbors to keep peace and address their concerns to the relevant authorities during this expectant period. 

Written by Caroline Chencha and Ramogi Osewe
This project is funded by the European Union

Monday, March 4, 2013

Kibra goes to polls

Voters wait to cast their ballot at 42 terminus polling station

Today Kenya decides on the leaders that she wants. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Committee reports that there around 14 million people who are registered as voters and were expected to vote today. In Kibra constituency, there was a huge voter turnout with many of them reporting at polling stations as early as 4 o’clock in the morning, eager to exercise their civic right and duty.  “Supporters of political parties were waking up people at 3am by blowing whistles and vuvuzelas,” explained Karen, a 26 year old voter at DC grounds. This was also witnessed by members of the Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Reconciliation Project who were on the ground monitoring potential peace threats in Kibra.

long queue at Olympic Primary School polling station
The team reported long queues at polling stations. Olympic Primary School, DC grounds, Toi Primary and Shadrack Kimalel Primary School had exceptionally long queues. Voters complained of slow moving lines and occasionally asked the IEBC officials to speed up the process. However, despite the low-toned complains, relative calm prevailed.

 Tension arose at 42 terminus polling station when the Biometric Voter Registration kit went low on power and went off. The voters started complaining to the IEBC officials suspicious of what was happening. However, an IEBC official explained that they had power reserve and went ahead to equip the BVR kit with a charged battery reserve.  The exercise resumed shortly after that with voters satisfied with the quick response by the IEBC officials.

A similar event was witnessed at Joseph Kangethe Polling Centre. The use of manual registers made the process slower at this particular polling station and the officer had to come in. “Please be patient as you queue and cooperate with us. We have resorted to using the manual register but be assured that all of you will vote,” urged an IEBC official at Joseph Kangethe.  On the other hand, Pentecostal Assemblies of God polling station in Gatwekera had already finished voting by 2pm.  

Security has been tightened in Kibera with Police prison wardens patrolling the villages. General Service Unit officers stood guard at the polling stations ensuring that there was order and the votes were secure. Many shops remained closed with the absence of women and children being noted on the streets of Kibera, especially at Lindi village. “We have to go back home as soon as we have cast our votes to take care of our children and also to be safe in case anything happens,’’ said Linet,  a voter at Lindi. Youth are also seen walking in groups and conversing in low tones as they anticipate the results of the elections.

So far the Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation believe that the Kibera citizens have tried to accommodate each other in this election. There has been no noted tension and even shops remained close not because of tension but because people were going to vote. The level of tolerance is what the Kibera citizens need. 

Report compiled by Caroline Chencha 
This project has been funded by the European union 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kibera Pre-Election Conference

Youth Kibra are demanding that all political aspirants should sign the election code of conduct which requires them to carry out peaceful campaigns. In a pre- election conference attended by four MP aspirants in Kibra constituency, the youth claimed that politicians take advantage of their joblessness by giving them money in exchange for blocking other aspirants from specific villages in kibera.  Politicians are the ones that have the power to instruct their groups to either remain peaceful or cause chaos, let them show their commitment to peace by signing the election code of conduct,” said Nancy Moraa, a 27 year old person with disability living in Kibera.
The conference which was organised by the “Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Peaceful and Reconciliation Project” was meant to give a platform for the youth living in Kibera to share their concerns on the oncoming general elections specifically on threats to peace and suggest how these threats could be eliminated. It was attended by a representative of the district peace committee, Kibra constituency National Assembly aspirants, The Standard Group, Radio Africa, Royal Media Group, Seeds of peace Africa and Amani Kibera Initiative and youth from Kibera.

Among the threats the youth identified are political youth groupings, politicians giving out money ranging from 50 to 1000 shillings, joblessness, interparty intolerance and increase of guns in Kibera. “Four weeks ago, a woman’s house was almost burnt because she did not support an aspirant from her own community. We allow ourselves to become too attached to political parties to the extent that we can kill people just because they are wearing a T-shirt belonging to a party that we do not support,” remarked Caroline. “Our children carrying guns, our very own sons are stealing from the women selling on the streets,” added Khadija.
Fredrick Amayo, Sigar James, Ndura Waruingi and Taib Noordine who are among the six Kibra aspirants for the Nationa Assembly  vowed to carry out peaceful campaigns and accept the results of the elections. ‘’I have nothing wrong against my brother sigar and all the other aspirants. Given a neutral organising entity  I am willing to take part in a campaign,’’ stated Fredrick Amayo. The aspirants greeted each in a bid to display unity despite vying for the same

Press Statement on nomination skirmishes 25th January 2013

“The Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project-Kibera”
Press Statement on the just concluded Party Primaries.
We, the members of “The Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation” popularly known as the Kibera Peace Initiative, wish to express our concern about the violence which broke out during the recent party nomination exercise that took place on 17th January 2013, and later led to loss of property  in some parts of Kibra Constituency.
We have established that more violence was linked to the ODM party nominations for various posts within Kibra constituency between supporters of different candidates in the said nominations. It was evident that, either ODM party was not adequately prepared for the exercise or did not accord it the seriousness it deserved and on the same breadth underestimated the people’s reaction and its impact on the peaceful co-existence among the people of Kibra constituency.
Most polling stations received the ballot boxes late and consequently voting commenced late and as a result, many voters did not cast their votes. Under the guise of darkness, some voters voted repeatedly, defeating the whole purpose for a fair election. This situation rendered some aspirants helpless and hence developed the feeling that the nominations were perhaps tailored to favour certain candidates. The only solution for some candidates at that time, was to use their supporters to keep vigil over the whole nomination exercise and in the process there was widespread tension, intimidation and chaos from the supporters of rival candidates both parliamentary and county assembly, that eventually turned violent.

In some polling stations, voting did not take place totally, but results were announced. The voters felt betrayed beyond restraint. Some aggrieved candidates also receded to the powers of their supporters to enable them air their grievances to the party headquarters that appeared impervious to formal petitions, resulting in violent protests and destruction of property. The situation was further aggravated by the fact that media; print, electronic and social were awash with the news of nomination linked protests in different parts of the country. While Kibera was experiencing delays in elections, other parts of the country were already contesting results from the bungled nominations across the country.

Social media was also awash with perceived winners and losers, further worsening the already delicate situation. Worse still, ODM party did not take the lead to appeal for calm among to its supporters. Voters in Kibra constituency may have read mischief in the on-goings and resorted to the only way they thought they could be heard and by the time the leaders reacted, it was too late, the tension had already tipped into violence.   

Children in Kibera express their concerns over peace in the coming elections

Students’ leaders in the entire Kibera population have added their voices to the need for peaceful elections during the fourth coming general elections in Kenya. In an event organised by the Action Inter Ethnic- Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project, a partner project by Umande Trust, Sustainable Energy and nine youth organisations in Kibera and funded by the European Union; students leaders all over Kibera came together on the 22nd of February 2013 at Salvation Army in Kianda. The meeting dubbed school students symposium was organised with the aim of providing a platform where the peace concerns of the children in Kibera can be heard and action be taken especially during the election period. This was organised considering that children stand to suffer when there is violence in the community. As it is, schools will be closed during the election week. 

The round-table talks that were later punctuated with a session on public speaking on the role of Kibera students leaders in peace building saw the students identify issues such as trends, ethnicity, territorial disputes and common accepted stereotypes and dangerous emerging youth culture contribute a lot to the insecurity among the students and this is always translated to the community as a whole. The student leaders generally agreed that youth form trends such as substance abuse to look cool among their peers but this in the long run can create dependent youth who resort to stealing to maintain this lifestyle. “It is always easy to start drinking and smoking because your friends provide the stuff in the early stages but after addiction, you need to buy your own. Most students resort to dangerous ways like stealing, sometimes violently, and this compromise the peace situation in Kibera,” One student said at the conference.

In identifying these issues, the young leaders majorly agreed that these peace threats can be associated by the peer pressure that is very common in the schools for nobody want to fail to get recognized by friends. The head prefect from Nairobi Day School summed it such: “There is a general dangerous trend emerging across the Kibera schools. Young boys are recruited in community gangs and introduced to illegal activities by those they consider friends in the school. It is no longer fashionable to be disciplined in school. The order of the day is to see young students defying simple instructions and thus ending up either causing trouble in the community or falling victims to circumstances within their control. The bottom line is negative peer pressure. If students desist from this then we shall see a different Kibera.” It is from this background that then the students looked at possible ways of changing the situation.

From most of the deliberations presented, there was a general belief that students can start by understanding and inculcating the basic tenets of morals that in the long run can contribute to the peace agenda in Kibera. It was interesting to note that all the students who contributed to the debate knew the importance of morals such as discipline, self control and compassion for your neighbour. The student leaders created the belief and conviction that the community needed each person’s contribution towards the realization of a peaceful and safe Kibera. To start with, they accepted to be commissioned as peace mentors and promised to mentor the other students in school so as to offer the link between nurturing young leadership towards peace building in Kibera. The students too took a pledge to keep the peace alive in Kibera.
By Ramogi Osewe

Instead of whistles and blaring music, listen to us

Are you an aspiring candidate? Read this letter drafted by youth in Kibera. The youth opted to write an open letter to all aspirants in the coming general elections hoping to get their voice heard by the aspiring candidates. "We are tired of being subjected to blaring music, deafening whistles and endless meetings when the candidates are carrying out their campaigns. We want a leader who is available and listens to us," urged 21 years old Jane Mwikali, a resident of soweto East Village in Kibera. Read on especially if you are an aspirant in Kibra constituency.

 To our leader, the upcoming president, We as the people of Kibera humbly write this letter to inform you of what we as the community need; and please hear our grievances. We would like to have peace because the post- election violence really affected us and it brought loss of lives, displacements and loss of property; therefore we think that it is a high time for you to take full responsibilities. Insecurity being the second most important issue here in Kibera, we hope and trust that you will play a crucial role in ensuring that there is security in this area. In terms of development, we would like to get infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and training institutes. This will help us, the members of this community. We call upon you to work hand in hand with the community now that we are the people who will elect you. We want a leader who will fulfill his promises and is willing to work with the community and also a leader who is transparent. We hope that you will create employment to the youth as this will reduce crimes and drug addictions and proper sanitation. Lastly, we hope that you will not be corrupt and be a good example to other leaders in government. Thank you.

 Yours faithfully,
 Ruth Kioko
Jane Mwikali