The much anticipated 2017 electioneering year is fast approaching with virtually all the indicators pointing towards that direction already flashing. The political activity is fast catching pace. Political vehicles also known as political parties are in the process of aligning themselves to the priorities of the vote owners so that they can sway to their side as many as possible. The Country’s roads are bracing for massive pressure from 101 campaign tracks and motorcades criss-crossing the country to drum up support for votes. The airspace is also prepping for an equal measure of carbon dioxide emitting flying objects flying to various destinations to amass support as well as deafening sounds of campaigners doing all sorts of theatrics available in the world to lure vote owners.
On the other hand, suit clad fellows who since the last election have been warming the pews oh sorry they are actually executive comfy coaches, red in colour with a government emblem embedded on them, they are now prepping to break their deafening silence. They are now prepping to begin making frequent travels to their constituencies to convince the masses that they can still be given another opportunity to warm the pews and coaches for another entire era. Folks! You better ready yourselves because miracles of all calibres are about to spring even in the desert left right and centre. If you’ve ‘painfully’ been trying to find a bursary for that son or daughter of yours you will actually get it this time and many other miracles are going be up for grabs.
Some fellows are now signing up for public speaking lessons and other initiatives that will help them know how to package themselves to ‘un-package’ themselves to the voters. Others are now trying to figure out the spot where they last parted ways with their faith and so some places of worship will now become a common-to-go-to places not for anything but to attempt and create a liking for them among some worshippers.
So anyway besides all manner of things we’ve already started seeing, 2017 election is going to be a defining moment for this awesome country, Kenya. The elections are going to be very smooth without incidences of violence contrary to the majority’s opinion. The next era 2017 onwards will be characterized by progress, an improved economy, and improved living standards and very minimal if not zero corruption. Moving forward pew warmers will fall short of the glory of voters, they will be thrown out into the cold no matter how they perfect their speech making skills. Ethnic voting blocs will soon be demolished and replaced with issue-voting blocs.
So come 2017 come!!
‘We believe it so we speak it’_from the song Ridiculous Faith by MC Jin
For the past few days my new preferred mode of shuttle has been train for the better part of my journey to work. Every time the train comes to a complete halt at the railway station
Commuters board train at the station-Photo courtesy RVR
the massive number of people of all walks of life that disembark from the rusty locomotive is just mind blowing to me.
With only forty shillings per head the train is able to ferry thousands of people at a go for a distance of between 15-20kms in only 30 minutes. On the other hand it takes about two hours on a bad day to ferry utmost 50 passengers and on a pretty good day, an hour for a bus covering the same distance at double the price on the jam packed Nairobi roads. On a single day with 6 morning and 6 evening trips the Rift Valley Railways owned trains ferry up to 15,000 passengers into and out of Nairobi City Centre and its environs. If we split this by two it means in one morning up to 7500 passengers commute on train from Syokimau, Embakasi, Ruiru and Kikuyu the main routes served. If one day these commuters decided to use buses instead, it would take about 120-fifty seater buses to complete a task that would have been executed by only 6 trains and if they were to switch to what we commonly refer to as ‘Nissans’ it would take 500 of them to complete this task…You can imagine if 400 ‘Nissans’ were added into the already jam packed roads and all of them are jostling for the little available space to get into the city centre how much of a traffic would that be! Think of that.
For those few days I have been commuting on train I have been getting to work much earlier than when I used a matatu and again feeling very fresh. It is a very convenient mode of transport and very affordable. If as a country we decided invest more on the rail system in terms of expanding the rail network to cover areas that are currently not, acquiring more trains that are more efficient and modern and even establishing new terminals in addition to the one available currently in the city centre, to help serve the increased number of people using the service, what kind impact is that going to create in the economy and the normal day to day lives of city dwellers. At least for once Nairobians can take leave from the constant struggles meted out to them by matatu operators from unjustifiable hiking of fares, having to keep on reminding the conductor to get your charge back, over speeding, loud and obscene on-board music to a host of other hostilities that commuters go through in the hands of matatu operators.
After providing people with this alternative, we can then figure out how to bring order and sanity into the matatu sector in terms of ensuring that they stick to the fares prescribed by the saccos whether it rains or not; in terms of ensuring they get passengers to the rightful destinations than dumping them midway and generally the discipline of the touts. If this is accomplished coupled with the alternative of rail system then we will in a great way reduce the incessant traffic snarl-ups in fact most people who prefer to ride on their personal cars all alone, will be more than willing to park their vehicles at home and ride on public transport and the resultant will be very pleasant.
The Rural Electrification programme, an initiative of the Kenya power, has spurred rural development in an incredibly great way. My rural home in the beautiful hills of Taita is a testimony of this. A couple of years ago, for instance access to information was a preserve of the privileged few who had ability to own ‘car batteries’ to provide power for their TV sets. However when the batteries run out of charge one would have to walk miles away to the nearest town to recharge. Cell phones had to be used sparingly because when the charge is exhausted you would have to wait for your next visit to town to recharge. We would each time have to buy Eveready batteries to power up our radios and sometimes when they run out of charge we put them under the sun the whole day to recharge. In church we would spend a lot of money buying petrol to run the generator to operate our sound equipment and of course the carbon emissions from the generator exposed the environment to hazardous effects. That was then when Kenya Power hadn’t befriended us yet.
We have since been connected us to the grid changing the story completely. The village is well lit at night with most of the homesteads having installed electricity. Because of electricity connection tremendous business opportunities for the youths have emerged. A couple of guys are now running different ventures among them cyber cafes, photocopying and printing services, photo printing, barber shops among others thanks to electricity connection that can run the machines. These guys are now earning an income hence preventing them from engaging in uncouth practises like drug abuse.
Through Kenya Power’s efforts, dairy farmers in my village no longer count loses because Brookside put up a cooling plant where farmers sell their milk in whatever quantities at any time of the day hence dealing with the challenge of having to sell their milk to vendors who don’t have facilities to preserve the milk something that really plunged farmers into loses. The facility has provided a constant market for the farmers’ produce hence encouraging more of them to venture into the business.
Courtesy of Kenya power telephone communication has greatly improved. Phone service providers have now been able to erect network masts that enhance network connection. Access to information has as well improved with people owning internet enabled phones that they can use to browse internet without having to fear running out of charge and having to look for a place to recharge.
A college has set its foot in our small town since we got connected to the grid. Several young guys from the village especially those who’ve just finished high school have enrolled for computer packages, among other courses hence increasing skilled man power in the population. The college has helped ease the burden of people having to travel to towns and cities far away from home to seek such services.
Thank you KP
Power lines running over a Safaricom network mast in Mgambonyi village,Taita Taveta county
I have spent some time reading stories about terrorism and out of that I have been able to flag out four key countries in the world with very unique characteristics related to terrorism as far as my observation is concerned. I have classified these countries into two sets. The first set of countries is where importation of terrorism ‘raw’ materials is done processed and end product exported to other places. The second set of countries is where supply of ‘raw’ materials of terrorism is found and exported to the manufacturers for further processing. Please note that ‘raw materials’ in this context refers to potential jihadi/terrorist fighters. Follow me.
A western Asian country with a population of more than 20 million people has been through extreme turmoil for five years now. The conflict has grown from just mere street protests against President Asad’s forceful stay in power to becoming one of the world’s largest terror manufacturers with ISIS bearing (if at all it was to be branded) a ‘made in Syria’ label. The uniqueness about Syria is the fact that it plays host to many young persons with Jihadist ideologies recruited from across the globe. It is in Syria where these young people who have run away from their home countries travel to receive military and jihadi training and commissioned to carry out attacks in other parts of the world including Syria itself. Syria is now a war ravaged country with ISIS committing heinous atrocities day in day out.
Somalia lies in the horn of Africa with over 20 years worth of experience in civil war and home to Al Qaeda linked terror group, Al Shabab, an outfit that has really posed a great security threat to East Africa. Just like Syria, Somalia is playing host to another huge terrorism manufacturers in the world with many young people from across the globe particularly neighbouring countries including my own country Kenya travelling there to join the militant group and of course after training venturing into other territories to carry out attacks.
As per my observation therefore, Somalia and Syria, two countries whose names share letter ‘S’ , belong to the first set of my classification. They both host terrorism manufacturing.
The second set of countries is Kenya and Britain.
With slightly above 40million people, Kenya has for years been considered an island of peace and stability attracting lots of investors from all over hence making the country’s economy dominant in the East African region. Kenya has played a great role in brokering peace in neighbouring countries including South Sudan and Somalia. Dynamics are nonetheless changing as terrorism begins to rear its ugly head threatening the country’s peace and stability. Kenya has become a soft target for terrorists particularly the Al Shabab. Many young people from Kenya have been reported to have travelled to Somalia to join Al Shabab and some of them have come back as part of the Al Shabab convoy to hit their own country after being infiltrated with the fundamentalist ideology. Particular establishments and individuals in the country have been accused of recruiting youths into Al Shabab.
This is one of world’s superpowers playing in the same league with the so called G7 or P5+1, it’s one of the most ‘civilised’ countries in the world, it’s one of the most developed countries in the word, and it has the best education systems, the best political systems but probably the worst social systems in the world. It’s a dream destination for many people if you asked around. It’s however not business as usual Britain. The scourge of terrorism is becoming more and more prominent even though they might not have experienced many attacks compared to Kenya save for the 2005 London train attacks. Britain is slowly becoming a huge supplier of young people or what I would call ‘terrorism raw materials’ to the manufacturers in the Middle East and Africa. Some figures estimate that at least 700 young Brits have joined ISIS and some of them Al Shabab. In fact some of the commanders that are accused of masterminding some of the major terrorist attacks are Brits including the famous Samantha Lewthwhaite aka the white lady and the 25 year old Thomas Evans killed in a Lamu barracks botched attack.
In Summary, Kenya and Britain are seemingly rich sources for potential Jihadists that terror groups are targeting although Kenya is experiencing more attacks as opposed to Britain.
Otieno Ombok facilitates an experience sharing session for CAGs and JIF
The National Council of Churches of Kenya in partnership with Safer World, an international NGO headquartered in London, is implementing a 6 month long project in Nyanza region with focus on Kisumu county dubbed Building responsive institutions through conflict sensitive approaches to development. The project responds to challenges and cashing on opportunities arising as a result of the new devolved system of governance as outlined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 to ensure devolution is successful. The project hopes to achieve a situation where the operationalization and implementation of devolution is underpinned by conflict sensitive approaches to development. This will be achieved by building the capacities of communities to employ non-violence in raising issues of concern with duty bearers different from the conventional confrontational protests and demonstrations.
With only one month to go before the project winds down, tremendous milestones have been achieved. Local communities and representatives of civil society organizations in at least 10 wards in the county have been grouped into structures called Community Action Groups. The community groups sit together to identify priority areas including development projects that they want the county government to address. One other structure has also be created at the county level dubbed Joint Integrated Forum which brings together representatives of the Community Action groups and civil society organizations from each ward to discuss matters at the county. It is also an engagement platform between communities and duty bearers at the county level.
The Community Action Groups are proactively engaging other members of the community as well as members of county assemblies in the respective wards in a bid to address emerging development concerns in those jurisdictions. The specific actions that require attention of the county government are then passed on to the Joint Integrated Forum for follow up. In addition the forums are participating in county processes including budget making forums. During the recently held Devolution conference in Kisumu, the project facilitated CSOs to participate in the conference and presenting a memo to the council of governor’s detailing a list of issues including suggestions on important themes for discussion at the conference.
The project has facilitated airing of 16 community radio programmes on Nam Lolwe and Radio Lake Victoria based in Kisumu County to engage the wider community on various matters including public participation, conflicts that have been experienced in the Kisumu county government among other pertinent matters. The JIF has petitioned the county assembly of Kisumu to among others amend the Kisumu county education fund act 2014,Investigate awards of particular tenders, and a petition demanding for development of a policy guiding the development of systems and structures for hiring of ward office staff by the county assembly service board.
The remaining implementation period is expected to see establishment and launch of information boards at different sites. The boards will be used to post information to the public regarding processes and activities in the county government. The radio engagements will be escalated to ensure the momentum created keeps going. The already established community structures are expected to ensure sustainability of the project beyond the funding period. It is expected that communities will continue engaging the duty bearers through platform to realize the ultimate goal where implementation of devolution is dictated by conflict sensitive approaches.
The advent of the numerous social media platforms and its lack of control or censor thereof has prompted people to develop very interesting mannerisms. As much as it’s a free space the onus is on the users to ensure the platforms are used responsibly because one day everyone will give an account of each and everything they did with whatever was available at their disposal. Here are a few things I thought should be considered while using social media platforms;
- Do not spoil an important discussion by posting links and those long descriptions and photos marketing your merchandize on someone’s post whereas others are posting very good contributions to that particular post. It’s so unfair.
- Respect other people’s opinion, you don’t have to abuse others just because you think what they are posting or commenting is wrong. You don’t have to use very ambiguous English words to discredit other people’s opinion. Post your opinion with decorum
- When posting links on people’s timelines could be a YouTube link of your own music video or a link to your blog and so forth please don’t post on everyone’s timeline, spend your time trying to figure out the people who would be interested in whatever you want to promote then post your stuff on their timelines. You might lose friends/followers if you bombard them with stuff they don’t have interest in.
- Not every forwarded text is interesting or relevant so please steer clear of forwarding every message/text to people. Read and interrogate the text first and let it minister to you before you forward it to others for their consumption. That happens a lot on whatsapp.
- At least be positive for once in your posts, write something positive instead of whining every other time.
- If you can try and avoid posts in your mother tongue not unless you want to appeal to a specific kind of audience through a page or a group which has subscribers who understand and speak that particular language.
- This one is very important. In case you do not have someone reliable enough to tell them your problems or your frustrations, social media is an-always-available-friend you can turn to. It can take it all. Vent it all there. However if you have someone who can help you in your frustrations then spare social media.