Has HIV/AIDS fueled donor ‘funding’ dependency in Africa?

“We cannot hope to formulate adequate development theory and policy for the majority of the world’s population who suffer from underdevelopment without first learning how their past economic and social history gave rise to their present underdevelopment” – Andre Gunder Frank, “The Development of Underdevelopment” (1966).

This week marks the convening of the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna that assesses the progress made in the fight against the disease. This convening’s keynote speaker was former US President Bill Clinton whose speech called for efficient spending in the face of dwindling resources to address the pandemic. Mr. Clinton while stressing that every wasted dollar put a life at risk said “In too many countries too much money goes to pay for too many people to go to too many meetings, get on too many airplanes,”. He also added that too much money is spent on studies and reports that remain on the shelves.

But how did it come to this? Not that the funding coffers are drying up, but that 28 years after AIDS was discovered, and billions of dollars being spent annually, that HIV/AIDS still looms large on our horizon.

Well, the blame rests on both sides of the so-called development game: non governmental agencies (donors) as well as the beneficiaries. Dealing with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa has become a long term mutually beneficial relationship among the two.

With all those meetings and carbon emissions generated in attending the meetings, the overall goal for these HIV/AIDS projects (probably long forgotten in the NGOs proposal logical framework) of assisting the beneficiaries has dropped lower down the agenda.

In turn the beneficiaries due to having these agencies around for so long (for some AIDS orphans, all their lives) lack the drive to solve their own problems without external assistance (funding).

And indeed why should it be any different when the number of NGOs continue to rise. Just visit Kibera, Africa’s second largest urban slum and you can almost trip over the number of agencies working in HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation and any other baseline survey assessed need.

Last year while visiting with some young entrepreneurs in Kibera, we at YIPE heard some pretty horrific stories in how donor dependency for “funding” has impacted their lives. These youth were all born in the slum and for the most part of their lives, there were always NGOs providing whatever assistance was required.

As a result where HIV/AIDS stigmatization existed in other areas, in Kibera it was not as bad. But that is not just a reflection of the numerous Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centres (VCT) that abound. The real pay off is that if an individual tests HIV positive, they then not only receive free anti-retrovirals, but also receive assistance, be it in the form of food, clothes or maybe rent money. Thus apart from the implementing agency carrying out the HIV/AIDS project, the beneficiaries also became recipients of what they call “funding”.

One of the Kibera youth told us the story of a young man that visited a VCT centre and “sadly” tested negative. Crestfallen that he could not receive “funding”, the young man set out on a mission to reverse that diagnosis.

Not an ideal marriage

This symbiotic dependency between NGOs and their beneficiaries really needs to be further interrogated. It’s a shame that this is the 18th International AIDS conference and it seems that apart from the condom and abstinence, there is no other readily available and inexpensive way to prevent HIV infections.

Why is it that after all these years Uganda which was a best practice case in how to combat the disease which almost decimated the country’s future economic development prospects now has a rising infection rate? Why is it that the majority of these new cases are not among the red zone population segments such as commercial sex workers and ling distance truck drivers but among married couples? Or is it that there are absolutely no HIV/AIDS focused non governmental organisations in that country?

Those questions are for the INGO, NGO, FBO, CSO and any other “O” professing to have made an impact all these years. Now here’s one for the beneficiaries, particularly the youth. Why do we have to suffer one more AIDS related death on top of the 71 million people Africa has lost since the disease was discovered?

A new approach – People, Planet, Project

This year when countries have to renew their commitments to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, in the face of the global economic crisis, activists are calling for new approaches for raising funds, including airline ticket taxes.

However this will still lead to the same scenario with communities being put on the back burner in their zeal to raise funding for projects.

The solution here is to encourage social entrepreneurs to enter into the fray. The difference between a social enterprise and an NGO is that the entrepreneur has to be ultimately concerned with having community acceptance (if not involvement as employees, distributors …). Their models are sustainable and unlike NGOs they have to be accountable to shareholders and the community (market) they operate in.

Social enterprises also by virtue of their type of entity have to be transparent in terms of finance and corporate governance. Profit also would be a useful tool to assess the uptake of socially marketed products such as female condoms. Maybe some unsuccessful NGO projects could have been abandoned sooner if there was a price tag to measure success.

In retail speak, once a consumer buys into the story behind the product, they own it. Isn’t that sustainability?

The best outcome of this 18th AIDS Conference would be a new approach in ensuring that the implementing agencies do have the “moral standing” as Bill Clinton put it to ask for funding to do their “jobs faster, better and cheaper” – something most entrepreneurs do on a daily basis.


Vigilantism thrives where formal institutions fail

A recently published report “Understanding Vigilantism: Informal Security Providers and Security Sector Reform in Liberia” by Ana Kantor & Mariam Persson provides enlightening thoughts on the commonality of the emergence of such groups; not only in Liberia where the study was based but in any country where formal institutions have proved incapable of providing its citizens with basic security.

The authors observe that non-state groups and vigilantes often emerge with the goal of ensuring the maintenance of communal order. They also note that vigilantism flourishes not only in places where states lack capacity to protect citizens from crime, but also where the state itself is believed to be corrupt or untrustworthy.

While undertaking the research, the authors noted that policing in Liberia is under-resourced. One deputy police commander who provided feedback for the study said that there was only one vehicle available in an area with about 250,000 inhabitants; a familiar problem in other African countries. Another common denominator is the significance of youth unemployment. One respondent explained that vigilantism formed a way to occupy the youth.

In western democracies, the implied assumption is that security is a public good, and it is up to the state to ‘deliver’ this service. However within the African context informal structures do often take precedence.

Read Understanding Vigilantism: Informal Security Providers and Security Sector Reform in Liberia

Football: The ugly side of the beautiful game

This year Africans are eagerly anticipating the World Cup which for the first time will be held on African soil. For many youth, this is the opportunity to showcase our local talent.

The dream of playing for a European team is more enticing than even the prospect of playing for local teams. In Kenya, football development has been adversely impacted by politics, and except for a few clubs that offer subsistence allowance, football can hardly be seen as a sustainable livelihood.

And with the numbers of urban youth living in slums rising, football has emerged for the lucky few as a passport out of poverty.

Recently Al Jazeera’s People and Power programme featured a neglected aspect of football. That of human trafficking where youths and their families are duped into believing that they will be recruited by a foreign team, only to be dumped in Europe.

The main culprits in this scheme are local scam artists that con the youth that they have connections with foreign teams. Unfortunately the youths wind up abroad without paperwork and passports, and thus they have to resort to begging or working as illegals where at any moment they can be deported.

Unfortunately for those living in abject poverty in Africa’s slums, the deal of a lifetime to play for Arsenal, Manchester United, Real Madrid or any other team that they can only watch on TV screens, overrides any reasoning when these scam agents present themselves.

And sadly local regulations regarding recruitment of new talent do not exist. Though FIFA rules stipulate how recruitments into teams can be done, the rules can be ignored by rogue agents.

The only way for this scam to stop, is to set up a system of registered agents as well as opening up the flow of information so that unknowing youths can be able to check up on the credibility of people claiming that they will be the next Drogba, Essien or Eto’o.

Update: Embassies raise alarm over Kenyan soccer academies

Toxic Business: Africa’s Scavenger Entrepreneurs

toxic wasteIt’s a common site in most African cities – waste dumping sites where hundreds of scavengers search daily for pieces of scrap metal, plastics and other waste materials to sell for a profit. These scavenger entrepreneurs though are risking their lives in search of money for survival. In these dumps, there are toxic wastes that can be fatal.

Just this week on twitter the most famous tag word was “Trafigura”, the company accused of condoning the illegal toxic dumping of a mix of petroleum residues, sulphur and caustic soda that in August 2006 led to the death of 12 people and more than 100,000 Ivorians seeking medical treatment.

According to the Basel Action Network (BAN), a disproportionate burden of toxic waste, dangerous products and polluting technologies are currently being exported from rich industrialised countries to poorer developing countries.

And mass-scale instances of toxic waste poisoning such as that in Ivory Coast is not unique. In March 2008, hundreds of people in Mombasa complained of illness after a consignment of leaking chemical containers were dumped in Kipevu near the port. The symptoms experienced by the residents of the nearby slum were eerily similar to those who suffered from the toxic slops distributed in 18 dumping sites around Abidjan. Nausea, miscarriages and diarrhoea amongst other symptoms caused many to seek treatment.

In February 2009 a joint investigation by the Independent newspaper, Sky News, and Greenpeace also exposed the story of tonnes of toxic waste collected from British municipal dumps and sent illegally to Africa in flagrant violation of UK laws to ensure that “its rapidly growing mountain of defunct televisions, computers and gadgets are disposed of safely”.

Indeed e-waste is slowly emerging as a major sort of refuse, according to Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority. From these, the scavenger entrepreneurs risk their lives collecting metals for re-sale from disused computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines and mobile phones.

Africa is indeed an ideal dumping ground. Apart from the inability of local environmental agencies (where environmental management laws exist) to adequately police dumping of waste, corruption also allows agents to dump waste throughout cities. And unfortunately, for the Continent’s scavenger entrepreneur’s this is the only way they can make a living.

In pictures: Kenya scavengers

Jipe moyo wewe Kijana! (don’t give up!) – Kenya’s government has no intention of empowering you!

KKVToday the youth in Nairobi converged on Charter Hall to celebrate International Youth Day. The purpose of this auspicious day (which will be officially celebrated tomorrow in the rest of the world) is to draw attention to social, economic, legal and political issues facing the youth.

The Nairobi Forum had as its theme “Harnessing Responsive Youth Development Initiatives for a Sustainable Kenyan Economy”, an issue which is at the heart of Agenda 4 of Kenya’s National Accord Agreement that established the current coalition government.

Regarding the youth, Agenda 4 has far reaching measures which are meant to include all Kenyans and indeed the youth who form over 75% of Kenya’s population into democratic processes and development.

Constitutional reforms are anticipated to include clauses that ensure equal opportunities and social inclusion for all Kenyans. Institutional reforms in the judiciary and police have been incorporated to ensure strong commitment to human rights, in a country where Kenyan youth are particularly vulnerable to such abuses, with the majority of inmates in the prison system being youth and a  police force that has also been accused of targeting the youth for extra judicial killings.

Further Agenda 4 reforms are also supposed to be implemented within the civil service, the same sector which in March this year raised the retirement age of civil servants up five years to 60! Land reforms are also a crucial Agenda 4 issue as land ownership amongst the nation’s youth is remaining a novelty.

However, these reforms cannot compare with the real poverty faced by Kenya’s youth. The youth require jobs and opportunities to fully exploit their talents. And Agenda 4 emphasises policies that ensure equity and balance  in terms of job creation and improved income distribution.

Thus, the main agenda in this afternoon’s Charter Hall forum centered on the Youth Enterprise Development Fund as well as the more recent Kazi kwa Vijana (KKV) programme.

After opening performances from Sauti Sol who can only be described as Kenya’s Boyz II Men, Hope Raisers a band from Korogocho inspired the title of this post “Jipe moyo wewe Kijana!” with their session that encouraged the audience not to give up in the face of poverty. It was ironic that above the stage were both the emblem of the Nairobi City Council which in the past has been guilty of not providing adequate social services as well as the seemingly benign face of President Kibaki, the very same principal who is meant to deliver Agenda 4 to Kenyans.

The forum was moderated by Louis Otieno of Citizen TV and began with a talk from Patrick Kasyula, the head of research at the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. In his speech, he extolled the virtues of the fund, more or less placing the blame for not reaching as many young entrepreneurs as could have been on parliament. He went on to say that the fund had to put internal structures and requirements such as funding youth groups as opposed to individuals so that the Kenya National Audit Office (KNAO) could not say they were spending money flagrantly.

Kasyula further mentioned that the fund was committed to responding to issues. As such the first question was raised by Fiona Mati of the Youth Interactive Portal for Enterprise (Yipe.org) regarding the over Kshs. 1 billion in financial discrepancies outlined in the Partnership for Change report “A fish rots from the head down: crony capitalism at Kenya’s Youth Enterprise Development Fund” whose basis was a financial management letter addressed to the then CEO of the Youth Fund, Umuro Wario from the very same Kenya National Audit Office (KNAO) Mr. Kasyula had earlier mentioned.

In response, Mr. Kasyula termed the “report” as being false and malicious. He went onto assert that those errors emanated from the fund’s parent ministry of Youth & Sports to whom the startup monies for the youth fund was given in grants. As a result of that “report” Kasyula continued, the CEO was terminated.  Mr. Kasyula never made any response to other questions from Ms. Mati regarding single sourcing by the Fund of suppliers and contractors, and neither did he answer her question on the Youth Fund’s “partnership” with Enablis East Africa.  However, he did provide a standard response from the fund that it is the only State Corporation that presents quarterly reports to Parliament and is one of the most transparent government agencies. Yet if this is the case, why the hesitancy in answering a few straightforward questions if the Fund is as transparent as its officers profess it to be?

Mr. Kasyula was further prodded by another audience member, Emmanuel Dennis the convenor of the National Youth Convention regarding his assertion that the “report” by the Kenya National Audit Office was both “false and malicious”. Mr. Dennis asked how Kasyula a civil servant could say the Auditor General’s office could make such “false and malicious” assertions– the very same office that draws its mandate from The Constitution of Kenya!

Dennis further reminded the audience of further financial issues raised in the KNAO financial management letter including a Kshs. 50 million grant to the youth fund by the Kenya Pipeline Organisation, for which no agreement was supplied at the time of the KNAO’s audit of the fund; Kshs. 500 million put into a fixed deposit account without Treasury approval and monies paid out for events to an organization for whom no legal registration documents were made available to the KNAO.

At this point, Kasyula directed any interested questioners to find out more from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, whom the forum’s moderator Louis Otieno reminded everyone present was new in his job. But Kasyula maintained that a visit to the parent ministry would yield answers, albeit the same answers the Partnership for Change has been seeking since June 27th 2009!

At the beginning of the Forum, Louis Otieno had asked the audience how many had received money from the youth kitty and only a smattering raised their hands. Indeed there were more audience members who raised their hands when asked who had applied and been rejected.

Two of these from one youth group in Embakasi narrated their story. They said that even though the concept of a youth fund was good in the boardroom, its implementation was far from realistic on the ground. They had tried to apply twice and never received even an email rejecting their application. One of them, Njambi said that rejection communication would not quench her thirst for entrepreneurship, but could only improve the development of her group’s business proposal. Njambi added that even a short note saying that the handwriting on her group’s proposal was bad would have been preferable to no response at all.

The second entrepreneur Lydia said that on one of their applications they approached the Fund and were told there was no money and that they should return after the national budget was read as all the money had been returned until then to the Treasury! She further cited the major hurdles imposed by the fund’s application process saying that her group had a hard time even finding a youth officer. That is not surprising because the youth officer they eventually found in Embakasi was in her words a “Mzee” (an old man) who told the group that what they were requesting was not within his mandate and even called the administration police to send them back to where they came from. Kasyula responded to this by admitting that the Fund does not itself employ youth officers who commonly are “senior” civil servants seconded to such duties by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.

The question of what impact the fund has made was raised by other audience members who said the youth in the “hood(s)” of Nairobi do not know about banks and “big money” and asked the fund to make its presence known on the ground. A member of a youth performing group added that road-shows would be a good starting point so the youth can leave the ghetto and reach the leafy suburbs of Lavington.

The second issue under discussion at the forum was jobs, specifically those under the controversial Kazi kwa Vijana (KKV) programme. A representative from the KKV National Management Committee Mr. Adak said that the initiative was aimed at assisting those youth most “at risk“. In his introduction he outlined the structure of the programme and stressed that the initiative had been successful, employing 100,000 youth so far.

Expenditure is Expe! (expensive)

An audience member from Mathare later told Mr. Adak that the amount of 250 shillings per day  was too little to feed him and his family. He also asked whether the initiative was just a 2012 campaign gimmick. In response, Adak told the young man that we should “praise God” for 250 shillings! – further revealing the insensitivity of government policy makers and political elite to the plight of the nation’s youth.

That response confirmed that Kenya’s government policy is solely populist and not geared to any sustainable development as far as youth policy and mainstreaming is concerned. That the government through KKV has employed 100,000 youth and intends by the end of September 2009 (next month) to make this figure 300,000 (how they get this figure and how they intend to achieve 300% growth is anyone’s guess) shows that Agenda 4 is on the back-burner as far as Kenya’s youth are concerned. World development has shown that as the noted economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen says, development is not just about numbers but how the quality of life of a nation’s population is being improved. Obviously Kenya’s development economists and policy makers remain unaware of this.

To further show that the KKV programme is solely intended to give Kshs. 2,500 to as many youth as it can, the project is set up so that an “at risk” youth gets temporary employment for a maximum of 10 days. The means test to assess those “at risk” was questioned as well as the use of the provincial administration in implementation. Audience members testified that local chiefs were using the KKV as a means to solidify their influence in communities with no scrutiny. Negative ethnicity was also cited when a participant called Bill from Kiamaiko in Huruma told the forum that only youth from one community were being employed in his area. Another, George from Mathare said that the KKV supervisors looked 75 years old! He also told the forum that there were cases of supervisors demanding a cut of the earnings.

Payment was also an issue. Under the programme, the youth are paid two weeks AFTER the job and several cases were raised in the forum regarding delayed payment even after that time period. However, Adak of the KKV said that some youth had been involved in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the exercise to avert such incidents and even narrated an instance of M&E youth entering government offices questioning why they were unmanned. Though this sounds like empowering youth, the tale evoked memories of the dreaded Kanu youth wingers of the Moi regime who in their red-shirts terrorized everyone including civil servants.

As for the KKVs national steering committee and its offshoots, queries were raised by youth group members in the audience as to who actually appoints these committee members? A youth leader echoed the campaign gimmick question asking why the programme was under the Prime Minister’s office and not the Ministry of Youth Affairs? He reiterated that the initiative was being used as a cash cow for the provincial administration where bribes to be employed on the programme went as high as Kshs. 2,000 – leave alone that the total take home amount should be Kshs. 2,500!  The potential for corruption in this Kshs. 15 billion project was cited as being too high particularly where no checks and balances have been instituted. Adak, the KKV representative could only respond that the committees were manned by civil servants from roads, forestry, solid waste collection and other labour intensive government departments.

Siku njema ina kuja (A better day is coming)

But the ray of hope came from the recommendations of an earlier morning session where the forum was informed that a report will be presented to the government regarding the youth fund with the following demands:

  • An acknowledgment that the youth enterprise development fund is not structured in such a way as to eradicate poverty. The beneficiary criteria has not been well thought out and enables those who can access loans elsewhere to benefit to the exclusion of those that really need it.
  • The fund should not be so stringent in its loan disbursement: small quick turnaround loans should be included.
  • Devolvement of disbursement from commercial banks should be immediate and grassroot structures that are more accessible to Kenya’s youth should be promoted.

As for the Kazi Kwa Vijana, this policy was only slated to last until September 2009. However, the youth are growing more restless by the day. The only solution to avert a youth revolution is a full and committed implementation of Agenda 4.

Wakati Mpya wa Matumaini – Hotuba ya Rais Barack Obama, Accra, Ghana, Julai 11, 2009

Obama in AccraHabari za asubuhi. Ni heshima kubwa kwangu kuwa Accra, na kuzungumza na wawakilishi wa raia wa Ghana. Ninashukuru sana kwa makaribisho niliyopewa, pamoja na Michelle, Malia na Sasha Obama vile vile. Historia ya Ghana ni kubwa, uhusiano baina ya nchi zetu mbili ni imara, na ninaona fahari kwamba hii ni ziara yangu ya kwanza Afrika chini ya jangwa la Sahara nikiwa rais wa Marekani.

Ninazungumza nanyi baada ya ziara ndefu.  Nilianzia Urusi, kwenye mkutano wa kilele kati ya mataifa mawili makubwa.  Nikasafiri Italia, kuhudhuria mkutano wa viongozi wa nchi zinazoongoza dunia kiuchumi. Na nimekuja hapa Ghana kwa sababu moja rahisi: karne ya 21 itaathiriwa na yale yanayotokea  siyo tu mijini Rome au Moscow au Washington, lakini na yale yanayotokea Accra vilevile.

Huu ni ukweli mtupu wa wakati ambapo mipaka baina ya watu imezidiwa nguvu na uhusiano wetu.  Ustawi wenu utapanua ustawi wa Marekani. Afya yenu na usalama wenu utachangia ule wa dunia.  Na uimara wa demokrasia yenu utasaidia kuendeleza haki za binadamu kwa watu kila mahali.

Kwa hivyo sizioni nchi na watu wa Afrika kama ulimwengu uliojitenga;  Ninaiona Afrika kama sehemu ya kimsingi ya ulimwengu wetu uliounganishwa–kama washirika wa Marekani kwa niaba ya mustakabali tunaowatakia watoto wetu wote.  Ushirika huo lazima msingi wake uwe uwajibikaji kwa pande zote, na hili ndilo ninalotaka kuwazungumzia leo.

Ni lazima tuanze na kanuni ya kimsingi kwamba mustakabali wa Afrika uko juu ya Waafrika.

Ninasema haya nikijua vyema kabisa hali ya zamani ya  msiba ambayo mara nyingine imedhikisha eneo hili la dunia. Nina damu ya Afrika ndani yangu, na hadithi ya familia yangu inazingira maafa na vilevile ushindi wa hadithi kuu ya Afrika.

Babu yangu alikuwa mpishi wa Waingereza nchini Kenya, na ingawa alikuwa mzee aliyeheshimiwa katika kijiji chake, waajiri wake walimwita “mvulana” kwa muda mrefu wa maisha yake. Alikuwa ukingoni mwa harakati za ukombozi wa Kenya, lakini bado aliwekwa jela kwa muda mfupi katika enzi za ukandamizaji. Katika maisha yake, ukoloni haukuwa tu kuweka mipaka isiyo ya asili au masharti yasiyo ya haki katika biashara—ulikuwa kitu kilichozoelewa binafsi, siku nenda siku rudi, mwaka nenda mwaka rudi.

Baba yangu alikua akichunga mbuzi katika kijiji kidogo, umbali usiopimika kutoka vyuo vikuu vya Kimarekani ambako hatimaye alikuja kupata elimu. Alikomaa wakati wa enzi ya matumaini ya ajabu katika Afrika.  Mapambano ya kizazi cha baba yake yalikuwa yanazalisha mataifa mapya, kuanzia hapa hapa Ghana. Waafrika walikuwa wanajielimisha na kuchukua misimamo kwa njia mpya kabisa.  Historia ilikuwa inasonga mbele.

Lakini licha ya maendeleo ambayo yamefanyika—na kumekuwepo na maendeleo mengi katika sehemu kadhaa za Afrika— vile vile tunajua kwamba sehemu kubwa ya ahadi hiyo haijatimizwa bado.  Nchi kama vile Kenya, ambayo ilikuwa na uchumi mkubwa kwa mtu mmoja mmoja kuliko Korea Kusini wakati nilipozaliwa, imepitwa vibaya. Magonjwa na migogoro imevuruga baadhi ya maeneo ya bara la Afrika. Katika sehemu nyingi, matumaini ya kizazi cha baba yangu yamegeuka kuwa ubeuzi, hata kukata tamaa.

Ni rahisi kunyoosha vidole, na kuwabandikia  watu wengine lawama za matatizo haya. Ndiyo, ramani ya ukoloni ambayo haikuwa na maana kubwa ilizusha migogoro, na nchi za Magharibi mara nyingi zimeshughulikia bara la Afrika kama mlezi, badala ya mshirika. Lakini nchi za Magharibi haziwajibiki na kuharibiwa kwa uchumi wa Zimbabwe mnamo mwongo uliopita, au vita ambamo watoto wameandikishwa kama wapiganaji. Katika maisha ya baba yangu, ni ukabila na upendeleo katika Kenya huru ambao kwa muda mrefu uliiangusha kazi yake, na tunajua kwamba ufisadi kama huu ni ukweli wa maisha ya kila siku kwa watu wengi mno.

Bila shaka tunajua pia kwamba hiyo si hadithi nzima. Hapa Ghana, mnatuonyesha sura ya Afrika ambayo mara nyingi mno inapuuzwa na ulimwengu ambao unaona tu maafa au mahitaji ya hisani. Watu wa Ghana wamejibidisha kuiweka demokrasia katika mizizi imara, kukiwepo mabadiliko ya utawala kwa amani hata katika uchaguzi ulioshindaniwa vikali. Na kukiwa na utawala ulioboreka na jamii inayoibuka ya kiungwana, uchumi wa Ghana umeonyesha kima cha kuvutia cha ustawi.

Maendeleo haya labda yanakosa msisimko wa harakati za ukombozi za karne ya 20, lakini zingatia: hatimaye yatakuwa muhimu zaidi. Kwa kuwa ni muhimu mkubwa kuibuka kutoka kwenye udhibiti wa taifa jingine, hata ni muhimu zaidi vile vile kujijengea taifa lenu wenyewe.

Kwa hivyo ninaamini kwamba wakati huu ni muhimu kwa Ghana—kama ilivyo kwa Afrika—kama wakati baba yangu alipokomaa na mataifa mapya yalikuwa yakizaliwa.  Huu ni wakati mpya wa ahadi.  Ila tu wakati huu, tumejifunza kwamba haitakuwa watu mashuhuri kama Nkrumah na Kenyatta watakaoamua mustakabali wa Afrika. Badala yake itakuwa ninyi—wanaume na wanawake katika bunge la Ghana na watu mnaowakilisha. Na juu ya yote itakuwa vijana—wakijawa na vipawa na nguvu na matumaini—ambao wanaweza kudai mustakabali ambao wengi sana katika kizazi cha baba yangu hawakupata kamwe.

Ili kutambua ahadi hiyo, ni lazima kwanza tutambue ukweli wa kimsingi ambao mmehui hapa Ghana: maendeleo yanategemea utawala bora.  Hicho ndicho kiambato ambacho kimekosekana katika mahali pengi mno, kwa muda mrefu mno. Hayo ndiyo mabadiliko yanayoweza kufungua uwezo wa Afrika. Na huo ni wajibu ambao unaweza kutimizwa na Waafrika tu.

Na kuhusu Marekani na nchi za Magharibi, ahadi yetu lazima ipimwe kwa kiwango zaidi ya dola tunazotumia. Nimeahidi nyongeza kubwa zaidi katika misaada yetu ya kigeni.  Lakini dalili halisi ya ufanisi lazima iwe kama sisi ni washirika katika kujenga uwezo wa mabadiliko ya mageuzi – siyo tu kama chanzo cha msaada unaosaidia watu kukwangua.

Wajibu huu wa pande zote mbili lazima uwe msingi wa ushirikiano wetu.  Na leo, nitalenga maeneo manne hasa ambayo ni muhimu kwa mustakabali wa Afrika na ulimwengu mzima unaoendelea: demokrasia, nafasi, afya; na kutanzuliwa kwa migogoro kwa njia za amani.

Kwanza, ni lazima tuziunge mkono serikali zenye demokrasia imara na zilizo endelevu.

Kama nilivyosema Cairo, kila taifa linaipa demokrasia uhai katika njia yake ya kipekee, na kwa kuzingatia desturi zake. Lakini historia inatoa uamuzi ulio bayana: serikali ambazo zinaheshimu utashi wa watu wao wenyewe zina ustawi zaidi, ziko imara zaidi, na zinafanikiwa zaidi ya serikali zisizofanya hivyo.

Hii ni zaidi ya kuwa na uchaguzi tu—pia ni juu ya kile kinachotokea kati yao. Kuna aina nyingi za ukandamizaji, na mataifa mengi sana yamekabiliwa na matatizo ambayo yanapelekea raia wake kuwa maskini. Hakuna nchi itakayoumba utajiri ikiwa viongozi wake wanatumia uchumi kujitajirisha wenyewe, au polisi wanaweza kununuliwa na walanguzi wa madawa ya kulevya.  Hakuna biashara yoyote inayotaka kuwekeza mahali ambapo serikali inajichukulia asilimia 20 vivi hivi au mkuu wa Mamlaka ya Forodha ni mla rushwa. Hakuna mtu yeyote anayetaka kuishi katika jumuiya ambako utawala wa kisheria unageuzwa kuwa utawala wa ukatili na hongo. Hii si demokrasia, huo ni udhalimu, na sasa ni wakati wake kukoma.

Katika karne ya 21, taasisi zenye uwezo, zinazotegemewa, na zilizo wazi ndizo ufunguo wa mafanikio — mabunge yaliyo imara na majeshi ya polisi yaliyo maaminifu; mahakimu na waandishi wa habari walio huru; sekta ya kibinafsi iliyochangamka na jumuiya ya kiraia. Hivi ni vitu vinavyoipa demokrasia uhai, kwa sababu ndivyo vitu vyenye maana katika maisha ya watu.

Mara kwa mara Waghana wamechagua utawala wa kikatiba badala ya utawala wa nguvu.   Kuonyesha roho ya kidemokrasia inayowezesha nguvu ya watu wenu kufanikiwa.  Tunaona hivyo katika viongozi wanaokubali kushindwa kwa hisani, na washindi wanaozuia miito ya kutumia nguvu dhidi ya upinzani.  Tunaona roho hiyo katika waandishi  wa habari jasiri kama vile Anas Aremeyaw Anas, ambaye alihatarisha maisha yake kuripoti ukweli. Tunaiona katika polisi kama vile Patience Quaye, ambaye alimshtaki mwuzaji wa kwanza wa binadamu nchini Ghana. Tunaiona katika vijana ambao wanalalamikia udhalili na upendeleo, na kushiriki katika mchakato wa kisiasa.

Kote barani Afrika, tumeona mifano isiyohesabika ya watu wanaoshika hatamu ya kudura yao, na kufanya mabadiliko kuanzia chini hadi juu. Tumeona nchini Kenya, ambako jamii ya kiraia na wafanyibiashara walishirikiana kusaidia kusimamisha ghasia zilizotokea baada ya uchaguzi. Tuliiona Afrika Kusini ambapo zaidi ya theluthi tatu za raia nchini humo walipiga kura katika uchaguzi wa hivi karibuni – uchaguzi wa nne tangu mwisho wa ubaguzi wa rangi.  Tuliiona Zimbabwe ambako shirika la Election Support Network lilikabiliana na ukandamizaji wa kikatili na kusimamia kanuni kwamba kura ya mtu ni haki yake isiyopingika.

Zingatia: historia iko upande wa Waafrika hawa hodari, na sio wale wanaotumia mapinduzi au kubadilisha Katiba ili wakae madarakani. Afrika haihitaji wababe, inahitaji taasisi imara.

Marekani haitajaribu kubandika mfumo wowote wa serikali kwenye taifa jingine lolote – ukweli muhimu wa demokrasia ni kwamba kila taifa linajiukilia kudura yake.  Tutakachofanya ni kuongeza msaada kwa watu wanaowajibika na hali kadhalika taasisi zinazowajibika, kukiwa na lengo la kusaidia utawala bora —katika mabunge, yanayodhibiti matumizi mabaya ya madaraka na kuhakikisha kwamba sauti za upinzani zinasikika; utawala wa kisheria, unaohakikisha utawala sawa wa haki; kushiriki kwa raia, ili vijana wahusike; na ufumbuzi wa ubunifu katika rushwa kama vile uwajibikaji kwa umma, huduma zinazotolewa na mashini, kuimarisha simu za kuripoti ubadhirifu, na kuwalinda wale wanaotoa habari za mambo ya kisirisiri ili kuendeleza uwazi na uwajibikaji.

Na tunapotoa msaada huu, nimeiagiza serikali yangu kuorodhesha rushwa kama suala katika ripoti yetu ya kila mwaka kuhusu Haki za Binadamu. Watu kila mahali wanapaswa kuwa na haki ya kuanzisha biashara au kupata elimu bila kutoa hongo. Tuna wajibu wa kuwasaidia wale wanaofanya mambo yao kwa kuwajibika na kuwatenga wale wanaotenda kinyume, na  hivyo ndivyo Marekani itakavyofanya.

Na hili linaelekea moja kwa moja kwenye eneo la pili la ushirikiano — kusaidia maendeleo yanayowatolea watu wengi zaidi nafasi.

Kukiwa na utawala bora, sina shaka kwamba Afrika inashika ahadi ya msingi mpana zaidi wa ustawi.  Bara lina utajiri wa mali asili. Na kuanzia wajasiriamali wa simu za mkononi hadi wakulima, Waafrika wameonyesha uwezo na kupania kuunda fursa zao wenyewe. Lakini tabia za kale pia lazima zivunjwe.

Kutegemea bidhaa—au zao moja linalouzwa nje ya nchi– kunarundika utajiri mikononi mwa wachache, na kuwaacha watu kuwa rahisi kuathirika na mididimio. Nchini Ghana kwa mfano, mafuta yanaleta fursa kubwa na mmewajibika katika kujitayarisha kwa mapato. Lakini Waghana wengi mno wanajua mafuta hayawezi kuwa kakao mpya. Kutoka Korea Kusini hadi Singapore, historia inaonyesha kwamba nchi hustawi zinapowekeza katika watu wao na miundombinu; wanapoendeleza viwanda mbalimbali vya uuzaji wa bidhaa nje ya nchi, kuunda kundi la wafanyikazi wenye ujuzi, na kuumba nafasi kwa biashara ndogo ndogo na za kati, na zinazobuni kazi.

Na Waafrika wanapofikia ahadi hii, Marekani itawajibika zaidi katika kunyoosha  mkono wetu.  Kwa kupunguza gharama zinazowaendea washauri na utawala wa Magharibi, tunaweza kuweka rasilmali mikononi mwa wale wanaoihitaji, wakati tukiwafundisha kujitegemea zaidi. Hii ndiyo sababu ari yetu ya dola $3.5 bilioni za mpango wa usalama wa chakula zinalenga njia na teknolojia mpya kwa wakulima—siyo tu kuwapeleka wazalishaji wa Kimarekani au bidhaa barani Afrika.  Na msaada peke yake si ufumbuzi.  Madhumuni ya misaada ya kigeni lazima yawe kuunda hali ambayo misaada hiyo haihitajika tena.

Marekani inaweza kuongeza juhudi kuendeleza biashara na uwekezaji. Mataifa tajiri lazima yafungue milango yetu kwa bidhaa kutoka Afrika kwa njia ya maana. Na pale ambapo kuna utawala bora, tunaweza kupanua ustawi kupitia ushirikiano wa umma na makundi ya kibinafsi ambao unawekeza katika barabara bora na umeme.  Ujenzi wa uwezo unaowafundisha watu kukuza biashara, huduma za kifedha zinazofikia sehemu maskini na zile za mashambani.  Hili ni kwa ajili ya maslahi yetu — kwa kuwa watu wanaponyanyuliwa kutoka kwenye ufukara na utajiri kuundwa Afrika, masoko mapya yatafunguka kwa bidhaa zetu.

Eneo moja ambalo linaonekana kuwa la hatari zisizokanika na matumaini yasiyo na kifani ni nishati. Afrika hutoa kiasi kidogo zaidi cha hewa chafu kuliko sehemu nyingine yoyote duniani, lakini ni bara linalotishwa zaidi na mabadiliko ya hali ya hewa.  Sayari inayozidi kuongezeka joto itasambaza maradhi, kupunguza fungu la maji na kutokomeza mimea, huku ikiunda hali inayosababisha baa la njaa na migogoro zaidi.  Sisi sote – hasa ulimwengu ulioendelea — tuna wajibu wa kupunguza kasi ya mielekeo hii—kupitia hatua za kuzuia na kubadilisha jinsi tunavyotumia nishati. Lakini tunaweza pia kushirikiana na Waafrika kugeuza mgogoro huu kuwa fursa ya manufaa.

Pamoja, tunaweza kushirikiana kwa niaba ya sayari na ustawi wetu, na kuzisaidia nchi kupata nguvu zaidi, huku zikiepuka awamu chafu zaidi ya maendeleo.  Kote barani Afrika, kuna nishati nyingi sana ya upepo na jua; nishati ya joto la ardhi na nishati inayotokana na viumbe. Kuanzia Bonde la Ufa hadi majangwa ya Afrika Kaskazini; kuanzia pwani ya Magharibi hadi mimea ya Afrika kusini—zawadi za asili za Afrika zisizo na kikomo zinaweza kuzalisha nishati yake zenyewe, huku kukisafirishwa nje nishati safi na yenye faida.

Hatua hizi zina umuhimu kupita takwimu za ustawi zilizopo kwenye mizania.  Zinahusiana na kama kijana mwenye elimu anaweza kupata kazi ya kipato kinachomwezesha kuisaidia familia yake; mkulima anaweza kuhamishia bidhaa zake sokoni; mjasiriamali mwenye wazo jema anaweza kuanzisha biashara.  Ni kuhusu heshima ya kazi.  Ni kuhusu nafasi ambayo lazima iwepo kwa Waafrika mnamo karne ya 21.

Kama vile utawala ni muhimu kwa nafasi, pia ni muhimu kwa eneo la tatu nitakalozungumzia—kuimarisha afya ya umma.

Mnamo miaka ya hivi karibuni, maendeleo makubwa yamefanyika katika sehemu kadhaa za Afrika. Watu wengi zaidi wanaishi kwa uzalishaji wakiwa na VVU/UKIMWI, na kupata dawa zinazohitajika. Lakini wengi mno bado wanakufa kutokana na magonjwa ambayo hayapaswi kuwaua. Watoto wanapouawa kwa sababu ya kuumwa na mbu, na akina mama wanakufa wakati wa kujifungua, ndipo tunatambua kwamba lazima maendeleo yafanyike.

Lakini kwa sababu ya vichocheo – ambavyo mara nyingi vinatolewa na mataifa ya wafadhili  — madaktari na manesi wengi wa Afrika inaeleweka huenda nchi za ng’ambo, au hufanyia kazi programu zinazopambana na ugonjwa mmoja tu. Hii inaunda pengo katika matunzo na hatua za kimsingi za kuzuia magonjwa. Wakati huo huo, Waafrika binafsi lazima wafanye maamuzi ya kuwajibika yanayozuia kuenea kwa magonjwa, huku wakiendeleza huduma za afya katika jumuiya na nchi zao.

Kote barani Afrika tunaona mifano ya watu wakitatua matatizo haya. Nchini Nigeria, juhudi zinazoshirikisha imani mbalimbali baina ya Wakristo na Waislamu zimeweka mfano wa ushirikiano katika kupambana na malaria. Hapa nchini Ghana na kote barani Afrika, tunaona mawazo ya ubunifu yakijaza pengo katika huduma za matunzo—kwa mfano, kupitia mipango kama ari za E-Health zinazowawezesha madaktari katika miji mikubwa kuwasaidia wale wanaofanya kazi katika miji midogo.

Marekani itaunga mkono juhudi hizi kupitia mkakati kamili wa afya ya kimataifa. Kwa sababu katika karne ya 21, tunahimizwa kuchukua hatua na dhamiri yetu na maslahi yetu ya pamoja. Mtoto anapofariki mjini Accra, kutokana na ugonjwa unaozuilika, hiyo inatupunguza sote kila mahali. Na magonjwa yanapoenea bila kudhibitiwa katika pembe yoyote ya dunia, tunajua kwamba yanaweza kusambaa kuvuka bahari na mabara.

Hii ndiyo sababu Utawala wangu umeahidi dola $63 bilioni kukabiliana na changamoto hizi. Tukiendeleza juhudi nzuri zilizoanzishwa na Rais Bush, tutaendeleza mapambano dhidi ya VVU/UKIMWI. Tutaendelea kulisaka lengo la kukomesha vifo kutokana na malaria na kifua kikuu, na kutokomeza polio.  Tutapambana na maradhi ya tropiki yaliyopuuzwa.  Na hatutakabiliana na  maradhi haya kwa kujitenga — tutawekeza katika mifumo ya afya ya umma inayohimiza uzima, na kulenga afya ya akina mama na watoto.

Na  tunaposhirikiana kwa niaba ya mustakabali wa afya bora, lazima pia tukomeshe uharibifu usiotokana na maradhi, bali unatokana na binadamu–na kwa hivyo eneo la mwisho nitakalozungumzia ni migogoro.

Sasa wacha niwe wazi: Afrika si karagosi wa bara lililokumbwa na vita. Lakini kwa Waafrika wengi mno, migogoro imekuwa sehemu ya maisha, ikidumu kama vile jua.  Kuna vita ya kugombea ardhi na maliasili. Na bado ni rahisi mno kwa wale wasio na dhamiri kuchochea jumuiya nzima kupigana miongoni mwa imani na makabila.

Migogoro hii ni mzigo mzito shingoni mwa Afrika.  Sote tuna njia za kujitambulisha — za kabila, za dini au uraia.  Kujifasili kwa kumpinga mtu ambaye anatoka kabila tofauti, au anayemwabudu mtume tofauti, hakuna nafasi katika karne ya 21. Tofauti za makabila ni chanzo cha nguvu na si sababu ya mfarakano. Sisi sote ni watoto wa Mungu. Sote tuna mahitaji yanayofanana—kuishi  kwa amani na usalama; kupata elimu na kupata fursa; kupenda ndugu na jamaa zetu, jumuiya zetu, na Mungu wetu.  Huo ndio ubinadamu wetu wa kawaida.

Hii ndiyo sababu lazima sote tusimame pamoja kupinga unyama miongoni mwetu.  Kamwe si haki kulenga wasio na hatia.  Ni adhabu ya kifo kuwalazimisha watoto kuua katika vita.  Ni kilele cha uhalifu na uoga kuwalaani wanawake na kuwaweka katika vitendo vya mfumo wa kubakwa kusiko na kikomo. Ni lazima tuwe mashahidi kwa thamani ya kila mtoto katika Darfur na heshima ya kila mwanamke nchini Congo.  Hakuna imani au utamaduni unaohalalisha maovu wanayotendewa.  Sisi sote lazima tujitahidi kutafuta amani na usalama unaohitajika kwa ajili ya maendeleo.

Waafrika wanasimama kwa niaba ya mustakabali huu.  Hapa pia, Ghana inasaidia kuelekeza njia inayofaa. Waghana wanapaswa kuona fahari kwa mchango wenu katika juhudi za ulinzi wa amani kuanzia Congo hadi Liberia na Lebanon, na katika juhudi zenu za kupambana na baa la ulanguzi wa madawa ya kulevya. Tunafurahia juhudi zinazochukuliwa na mashirika kama vile Umoja wa Afrika na ECOWAS kufumbua migogoro, kulinda amani na kuwasaidia wale walio na shida. Na tunahimiza mtazamo wa mwundo wa chombo imara cha usalama kinachoweza kufanikisha harakati za jeshi la kimataifa linapohitajika.

Marekani ina wajibu wa kuendeleza mtazamo huu, si kwa maneno tu, lakini kwa msaada unaoweza kuimarisha uwezo wa Afrika. Kunapotokea mauaji ya halaiki katika Darfur au mafunzo ya magaidi katika Somalia, haya si matatizo ya Afrika peke yak — ni changamoto ya usalama wa kimataifa, na yanahitaji mwitikio wa kimataifa.   Hii ndiyo sababu tuko tayari kushirikiana kupitia diplomasia,  misaada ya kiufundi, na misaada ya upangaji na uchukuzi, na tutasimamia juhudi za kuwawajibisha wahalifu wa kivita.  Wacha niseme wazi: kamanda yetu ya Afrika hailengi kuweka kidato barani, bali inalenga  kupambana na changamoto kuendeleza usalama wa Amerika, Afrika na dunia

Nilipokuwa Moscow, nilizungumzia haja ya kuwepo kwa mfumo wa kimataifa ambako haki za binadamu duniani zinaheshimiwa, na ukiukaji wa haki hizo unapingwa. Hiyo lazima ijumuishe ahadi ya kuunga mkono wale wanaofumbua migogoro kwa amani, kuwaadhibu na kuwasimamisha wale wasiofanya hivyo, na kuwasaidia wale waliodhurika. Lakini hatimaye, ni demokrasia imara zinazoendelea kama Botswana na Ghana zitakazorudisha nyuma vyanzo vya migogoro, na kuendeleza mipaka ya amani na ustawi.

Kama nilivyosema awali, mustakabali wa Afrika uko juu ya Waafrika wenyewe.

Watu wa Afrika wako tayari kujinyakulia mustakabali huo.  Katika nchi yangu, Wamarekani wa asili ya Kiafrika – wakiwemo wahamiaji wengi mno wa hivi karibuni – wamestawi katika kila sehemu ya jamii.  Tumefanya hivyo licha ya hali ngumu ya zamani, na tumepata nguvu kutoka kwa urithi wetu wa Kiafrika.  Kukiwa na taasisi imara na utashi imara, ninajua Waafrika wanaweza kutimiza ndoto zao mijini Nairobi na Lagos; Cape Town na Kinshasa;  Harare na hapa hapa Accra.

Miaka hamsini na mbili iliyopita, macho ya ulimwengu yalikazia Ghana. Na mhubiri mmoja kijana aliyeitwa Martin Luther King, alisafiri kuja hapa Accra, kushuhudia bendera ya Uingereza ikiteremka na bendera ya Ghana ikipanda juu ya Bunge. Hii ilikuwa kabla ya maandamano mjini Washington au mafanikio ya harakati za kupigania haki za kiraia katika nchi yangu. Dakta King aliulizwa mjini Accra jinsi alivyojisikia kushuhudia kuzaliwa kwa taifa. Na akasema “Inafufua imani yangu katika ushindi wa mwisho wa haki.”

Sasa, ushindi huo lazima upatikane tena na lazima ushindi upatikane nanyi. Na hasa ninawazungumzia vijana. Katika maeneo kama Ghana, vijana ni karibu nusu ya idadi ya watu. Hiki ndicho mnachopaswa kujua: ulimwengu ni kile mnachotaka kiwe.

Mnao uwezo wa kuwawajibisha viongozi wenu, na kujenga asasi zinazowahudumia watu. Mnaweza kuhudumia katika jumuiya zenu, na kutumia nguvu na elimu yenu kuunda utajiri mpya, na kujenga uhusiano mpya na dunia. Mnaweza kuyashinda maradhi, kumaliza migogoro, na kufanya mabadiliko kuanzia chini kwenda juu. Mnaweza kufanya hivyo. Ndiyo mnaweza. Kwa sababu katika wakati huu, historia inasonga mbele.

Lakini vitu hivi vinaweza kufanyika tu kama mtachukua wajibu wa mustakabali wenu.  Kutakuwa na gharama.  Lakini ninaweza kuwaahidi hivi: Marekani itakuwa nanyi.   Kama mshirika wenu.  Kama rafiki.   Nafasi haitatokea mahali pengine popote—lazima itokane na maamuzi mnayoyafanya, vitu mnavyofanya na matumaini mnayoshikilia mioyoni mwenu.

Uhuru ni urithi wenu. Sasa, ni wajibu wenu kujenga juu ya msingi wa uhuru. Na mkifanya hivyo, tutatazama nyuma miaka ya baadaye kutoka leo, kwenye mahali kama Accra, na kusema huu ni wakati ambapo ahadi ilitimia—huu ni wakati ambapo ustawi ulibuniwa; uchungu ulishindwa; na enzi ya maendeleo ilianza. Huu unaweza kuwa wakati ambapo tunashuhudia tena ushindi wa haki.  Asanteni sana.

On Kenya’s burgeoning culture and civilisation of poverty

slum youth

Amnesty International recently published a report titled, Kenya: The Unseen Majority: Nairobi’s Two Million Slum-Dwellers. In its introduction, the report states that “life is precarious for the approximately 2 million people who live in Nairobi’s informal settlements and slums. They make up over half the capital’s population yet are crammed into only 5 per cent of the city’s residential area and just 1 per cent of all land in the city. They are forced to live in inadequate housing and have little access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare, schools and other essential public services. They also live under the constant threat of forced eviction from the makeshift structures they have made their homes.”

Out of these slums, a culture of poverty is emerging. Commonalities of value systems continue to grow, resulting in an “us” versus “them” civilisation. As anthropologist Oscar Lewis who studied the phenomenon of the culture of poverty argued, the burdens of poverty lead to the formation of an autonomous subculture as children and the youth become socialized into behaviors and attitudes that perpetuate their inability to escape the underclass.

More recently, Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai alluded to disempowerment or alternatively powerlessness the breeds strong feelings of marginality, helplessness, dependency, and social exclusion of the poor.

This culture of poverty is now growing into a civilization which according to Samuel Huntington author of “The Clash of Civilisations”, can be described as the highest cultural grouping of people.

Huntington further points out common elements for civilization-building such as language, history, customs, and ultimately subjective self-identification. In Kenya, the poor have languages that are not heard of in Nairobi’s central business district. A slum-dweller describes themselves by gender, youth, ethnic grouping, but ultimately by their state of poverty. Above all else they are poor.

Even though the term “civilization” may seem an over-statement, the number of people with such commonalities and who uphold their poor culture as ultimate, do indeed form a civilization. Civilizations can and do involve a small number of people. Shared experiences of police harassment, disintegration of family units, crime and gender based violence hold the poor together pitting them against the rich “wabenzi’s” who live in leafy high-cost neighbourhoods just adjacent to Nairobi’s slums.

Civic responsibility and entitlement seem to have been eradicated in the slums. And now, even more alarming has been the birth and growth of sub-civilisations of poverty. Examples of these include the emergence of youth groupings such as the Mungiki, Taleban and Baghdad Boys who reign in the slums. These groups have in turn provided a basis for youth identity which have overcome historical divisions of tribe. The hopelessness of their lives has coalesced their interests. Unemployment, being targeted for arrests solely due to their youth, and an insensitive political elite that bickers more over their SUV’s than empowering them has meant that any ideological or ethnic historical difference has been over-run by commonalities in disaffection.


Kenya’s slum population is growing rapidly at nearly 6% annually, and according to the World Bank, “nearly 10 million individuals are packed into miniscule ‘tin cans’ within the Nairobi slums…” Thus it is imperative that measures be immediately instituted to prevent a clash of civilizations between the poor and the rest of Kenya.

During last years post-election violence, Nairobi’s slum and informal settlement areas became de-facto no-go zones. Kibera was barricaded by the dreaded General Service Unit, only allowing those that could prove they had work outside the slum passage. Entrepreneurs within the slum were hit by shortages in basic commodities, because the illegal barricades would not allow any deliveries. Only charities such as the Red Cross allowed in to provide relief.

Civilizations are meaningful entities, and as Huntington writes, though the lines between them may seem elusive to the ordinary eye, the fault lines are indeed sharp and real. As Kenya’s economy grows and infrastructure brings people more into contact with one another, consciousness of civilization of the poor and the civilization of the rich is growing faster than bandwidth.

Unless something is done, firstly starting with the full and immediate implementation of Agenda IV of the National Accord, the fault lines between the civilizations of the “have’s” versus the “have-nots” will continue to further divide. After all, it is possible for one to be half Luo and half Kikuyu. It is impossible to be half rich and half poor.

Read Hon. Gitobu Imanyara’s Bill to create a Special Local Tribunal to try suspected perpetrators of post election violence here