Kubuka’s project manager in Kenia, Stephen Nzusa, talks to us about the situation in Kibera, the community where we work, after the annulment of the previous elections and whilst awaiting the new ones.
Thursday 26th of october is a decisive date for Kenya. The situation in Kibera can be defined as calm, but as the famous proverb says «calm waters are the most dangerous». What I mean by this is that schools are closing early, children are at home and parents are frightened. In fact, demonstrations have started accross the whole country and moreso in Kibera, leading to movements of citizens to rural areas where their fellow tribal men may be living. There are even rumours that have made people arm themselves in case of anything.
We, the community of Kibera, need peace more than ever. This is why we are working on keeping the peace no matter what happens. We are making large efforts to spread messages of peace through community groups and neighbours. However we believe that the only solution to secure peace is for the two most powerful people in our country, the standing president and the leader of the opposition, to meet and resolve their political rivalry. In this way, they would help heal the country amd we could start moving forward.
Another alternative could be for the Supreme Court to annul the elections of the 26th of October as there is proof of the lack of preparatjon of the IEBC to carry out fair and credible elections. These could be postponed to a later date whereby the country would be healed and everything could be better prepared. We need a trustworthy organism (non partisan) that can intervene on the electoral date to guarantee free and fair elections. It must be an internal body as our country has mistrust on the international world. Furthermore, we need the people of our nation to understand that politics is not about life or death.
On another note, Kibera, as well as the rest of our country, is suffering economically due to this political inestability which can be prolonged if the situation doesnt change. At the moment, the notion of 1 dollar a day per family is true, but this could get even worse. In fact, if Nakumatt, one of the most important supermarket chains in the country, can get to a point of closing down all its branches, imagine what can happen in Kibera. In short, poverty levels are alarming, there is no money, companies are closing down, many people are inactive and all of this mixed with insecurity, lack of water, hunger… Etc shows that our needs are immense. We need economical help. We need a way to boost our incomes; job opportunities, sustainable projects and investors who will give Kibera a chance and not just hand held help.
In conclusion, the future of Kibera is at stake even though we have hope that these elections can be carried out smoothly. We, of course, fear possible violence if the losing party reacts negatively. There are also rumours about armed vigilant groups and political radicalisation which makes the scenario more bleak. Even if the future looks far, hope is all we have right now.
From where I sit, even as a peace ambassador, for the first time in my life I fear for my people, for my family and for myself. I fear that the main actors in these re-elections may be reluctant to sit down and talk. I fear for the future of the children. I fear for the radicalised youths that follow political leaders. I fear for the ignorant middle class that sit at home comfortably not knowing the plans of those protesting.
Now, the only thing I can do is pray, organise talks and one on one meetings with leaders of radical groups to try to come up with an understanding that peace is possible. I am left to hope and wish for peace, but above all, I still have the strength to help wherever I can. I am ready to face come what may. I believe i have ideas to counter every scenario in these coming elections. My wish is «together we can» and my motto «stop and think». What I love to say is «tusibleed ndio walead» which translates to «lets not bleed so that they can lead».
Kubuka’s project manager in Kenia