In a controversial campaign, Water Is Life, a US based non-profit entity, has stolen public art from Kibera by world-famous artist JR . They intend to raise money to be used to provide 5000 gallon per day water filter and a community hand washing station.

After reading the article about it and watching the video shared online. I went out to find if the residents knew anything about this and if they did, what they thought about it.

It wasn’t strange that many people didn’t know about it since the art was stolen anyway.

The first thing noticeable to a curious visitor are the missing pieces in some roofs within the area that the art covered, in Kisumu Ndogo village of Kibera. When I asked about the missing pieces, the residents blamed that on the wind, others said the missing pieces were removed due to the rotting iron roofs, to pave way for replacements, no one knew anything about Water is Life and any of the art being stolen.

One resident, who also happened to be a structure owner, actually thought that it would be good if the person who brought the art pieces can replace them with new ones because those ones had taken too long on the roofs and were probably contributing to rotting of iron roofs especially during the rainy season.

Showing The Video

When I showed them the article and the Youtube video of how the art have been stolen and is being auctioned off to raise money, they were mostly confused on what to say.

Water is Life is probably doing the right thing but not in the right way,” observed the structure owner I spoke to, “They should have been transparent about it, and should have shared what they are doing with us.” Why would they steal if they mean well, that’s what they asked. 

On Facebook Kibera’s MP had stronger words:

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.47.47 PM

Kibera MP Ken Okoth shares his frustrations on Facebook about the controversy

One woman who woke up one morning to find the piece of art on her rooftop gone, said that the piece had been helping to prevent rain water from coming inside her house. But she was actually grateful when, a few days later, a group of young men came with new iron sheets for her roof. She says that they never explained to her anything, just repaired her roof and went away with the rotten old iron sheets.

After my revelation to them, they are now expecting the said water projects from Water Is Life.

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Fire Sensor Pre-Mapping Training

Fire Sensor Pre-Mapping Training was conducted at the Boma Hotel Nairobi offices by Map Kibera Trust.
Day One kicked off with Introductions to the project and expectations from the participants, what they were looking forward to gain at the end of the training.
Their expectations included, Learning new things, Knowing more about the GPS gadgets, being empowered, meeting new people, learning, sharpening and sharing new skills.
The Attendance on day one was up to twenty mapping Volunteers.


Day two of the training, The Trainees were introduced to Open Street Map and JOSM. Of which they were taken through the editing features, data collection and the requirements of all these.
The attendance dropped on day two with seventeen trainees present.

Day Three of the training, the trainees reflected on their expectations, Most of them felt their expectations had been met.
They then did practical mapping of the Red Cross compound and the environs, on which they dived into 3 groups and mapped different areas in and around the red cross, in a way of putting into practice what they had learnt on day two.
Douglas From Map Kibera led them through reviewing what they had done in all the three days.

Evelyn, who is the management representative of the whole project did the closing remarks.

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Sarangombe Ward Security Meeting

The first public security meeting was held at Kamkunji grounds, Kibera. The meeting was organized by the office of the Sarangombe ward representative and the office of the Deputy County commissioner. However, the Deputy County Commissioner did not attend as he was attending to other duties elsewhere. Hence, in attendance were the Member of County Assembly for Sarangombe, Sarangombe area chief, the ward Police inspector and the local leaders.

Kotieno 1
The area member of County Assembly, Mr. Owino Kotieno, narrated how Sarangombe and Kibera in general has been afflicted with insecurity issues which he compared to a recurring skin infection that refuses to go away.
He also said, Contrary to what most people think, that insecurity is not always brought about by lack of employment, and even cited a few examples of people who are Jobless but are good members of the community.
He also stated that respect for human rights is like an hacksaw that cuts from both sides, so the respect for human rights apply in both situation as far as dealing with human rights is concerned.

The Inspector, in his part,told the residents that security starts with them, he also addressed the issue of girls dropping out of school.
He condemned the criminal activities in the area and warned youths engaging in crime that their time is up and the police is soon catching up with them. He also warned the public against taking law into their own hands and walking around with machetes.
The Sarangombe area Chief apologized on behalf of the Deputy County Commissioner who did not attend due to being caught up on duty elsewhere.

The chief said that the area administration, together with the MCA’s office is looking to have the meetings happen often to always address emerging issues as far as insecurity is concerned.
He went ahead to condemn playing loud music late into the night by saying that criminals use such places to plan their bad missions, and also school-going children don’t get time to study due the same loud music.

Stephene Oduor.

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NYS Protests; The Larger Picture

So much has been said and done, almost in each and every slum in Nairobi, with the sole purpose of preventing any violence that might occur, or re-occur in this context.

The civil society has come up with many different initiatives, over the years since the 2007/8 post-election violence, to help promote peace & togetherness within the ethnic communities that live in the informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya

To some extent, this has worked and we cannot deny that. however, every small trigger of violence or protest always reminds us that there’s a little more homework to be done.

I do agree with you, that the last general election, 2012/13, was relatively peaceful in comparison to the 2007/8 elections. but it still wasn’t spared a protest, or two here and there.

And just a few days ago, after what was considered a peaceful march by those working with NYS (National Youth Service)-Driven slum upgrading projects to allegedly demand for an extension to the project which was expected to end this June, and will eventually come to an end in the long run.

protest 1 kibera(Photo by Joshua Owino)


there erupted a follow-up protest by youths from Kibera who felt that the NYS workers had wrongly accused the former area mp of meddling in their affairs, and even went ahead to burn a toilet built by the NYS.

toiletPhoto by Joshua Owino


Kibera News Network accompanied the marching NYS workers and from what could be gathered, it was clear that most of these workers didn’t even understand why they were marching, some had it that they were demanding for time extension to the project, yet some knew that they were protesting over what they termed as unnecessary interference by the former prime minister, who has in the recent past pointed out alleged corrupt practices at the ministry of devolution, or both. most of them were vague about it. but at the city centre, politics took centre stage with most of the workers chanting anti-Raila slogans, obviously leaving the vague workers showing there confusions openly.

It was funny when some workers interviewed during the match admitted that they are paid less and wanted the money increased, and time line extended.

nysprotest kibera (Photo by Joshua Owino)

My point is drawn from here, are protests, and more so violent protests, that include burning of property,  the effective way to put issues across? especially in informal settlements. if not, what are other channels that can be explored and how well we explore them.

Stephene ‘Steve Banner’ Oduor

Map Kibera

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Kibera Schools Map Distribution; My Experience

‘If you play your part, and you play it to your level best. Then your gift will surely open more doors for you’ observed one Fred Ogutu, Hope academy director.

We did play our part, if we played it well? That is debatable, and the answer might vary depending on which education partner or stakeholder you are speaking to. It may also depend on which phase of this education project you referring to.

If you read our earlier blog posts on the pre-project survey and collection of data during the previous phases, I believe you should have the answer on how those phases were done. To me, we did well. And more so now that we have the printed education maps and the website running.

With that said, I’m specifically here to talk about my experience in the current map distribution and website demonstration phase. And I’ll be very straight on this.
We started our distribution on the langata constituency part of Kibera, that is Raila village, note that we do have Kibra and Langata constituencies separately, and Kibera, which is the slum itself, expands to these two constituencies, with Kibra having the biggest portion.

All the schools in Raila village had a very positive approach to the map, and the site. They very much welcomed it despite the fact that some of them were a bit reluctant to give out information during the previous data collection.

Joy and excitement may have sent the Maono Secondary School head teacher the religious lecturer way, telling us that these are the end times and why everyone needs to repent and get ready to receive Christ when he comes. He did that for a few minutes then went ahead to tell us how the school will now use the Open Schools website as their official website.

At St. Stephen school, the head teacher even offered us a job, to help her draft the 2015 school activity plan that she intended to send to her donors together with a link to their page in the Open Schools Kenya website.

Hope Academy school director, Mr. Fred Ogutu, having featured in almost all our previous Project phases including the pre-project survey, was now well informed about what we are doing and congratulated us a lot on the good work done so far. He had a lengthy talk with us telling us that Kibera is a slum that has so much been misrepresented, with a lot of false data out there, he cited an example of the current Government-driven National Youth Service project which has, to use his own words, been blown out of proportion yet none of the clinics and toilets that the government seems to boast about are functional.

He observed that our data is one of the few genuine ones and wondered if the work we do also translate to helping us personally besides fighting to change our community. ‘Are you able to put food on the table and pay your rents?’ he posed a question.

In other villages, that is Katwekera, Kisumu Ndogo, Kambi Muru and Makina, the reception was equally good. We did manage to take fresh photos for FPFK Gatwekera school .

At Joseph Kangethe School, which is one of the two public schools that my colleague Zack and I were assigned to, had a very nice view of the map, The deputy head teacher asked us to come up with forums to educate parents in Kibera on the need to take their children to public schools. She said, contrary to what most parents expressed in the pre-survey, that public schools are being deserted and parents are flooding the non-government schools leaving the government schools with empty classes. “Public schools that had four streams per class have now reduced to three streams. We’ve been forced to turn the extra classrooms to stores because there are no children.”

She also added that learning in public schools is far much better than private schools where children are ‘just drilled and not taught’.

‘What is the government doing about that? And what are you as Map Kibera, in your education project doing about that?’ were her last questions.

Stephene ‘Steve Banner’ Oduor

Map Kibera Trust

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

Is Storm Gathering Over Kibra?

Ethnic Intolerance is gradually strengthening its roots in Kenya, at most so after the 2007 post election violence that rocked the country, a recent debate on a Facebook group over slum evictions shows.

Although, many will agree with me that the tension had always been there even before the 2007 general elections, and whatever happened at that time only brought out the anger and bitterness that most Kenyans have all along held against each other, or one community against another in this case. Kibra, or Kibera as some might choose to call it, was not spared the ethnic-related violence of 2007. In fact, it was one of the worst hit regions. Even though another ethnic-related conflict had much earlier threatened to tear kibra apart, way back in 2002.

violence                                           {picture:}

We saw so many peace initiatives come up after that with the aim, goal or mission of bringing Kibra residents together. There have been so many of these peace initiatives linked to Kibra, or Kibera that everytime the word ‘Peace’ is mentioned, people expect to see an image of kibera somewhere along the lines. Whether these peace initiatives achieved their goals, missions or whatever they hoped to achieve is a question for another day.


Parliamentary Election Debate Kibera

But sadly it looks like something was never addressed. These peace groups or initiatives might have overlooked or bypassed something important, a root cause of all these unrest, call it a grudge that has been held for so long but never settled, historical injustices or whatever you want. But another storm seems to be gathering, all the signs are there, loud and clear. It’s either these peace initiatives will have to go back and do their homework well or new mechanisms will have to be put in place before the gathering storm finally comes down, after which everyone will once again be asking when, or where the rain started beating us.

Like my friend would say, something needs to be done, and not tomorrow but now. Before what we are currently seeing on social media trickles down to the streets.

It only takes a statement, opinion, concern, argument or whatever anyone might call it, in form of a facebook, twitter or any other social media post to ignite the hatred that most of us hold in their hearts, the ethnic-related anger or bitterness that came as a result of whatever injustices happened in the past and never addressed.

Here is a good example of a concern I had and shared on Facebook in relation to the ongoing sewer-line evictions in Kibera and some of the comments that came afterwards..

This was my post:
“Honest opinion, was this NYS projects, or whatever you call them, mean’t to render more Kibera residents homeless? How can they give 3 day notice them exepect residents to find new homes.. then they bring down the houses leaving many women and children to sleep in the cold? they may not respect the structures they see but they are houses to us, it’s where we call home.. evict us after giving us somewhere to go… ‪#‎FeelingPissedOffWithNYS‬”

Mohammed Hassan Juma hamtaki kutoka kwa sewer line?ndo maana wazungu wanakuja kibra kuwacheka. (you don’t want to move from the sewer line? that’s why white people come to kibra to laugh at you)
January 13 at 5:27pm • Like • 3

Fatuma Abdulrahman Surur its a reality some think they r a superior being!anyway everybody dies in kibra but only we r burried in kibra kwa hivo bado tupotupo! (….. so we are still here here)
January 14 at 1:05pm • Like

Imma Jeeb @Fatuma, i like that, of course hawajatoka Mbinguni. Wana Makwao.don ‘t they know the meaning of Devolution?tiz high time we have a better KIBRA.!! (… of course they didn’t come from heaven. they have have thier homes…)
January 14 at 1:18pm • Like • 1

George Ambunya hatespeech ndio mob tu hapa sana (this place is only full of hatespeech)
January 14 at 1:56pm • Like • 3

Siyama Ismail #George_Ambunya,
This is a #Healthy_Debate na hakuna hates speech, it is called #Expressions.
January 14 at 3:07pm • Edited • Like • 1

Owino Kotieno #Hussein Umri wangu hauni ruhusu kutoa matamshi au fikra za Chuki ama Kulenga Jamii. Ikiwa kila mtu ataulizwa Kwao ………Looo. Changia kwa upole,fanya utafiti na ujiusishe na mapambano ya fikra kisha tusemezane. (My age doesn’t allow me to give out hatefull utterances or thoughts, or target a communitty. if everyone was to be asked where he comes from….looo. contribute peacefully, do your investigations and be part of the mind struggle then we can talk)
January 14 at 5:40pm • Like • 2

Daniel Orogo Hussen am shocked that while others are in sobber debate to find a solutions to this problem, you bring another twist thats sounds non objective. Kibera is home to all those who are curently residing there
January 14 at 5:40pm • Like • 2

Stam Kaindi Kibra/ Kibera call it what you like but it is in Kenya and for kenyans!!
January 14 at 6:42pm • Like • 4

Iahtallization Kiberallion Chupakabrah Kiberallization if our actions dont mirror words that come from our mouth simply means we are hypocrites
January 14 at 8:07pm • Like • 5

This, and numerous other examples both in and out of the social media circles, only goes to prove my point on the need to address the outstanding root cause of all the hatred, or bitterness, that most, if not all, of us hold in their hearts.

I do agree with you that this is a national problem, and coming up ways to solve it might be described as a national dilemma, but me and you, with the help of him or her, can work towards addressing the point that may have all along been overlooked by all other peace initiatives here in Kibra.

Stephene ‘Steve Banner’ Oduor,

Kibera News Network

Posted in Kibera, Land, Opinion, Peace, People | Leave a comment

Controversy in Kibera: Nubian title deeds and land sales

At 2pm, on 30th September 2013, the cabinet secretary for Land, Mrs. Charity Ngilu arrived at Kibra academy, in Kibera, to issue a communal title deed to the Nubians living in Kibra constituency.

Out of the 4197.9 acres of land that Nubians have for so long demanded to be allocated to them, The cabinet secretary said that only 288 acres in Makina area would be given to the Nubians, the area would then be named Nubian Village. She went ahead to say that the remaining areas, that is Kianda, Kisumu Ndogo, Gatwekera, and Laini Saba, had so long been sold. At this point people started to murmur, But Nguli did not accept to be asked any questions about the sold land, though she was quick to declare that she was the 51st Minister of Lands who was now ready to solve the land issue in Kibera.


Ngilu, Addressing crowd at Kibra Academy

The residents of Kibera did not take Ngilus visit positively, one, they claimed that Ngilu never informed the leaders from Kibera, two, “How could she meet with Nubians alone in the morning at 10am and by 2pm she is here to issue titles without involving other stake holders?” “We smell a mischief here” said one Kibera community leader.

Kibera slum is a home to many tribes of Kenya including Nubians, who were settled here more than 100 years ago by the British Colonials in the early 1890s. They originated from a place called Nuba between the Northern Sudan and the Southern Egypt, they have all along laid claims to Kibera as their ancestral land, the government did not formally recognize them until the 2009 national census. They have faced so many challenges including acquiring of Identity card and even birth certificates, all they ask for is to be given an equal playground just like any other Kenyan.

Ngilu’s reckless remarks, like other people called it, generated a lot of heat in Kibera, that she left without issuing the title deed, but promised to come back soon.

The meeting ended at around 4pm, words spread so fast and after a bout one hour you could see people gathered in groups trying to analyze how parts of Kibera could have been sold and what that meant to them. The fear of eviction was real in their faces. It was very hard for them to imagine that the only home they have known for decades was no longer theirs.

Several groups came up in protest to this issue: Kibera Inhabitants, Kibera Structure Owners Association, Kibera Stake holders Forum, churches, school owners including the Langata District Peace Commettee, all running to a different direction for help. And as the confusion engulfs Kibera, another group was already demonstrating towards the Ministry of Lands Office, demanding a proper explanation on the sold land. At this point Kibera Inhabitants had gone to the area member of Parliament for some clarifications. On realizing that there were many other groups lobbying against the Ngilu’s remarks, Kibera inhabitants led by Langata Constituency ODM chairperson Mr. Ochieng Jera decided to call all these groups together so that they could have a stronger force.

Two days after Ngilus visit tension increased in Kibera, with people wondering what will happen to them.

They approached CHF international to offer them a space to meet in, which was accepted, on 10th October 2013, I was in this meeting, people were so furious here, calling Ngilu all sorts of names.

Capture 2 c

Leaders from Kibera meet to discuss land issue at CHF offices

But there was a common understanding, almost everyone in the meeting agreed that they did not have any problem with Nubians being given title deed, that they deserved it, their main concern was the sold parts of Kibera. They wanted to know when a section of Kibera was sold, to who? Who sold it? How much it was sold and why? These were the questions people kept asking themselves.

Apart from the questions above they also wanted to know what will happen to the non-Nubians living in the demarcated Makina area, will they be compensated? Will they be living at Nubians mercy? Or what? There was also a concern that Nubians living outside Makina could be at risk of being chased to go and live with their colleagues in Makina. Some people including some Nubians already had title deeds in Makina, will their titles be revoked? Some Kibera residents had started refusing to pay the rent claiming that the land had been sold according to the cabinet secretary; therefore they don’t have to pay anything, something that was already bringing conflicts in the slum. In this meeting there was only one Nubian who was there as a cohesion champion but not to represent the Nubian community, there was therefore need to have Nubians in the following meeting. People dispersed by each group with a task to find concrete information from various offices: a team was to go to the Governor of Nairobi county, a team was to go to the National Land commission, a team was set to talk to the former land minister, and another team was to see the former Prime Minister to find out if they were all aware of the sale of Kibera land.

Capture 2 a

Second meeting

Bringing back the feedbacks during the next meeting on 16th October 2013, reports from the Nairobi Governor’s office claimed that the Governor Evans Kidero was not aware, but he offered to be given a short time to investigate on the matter. Surprisingly a team that went to see the Deputy County commissioner, said that the Deputy commissioner himself was not aware of what was happening in Kibera, he complained that a lot was already going on but no one has even tried to brief his office. He blamed the community members for taking the matter a head without consulting him, he also blame the government especially the Cabinet secretary of lands for not involving him in the process. “I have decided to stay aside and see if you people will need me in the near future” he said.

Orengo the former lands Minister said he was only aware that Nubians will be given a title but he did not know of any plans to sell Kibera land.

In this second meeting Nubians were invited but only two of them turned up, Mr. Ali from the Nubian youth, and also a representative at the Nubian Elders meeting. He clarified what had happened, he also told the meeting that the process to issue title deed to Nubians started long time ago, and that this was just the last stage. He went ahead to inform the meeting that in fact on Friday 18th October , 2013 the President was set to come and issue the title in Kibera.

Another surprise, it’s at this point that some people alleged that the government was out to make Kibera go up in flames again if people were not careful. The leaders urged each other to remain peaceful and not to allow anyone or anything to drag them into violence by all means, we have to solve this issues amicably, “We are not ready to fight with our brothers Nubian, but the government seems to be inciting other tribes against them” said one leader. Some people alleged that the government wanted to use Kibera because of its past history to trigger violence, so the President could have an excuse not to attend the ICC trials, for them to claim that Kenya is ungovernable. That they could only be playing politics.

Having said all these, the meeting was adjourned with an agreement that the chairman to call up for an urgent meeting soon to have all the facts right before a big protest could be organized, time was running out anyway, the President was set to come that week.

The third meeting was then on Thursday 24th October 2013, chaired by Mr. Daniel Orogo of Langata Youths Network. There was a good news, first was that Nubians were well represented, around seven Nubians were in the room. This opportunity was used to let the Nubians understand that the 288 acres allocated to them was too small since they were still growing, that they should see that they were being short changed. Another leader told them that for a fact Kibera is part of the Nairobi city, and no community can be given communal title in the city. It was not logical, that they should think twice.


Third Meeting at CHF offices

This did not go well with Kibera Nubian Community Land Trust secretary Mrs. Husna Hassan, she instead urged the rest of the tribes to support Nubians to get this small piece first, since they had struggled so hard for it, “it has taken us a lot of lobbying a lot of activism, a lot of time to be able to get even this small pieace” she said, “I know we could be short changed but something is better than nothing” she added, she then urged the rest to support the Nubians and they will support the other tribes to reclaim the perceived sold parts of Kibera.

During the week before this third meeting another team organized a small demonstration to the Ministry of Lands, asking the cabinet secretary Mrs. Ngilu to come out clear and explain how the land was sold. The Nairobi Governor Mr. Kidero had by this time dismissed the allocation as irregular.

So the president’s coming to Kibera was put on halt by the National Land Commission arguing that the Cabinet secretary did not consult them, and that the issue of land is so sensitive to be rushed with, many Kibera residents received this news happily, but addressing the media KTN in Kibera, the Kibra Nubian Community Land Trust Secretary Mrs. Husna Hassan said that they feel there is lack of genuinely, “we have followed all the processes, its wrong for the Lands Commission to come out now and say that they were not consulted” she said.

Now that aside Kibera is still faced by lots of challenges,

  1. The Rift Valley Railway is already demarcating areas to evict people living or doing businesses along the railway line, the eviction has been talked about for so long, but this time round its real.
  2. The NEMA, environmental people have also given a notice to evict those living by the river side that passes across Kibera.
  3. Slum upgrading process is also also on, some people are for it some people are against it.

Will the people of Kibera survive all these? Recently at Kamkunji grounds Sunday meeting, leaders warned residents from buying any property along the railway line because some individuals were taking advantage of those who don’t know about the upcoming eviction to sell off their structures at a cheap cost.

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Youth Discussions at the UN HABITAT 24th Governing Council

In the world today, the youth are regarded as the backbone of any nation, and any decision making that excludes the youth is regarded as shun and not all inclusive.

un pic 2
At the UN HABITAT 24th Governing Council, the youth centered at almost every topic of discussion. from how the government funds can be distributed, how jobs can be created and even offered to support youth initiated projects using the 6 billion that was initially intended for election run off, he identified the slum areas as some the places where the government will work to improve lives especially

During the official opening of the UN HABITAT CG24, The president of Kenya, Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to work with the youth to tackle unemployment and even offered to support youth initiated projects using the 6 billion that was initially intended for election runoff, he identified the slum areas as places where the government will work in making lives better especially for the youths coming from regions mostly regarded as marginalized.

Nairobi governor, dr. Evans Kidero, also in his speech, admited that nairobi faces alot of challenges in terms of security, proper sanitation among others. he too pledged to improve the living conditions in slums.

Being a participant at the 24th Governing Council, I attended a session on safer cities where a report was read by a group that has been working with different organizations both government and non-governmental, to help improve the security of Nairobi as a city and the youths were a point of discussion here, because they were identified as those who participate in hooliganism and unlawlessness. the safer city team highlighted some of it’s achievements which included ensuring that the city is well lit up. which they did by working with different groups to mount street lights especially in slum areas such as Kibera, Mathare and Korogocho slums. They have also been working to create jobs for unemployed youths in these slums by helping initiate youth driven projects and access to youth funds, and also cleaning up the city to get rid of bushy areas which are mostly regarded as hotspots.

On Tuesday 16thApril2013, which was the second of the UNHABITAT Governing Council, I attended a joint discussion on improving the lives of the youth through productive initiatives. and from this discussion, the participants urged the various government representitives from all over the world to always include the youth in major decision making. mr. Doug, particularly identified that the youths needed to come up with constructive strategies that can be able to attract donor funds.

A Nigerian speaker also called on the private sector to be included on the youth empowerment programs.

The main challenge of accessing the youth funds was identified as being so hard to get the loans that are channeled by the government from banks as loans.

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CDF Committee Elections

As the concluded general election campaigns were at their peak, I met a man running to become a member of parliament who was humble and engaging. When we called him for an interview in our offices, he showed up in person and answered questions in detail and with a lot of enthusiasm. I met the same man again during the ongoing CDF committee elections, but this time he was the Member of Parliament and no longer just a candidate. I decided to approach him for an interview to get his views about the ongoing process, hoping he would respond in the same manner he did the last time when he was campaigning. I was wrong, since after winning the elections, his humbleness seemed to have been replaced with arrogance.

Since we were inside a noisy and poorly lit hall, I requested if we could conduct an interview outside with him, just a few steps away from where he was seated, where there was enough light and no noise, but he turned my request down sighting it wasn’t his problem that I didn’t have lighting equipment. He then went ahead to ask what I wanted to ask him and we went through questions that I had jotted down where dismissed some questions as bullshit and others as irrelevant. My effort to conduct the interview on camera was turned down as well in vain.

I had no other choice but cover the election which had taken me there minus the interview. It started with a civic education from the areas county rep Otieno Cotieno, followed by introduction of the various contestants for men, women and youth representative. There were two men and women representatives and only one youth representative to be elected the irony being the majority of the people in the hall who had turned up to vote were youths. After the introductions of various candidates, the process was moved outdoors where the process was going to be conducted. The popular candidates were surrounded by their supporters who were singing and shouting to show support. Then the election followed using the infamous mlolongo system, whereby the person with the longest queue was declared the winner. The declared winners were jubilant but their opponents were not so pleasant with results disputing that the people announced the winners did not win as they were predetermined before the process took place. They decided to settle their differences in courts where they said they will go to challenge the results.

As I was finishing my coverage, one question left hanging on back of my mind; when the committee members are finally chosen, will they truly represent the needs of the people who put them there, or will they turn out to be arrogant individuals who cannot be approached by people who are not of the same caliber?

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Voluntary Male Circumcision.


Since Stone Age, different cultures across Africa, have embraced circumcisions. It is either performed for religious reasons or as an initiation rite.

Male circumcision is surgical removal of the foreskin – the retractable fold of tissue that covers the head of the penis. The inner aspect of the foreskin is highly susceptible to HIV infections. Trained health professionals can safely remove the foreskin of infants, adolescents and adults

It was not until 2007, when the World Health Organization emphasized more on the circumcision, not as a rite or for religious reasons, but as a strategy to preventing HIV infection, mostly in marginalized areas and in informal settlements where the prevalence is high and with minimal levels of male circumcision.


A banner of VMM in Kibera.

Voluntary Medical male circumcision (VMMC) reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by approximately 60%.WHO and UNAIDS have recommended voluntary medical male circumcision as an additional important strategy for HIV prevention, particularly in settings with high HIV prevalence and low levels of male circumcision, where the public health benefits will be maximized. Fourteen countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with this profile have initiated programmes to expand male circumcision.

In Kibera, quite a good number of residents had not gone through the ” cut” as many could not decide as some  are still blocked by the  outdated traditions.

“Initially, men who turned out for the “ cut “, they were given incentives, so as to encourage them bring more friends for the same as there was a very low turnout,” says a Healthy Officer in one of the health centers  in Kibera.

The one time intervention medical male circumcision saves costs as many people spend a lot on antibiotics and antifungals that has an otherwise remedy ,“a simple cut”. It is also a way of averting new HIV infections and reducing the number of people needing HIV treatment and care.

“The process lasts up to between 20 to 30 minutes. Analgesics, such as Paracetamol, are used to manage the pain, the stitches should dissolve after four weeks, and complete healing is after two more weeks.” ascertains a medical specialist at a Kibera clinic.

The communities have embraced the idea. The awareness campaign done in Kibera by the Population Service International and the Ministry of Health saw an overwhelming turnout. Civic education and advertisements on the media have also played a big role in creating the awareness for this worthy course.

The service also extended to Kawangware, a neighboring Kibera slum, besides, the services are also being offered across Kenya for free in all Government hospitals.

The target is, by 2015, to have   80% of Men aged between 15-49 through the “cut”, and the expected projection is that by 2025, the reduction of new HIV infection will be by more than 20%, Said a report released by the Global Advocacy for HIV prevention.

Any worthy process does not lack challenges, so is to the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision. Some of the shortcomings are; Some Kenyan traditions do not permit circumcision, and also lack of enough trained medical personnel to stretch across the Country.

Male circumcision is a proven intervention that offers partial protection against sexually acquired HIV in men. WHO and UNAIDS recommend that it should always be considered as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package which includes:

HIV testing and counseling; Correct and consistent use of female or male condoms; Treatment for sexually transmitted infections and Promotion of safer sexual practices, such as avoidance of penetrative sex.





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