County Grassroots Mobilization for Political and Economic Development   Leave a comment

At the time of Kenya’s independence, a chorus of leaders with Mzee Kenyatta in the driver’s seat rallied around the chant of “Harambee”. This philosophy of pulling ourselves up collectively has been followed by many ordinary wananchi who have gone about the business of educating their children, conducting local “harambee” initiatives, pursuing all sorts of businesses, etc. If anything has contributed to emergence of Kenya as a leading economy in East Africa, it is the activities of these brave Kenyans. It therefore comes to me as a surprise when I see so many Kenyans still looking for “salvation” from our elected officials at the local and national levels. As far as I am concerned, elected officials are mostly an insidious form of cancer that is a serious obstacle to political and economic development. Plundering public coffers, corruption, sycophancy, political violence and murders, are just some of their numerous “sins” against Kenyans and God!

In every local and national election cycle, Kenya is gripped with the fever of political campaigns and the rampage of politicians. But when the dust settles, it is business as usual: “eating”, corrupt deals, wheeling and dealing, etc. In other words, elected leaders engaging in self-serving activities that do very little for wananchi throughout Kenya.

Fortunately many wananchi have not waited for manor to fall from the heavens, They have seized the initiatives of advancing their own lot and that of their families and communities. But wananchi can do more and I would suggest the following:

  1. Develop a system of report cards for rating elected officials
  2. Put elected officials to task and let them explain in public meetings what they have done for their constituencies
  3. Look deeply into their respective cultures to identify institutions that can be used for mobilizing resources in cash or kind for deployment in advancing development. Among the Akamba people there is still the institution of “mwethya”–a system of reciprocal collective labor that my own mother Syovata wa Kimanzi used for cultivating huge tracts of land around Ikutha in Southern Kitui. When I was preparing to go to the University of Waterloo, none other than the late Chief Kitonga, Nzamba Kitonga’s father organized a fund raising initiative under the auspices of “Akamba King’ole”. That initiative yielded monies with which I was able to buy a suit and tie, suitcase, etc. in order to travel to Canada. My family had very little resources then. These types of events in my past are what have shaped my character as an “eager beaver” who is always trying to help others.
  4. Mobilize political campaigns and agitation for infrastructure investment—roads, water, rural electrification, health clinics, schools and teachers, etc. Infrastructure investment constitutes what economists refer to as “public goods”. These types of investment not only create an “enabling environment” for development, but they also have a broader impact on a much wider segment of Kenyans–locally and as well as nationally.

More Later

Prof. Edari


Posted August 6, 2015 by edari1 in Land Tenure Issues

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