Now What?

Michael Onsando
31 January ,2017

State (noun): a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.

Kenya is a state. It has geographical territory of 581,309.881 square kilometres and a population of approximately 44 million people. These people are organized under a central government with functions increasingly devolving to the counties. This is particularly important because just under 10 years ago, a referendum was held, and we passed a new constitution. This constitution was supposed to mark a transition into a decentralized government. This is supposed to shift power closer to the people, and is an issue that we are still grappling with.

As a state, Kenya bears certain responsibilities towards its citizens. That they have access to healthcare, education and opportunity are some of these responsibilities. In order to be able to carry this out, the state taxes. Because the resource in question belongs to everyone – then everyone must have a say. And so we vote for people who, we believe, should be able to handle this responsibility. We vote for them because they ask to be voted for. It is with this offer (campaign) and acceptance (ballot) that the contract is formed.

The work is the consideration for this contract.

“I wish that the energy [Ezekiel Mutua] put into censoring, was put into building.”

Mugambi Nthiga

In absence of consideration does a contract exist?

Doctors are still on strike. On 26th January 2017, five days ago, a judge gave the striking doctors five days to end the strike or risk jail. Doctors are on strike because it is impossible to treat a patient without medicine or medical tools. That the strike itself happened around election period has been called suspect by some parties. They say that the opposition is using this to get political leverage. Still, that there was an unresolved collective bargaining agreement from 2013 makes one wonder if the government is invested in ensuring that medical services get to the people.

Lecturers are on strike too. They also have a collective bargaining agreement. They were offered three percent pay rise, which they rejected. Still in education, the Cabinet Secretary recently announced that the new system will “see students who study science-based courses receiving much higher allocations than those in the liberal arts”

“We will not move forward or develop when more than 80 per cent of the students we register in universities are in the arts and liberal humanities.”

Fred Matiangi

The problem with this, it seems, is that there is the arts is already underfunded in the country as Wandia Njoya pointed out:

Most students in Kenyan universities take four courses: psychology, sociology, communication and business. The idea is that most students and parents think that the jobs are in media, counselling, diplomacy and NGO’s, and if that fails, one can always be an entrepreneur. Those subjects are not arts; they are social sciences.

I’m just asking for the evidence that 80% of Kenyan university students are taking the arts. Just the evidence.

There is very little consideration for this contract. So what now? It comes up for renegotiation soon.

There are many reasons not to vote and very few to actually do it. Especially when you begin to think of the fact that the election could just as easily be stolen. So I’m less interested in that and more in how we find ways to ensure that we receive (what we have already paid for) as in this contract. What methods are available to us? Residents in Isiolo refused to get voters cards until they get water. Nationally citizens are reaching out to their governors to ask about the doctors strike.

I ask this question because, as Nduta keeps reminding me, we have to live.

So perhaps this is the question, how do we live? What does it mean to try and create livability when expert warnings have a majority of Kenyans terrified that there will be a violent election? What are the ways in which we can leverage the power that we have and create that much more wiggle room? That we might squeeze just a little consideration out of this bad deal that we have already been handed? Kenya is a state. As a state it bears responsibility to its citizens and has since failed at delivering to the citizens that which they are owed. How do we, as a people, create enough of a collective pressure to ensure that it is known that we are not asking, but demanding that the state does its duty by us?

“All politics is local.”

Tip O’Neill

 The simplest way to do this is to start by looking up, look around. Where are you? Who is around you? Do you know your MCA? Your governor? Have you held your government accountable today? Because they need to know. They need to know that we are cognizant that there is a contract, and that we will not allow for it to be broken.

But I’d also like to leave this one open. Share in the comments below the ways in which you and the community around you have found ways to take power back and to hold power accountable. What works? What doesn’t?

You are surrounded by love. Organise.



Spread the love
%d bloggers like this: