A new dawn for Kenyan politics

A commission in Kenya has made suggestions for “healing the nation” and avoiding post-election conflict.

The 2017 poll was hotly disputed and President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga almost pushed the country into turmoil.

But a few months later the nation watched as the two men shook hands in the corridor of the president’s office and later selected a group of people of differing political affiliations and beliefs to make proposals for bridging political tensions by avoiding the scenario in which the election winner gets everything and the loser nothing

On 26 November – a year-and-a-half after the historic handshake – the Building Bridges Initiative report was released.

It suggests that the main loser in the elections should be nominated to parliament as the official opposition leader with a shadow cabinet and that regional and ethnic balance should be promoted in government, as provided for in the previous constitution. It also recommends reintroducing the post of prime minister and new procedures for the selection of  cabinet ministers,

This week a meeting was held to inform delegates from the country’s 47 counties of the contents of the report. The recommendations will now either be voted on in parliament or put to the people for a referendum.

The proposals are being widely discussed by members of the public, and have generally been warmly welcomed. But Kamire wa Wairimu, a 39-year-old businessman and wheat producer in Narok, one of the areas most affected political tension after the last election, speaks for a number of critics when he told me that while it is positive to try and mend political processes, he is worried about the possible public expense of the recommendations.

”More political posts are introduced, in a situation where regular people are fighting to make enough money to buy food, while the costs of politicians and their administrations are high,” he cautioned.

/Kimani Chege, Kenya

The postcards made by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.

In Kenya the truck drivers’ road goes through corruption and dangers

Published in Arbetet
15 May 2019
By Kimani Chege

Kenya. As a young boy in Ndeiya, 50 kilometres north of Nairobi, George Gachuhi used to trek for several kilometres just to sit alongside the highway admiring how the long distance trucks were meticulously negotiating bends as they descended the escarpment separating Kenyan highlands with the Rift Valley.

Decades later, George Gachuhi, now 34, comfortably sits on the driver’s seat to one of these monster machines to drive a distance of over 1100 kilometres on dangerous roads of the both Kenya and Uganda. The Mombasa to Kampala Route is one of the most active highways in Africa.

We meet with Gachuhi as he changes a worn out
tyre at Kikuyu area, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Full article here:

‘These flowers aren’t for us, they’re for Europeans’

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, from the series Hon jobbar för dig (She works for you)
17 December 2018
By Kimani Chege
Photos: Brian Otieno

Kenya. It is hard and difficult work.  Anne Aketch is one of the workers cutting roses for the European market. She hopes that her children won’t have to work on the flower plantation – and she shudders at the thought of Valentine’s Day.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

A flourishing container economy in Kenya

Article published in Göteborgsposten
15 October 2017
By Kimani Chege
Photos: Migwa Nthiga

Nairobi. Lately, shipping containers have revolutionised business in Kenya. The containers are renovated and put to new uses, such as shops, offices and homes. They are appreciated for their safety, their relatively low cost and for being reasonably easy to move.

Josphat Mwangi who sells food and household items in a refurbished container appreciates the location right behind a police station, as well as the durability. Nobody can break in, because the shipping container is made from such sturdy materials, he says.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

App saves lives in Nairobi’s informal settlements

Article published in Göteborgsposten
24 August  2017
By Kimani Chege
Photos: Migwa Nthiga

Kenya. Kenya is one of the countries in the world with high mortality rates for women and children. Although the situation has steadily improved since 2004, still 510 of 100 000 women die in childbirth, according to the UN.
Grace Gathigia luckily wasn’t among them. She became a mother six weeks ago.
“It’s not easy being pregnant in an informal settlement. I’m glad I survived and gave birth to a healthy child in a clinic, and then received continuous care from local health care workers. Some of the women pregnant at the same time as me lost their children during pregnancy, or shortly thereafter”, she says.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

More boreholes dangerous for Nairobi

Article published in Göteborgsposten
21 November 2016
By Geoffrey Kamadi
Photo: Migwa Nthiga

Nairobi. Tap water in Nairobi is a very unreliable resource. In many areas water flows from the taps three days a week – but sometimes people will go without water for up to two weeks.

The lack of water means that people buy water from wandering salespeople instead – who in turn get their water from an increasing number of boreholes.  This has led to an exploitation of the city’s groundwater, which could become a big problem further down the line as there is a risk the city will start to sink and the infrastructure might become unstable.

Full article (in Swedish) here:


The importance of disciplining your children

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, from the series Att vara förälder (To be a parent)
19 September 2016
By Maina Wairuru
Photos: Migwa Nthiga

Kenya. Njau and Lydia Dancun  live with their four daughters in Uthiru, a suburb of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.  They work hard to make sure their children can go to school, and when it comes to raising them, discipline is the most important cornerstone.  Njau is worried about his 16-year old daughter, Wairimu, who was suspended from school for two weeks last year after skipping class.

“We really wanted to hammer it home to the girls that a lack of discipline can never be tolerated. Therefore we made sure that the principal punished them by letting them clean the school” says Njau. “Considering how hard I work to be able to pay the school fees it is not acceptable that they skive.”

Full article (in Swedish) here:

Dispute over new wind park

Article published in Göteborgsposten
12 June 2016
By Geoffrey Kamadi

Kenya. In the far away region of Marsabit County, 365 wind turbines are being installed. The project, named Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) is to be ready in 2017 and is estimated to produce 310 megawatts yearly, adding 15-20 percent to Kenya’s electricity production.

The cost is mostly covered by government funded Scandinavian investors, with the aim of furthering development, and it is presented as the largest private investment in the history of Kenya. But the locals who live where the wind park is planned are upset. 150 000 acres have been leased to realise the park, and the land is owned by local communities.