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How to be (More) Politically Aware in Kenya in 2021

Article by Maureen Kasuku
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Posted: January 07, 2021  

We’re all relieved to be starting the new year with a cautious sense of hope. The ugliest days of the pandemic are hopefully behind us. If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that there’s so much work to be done to overturn the vast systemic problems in Kenya. From police brutality to a broken education system and violence against women and girls, this country is in dire need of radical change. 

While the New Year is a time for self-improvement, reflection, and regeneration, it’s also a good time to think about how we can start/ continue contributing to the greater good of our country. If 2020 was a year of chaos, 2021 can become a year to make a difference by becoming (more) politically aware.

Here are ways you can be more politically involved this year:

Fight against Police Brutality 

According to a recent survey conducted by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, police abuse in Kenya showed a significant increase” over the past six years, rather than a decline. The pandemic exacerbated the situation and we witnessed the police harassing and even killing civilians in the guise of enforcing COVID-19 safety regulations. 

Activists working in grassroots justice centers in informal settlements in Nairobi warn that if the death toll from police violence in Kenya continues at its present rate, 2021 may be even worse.

Here are some Community manual action points recommended by the Social Justice Working Group umbrella to combat police brutality:

  • Build police watchdog coalitions across neighbourhoods in Kenya
  • Educate the Public on civil rights
  • Use the political process to win reforms
  • Lobby for strong state legislation against police brutality

 

Where to report police brutality in Kenya:

 

Read, Analyze, Understand and make an informed decision on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) 

The Building Bridges Initiative  (BBI) seeks sweeping amendments to the 2010 Constitution, and is driven by a pact between president Uhuru Kenyatta and seasoned opposition leader now turned staunch government ally, Raila Odinga. 

The proposed amendments target at least 13 of the 18 chapters in the Constitution and are ostensibly going to bring a lot of “positive change” to Kenya. You’ve witnessed the heated debates on BBI all over social media but read the BBI Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 here and make an informed decision before the impending referendum.

Educate yourself on the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2019 

There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding the Reproductive Healthcare Bill, 2019. Opinion is sharply divided over the bill that is to go before parliament for a 3rd time. 

The sponsor of the Bill, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, explains in the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons that the proposed law is meant to actualise the constitutional guarantee that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including the right to reproductive healthcare (Article 43). 

To this end, the Bill provides a framework for assisted reproduction services by outlining the requirements for surrogate parenthood.

Don’t just listen to the hype on twitter, read the bill for yourself in order to have an informed opinion.

FTA, WTF?

What’s this #FTA hashtag you keep seeing on twitter? What’s the fuss? On 6 February 2020, US President Donald Trump announced the United States’ intention to initiate negotiations with Kenya on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This followed a meeting between President Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House during a state visit by Kenyatta to the US.

Notably, this will be America’s first such deal with a Sub-Saharan country. This is supposed to increase “fair trade” between the two countries for “prosperity”. But why is there such a heated debate surrounding this FTA? A petition has been filed at the regional court challenging the proposed Free Trade Agreement, which is a violation of the East African Community (EAC) Treaty and its protocols.

Read more about the FTA here and join in on the debate. Would you like Kenya and the US to partner in a Free Trade Agreement?

 

*Follow Siasa Place on Twitter to engage in political discourse

About the author

Maureen Kasuku

Maureen is our resident cat lady and Beyoncé stan. She writes about spas, brunch and ballet recitals but has never been to any. Moonlights as a social justice activist in her spare time. She knows things and is obnoxiously opinionated on the internet but not in real life

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